Wednesday, February 2, 2011

BLACK IS THE COLOUR OF MY TRUE LOVE'S HAIR (SEAWEED)



While you're scarfing down all the black moss seaweed you can for Chinese New Year (the stuff is usually served at dinner this time of year as its Chinese name sounds similar to the Chinese phrase for 'fortune'), there's just one thing we'd like to tell you: it ain't seaweed.

Nostoc flagelliforme, or 'fat choy' to you
Instead, 'fat choy' is a cyanobacteria that lives on land. When dried, it takes on a hair-like appearance, hence its name. The bacteria is able to synthesize oxygen and grow in arid climates - 'fat choy' is found in places like the Gobi Desert, and has been a Chinese export since the Tang Dynasty. When harvesting, people use rakes to dig up both the fat choy and any surrounding grass. Almost all the grass is uprooted, leaving the ground barren, and over-harvesting has led to increased desertification. Though more modern practices have helped somewhat, collecting a tael of fat choy using traditional methods was equivalent to destroying a quarter of a hectare of land, about the size of two standard swimming pools. A mouthful of fat choy meant the destruction of land about the size of a basketball court.

Read more about it here.

Joe.
the clutterer Web Developer

1 comment:

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