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    March 29, 2017
 
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Korean Food, Culmination of Wisdom

Korean food is delectable, hearty, and distinct.  One of the most interesting characteristics about Korean food is that the preparation of it often involves the process of fermentation.  Fermentation was frequently utilized by enlightened spiritual practitioners of ancient Korea to create food that would benefit all people.  In the old days, fermented foods such as soy sauce were important source of protein for Koreans, and they remain popular even to this day.

 

Of course, no Korean meal would be complete without the ubiquitous Kimchi, a fermented vegetable dish that was essential in wintertime.  Traditionally, fresh vegetables were scarce in winter.  Kimchi, therefore, was the main source of vitamins for Koreans in wintertime.  Nowadays each region has its own special Kimchi, reflecting variations in climate and local traditions.  There are about 200 different types of Kimchi. 

 

As the example of Kimchi illustrates, Korean food is inseparable from fermentation.  Recently, Health magazine has published the five best health foods in the world, and they include: Korean Kimchi, Spanish Olive Oil, Japanese Natto, Indian Lentils, and Greek Yogurt.  It is interesting to note that the four out of five healthiest food are prepared through fermentation.  It begs the question: why is fermented food so good for the health?  Fermentation is a way of preserving food through neither freezing nor any other artificial means.  The process of fermentation brings about interesting changes to the flavor and texture of the food. But more importantly, when food is fermented, it encourages the growth of healthy bacteria while preventing the growth of spoilage-causing bacteria.  Doing this successfully requires special ingredients and carefully controlled conditions such as temperature and pH.  Fermentation’s biggest benefit may be in the “healthy bacteria” called lactobacilli, found in fermented food such as Kimchi and yogurt.

     

Korean Food and Diet:

 

According to the American Obesity Association ("AOA"), approximately 40% of Americans are overweight.  It is a serious health problem for the nation since obesity is considered the second leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.  The most effective way of fighting obesity is to change one's eating habits.  To that end, Korean diet has gained popularity in the U.S., and many experts look to Korean food for their answer to fighting obesity.  For example, Health magazine credits Kimchi as the "diet that has kept obesity at bay" in Korea and praises its health benefits.  The Chair of the AOA is said to frequently enjoy eating Kimchi and Doenjang.  We can attribute the benefits of Korean diet to the enlightened spiritual practitioners of ancient times, who were wise enough to realize the benefits of fermentation.  In this regard, Korean culture is a culmination of wisdom passed down from enlightened beings of the past.

 
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