Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cabbage Shortage!

The Economist reports a major shortage of cabbage that is causing political unease in South Korea. The populace is apparently starting to freak out a little as the cost of a head of cabbage surpasses $10 (more expensive than pork!). Cabbage is eaten daily as the much-loved national dish, Kimchi. This excellent food is made by fermenting cabbage anaerobically in brine and plays a central role in Korean food culture.*

I checked with one of my Korean plant path friends and he said there were two reasons for the shortage: a massive Pectobacterium outbreak thanks to 27 rainy days in August and a giant public works project on 4 rivers that's reducing field area and changing the environment (The Economist suspects hoarding may also play a role).

For more info, the Times elaborates.

*The wife of a colleague showed me her attempt to ferment her own kimchi. She voiced some concern over the potential of anaerobic conditions to permit C. botulinum growth, but she's an expert canner and it apparently turned out great!

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