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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Is Kimchi for the Birds?

One factor affecting demand is tastes and preferences. The taste for kimchi gets a boost from an obscure study and the fear of avian flu:

Kimchi Sales Rise on Link to Possible Bird Flu Cure, by Elissa Silverman, Washington Post: Moon K. Yoon sensed something was up about two months ago when the 16-ounce jars of kimchi started moving quickly from the shelves ... in Fairfax, a sign that interest in the spicy cabbage dish had moved beyond the Korean customers who typically buy it by the gallon. ...[S]ales of ... freshly made kimchi have increased 55 percent, compared with a year ago ... 

A sudden new joie d'epice in the American diet? Try avian flu. Blame it on the Internet ... publication of a minor study by a South Korean academic last spring has apparently triggered a minor run on kimchi, a daily staple of the Korean diet that the bland-of-palate are likely to avoid ... Which presents a potentially difficult choice given the work of Kang Sa-Ouk of Seoul National University, who took 13 chickens infected with avian flu virus and a couple of other diseases, fed them kimchi juice and found that 11 of the birds recovered.

Word of the study has been circulating on the Internet. ... [T]he National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, where callers have turned seeking validation of the idea that kimchi may ward off avian flu... said. "Although it certainly sounds interesting, NIAID, unfortunately, can't comment on the dish's effectiveness as we have not studied it," ...

Yoon and his fellow grocers have also gotten lots of questions about the dish's taste and its pungent smell. "It's hard for me to explain the taste," Yoon said. The most common preparation of kimchi for sale in markets begins with sliced Napa cabbage, which is salted, set aside for hours and then rinsed. Most traditional recipes add plenty of crushed garlic, as well as ginger, onion, sliced radish and fish sauce to the cabbage. And lots of hot pepper ... "We're selling more small jars," said Kei Kim, the manager of the Grand Mart in Seven Corners near Falls Church. "They are scared -- they try a little."

    Posted by on Saturday, December 31, 2005 at 01:03 AM in Economics | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (1)

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