5 Things You Don't Know About Kimchi

Oct 4, 2010
Megan Bedard is a sucker for sustainable agriculture and a good farmers market, she likes writing about food almost as much as eating it.

Ask a group of Koreans to pose for a photo, and they're likely to smile and say "kimchi!"

That's because the spicy pickled morsel is a beloved and ubiquitous part of Korean cuisine, served at nearly every meal.

But rising food prices have put the brakes on kimchi production in South Korea, putting restaurants and shop owners in a bind to procure the cultural cornerstone.

The solution?

A temporary tariff lift on Chinese cabbages and radishes. One hundred tons of cabbage and 50 tons of radishes will be imported tariff-free from China this month, marking the first time a Korean government agency has imported produce directly, according to Christian Science Monitor. Imported or no, tradition is tradition.

In the off chance that you might be underestimating kimchi consumption, read on for five bits of trivia you must know about the fermented food.

1,300 years of tradition taste so good. (Photo: Lee Jae Won/Reuters)

1. South Koreans consume 77 pounds of kimchi per capita annually.

2. There are more than 100 varieties of kimchi, and you can see them for yourself at the Kimchi Museum in Seoul.

3. In 2005, during a scary outbreak of bird flu, scientists at Seoul National University conducted a study that included feeding sick chickens kimchi to test its effects on their health. A week later, 11 birds had begun recovering. 

4. In the 1960s, when young South Korean men were deployed to Vietnam, their mothers often sent them off with clay pots full of homemade kimchi.

5. In 2006, astronauts embarking on outerspace adventures could finally breathe easy: kimchi specifically designed for space travel was developed by a group of scientists at Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute.

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