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December 16, 2009 Meeting

December 7, 2009

On December 16, 2009, Professor Ole G. Mouritsen will talk to the ECC about the science of sushi and seaweeds.

Sushi is one of the most successful translations of Asian food culture into modern, globalized cuisine. In this lecture, Ole G. Mouritsen will describe the origins and cultural history of sushi, with background information on the gastroscience and health benefits associated with food from the ocean: fish, shellfish, and seaweeds. Seaweeds are an overlooked source of nutrition in the Western world. Seaweeds are algae and not ordinary plants. They are found in all of the world’s climate belts and they display an enormous variation in terms of species. Whereas in many Asian countries, e.g. Japan and China, seaweed products are an important part of peoples’ diet, we mostly think of seaweed as the ugly smelling stuff that lies rotten at the beach or which grows in our polluted waters during a hot summer day. Still, most people would unknowingly almost every day encounter extracts of seaweed as additives in food or cosmetics. However, as the lecture will demonstrate, seaweed can be used directly as tasty foodstuff that is blessed with a bounty of important minerals, trace elements, vitamins, proteins, iodine, and healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids. Moreover, seaweed has plenty of dietary fibers and hence contains few calories. Importantly, these `vegetables of the sea’ may help us to renew and balance our diet to combat the growth in global lifestyle diseases, in particular cardiovascular and heart diseases, cancer, obesity, as well as mental disorders.

Ole G. Mouritsen is a scientist and professor of biophysics at the University of Southern Denmark where he is director of the Centre for Biomembrane Physics, a centre of excellence supported by the Danish National Research Foundation. He is an elected fellow of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, the Danish Academy of Technical Sciences, and the Danish Gastronomical Academy. He is the recipient of a number of prestigious prizes for his work, most recently the Danish National Prize for Research Communication (2007) and the British Royal Society of Chemistry Bourke Award (2008).

Relevant Works
O. G. Mouritsen, Sushi. Food for the Eye, the Body & the Soul, Springer, New York, 2009, 360pp.
O. G. Mouritsen, Seaweed. Vegetables From the Sea [In Danish: Tang. Grøntsager fra havet]. Nyt Nordisk Forlag Arnold Busck, Copenhagen 2009, 304pp.

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