What is Jeju ‘black food’?

img_0689You might be unfamiliar with the term “Jeju black food”.

Simply put, “black food” refers to several local products (namely black pig, black cow, black rice, black soybean, and black sesame) which are categorized according to their color and overall nutritional value.

img_0684The classification of foods by color figures prominently in eastern medicine. Green, red, yellow, white and black foods are thought to have various properties that contribute to the overall health of particular organs.

In this case, black food (this includes seaweed and walnuts) nourishes the kidneys.

One part of the island that is designated a “black food zone” is the area around Geomun Oreum in Seonheul Village, Jocheon-eup, Jeju City. It encourages the promotion of the use of these Jeju black ingredients in local dishes.

As it happened, on the day we walked Geomun Oreum and visited the Jeju World Natural Heritage Center, we also visited a local restaurant that bills itself as a slow food establishment and is part of the area’s Black Food Village.

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Did you know?

The “black food” movement shares several concepts with “slow food” which has grown in popularity in recent years. The slow food movement asserts that eating food is “an agricultural act” and so the consumer is a “co-producer” in the industry. It also states that today’s food production and consumption systems are harmful to the earth, its ecosystems and to human beings. Therefore, consumers must become knowledgeable and proactive in their choices, including choosing food which is good (natural), clean (safe) and fair (sustainable).

The black pork on the spaghetti was indeed black (and delicious) though this was due to a red wine glaze, not the color of the meat itself.

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The use of local ingredients is the key to a proper “slow meal”.

img_0693Overall, it was a very tasty, hearty meal. And we felt all the better for having reduced our environmental footprint at the same time.

For more information about Jeju black food (in Korean) please click here.

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