Monday, January 26, 2009
Shark fin soup are recognised in China as one of the four “Kings of the Sea”
Shark fin soup is a delicacy that has been a popular staple of Chinese cuisine since the Ming Dynasty, usually served at special occasions such as weddings and banquets. As a luxury item, the dish is also considered a symbol of wealth and prestige in Chinese culture. The "finning" of sharks required to make this soup has become highly controversial in recent years, because consumption has grown dramatically as some sectors of Chinese society become more affluent. Some have called the practice brutal, and it is also named as a primary contributing factor in the global decline of many shark species. China's booming economy has resulted in a large increase in demand for shark fins, and this, combined with the importance of this predator in oceanic ecosystems, has exacerbated the problems that the practice perpetuates.
The benefits of shark fin as documented by old Chinese medical books include the following: rejuvenation, appetite enhancement, nourishing to blood, beneficial to vital energy, kidneys, lungs, bones and many other parts of the body. But scientifically speaking, shark fin has little nutritional value--and, in fact, it may even be harmful to health over the long term, as shark fins have been found to contain high levels of mercury.
Pregnant women and young children are advised to avoid eating shark fin soup due to the high level of mercury.
Shark fin soup is a classic example of a luxury good that gives "face" to the Asian who can afford it.