The clash between societal class systems and food has been in existence forever. Records show that in the UK and Ireland, brown bread was seen as food for the poor from the 17th to 19th century. We all know that these days, the push for us to eat brown bread is rife. Growing up in Nigeria, I remember mackerel being that food.
Mackerel aka ice fish, was snubbed as the evidence of hardship then. People literally hid the fact that they cooked with mackerel. I grew up as the child of civil servants and there were days when my mum ‘resorted’ to cooking with mackerel just for us to eat. I never told anyone. In fact, up until two years ago, I paid no attention to the fish. Although smoked mackerel is sold in all major supermarkets, I never bought them. Maybe subconsciously I still carried the relics of my perception of what constitutes poverty. Maybe not. Nonetheless, the strive to live a healthy lifestyle crossed my mind then and I paid attention to healthy foods.
I discovered that Mackerel (aka ice fish or bangada (in Hindi)) is actually an oily fish which is riddled with nutritional goodness. For children and adults, it is an excellent source of vitamin D, which is important for maintaining strong bones and teeth. Mackerel is rich in protein and fatty acid omega-3, which can help to protect the heart. It lowers risk of diabetes; controls blood pressure levels; reduces symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis; improves cognitive functions and increases survival chance of bowel cancer patients. Personally I love the taste of it.
“You are what you eat”…they say. My question is: on a health scale, would societal perception of poverty outweigh the nutritional goodness of mackerel? I don’t think so.
I rest my case.