Posted By Dave And Deb • 43 Comments » • Cultural Travel, Greenland
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[…] Read: Would you Eat Whale? Explaining the Arctic Diet […]
WOW, EXCELLENT IMAGES… THANK YOU FOR SHARING THIS WONDERFUL ARTICLE…
Great debating point. I think the Inuit should be able to hunt whale, as you say they feed their families with it and it was our ancestors, not theirs, that brought the whales close to extinction. You debate both sides well.
[…] Sisimut is a sort of university town with several trade and high schools in the area. It’s also the northernmost ice-free port in the country making it the fastest growing urban centre in Greenland. It is here that we had the opportunity to eat minke whale and seal blubber. Two important foods that are a part of the Inuit diet supplying them with much needed and sought after vitamin C. Read all about it and see our video at Would You Eat Whale? […]
[…] necessity and tradition that causes societies to hunt endangered animals, this time specifically whales in Greenland. A good reminder that these issues are not black and […]
[…] food ethics at the Planet D: should you eat whale? I probably would have in that […]
[…] Would you eat Whale? […]
I’d be more likely to try whale in Greenland where the practice is a part of their survival and cultural heritage. I’d never try it in a place like Japan where whales are killed for “research.” It’s just like shark fin and birds nest soups in China – damaging to the environment and completely unnecessary.
Well said Heather. I’d never try it anywhere else. I don’t think anyone should be importing whale for no reason. It’s different when it’s a form of survival. I also agree about the birds next soup and shark fin. It’s not acceptable at all.
I understand the dilemma but admit that I would try it at least once
This is such a great post and an important discussion to have and carry forward. I loved that you wrote about the difference between condoning activities that threaten the existence of a species (such as whale hunting in Japan) and the practices in Greenland which have little impact on endangered species.
I have not about it but the look of things, it actually looks tasty, i’d go for it
It’s oily and chewy and wasn’t my favourite, but it was interesting to try. The Minke Whale is placed in the not at risk category of engangered species, but I still wouldn’t eat them outside of a place like Greenland where hunting is strictly regulated.
Great photos! Love the close-up shots of the seal and the whale meat. I’d definitely try whale (and seal), given the chance. I never got around to it when I was in Iceland… Instead I tried hakarl, puffin, and other fun (and delicious) dishes. What was the cost like of whale relative to other foods? Was it priced as a ‘delicacy’ or was it in line with the other imported foods?
If the whale was hunted responsibly like it is in Greenland, I would probably give it a try!
However, I would never support such an industry in places like Japan, etc., where it is not a necessity and they only add to overfishing.
Woah! I have never tried eating whale. I hope that I can also taste that.
Never say never! I suppose I would eat whale if I was in a desperate situation i.e no food. It’s an interesting social conundrum. While I was in Malaysia I faced a similar situation regarding turtle eggs. They are illegal to eat everywhere but Malaysia and the turtles themselves are endangered.
I see your point and agree that the Inuit should have a right to hunt and eat whales. I would have even tried it when there. But still, I wouldn’t support this in general. Like when I see what Japan and I think Norway does, that sucks! There is no need for them to hunt whales and there is a difference to pigs and cows. The pigs and cows we eat in the Western Hemisphere were born to get eaten. This is very bad for the individual animal, especially the way most get handled. But that’s up to you to change your habits, which doesn’t even mean becoming vegetarian. We buy food not just from a local butcher, but from one where we know that he got his meat from local farmers. And we do not eat meat every day, but maybe once, twice per week. If whales get all hunted, there are none left and therefore needs protection. They don’t get ‘produced’ for supermarket goods. Still, I agree with your post and the Inuit should have a right to eat whale for themselves.
I still remember being in Iceland and seeing a menu with both Whale and Puffin on it.
We talked about trying it, but neither of us could bring ourselves to do it.
I would eat the whale meat if it is legal to do it. Here in our country eating whale meat is prohibited because they are label as endangered species. Maybe I can go there to try it so that I will not be in jail. LOL.
Hi Kristy. That is a great point. Yes in places like Greenland where they hunt responsibly it’s legal, but I believe many parts of the world don’t allow whale meat. I can’t imagine people importing whale meat in these days when it’s not an essential part of their diet like in Greenland. Minke whales numbers are the best of all whales. Because they are one of the smaller whales, they weren’t hunted as much as the large bow whales and humpback…but yes, all whales are precious. And I wouldn’t want to eat them outside a place Greenland where it’s a local cuisine. It’s not something I would order on a menu if I saw it elsewhere for sure.
We’ve had whale numerous times in Iceland and Svalbard and we enjoy it. Though we’ve never had it raw. The steaks are quite lean and delicious when prepared properly.
I know the Inuit even still hunt polar bears. I suppose in those harsh conditions and with limited wildlife that can actually survive in the high arctic, it’s understandable that they have to hunt what they can to survive. I also agree that trying the local food is part of understanding the culture.
That’s good to hear. I assume that if the whale is cooked a lot of the oil and blubber goes away. But then I assume that a lot of the nutrients go with it. That’s probably the reason they eat it raw. You are right, I forgot to mention Polar Bears but yes, they do still hunt them as well. Everything is fair game up there when food is at a premium.
I LOVE whale….for SUPPER!
I have a sweatshirt that I got in Barrow when the grey whales were stuck in the ice. On one side it says “we saved the whales” and on the back it says “For supper” . I couldn’t agree more, long live local foods.
Oh, I don’t know what to say to that :-)
I don’t know if I would or not! After watching you eat it I don’t think I could handle it. I’m not very brave with trying new foods.
Dave couldn’t handle it. He’s not brave either. Or maybe you two are just the smart ones and it has nothing to do with being brave…:-)
Really great points. I am a vegan but totally agree with you – they cannot live that way in that area. I also agree that if you have the opportunity to not eat meat why torture any animal simply for a few minutes of gustatory pleasure. I also agree that they should not hunt an animal that is near extinction if they can get the same source of vitamins etc… from something else they can acquire. Well done – and no I don't think I'd eat it. LOL. I would love to go to Greenland but am worried I'd find nothing to eat. Do they have beans, lentils? Anything along those lines?
You are right, I don’t think it is possible to be a vegan and live in Greenland. Maybe if you lived in Nuuk, but it would be very expensive too. I think it’s ok to visit for tourists. We were on an expedition ship and had our meals on board, but in places like Nuuk and Sisimiut there were places to eat. I’m sure there were some options.
I’ve never had the opportunity to try whale, but I would give it a go if I ever go to Greenland, like you said I’m willing to try other unusual meats in other parts of the world, so this isn’t really that different.
You said you ate the whale meat raw, is that how the locals usually eat it? Or is that just one way of many?
Yep, that’s how I felt, if I can try something elsewhere, why not whale in Greenland. I do believe they eat it raw. This is the traditional way it is prepared. I believe it has the highest concentration of nutrients when raw. I’m imagining all the good stuff like vitamin C being cooked out of it if they didn’t eat it raw.
For starters, I agree that it’s important to do your best to understand other cultures (with sampling foods being just one component of that) and I applaud your willingness to be empathetic to their side of the story.
I strongly believe in eating food from humane, sustainable sources — so long as the whale/seal was hunted as responsibly as you detailed, yes, I’d try it. Our world has much larger issues than Greenland hunting a few whales for cultural or subsistence reasons, but that’s a whole different post…
Hi Becky, you are so right. Sampling food is only one component, there is so much more to understanding a culture than eating their food. But it’s a good introduction for sure. I don’t know if I deserve an applause, but thank you. I figure, I am not a vegetarian, so if I can eat a cow on the ship, what’s the difference in eating a whale. And yes, we have a lot more issues out there then Greenland hunting their quota of whales.
I was recently in Greenland and made the decision to try minke whale. I figured it was there, part of a traditional meal, and offered to me as a guest. By not eating it when offered, I would have made a political point but possibly have offended my hosts, which I was loathe to do. It was not my favourite thing, in fact I found it a little unpleasant, but I felt it was important to demonstrate my willingness to understand the traditions of the north, without judgement based on my own biases – after all, Greenlanders are only able to capture 212 for subsistence reasons per year (according to BBC: http://bbc.in/160qjXC)
Thanks for the link Helen, I understood it was 175, but those numbers were probably older and it’s been up to 212. Yes, not a large number by any means. And I agree with you, it’s unpleasant to eat.
I love controversial pieces. Thank you for showing all sides of the story here. I love animals, but I also love meat. I’m one of those can’t live without bacon people, but would probably be heartbroken if I witnessed the slaughter of pigs. With that being said, I agree that eating local foods is the best way to immerse yourself in that culture and would most likely try whale if given the opportunity. I’m with you though and would draw the line at an endangered species.
I think I will eat whale any day in fact a 50 ton whale has just been spotted on the Kenyan coastline and the residents can’t wait for the mammal to come ashore.
Oh, I didn’t realize that it was on the menu in Kenya, do locals eat it regularly? do they hunt for it or wait for it to come ashore.
Actually there is a near-shore migration route, where locals can observe the whales along their journey. Sometime they catch them for meat. 50 ton whale can feed about 2000 families here. And the oil from it’s liver is used to power motor boats.
When I lived in Alaska, I tried muktuk which I thought was pretty gross. I also tried seal oil, which is used as a dip for chips, bread, etc. I’m not a fan of that either. I’d give whale another shot if it was prepared differently.
That’s a good point. We ate it raw. I did enjoy the soy sauce and the spices that we dipped in, but they went away quickly and all that was left was the oil and the chewiness. I understand why they were hunted for their oil now back in the day, they are full of it.
Yeah, so chewy. And oily! haha
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