Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

Aquatic duckweed: A new superfood, or just yet another fleeting food fad?

In Israel, a specific aquatic duckweed is grown, sold and promoted under the registered name Mankai, from the Hebrew Man (manna) and the Thai Kai (water eggs). These are tiny plants that live floating in water. The plant and its seeds hold tiny air bubbles so perhaps they can pop like popcorn.

In South-East Asia, for hundreds of years, it’s known for its rich nutrients (“water lentils”). Like all greens, it takes up greenhouse gas and produces Oxygen. And it ‘filters’ water from bacteria. But, if you want to eat it, it should have lived in clean water (it can grow in sewage water). (Don’t eat nettle from the woods that grew in a place nothing else could. Someone dumped there a leaking car battery and the plant is now full of poison.)

It is advertised as a superfood since it contains all the essential amino acids, iron, other minerals, and even vitamin B12. We’re looking forward to independent scientific research showing if any of it comes in significant quantities and how (un)easily these are absorbed from the intestines.

Flaxseed oil is great. But if you eat the tiny seeds whole, they come out whole and you get none of its goodness. Spinach has 10 times less Iron than Popeye assumed, but it’s also harder to absorb than meat’s iron. Vitamin C helps absorb calcium. Calcium hinders Iron absorption.

How does one best absorb the good from duckweed? Do you need to cook it (like potatoes), or better leave it as unheated as possible (like grains), or grind it freshly (like lattice)? It doesn’t have a lot of taste, many say. Is that for seasoned meat-eaters’ tastes or really? If it’s kind of bland, it has the drawback that many may start spicing it up like meat. So much salt is bad. The claim that it has low sodium is then as fake as the claim that sugar has no cholesterol. (It’s true, but our body transforms sugar into cholesterol!)

The next issue is, of course, if it is a safe food. For starters, it seems to have a lot of calcium oxalate, which would mean that you need to serve it mixed with a little chalk if you want to keep calcium in your bones and teeth.

To claim all kinds of health benefits is illegal in Israel unless these effects are recognized by the health authorities and there is no such thing yet.

At some places, it said this duckweed is highly cultivated, while in other places it was claimed to be genetic-mutation free. I hope that’s correct.

When it’s grown close to the consumer, it’s environmentally excellent, it seems. But here again, talks a promoter. It’s nice to be enthusiastic but why is he silent about the footprint of the lighting in this vertical farming?

It’s hyped as beautifully Israel-grown, good for the proud Zionist. But Amazon sells it USA-grown without mentioning that the mother company is Israeli, good for the angry anti-Zionist? (Hey, they need to eat too!)

It’s greener than green but anyone raising kids knows that they are ‘allergic’ to green. What can be done to de-color this food, switch it to another color (beetroot?), or breed it to have a redder underside?

Without clarity about the above, any text is mere an ad or propaganda. I am happy with anyone making a good living but I would be happier if everyone could make a good living honestly. We need information, facts.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500th blog post with the ToI. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To find his earlier blog posts on a certain subject XXX, among his over 1200 ones, go to the right-top corner of the Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". His second daily active less tame blog, to which one may subscribe, one may find here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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