Date: 11 July 2012
Wind speed: 15 Knots
Temp with wind chill: -38C
Food and drink, fascinating as a standard, becomes that much more intriguing in Antarctica. Deep into the season as we are now, when you consume something you can feel its positive or negative effect almost immediately. Vitamin C and the inclusion of ascorbic acid in the diet are ‘no-brainers’ these days, but frustratingly the battle against scurvy was still dangerously present for both Shackleton and Scott.
As early as 1614 the East India Company’s pamphlet “The Surgeons Mate” was rightly advising the consumption of citrus fruit as a cure for scurvy. Unfortunately the trade route through the West Indies, and the mass availability of limes, saw to the reducing and boiling down of this potential cure, removing the vitamin C and just souring the taste of an already excruciating death.
Illustration from Henry Walsh Mahon ‘A Case of Scurvy Journal’
It was this confusion which meant that 300 years later the jury was still out for Scott and his men. Thankfully some focus was placed on the possible effect of eating rotten/tinned meat and the wasting effects of scurvy. Hence eat fresh (slightly raw) meat and you’ll be fine (with the raw meat containing the essential vitamins).
Modern day Scott Base is now well out of the grips of scurvy, but we do feel this pinch of cravings for food high in vitamin C. Trips to the lush wilds of McMurdo’s Hydroponics Unit give us a regular fix of green smells. My flat leaf parsley habit is getting way out of control, finger pointing to whom is snaffling the foliage can’t be far off.
Simon inspecting McMurdo Station's 2012 crop