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Got chopsticks?

December 3rd, 2003 · No Comments

Another health article in today’s Seattle Times, this one on the correlation between chopstick use and osteoarthritis Chinese diners stick to their chops, arthritis link aside

I had heard about this study earlier this year, on the radio and on CNN.com, but this article explores a little more about the culture and history of chopsticks, and also mentions how SARS has provided another reason to question the tradition of dipping into common bowls. When I first read it too, I was a bit skeptical – how substantial is the study – how well could this theory be proven?! It seems that Chinese physicians and people are also skeptical:

“Ridiculous,” snaps Dr. Cao Li, a physician at the bone department of Beijing’s Xuanwu Hospital, which offers both traditional Chinese and Western medical care. “I have been here for many years, and I’ve never seen a single case of arthritis that could be linked to chopsticks.”

Theories vary, but many say chopsticks date to primitive people who used twin twigs to pluck morsels of meat from the fire. Chinese food evolved into a bite-size cuisine cooked with little fuel and easily grabbed by the slivers of wood — which would be difficult with most American meals….

Could this herald the dawn of a nation of diners who eat with forks and knives — and, given the imminent arrival of Taco Bell, sporks?

Unlikely, says Ma Huidi, a professor at the Institute of Chinese Culture in Beijing.

“Chinese people have been using chopsticks for more than 3,000 years,” Ma says. “Younger generations tend to try new ways of life and taste new cultures. But chopsticks are an important part of Chinese food culture and will never disappear from people’s lives.”

I have relatives who had arthritis – but as far as I knew, they never used chopsticks. I don’t think this study is going to deter our family from continuing to eat with them. Our girls keep asking us when they will be old enough to use chopsticks. It is a little piece of cultural and family heritage to pass down to our children. Chopsticks are not about to disappear from our lives either.
We’ll be sticking with chopsticks :-)!

Tags: news