Yagel-superfood from the tundra

Every traveler who enters the Far North draws attention to the fluffy and colored carpet of moss. In fact, this is not moss, but lichen - reindeer moss. It grows very slowly, up to 5 mm per year. In winter, reindeer moss makes up to 70% of the diet of reindeers. Without lichens, they die from intestinal diseases. It is usnic acid that helps maintaining health. And usnic acid has antibiotic properties. Because of this, in ancient times, wounded hunters covered the wound with lichen and could no longer worry about its cleanliness, pus did not form in the wound.

However, reindeer moss is suitable for food not only for deer, but also for humans. In the northern territories of Russia, due to its bactericidal properties, reindeer moss was used in baking bread in order to pserve the freshness of products. According to some scientists, this lichen is a storehouse of vitamins and minerals, moreover, in a form easily digestible for the human body. Deer moss contains vitamins of group B, vitamin A, C and others, trace elements: iron, copper, titanium, iodine, nickel, manganese, chromium, barium, etc. In the future, reindeer moss will become a valuable dietary supplement for humans, which will help them quickly recover after an illness and strengthen their immunity.

Now in some foreign and Moscow restaurants you can find dishes with the addition of reindeer moss. And sweets and chips from this lichen may soon become a useful alternative to the usual snacks.

Photo by Evgeny Volchkov

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