Gypsy Crossings

No Scurvy Here. #noscurvy

I’m all about food. Fresh food. Tasty food. Food that was grown by a local farmer. I’m a naturopathic doctor, a farmer, an eater. So when people ask me if we will have fruit on board so we don’t get scurvy the answer is hell yes! As the official food provisioner for Gypsy it’s my job to make sure we have plenty of nourishing food to cross an ocean - for 30 days - without stopping. An overwhelming task? Well, yes, but only because there is only so much space in a monohull sailboat. So you might wonder what have I packed in this boat that can last 30+ days, isn’t processed with unwanted chemicals, can be prepared easily in high rolling seas, has minimal packaging, and, is tasty and nutritious? Well, I guess the answer to that will unfold over the course of this trip and this blog. For today I will just mention a bit about the newest addition to our pantry - fresh picked citrus, a gift from our friends Jackie and Vance. I harvested them with Jackie’s help from their backyard here in Ventura as her sweet chickens busily pecked the ground around me enjoying the tidbits of grub that nourish them.

You might remember that scurvy was a problem that caused the demise of millions of seamen from the 14th to the 19th centuries. British seamen got the name ‘limeys’ while sailing in the Caribbean because they drank lime juice everyday to prevent the disease. Accounts of the symptoms of this vitamin C deficiency are documented as far back as 1500 BCE by the Egyptians. The food choice for a cure back then was onion but the most common over the ages was citrus. Even though the prevailing wisdom assured that certain foods could prevent the problems, it wasn’t known exactly why. Science and research worked long and hard to discover the causative factor for these symptoms but without avail. In the 1930’s the vitamin C molecule, ascorbic acid, was finally isolated by Hungarian biochemist Albert Szent-Györgyi. Like so many discoveries, he was not even studying this particular mystery.

Deficiency of this essential nutrient can cause gum disease, weakness and muscle soreness. It inhibits wound healing, causes tissue to bleed and eventually can lead to death if left untreated. Most animals can manufacture vitamin C. Humans and guinea pigs cannot. I’m not sure what guinea pigs ingest for their vitamin C but Bob and I will be eating our citrus!

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