When Did, Human Beings Start to Eat Fish?
This question ” Start to Eat Fish ” is a never-ending source of conjecture. So, what may be said with confidence is that our very distant ancestors, when they resided near the sea, lake, or river, would have picked up the thought fast enough. Seeing the action of diving birds, and seeing fish trapped in rock pools or naturally formed obstacles in rivers, would have been adequate prompts.
In ancient times, the access to fish as food was limited.
Of the marine species, just inshore ones ran any danger of being found; deep sea species, save for the occasional standing on a shore, weren’t found, much less captured and eaten. Even the most accessible of inshore species were comparatively safe. So many fish, so few people. And, to judge by archaeological evidence, people found it simpler to prize mollusks off stone than to pursue darting fish; see the enormous deposits of bivalve shells seen in coastal Stone Age communities. A few of these deposits, for example, those at Skara Brae in Shetland, are well known; but they’re seen in several areas of the planet.
Freshwater fish loved less resistance. Even before the coming of nets and harpoons and fishing rods, they may be caught in fish traps generated from easy, natural materials like beavers used for making their dams.
Going forwards in time, it’s clear that, at the beginning of recorded history, fishing and eating fish were well-recognized practices. William Radcliffe’s exceptionally readable and wide-ranging Fishing from the First Times (1926) reveals that in the majority of areas of the Old-World China, the cultures of India as well as the Middle East, classical Greece and Rome fish were a significant characteristic of the dietary plan.
It’s also abundantly clear that in early historical times the craft of fishing as well as the scale of eating grown quickly. The works of early Chinese writers and classical Greek authors, even though some live in only fragments, demonstrate a sophisticated selection of special fishing techniques and significant discrimination on the list of species. Radcliffe finds that fishing techniques, at least for freshwater fish, have changed less over the centuries than accompanying techniques in, say, hunting (altered by the debut of the firearm); and the spear, the line, and hook, and the internet stayed preeminent fishing implements.
Unique Aspects of Fish as Food
Early people might have understood intuitively that fish made up an expensive food. There are lots of reasons for this. One reason, which no one would have been likely to say until recent times, is that fish want a less complex skeleton than land creatures since their weight is supported by the water in which they reside, supplying them much more flesh regarding body weight. They may be thus a wonderful source of low-fat protein. (Incidentally, not all species of fish have accurate, bony skeletons. The type of particular relevant groups, notably sharks and rays, as “non-bony” show they have a skeleton of cartilaginous material, not bone.)
There are different ways that fish is exceptional among the groups of food. First, they make up by far the biggest resource of wild food on the planet. Second, the vast numbers of species of edible fish differentiate them from other foods. Not even the citizens of Norway.
Furthermore, humanitarian concerns are used only rarely and selectively to fish and other marine or freshwater creatures, in sharp contrast to the land animals (particularly mammals) and fowl. Right, it’s lately become unseemly for anyone except the Inuit (Inuits) to eat marine mammals, and the matter is occasionally revealed over the best way to kill lobsters and crabs painlessly; but empathy seldom extends to fish. However, there could be a slow reversal of approach on this particular issue; indeed, the first indications have already appeared of efforts to contain fish in “animal rights.”
This last point would fit in with the reverence that in many cultures have been allowed to fish, and with the symbolic significance, they’ve loved. It’s well known a fish was the first symbol of Christianity, that several disciples of Jesus were fishermen, and that a number of his best-known wonders included fish in addition to bread and wine.
In other faiths and cultures, overly fish have had a particular place. In ancient Egypt and elsewhere, fish were sacrificed for the gods. They may also take on the part of “scapegoats” or sin-bearers. So, in old Assyria folks assembled on New Year’s Day by a lake or stream and, when they see much fish, took this as an omen for the expiation of human sins, and throw their garments into the water for the fish to bear away, as well as their sins with them.
Fish may even be used, in Babylon and classical Rome, for auguries and oracular answers, predicated on a study of their moves. Nevertheless, it was in Christian cultures the spiritual purpose of fish resulted in practical results. In medieval times the demand for fish, excited by the Christian Church’s insistence on meatless days, together with the recognition that considerable stocks of fish like cod existed in northern waters, excited voyages of exploration as well as the development of techniques for fishing in distant waters.
So, at least in Europe, fisheries and commerce in fish took a new turn as the medieval period started. Northerly individuals including the Scandinavians appeared from comparative obscurity. The active Hanseatic League, centered on the Baltic Sea, was based to a significant extent on its near monopoly of the commerce in salted and dried fish; these fish came from the huge inventories of the North Atlantic. Honestly, the subsequent colonization of North America was sparked some would say mainly brought on by the hunt for ever more powerful methods for using these stocks and by the opposition between the maritime powers for them.
The impacts of all this action are still with us. The salted and dried cod of medieval times survives now as an important article of commerce, under Scandinavian names for example klippfisk. In many portions of the world folks who now have better means of conserving fish, notably freezing, continue to eat these products since they’ve got a preference in their opinion. The same applies to the famous lutefisk which Swedes, by way of example, devotedly eat at Christmas despite all of the hassle involved in preparing it. It applies to a lot of sorts of corned fish, including the hundred and one types of corned herring for example kippers and bloaters, red herring and rollmops.
All this action means a recognition of fish as a valuable food resource. Really, in the Orient, the Chinese have a consistent record, stretching back for more than four thousand years, of understanding the nutritional (and the medical) worth of the majority of seafood’s, and of honouring fish. Bernard Read in his priceless “Chinese Materia Medica” remarks that: Owing to its creative powers, in China the fish is a sign of regeneration. As fish are reputed to swim in pairs, so a pair of fish is emblematic of connubial bliss.
As in water fish go readily in just about any way they signify independence from many constraints, thus in the Buddha-state, the thoroughly emancipated understand no limitations or obstacles. Their scaly armour makes them a sign of martial aspects, bringing strength and bravery; and swimming against the current supplies an emblem of perseverance. The fish is a symbol of abundance or wealth and success, as they’re so abundant in the seas and rivers.
In the Western world, however, approaches have been more ambivalent. Even though the fish was a sign of Christianity and prescribed as Lenten cuisine, views were split on its values, even on its suitability, like food. In Britain, by way of example, the signs of eighteenth-century cookbooks demonstrates increased consumption of fresh fish from the ocean, but the literature of Dietetics reveals a countervailing current among some medical authorities.
As lately as 1835 the revered writer of a guide on “modern domestic medicine” declared that fish “affords, upon the whole, but little nourishment, and is, for the large part, of hard digestion, and this also seems to be the general opinion of sensible medical men.” One writer even gave a long novel to claiming the vital source of leprosy was “the eating of fish in a state of commencing decomposition.”
These examples remind us that it’s just in the current century that seafood has been completely accepted in the West as an excellent source of nourishment. More particularly, it’s merely in recent decades the value of fish oils for well-being has been completely understood. The acknowledgment of fish as a precious post in the diet has resulted in a flowering of publications dedicated to fish cookery. The visibility given by writers and by the media usually to fish as food, notably in the English-speaking world, is a brand-new phenomenon which has its effect on demand.
The inquiry arises: what are the prospects for supplies of fish, and will they be sufficient for the growing world population? There are lots of factors involved here. Maybe the most crucial are the development of aquaculture. Colin E. Nash has demonstrated that there’s an abundance of signs from early sources in Egypt, China, and the Mediterranean area to show how the simple beginnings of the business led long ago to comparatively advanced practices.
In classical Rome, by way of example, there were numerous vivaria (fish tanks), which functioned in part as status symbols for the wealthy but were dedicated to the creation of food. Afterward, from the early Middle Ages onwards, fishponds became nearly omnipresent in Europe, especially in association with religious associations for example monasteries. It doesn’t require a guru to perceive the advantages, which is not astonishing that there’s an early and influential tradition of building and stocking fishponds in Asia also.
These, of course, are for freshwater fish, mainly carp and (more recently) tilapia. Even in classical Rome, there were vivaria for marine species and improvement was already being made in taking advantage of saltwater lagoons and appropriate portions of estuaries to produce enclosures in which sea fish might be raised to adulthood. Carol Déry has shown the Romans had advanced incredibly much in this form of action, possibly farther than new individuals until the final quarter of the twentieth century. Now, but the pace is quickening.
Techniques for raising salmon in sea lochs or similar surroundings and for coping with the attendant dangers (pollution, diseases, etc.) are continuously enhanced. The number of species included is growing as trials show that more and more can be successfully brought to marketable size in a safe environment. Atlantic cod are being raised in Norwegian fjords; catfish are raised in “farms” in the southern states of America, etc.
The future seems bright.
When it comes to sea fisheries, it’s hard to be equally active, since so many fishing grounds are now being used up to and beyond the sustainable limits, and a few stocks, for example, cod in the northwest Atlantic, have already been overfished to the point of extinction. Politics enter into the issue in a big way. To put it quite slightly, not everyone in the fishing sector is prepared to give short term gains for long term advantages. The same goes for customers, which is important that at the start of the current century a new international organization, the Marine Stewardship Council, set about creating a comprehensive group of Principles and Criteria for Sustainable Fisheries. A system of “eco-labelling” is recommended, whereby accurate labels will suggest to people purchasing fish whether these are from an endangered source or not.
Advancement might be slow but it’s being made, and there’s one bright idea. People are now better equipped than ever before to pick the waters, and also better educated in regards to the manners in which crops can safely be maximized.