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I'm moving to Seoul, South Korea

Battling the MSG Myth » "Help! I Have a Question" » I'm moving to Seoul, South Korea « Previous Next »

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Annie
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Posted on Monday, December 13, 2010 - 8:53 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Help! I am leaving in just over a month to teach English for a year in Seoul, South Korea. I don't speak a word of Korean...and I don't know if they use tons of MSG in their food, or lots of soy sauce, or how to read labels or anything! I think I learned after doing a search on here that the word for MSG is "miwon."

Has anyone been to Seoul, or does anyone know anything about Korean food that could give me some advice before I go? Otherwise, I will find out for myself (and hopefully won't get too poisoned) and will let all of you know how it is!
Di
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Posted on Tuesday, December 14, 2010 - 3:04 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Annie,

What a wonderful opportunity for an experience that will last a lifetime. I have not been there, but wish you the best of luck. Just try to prepare as much food for yourself as possible, that will be the only way you will know what is in it.
Roy Piwovar
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Posted on Tuesday, December 14, 2010 - 3:22 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Be careful with Seoul food:

"Garlic, green onions, ginger root, pine nuts, and monosodium glutamate are all used generously. Soy sauce, vinegar soy sauce (a combination of two parts soy sauce, one part vinegar and monosodium glutamate), and kochujan are the condiments. The latter is a red pepper and bean paste made from a blend of soy sauce, bean paste, and powdered red peppers in equal pans."

http://www.food-links.com/countries/korea/foods-korea.php
ali
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Posted on Tuesday, December 14, 2010 - 10:03 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi Annie, First congratulations on your new job. Im quite envious of your travels i dont mind telling you. I traveled quite extensively a lot of years ago now. One thing i remember was that in India (not Korea i know!!) i had great food most of the time in the little street shops. No headaches, no issues at all. It was mostly dhal and rice. Then we stayed in a Tibetan village and i had a headache the whole month i was there. This was my first indication that i was sensitive to msg though it was a few years later the penny dropped. This headache was so bad i thought it was from my back teeth and would have cheerfully had them removed. So much head and gum pressure. Truly awful.On our last day i went into the kitchen to say goodbye to staff and they were making my omlette. Powdered egg, powdered milk and a huge tub labelled msg that they were spooning in. Doesnt take a genius to work out why i had that headache. So i guess im saying, be sure to ask what you are eating if at all possible. Id have never even known you could make an omlette this way. I must confess though that they were very tasty omelettes!!:-)
Annie
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Posted on Monday, December 27, 2010 - 4:04 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks for the info! I certainly plan on preparing most of my own food. I just know so little about Korea and Korean food that it is a bit scary! I just spent 3 days of my Christmas time at my parents' house poisoned from the little bit of baking powder we put in my "safe" cookies! That was the one ingredient I had overlooked, and I didn't realize it had cornstarch in it. I thought it was baking soda but different...not baking soda with crap added to it, lol! I kept eating the cookies until finally I could not deny that they must be the culprit...along with pancakes I ate Christmas morning (also with baking powder). Well, now I know the power of cornstarch! It packs a punch! I had blurry vision (tired eyes) and spent a LOT of time in bed with NO energy whatsoever. Finally yesterday I could no longer deny I was poisoned (I get a little sleepy from chocolate, but not like THAT) and decided to get better. I made myself a big salad and found out about the baking powder. Anyways, I'm better today! And I got a nice reminder of just how sensitive to this stuff I really am! It is not to be fooled with!
ali
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Posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 - 8:07 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Baking powder was one of the last pieces of the jigsaw with our youngest. Every time i baked she had a reaction, though we didnt. Turned out she cant handle regular baking powder. I now do what Kirsty suggested and mix bicarbonate of soda half and half wiht arrow root. If im making a savoury dish i add cider vineger to activate the baking soda and with a sweet dish or biscuits i add lemon juice to the recipe. Works a teat. If you dont want to taste vinegar in your savoury food throw in a little sugar and they pretty much cancel each other out taste wise. Hope that helps. I hope your Hope you are soon feeling better Annie
bo'nana
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Posted on Thursday, December 30, 2010 - 11:38 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

hey ali... i just saw on the news here about North Ireland's water crisis... sounds awful!! i hope that your family is ok (wasnt sure which part of the country you are in)
ali
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Posted on Thursday, December 30, 2010 - 12:58 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

thanks for your concern bo'nana. We are in the south and things are pretty grim on the water front. Weve just had twelve hours yesterday with no water but its back no now. So many burst pipes when things thawed after a two week freeze. Reservoirs running low. Water board working round the clock trying to locate the leaks and do repairs. We have faired quite well in this county though a lot have internal damage and flooding from burst house pipes. Thankfully not us. Phew. On a brighter note, while stocking up on bottled water yesterday, i bumped into the local priest. He has a well and a stand pump just a few minutes walk from our house. He has said that we can fill bottles there whenever we want for fresh clean drinking water. Happy to now have a clean water supply. No more flourinated water. Yey! Always a silver lining.lining.
bo'nana
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Posted on Thursday, December 30, 2010 - 2:18 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

wow! as someone who has discovered she is highly fluoride sensitive, i can say having clean well water is a Blessing for sure- the Creator always works in such unexpected ways, and small miracles are miracles nonetheless :-)

sooo sorry for all the trouble Ireland is having, and with this freeze and burst pipes on top of everything else- my prayers are with your poor country!
ali
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Posted on Thursday, December 30, 2010 - 11:37 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks Bo'nana. At least maybe now they will have to sort out our water pipes!! After many years living in Holland were things worked and ran efficiently Ireland can be an exasperating place!! hehe.
Do you have a clean water supply Bo'nana? I know i find buying bottled water so expensive to use for everything. We used it for cold drinks but for anythign hot we use the tap. So happy now i dont need to do that:-) I hope you have, or find a clean water supply. Its a priceless commodity for sure.
Annie
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Posted on Saturday, January 01, 2011 - 7:02 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

What are your reactions to fluoride, bo'nana? I'm just curious. I know that I get almost heartburn when I drink Dasani...thought it was kind of weird. I wonder if that's a fluoride thing...but there could be all kinds of bad stuff in that water. I filter my water at home with a PUR filter but after I bought it I noticed it said "leaves in beneficial fluoride." I thought, "What a waste of money, why would it leave that in?" But, it does at least make the water taste better...
bo'nana
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Posted on Sunday, January 02, 2011 - 3:30 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

well, i really think my sensitivity to Fluoride has been building over the years... but now that ive learned about "halide-" or "halogen sensitivity", i feel that i have probly always had at least a low level reaction to very much of any of the halides, even the beneficial ones.

for example, Chlorine being the absolute worst, and always has been... even as a kid, i loved the idea of swimming but always came home coughing up gunk and with headaches & earaches that sometimes lasted for days. i didnt connect it to chlorine in the pools until i was vacationing in CanCun as a young adult, and spent an ENTIRE DAY swimming in a beautiful, pure lagoon (well, back then it was still pure... doubt if it still is ): ...and absolutely NO ill effects, if anything i felt completely rejuvenated and energized. i remember thinking, wow- if i lived here i could be a mermaid, i would never want to leave the water! the only other time i had that experience with water was 20 years ago, in Maui, same thing- perfectly pure, crystal clear lagoon water... oh my goodness it felt sooooo good, i just hated to leave!

but, water in general ive realized i do tend to avoid (unless its a steaming hot bath)- i even have to force meself to drink it, and have since i was a kid- i connect that now to Chlorine sensitivity. and it got worse in the 80's when my area growing up began adding "chlorofluoramine" to the water. which killed my hermit crabs by the way- dissolved them to black goo- one of my earliest hints that everything the "powers that be" authorize in the 'name of health' just may not be as healthy as touted.

ok, so researching later into what exactly was this 'chlorofluoramine' everyone in the LA Basin was/(still is?) forced to drink... basically, industrial Chlorine-Fluoride-Ammonia compounds. i have no idea what the cumulative effects are on most people, i only know that i am very sensitive now to all 3, & i believe it likely the result of years of exposure at the tap.

Fluoride- a few years ago, toothpaste began making my mouth and tongue sore. i had chronically chapped lips before that for many years, but didnt make a connection until they healed after quitting toothpaste last summer (thanx to good advice here at msgmyth!! :-)
...fluoride in toothpaste makes my tongue burn, irritates my gums, makes my palate peel. when it got to the point that i was living every day with a sore mouth & bleeding gums, i finally began looking for answers why... lo & behold, discovered fluoride was behind my problems. i have scrupulous dental hygiene and couldnt explain the insidious onset of gingivitis, and wasnt willing to accept the mainstream medical wisdom that it is just a buildup of bacteria from poor dental habits &/or a natural result of aging. instead i felt like it fit the symptoms of a low level poisoning, and once i ditched the toothpaste completely in favor of baking soda and plain vegetable-based soap- and everything promptly healed!- i felt my theory to be vindicated.

my latest experience with fluoride was just this past thanksgiving, and i am still trying to mend the damage- grr! i had just started drinking 2-3 cups of a nice Earl Grey Tea every day, in an effort to boost my immune & reduce the amount of coffee i'd been drinking. after about 4 days, coincidentally i had the brilliant idea to scrub the black yuck out of the bathroom grout using chlorine bleach (i know, not too bright- thought i could "handle it" in the name of a sparkly bathroom for the holidays). one drop of dilute rinse water splashed up under my right eye. great, i thought, and rinsed well giving no more thought to it...
until i woke the next day with a nasty itchy pink eczema all around my lips, on my chin, and a big patch of it under my right eye. id never had anything like it before in my life!
after googling for answers (if u dig long enough u can unearth a lot) i discovered that: it was "Perioral Dermatitis" which among other things has been linked to both Chlorine exposure and Fluoride excess. drat, i thought, i am sensitive to both- but what might they have in common and how could i be getting into too much fluoride (our water in the Portland area is one of the last municipals that still does NOT add fluoramines- altho they keep pushing)...or was this triggered by something else completely?
after more digging, i discovered that Chlorine & Fluoride both belong to a small class of chemicals called Halides, so there is the relation. Halide sensitivity is known but mainstream medicine only thinks of it in terms of Bromine poisoning from rx. i discovered a long time ago that Brominated flour does not make me feel good inside, vague discomfort, so i avoid... Iodized Table Salt as well has always burned my tongue the same way as Fluoride, and if i eat too many chips at the mexican restaurant sure enough my palate peels- but real evaporated ocean seasalt causes no problems at all, no matter how much i sometimes sprinkle on.
so there is definitely the Halide connection.

then i discovered the hidden source of all the Fluoride- the delicious black tea i'd been unwittingly poisoning meself with for nearly a week was just LOADED, becoz Camelia Sinensis is one of only a few (that ive discovered, anyway) food crops which absorbs Fluoride from the soil like crazy. The others that i know of are Rooibos/RedBush and White/Thompson Grapes. Red Bush tea has always made me sick to my stomach, and i stopped being able to tolerate more than a few sips of wine years ago... but i realized that besides the tea id also been munching a lot of trailmix... with Raisins. oops.

sooo... in a very longwinded way, there is my story. i thought i would write the expanded version in case it helps makes connections for anyone else out there.

oh, i almost forgot to mention- these plants have not historically been filled to overflowing with fluorides... after more research to discover how is all this fluoride getting into the plants in the first place, i learned that it is becoz conventional uniculture farming practices typically involve spraying the crops with FluoroPhosphate fertilizers and pesticides. most of us have heard how the phosphates in agriculture have damaged the soil, but Fluoride is such an untouchable, controversial matter (ive been cussed out- literally- by a dentist becoz i dared to share information at our children's school which offered a different perspective on fluoride than is conventionally accepted)...
so believe me, much of this is brand new info to me too!

the dermatitis took 3 weeks to heal from my chin, but it stopped spreading the day i stopped drinking tea. my lips are finally mostly healed. i still have a great big cracked pink patch of eczema right under my right eye, plus a dime sized patch under my left, those have been very stubborn, so i expect there is some other underlying issue(s) i have yet to uncover.... life as an E.I. is always interesting, to say the least!

well i know this was VERY wordy. but i hope it might also be at least a little enlightening and helpful in some way as well...
cheers- and Happy New Year! :-)
Annie
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Posted on Friday, February 04, 2011 - 10:42 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

So, just an update--I've been living in Seoul for a couple of weeks now and I just want to say, the food is AMAZING. They don't use pesticides on their food here. I can even eat just regular bananas and they don't hurt my stomach. Nothing is coated in that nasty wax. I'm in heaven! I can even eat potatoes without having a reaction; they must not fertilize with hydrolized protein! It's wonderful!

If any of you are interested, I am keeping a blog while I'm here teaching English. Here is the link!

anniesgotseoul.blogspot.com
ali
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Posted on Saturday, February 05, 2011 - 12:01 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Oh Annie, thats such wonderful news. I know from previous posts how worried you were about the food side of your travels. Im just so happy to hear that you can eat "normal" food with no issues. I imagine that is such a relief and takes a lot of stress out of living!! No more routing around for organic this or that or being scared to eat. Just amazing for you. I will certainly have a look at your blog. Thanks so much for taking the time to update us on life in Seoul. I hope your stay is happy and rewarding.
x :-)
Annie
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Posted on Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - 7:56 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hey ya'll! I have changed the domain name of my blog. It's now mailorderteacher.blogspot.com. Still doing really well with food here. I can eat at pretty much any restaurant. They don't use many additives at all. I even noticed when my students eat Cheetos they aren't dyed orange. I've even eaten a little soy sauce and no problems. I've almost forgotten I'm MSG sensitive! I was only reminded yesterday after eating overcooked lentils. I always feel a small reaction after eating lentils but had ignored it up until then. But Korea's food is amazing. All the vegetables are local, farmer's market quality. I've only had like a small handful of reactions, and not bad ones, since I arrived in January. I love it! I can even stop at a little pizza place and get a pizza to go for like $5 and have never had any sort of reaction. They use very little marinara and they don't cook it all day, either. Plus, they don't use things like enriched flour. I love it!!!
Di
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Posted on Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - 3:21 am:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Annie, Amazing, who would have thought? I'm so glad you have been well and can eat just about everything there. Can we all come visit you? he-he
sara
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Posted on Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - 6:11 pm:   Delete PostPrint Post   Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

can't we just move in with annie? - shopping sounds great - wish I could find local grown easily here

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