Maybe you have already heard of edible bird’s nest, or perhaps have even tried it yourself. However, for centuries until now, a lot of us are still mystified by the mirage of health benefits it possesses and astounded by the huge demand despite its sky-high prices. So, what is in bird’s nest that amazes us and how sustainable is the industry when it comes to the modern world?
Bird’s nest: A Quick Introduction
If you are already familiar, bird’s nests are nutritious solidified spittle that come from swiftlets that they form to make nests and lay their eggs. With their spit, they create a semi-solid woven cup that stick on cave crevices and walls of tall buildings which would then harden to create the edible bird’s nest.
To understand this prized delicacy better, and how to recognize real bird’s nest from the fake ones, there are some general things to consider.
First, bird’s nests are indigenous to some parts of Asia, particularly in Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. Despite that, it is the Chinese folks who are partial to this nutritious delicacy and are known to be the largest importer.
How are bird’s nest cultured?
Bird’s nest farmers commonly attract birds into deep and dark locations such as warehouses or barns, and different large structures using a specialized whistle. Once the bird’s have settled into the designated area, they would then start to create their nests using their saliva and along with other elements.
Usually, it would take a couple of months to a full year for the birds to complete building the nests, lay their eggs and wait for it to hatch then eventually leave the nests. Once the birds leave their nests, the farmers come in and begin thee process of harvesting the nests typically by ascending to the top and removing them
Farmers attempt to give a secure and hospitable setting for these birds so that they will come back punctually during their reproduction season. This gives farmers with constant supply of bird’s nests.
Folks ventured out into the caves and woods to look for and harvest bird’s nests before the start of bird’s nest farms. Even until today, rare types of bird’s nest are still harvested in caves surrounding the islands in Vietnam.
What are the benefits of consuming bird’s nest?
It seems that the health advantages of edible bird’s nest are still to be disproven. Scientific sources have suggested that the nests contain a large quality of nutritional significance. However, positive physical effects in the long run are continuously being studied and recorded.
As of date, the adverse concept has been around cultivation methods since diseases are commonly occurring among farmed swiftlets as they jammed into small houses. On the contrary, the traditional ways of gathering nests by hand are far less problematic especially in natural ecosystems yet the sustainability surrounding the practice are still questionable.
At this point, let us break down the known health benefits that is in edible bird’s nest:
1. Supplies ample oxygen levels and natural detoxifier
Edible bird’s nest contains 18 amino acids which some are not formed by the human body naturally and they give several positive benefits to health. The group of amino acids in bird’s nest combine to speed up the rate where our bodies metabolize harmful substances. In addition, they stimulate the expansion of red blood cell levels which our body requires to remove carbon dioxide.
2. Fights against chronic illnesses, improve energy and nerve function
Edible bird’s nest is said to contain trace minerals such as Copper, Zinc, and Manganese which, when combined, boosts the body function. Our body needs Manganese to maintain normal brain and nerve function while helping it form important connective tissues and balancing our hormones. For our energy as well as red blood cell production, copper plays an important role as it also regulates our immune system. As for Zinc, it is needed by our body to improve our digestion and is also a powerful antioxidant and has properties that prevents diseases such as cancer and heart problems.
3. Boosts our immune system
As such, nutritional properties in edible bird’s nest have positive effects on our body and our liver and kidneys are of no exception especially if bird’s nest is consumed regularly. It also contains essential proteins that aid our bodies to fight against major health problems.
4. Healthy and glowing skin
This claim started in Ancient China when elite folks would consume bird’s nest regularly and discovered that it has profound effects on the skin. It is said that edible bird’s nest contains anti-aging properties while increasing our collagen and skin’s elasticity from high amounts of threonine and galactose. When glycine is combined, these properties can help reduce wrinkles while increasing the production of healthy skin cells.
5. Additional benefits
Other advantages that is included in the list of benefits when consuming edible bird’s nest are improved appetite and digestion, flu prevention, cartilage, and cell regeneration, and is also considered as a prized supplement for healthy pregnancy in women.
Why is bird’s nest so expensive?
One of the substantial factors that affects the price of edible bird’s nest is its rare characteristics. Naturally, the bird’s dwell in caves and often build or create their nests on high caverns of limestone caves. This makes the process of extracting them quite challenging, and if not, dangerous. The laborers who forage for edible bird’s nest in caves often live in mountainous areas and do not utilize modern equipment for climbing, making the job a high-risk one. Not only that, the process of harvesting is tedious and time-consuming that needs a lot of hours to work on manually.
For this reason, many bird’s nest farmers are building their own birdhouses so they can let swiftlets create their nests there for them to culture locally. However, despite its expanding industry, there are ecological and sustainability issues that farmers must face, and some even have negative effects, especially when it comes to long-term harvesting and processing. Not only that, the modernization of producing bird’s nest have taken away traditional jobs from the people who live off harvesting bird’s nest from caves.
Why has bird’s nest become a growing demand when it comes to health food?
As more and more people lean on organic supplements that aligns with today’s modern health trends, the supply of edible bird’s nest have extended not just within the Asian regions, some have even reached Western borders. However, it remains to be seen that Hongkong and China are still considered high importers of the product up to date. Even more so, people who have practiced Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have contributed to the significant boost in the demand for edible bird’s nest. Most have even foregone the expensive price that comes with it and have placed a high value for its nutritional contents and rare features.
Bird’s nest farming: a boom in the health industry?
In recent years, the industry of harvesting and selling edible bird’s nest have reached its peak. However, there have also been an increase in reports of fake bird’s nest swirling around the market. Additionally, there were also reports of farmed edible bird’s nest that were contaminated with nitrate and other toxic elements which prompted an import ban in China in 2011. These reports have later introduced the use of advanced technology that uses scientific and chemical techniques that determine how authentic the bird’s nest is being produced. Exporters are also required to have their products go through this extensive laboratory scrutiny to get approval for exporting to China.
How does bird’s nest farming look like in the future?
Suppliers like us here in Cai Shen Singapore, we make sure that we provide the best and nutritious edible bird’s nest. We follow a tedious production process and facility to guarantee fresh and genuine edible bird’s nest around. We can also say the same for most, but to get the most value out of buying real and edible bird’s nest, we provide the best of our abilities. Not only that, we make sure that our facilities are strategically located far away from residents to prevent potential ecological and economical issues. Then, our many facilities also provide employment for those in province areas to help them sustain their livelihood.
It remains to be seen what the industry will look like in the future. However, edible bird’s nest has surpassed thousands of years and is remains to be one of the strangest yet rare item to be consumed by most people. For as long as swiftlets are not being harmed and exploited, then the industry will sustain for as long as people will continue consuming it.
Edible bird’s nest continues to be a mystifying element and researchers will continue to prove the claims of the positive effects it has on the body. Until then, the testament of those who have tried and proven the benefits will continue to consume this prized delicacy for years to come.