Looking down the list of ingredients for the Therapy Bar you soon spot ‘Zander (Phragmites communis: natural extract)’.
This exotic sounding item has a wonderful, romantic history that starts with the Ice Age in Eastern Europe some 15,000 years ago. If you can imagine the heaving bergs and glaciers of the present day Antarctic being transposed to Scandinavia and Northern Europe, then you have a picture of the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) as they must have appeared during the first Ice Age.
The science bit
Ice is not static but moves inexorably with tremendous strength as a response to gravity. As it moves it grinds the underlying bedrock, creating shallow depressions. After the ice melted these depressions became lakes and these in turn were quickly colonised by algae, reeds and fish.
Even today the Baltic States suffer from pretty severe winters when the lakes freeze over for several months. They are not fed, as Scottish lakes are, by fast flowing, well oxygenated rivers but by the sluggish aquifers that are associated with flat land. This means that the amount of dissolved oxygen that ends up in the lake is limited and is quickly used up by lake dwelling organisms.
Now the reeds growing around the margin of the lake are vigorous and lush. They are also herbaceous, which means that dead leaves and stems are going to fall into the water regularly. In a well oxygenated environment the organic debris would be quickly oxidised by organisms to carbon dioxide and water.
When oxygen is scarce
However when oxygen is scarce, this cannot happen and you end up with an anaerobic jelly. Over many thousands of years and at a deposition rate of 1 mm per year, this jelly has built up. Even allowing for surface oxygenation, many lakes may contain a thickness of some 9 metres of this material.
In Latvia you can see some truly beautiful lakes. If you were to jump in for a swim you’d be surprised that the water barely passed your knees! But then you are standing on a lot of jelly. So the water gets displaced, as do the fish. The creature of economic importance out there is the pike-perch, much sort after for its creamy sweet flesh but increasingly displaced by the accumulating reed jelly.
It’s been a long and slow process but now the jelly or ‘Zander’ is being carefully dredged. The ecological balance is being redressed and before long the pike-perch will recolonize the lakes.
Everything we do is engineered to be ethical, natural and sustainable and critically help and protect our environment.
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