Characters Section

Door 2: Archibald G. Huntsman (one of Canada’s first oceanographers and fisheries biologists)

Hand drawn portrait of Archibald G. Huntsman inside the survival module


I am one of Canada’s first oceanographers and fisheries biologists. It is said that I made a significant mark on halieutic science. Halieutics deals with the utilization of living aquatic resources, whether they be plants or animals.

I am best known for my research on the Atlantic salmon, but I also studied marine animals, the growth and movement of fish, and commercial fishing techniques, and I taught marine zoology, among other subjects. I was also an accomplished inventor, and my inventions include a process for freezing fish. It was thanks to me that the first frozen fish fillets appeared in grocery stores in 1929.

2,300 years ago, the Greek physician Hippocrates wrote: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” In truth, no single food can fulfill all our nutritional needs or protect us from illness. A healthy and varied diet is very important to remain in good health.

Carbohydrates keep you active. They are found in sugar and everything that contains sugar (honey, jam, chocolate, candy), and in fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes. Honey is primarily composed of sugar and contains very few minerals.

For energy, you also need fats in your diet. Anything that is not consumed by the body moves under the skin and serves as food reserves. They are found in oils, animal fats, meat and fish. There are good fats which are beneficial for the body, such as olive oil or rapeseed (canola): they contribute to the reduction of bad cholesterol in the blood.

Some consume caffeine for energy. Did you know coffee isn’t the only food that contains caffeine? Soft drinks like cola and chocolate also have caffeine in them.

Proteins are essential to our body. They are found in meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes and soy. It's a myth that brown eggs are healthier than white ones: white or brown eggs of equal size have the same nutritional value. Their colour simply depends on the breed of hen that laid them.

A healthy diet doesn’t cure everything. For example, only antibiotics can overcome a bacterial infection. However, cranberry juice helps prevent urinary tract infections by preventing bacteria from sticking to urinary tubes.

Cranberry juice is far from being the only healthy fruit juice. Prune juice is very rich in iron, containing from 20% to 30% of the recommended daily intake of this mineral. It is important to consume enough iron to prevent anemia.

Fruit juices contain less fiber than fruit but as many vitamins. All fruits are not equal, even within the same kind of fruit! For example, red grapefruit contains more vitamin A, C and E than white grapefruit.

Eating fruit is part of a healthy diet but did you know that some of the foods you eat today were once considered dangerous? For example, until the 18th century, tomatoes were used strictly as ornamental plants because they contain a toxic substance called solanine. It disappears when the tomato ripens or when a green tomato is cooked.

To be healthy, eating fruit isn’t enough! Your diet must also contain enough nutritious vegetables. Did you know that iceberg lettuce contains about 8 times less vitamins A and C and 3 times less folic acid than romaine lettuce? In general, the darker a fruit or vegetable is, the more vitamins and minerals it contains.

Two vitamin and mineral rich vegetables are carrots and spinach. However, while spinach contains iron, it is a myth that it is the best source of it. The best sources of iron are meat, poultry, fish, seafood, legumes, iron-fortified cereals, breads, pasta, dark green vegetables and eggs. As for carrots, they contain lots of beta carotene. In the body, this substance is converted into vitamin A, which plays a part in the vision process.

The potato is another vegetable you might eat frequently in various forms. Did you know that potatoes contain as many calories as sweet potatoes do? Maybe you eat chips occasionally. Another fun fact on potatoes : calling potato chips cholesterol-free is nothing but a marketing trick. Cholesterol is animal fat, but potato chips are cooked in vegetable fat.

No single food contains a large quantity or variety of vitamins. For instance, fruit and vegetables contain mostly vitamin C. Many virtues are ascribed to certain vegetables, like garlic, but no study seems conclusive. Only a varied diet can give you all the vitamins you need.

To make your meals more interesting, spices are very useful. You can easily grow herbs in your garden or in pots indoors.

Dried fruits and nuts are nutritious. They are also rich in dietary fibre, which helps the intestine work. There is a type of fiber that softens the stool and another that helps with constipation. Many studies have shown the importance of dietary fibre in preventing such health problems as colon cancer, high cholesterol, diabetes, hypoglycaemia, constipation and hemorrhoids.

To increase your fiber intake, look for products containing whole grains, such as whole wheat bread. Often you will notice that the bread is fortified with vitamins to help people get all of their vitamins. But don’t buy a loaf just because it says brown bread on the wrapper! Some manufacturers use molasses to add brown colour to bread that contains no whole wheat at all.

No food contains enough vitamin D to meet all your daily requirements. The milk industry adds vitamin D to milk, since it helps you absorb the large quantities of calcium contained in this basic food. Firm cheeses (brick, cheddar, colby, edam, gouda, Swiss), yogurt, fortified soy beverages, salmon, sardines with bones and almonds are other great sources of calcium. Broccoli, figs and dark molasses also contain significant amounts of it.

Did you know that several bacteria, molds and yeasts are essential in the manufacture of foods such as yogurt, cheese, bread and beer? The holes in Swiss cheese are produced by bacteria! Propionobacterium bacteria give off gas and create holes in the cheese mixture as Swiss cheese is being made. Penicillium roqueforti mould gives Roquefort its blue colour and a strong flavour that some people love (and others hate).

Kefir is a fermented drink that contains microscopic fungi. A type of bacteria curdles the milk and gives yoghurt its distinctive taste... All microbes are not harmful to health and some even bring delicious foods into our lives. Even our digestion is dependent on microbes: our microbial flora consists of over 1 000 billion microbes useful for digestion!

My method of freezing fish was a hit worldwide. With my invention, you can enjoy fish all year round. Fatty fish are excellent for your health. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that are thought to reduce the risk of heart disease, and also contain less saturated fat (bad fat) than red meat. You probably know that freezing is a way to preserve food as it slows the growth of microbes dangerous to our health.

I am described as someone who had an insatiable curiosity. What about you? In the survival module, questions about food and diet will put your knowledge to the test. I think they will sharpen your appetite for knowledge, or maybe just your appetite, period!

Discover the other characters!