Tag Archives: Australia

Is Marmite worth the price in the U.S?

IMG_1442When I go shopping at the local supermarket in my neck of the woods a stone’s throw north of New York City, I occasionally browse through the items in the British/Irish section to see if there is anything interesting. There are so many British products there I often feel like I am shopping in a market in Liverpool, England. The item that interests me the most is the quintessentially British Marmite, which is a strong tasting yeasty-vegetable product that is spread on bread, usually for breakfast in the U.K. As I understand it, it is something of a staple in the U.K(though some people hate it), and Vegemite, a very similar product is commonly eaten in its former colony, Australia. In fact, Vegemite is so quintessentially Australian, it was mentioned in Men at Work’s song “Down Under” in the famous verse: “He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich”.

IMG_1440Marmite as well as Vegemite is a very good vegetarian source of B vitamins like B-12, so it’s a great way for vegans to get this important nutrient without taking a supplement. Other than this, I don’t believe it provides any unique health benefits, and it is very salty.

As intrigued as I am by Marmite, I still haven’t tried it. Or Vegemite for that matter. The main reason for this is the price. $7.19 for a 125g jar of Marmite is outrageous. If this small amount cost this much in the U.K it would cost £4.66*! I think 125g of Marmite usually costs around £1.70 in the U.K. And in the U.S I only see 125g available while it is available in much larger sizes in the U.K(based on research, since I’ve never been there). If I were to buy it at its current price, I would feel like a victim of British imperialism!

I realize its an import, and very few stores over here sell it, but did it have to cost this much? I really want to try it, but I will try to find it at a cheaper price first. I think I would like it because I love strong yeasty flavors. To any British people reading this: Do you regularly use Marmite? And if you travel outside the U.K, do you miss Marmite or try to find it in stores where you are staying?

* Assuming 1 U.S dollar = 0.65 Pound Sterling

Can playing the didgeridoo help treat sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or periods of very low breathing during sleep. Even if a person gets enough sleep, sleep apnea can negatively effect the quality of sleep. A person with this condition will very often feel unrefreshed upon waking in the morning.

Sleep apnea is more common in overweight people, but anyone can have this condition. There are many ways to treat it, but among the more unconventional is the didgeridoo. The didgeridoo is a wind instrument from Australia, invented by the aboriginal Australians over a thousand years ago. You will often hear the didgeridoo playing in movies or documentaries that feature the Australian outback.

According to the British Medical Journal(2006) in Didgeridoo playing as alternative treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome: randomised controlled trial:


Regular didgeridoo playing is an effective treatment alternative well accepted by patients with moderate obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome.

Fascinating how this ancient flute-like instrument may help sleep apnea patients. It seems that to play the didgeridoo requires blowing into the instrument in a manner that is different from blowing into other wind instruments, and this may strengthen the muscles used for breathing. However, the evidence is preliminary and this kind of study has inherent flaws, the most obvious being “what kind of control group do we use?”. A control group of flute-players? A control group of people playing defective didgeridoos?

Another thing I would like to know is if a person with sleep apnea is already doing vigorous exercise on a regular basis, does the didgeridoo provide additional benefits on top of the respiratory benefits from exercise? After all, exercise shows some efficacy for treating sleep apnea as well, according to Sleep. 2011 Dec 1, The effect of exercise training on obstructive sleep apnea and sleep quality: a randomized controlled trial.

Still, even if playing the didgeridoo doesn’t help with sleep apnea, learning to play a new instrument can be a very rewarding experience. If you are planning a trip to Australia, you may even impress the natives.