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Essence of Emu

Essence of Emu
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The emu, like its cousin the ostrich, is a strange bird: 5 to 6 feet tall and 90 to 140 pounds of fat, muscle, and feathers, impossibly balanced by 6-inch, flightless wings. Ten years ago, the first generation of American emu entrepreneurs lost their shirts, and the number of such farms in New England dropped from more than 30 to fewer than five. Today, however, one of the survivors is making a comeback, not just from sales of the bird’s meat, but now also from its oil, which is rendered from the fatty rump.

Dee Dee Mares of Songline Emu Farm in Gill, Massachusetts, says she’s seen the oil applied to treat eczema, psoriasis, burns, arthritis, and other wounds for which traditional emollients failed. “What it’s doing is creating an environment,” Mares notes, “giving the body what it needs to work at its optimum.”

Aborigines in the emu’s native Australia have used the oil for centuries, and although early studies here in the U.S. have been promising, large-scale trials and FDA or USDA approval are likely years away. In the meantime, Mares sells everything from antifungal creams to pet shampoo to bath crystals, all enhanced with emu oil.

Songline Emu Farm, 66 French King Highway, Gill, MA. 866-539-2996, 413-863-2700;

Updated Thursday, December 20th, 2007

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