Study Shows Oreo as Addictive as Cocaine - Food Product Design
Oreo cookies, America’s No. 1 cookie, may be as addictive as cocaine, according to research that will be presented November 13, at the Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego. The study was designed to shed light on addictiveness to high-fat/high-sugar foods. A discovery was made that high-fat/sugar food (Oreo cookies) activates more neurons on the brain’s nucleus accumbens, also known as the pleasure center, in comparison to drugs of abuse.
We Live In a World Where Salads Have More Sugar Than Donuts - Huffington Post
You know something is wrong with the food industry when you can buy a salad that contains more sugar than a donut. That was one finding in a recent study conducted by Credit Suisse, which revealed the sugar content of some of America’s most popular foods and drinks:
- KrispyKreme Original Glazed Donut – 10 grams per serving
- Crunchy Nut, Frosties and Fruit Loops cereal – 16 grams per serving
- Subway 6” Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki – 16 grams per serving
- Starbucks Grande Caffe Latte – 17 grams per serving
- Godiva Truffles (2) – 17 grams per serving
- Ben & Jerry’s Vanilla Ice Cream (1/2 cup) – 20 grams per serving
- Yoplait Original Yogurt – 27 grams per serving
- Vitamin Water (20 oz.) – 33 grams per serving
- Coca-Cola (20 oz.) – 39 grams per serving
- Sprinkles Red Velvet Cupcake – 45 grams per serving
- California Pizza Kitchen Thai Chicken Salad – 45 grams per serving
- Odwalla Super Food (450 ml bottle) – 50 grams per serving
- Starbucks Café Vanilla Frappuccino (16 oz.) 67 grams per serving.
Is there a natural ceiling to the gluten-free market? Is the party over for energy drinks? Find out in FoodNavigator-USA’s round up of 10 of the hottest topics in US food and beverage development to follow.
- The American diet: One long snack? New research suggests that one in five Americans now graze throughout the day instead of eating three square meals or even several ‘mini-meals’ a day.
- The American supermarket: Stuck in a timewarp? The hi-lo, be-all-things-to-all-people strategy that made supermarket chains such a success 40-50 years ago is no longer working. This strategy puts supermarkets in direct competition with Club, Wal-Mart, ALDI and dollar stores—with whom they cannot compete on price.
- Protein: On the cusp of a renaissance? Protein, so trend watchers keep telling us, is red hot right now, for all ages and both sexes, covering weight management, healthy aging, sports nutrition and general health & wellness.
- All-natural claims: Are they worth it? While consumers cannot always articulate exactly what they want, in broad terms they want more foods that are natural, less processed, and made with ingredients that they can recognize and pronounce.
- GMO labeling: Right to know or bizarre new precedent? From a legislative perspective the big problem is what precedent might be set if laws are passed to label foods made with certain technologies, even if the end product does not differ in any meaningful way—or present any greater safety concerns—from foods developed by traditional plant breeding methods.
- Go veggie: Boost your health and save the planet? Another hot trend: plant-based diets. There is a growing body of scientific evidence that it’s better for your health—and the health of the planet—to reduce meat consumption.
- Gluten-free: Is the growth (double-digit) sustainable? There is still a lot of white space in the gluten-free market. And many mainstream retailers are finally waking up to the gluten-free opportunity with dedicated gluten-free sections.
- Energy drinks: Is the party over? The explosive growth in recent years is slowing down. Also there is growing pressure from some quarters for regulation of energy drinks and shots, while big players are facing lawsuits alleging serious adverse events can result from their products. Many companies are exploring new ways to deliver energy—minus the caffeine.
- Sodium reduction: Is the pressure still on? Many firms are still working at reducing sodium, but if the government does not mandate them and consumers are not demanding action, there is very little incentive to deliver a meaningful reduction.
- The diabetes ticking time bomb: How can the food industry help? This trend is not exactly hot right now, but certainly should be. One in three American adults are expected to develop type 2 diabetes by 2050. FDA revised guidelines say that any messaging around foods tackling pre-diabetes or diabetes must be focused on phrases like low-GI (glycemic index) sustained energy or healthy blood glucose, rather than mentioning the “D” word.
Aside from tooth decay and gum disease the most common reason Americans go to the dentist is to solve the mystery of bad breath. Some patients genuinely suffer form bacterial halitosis, but most carriers of stank-mouth just forgot what they just ate. Here is a list of the eight foods to avoid (beer excluded) to ensure your mouth is fresh.
- Garlic. (Duh) Horrid-smelling enough to turn off even vampires, garlic is traditionally deemed the king of stinky foods. When your body digests garlic, it absorbs allyl methyl sulfide into your bloodstream, which is transferred to the lungs and then to the air immediately surrounding the person you’re talking to. As if that wasn’t enough, the gas is also released through your skin.
- Tuna sandwiches. That sour, fishy smell occurs when seafood starts to oxidize, a common result of canning processes. Tuna packed in extra virgin olive oil is the least smelly.
- Onions. (Duh, again) Much like its stinky cousin garlic, onions contain the amino acid allin, which turns to propenyl sulfenic acid, which is the chemical responsible for bad breath.
- Kombucha. Hippies swear by this fizzy fermented tea, and the acrid stench of kombucha after-burps makes you want to swear at Hippies!
- Horseradish. Horseradish gets most of its flavor from isothiocyanate, a chemical compound in the plant with a scent so putrid that it’s a natural defense against animals.
- Coffee. Coffee smells great….and then it hits your mouth. At that point, the acidity and natural enzymes in the coffee combine with your saliva in a bad, bad way.
- Gyros. This Mediterranean delicacy pairs spitted, high-fat meat like lamb with stinky dairy products (feta, tzatziki), a healthy dose of acidic tomatoes, and the Pig-Pen of the vegetable kingdom: the onion.
- Indian curry. Despite some proposed antibacterial qualities, the hard-hitting spice of Indian curry demands a fistful of fennel.
10 Things You Didn’t Know About Squash - Emily Saladino
This time of year, pumpkins get all the glory, but pumpkins are not the only gourd in town. ‘Tis the season for squash of all stripes.
- Family affair: In pre-Columbus times, indigenous Americans typically planted squash alongside maize and beans. The three worked in harmony: the cornstalk would shade the squash and support the beans, the squash’s vines would keep weeds at bay, and the beans would supply nitrogen for all three.
- Pie ministers: European pilgrims made early versions of pumpkin pie by hollowing out a winter squash, filling it with apples, sugar and milk, then putting its stem back on and baking over fire.
- Whole foods: We’ve all toasted pumpkin seeds and enjoyed them as a salty snack, but super resourceful cooks use squash shoots and leaves as hearty greens.
- To your health: Mineral-rich squash is chock full of carotenes and Vitamins A, B and C. Pumpkin seed oil is a homeopathic superstar that can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
- Know your type: There are two basic categories of squash: summer squash has relatively soft flesh, a shorter shelf life, and needs minimal cook time; and winter squash, with harder and tougher skin, longer shelf life, and needs more prep and cook time.
- What’s in a name: The fruit is believed to be named for the Narrangansett word askutasquash, which means “eaten raw uncooked.”
- Floral notes: All squash have edible flowers, but zucchini blossoms are most common.
- Drink up: As cocktailers continue to get crafty with the produce department, squash are the newest barflies on the block.
- Get briny: The best squash for pickling is yellow summer squash. If you still have a few summer squash lying around, thinly slice the squash and a sweet onion. Cover both with kosher salt and let sit for an hour. Then pickle.
- Always a bridesmaid: Archeologists estimate the earliest squash were grown 10,000 years ago in modern-day Ecuador and Mexico, making it one of the world’s oldest known crops.
Surprises discovered in decoded kiwifruit genome - Melissa Osgood
A new study that decoded the DNA sequence of the kiwifruit has concluded that the fruit has many genetic similarities between its 39,040 genes and other plant species, including potatoes and tomatoes. Kiwifruit has been called ‘the king of fruits’ because of its remarkably high vitamin C content and balanced nutritional composition of minerals, dietary fiber and other health benefits. Kiwifruit originated from the mountains and ranges of southwestern China and was not known to the world until the early 20 century, when farmers in New Zealand discovered the fruit and began breeding it as a commercial crop. It is a form of berry that grows on woody vines, much like grapes, and belongs to the order of Ericales, where blueberries, tea bushes and Brazil nuts are also classified. One of the most remarkable findings of the study was uncovered when scientists observed a high percentage of similarities within the kiwifruit DNA. The data revealed two whole-genome duplication events. When genes are duplicated, the extra genes can mutate to perform entirely new functions not previously present in the organism. This process, called neofunctionalization, can occur with no adverse effects in plants and, in the case of kiwifruit, was quite beneficial. Prior to the study, extensive research on the metabolic accumulation of vitamin C, carotenoids and flavonoids had been reported in kiwifruits but genome sequence data, critical for its breeding and improvement, had never been available.
Detecting Alzheimer’s disease may soon be as easy as testing a patient’s sense of smell. As part of research into methods for early diagnosis of the degenerative brain disease, researchers in Florida devised an Alzheimer’s smell test capable of confirming an AD diagnosis. The key ingredient? Peanut butter. According to the research, recently published in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences, patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s demonstrated a significant difference between their left and right nostrils in their ability to smell the open container of peanut butter. For this group, the sense of smell in the left nostril was severely impaired; in order to smell the peanut butter through their left side, the container had to be an average of 10 centimeters closer to the nose than it was on the right side. During testing, subjects with other types of cognitive impairment not related to Alzheimer’s either did not show this disparity between nostrils, or their right nostril was the one that was impaired.
Almond Butter Vs. Peanut Butter - Food Republic
Almond butter exists, has exploded in popularity and might just be the smarter choice over peanut butter depending on what you’re doing with it. Baking cookies? Stick to peanut butter. But as far as smearing on an apple or slice of multigrain, which nutty butter should you reach for? Nutrition-wise, the two are very similar. You’re getting around 100 calories and 4 grams of protein, but almond butter is a little better for you, all things considered. Almond butter is higher in Vitamin E, iron, magnesium, protein and fiber than peanut butter. It is also typically less processed with less added sugar, salt and the additives that keep nut butter from separating. Almond butter costs a couple of dollars extra, but think of all that magnesium you’re getting.
Healthful family dinner: Assembly-line soup - Casey Seidenberg
Grandmothers around the world have long extolled the benefits of homemade stock in chicken soup. Stock made from real bones was an ancient cold remedy, and even modern studies have found benefits in chicken soup. If it is so healthful, why not use it to make an easy dinner any night of the week. If you don’t have time to make homemade stock, buy stock made from real bones at a specialty food store or farmer’s market. Homemade stock is not the same as canned or boxed broth, which tends to be higher in sodium and lower in important minerals such as calcium magnesium and phosphorous. This assembly-line meal as quick and has many health benefits:
Step 1. Pour two cups of chicken stock per person into a pot and heat to boil.
Step 2. The prep. Warm leftover meat such as chicken, pork or beef in the oven, Cook noodles or rice according to package directions. Chop vegetables of choice.
Step 3. The assembly line. Create an assembly of individual soup ingredients leading up to the pot of stock. Let each family member select items for his own soup bowl.
Step 4. The soup. Add the vegetables that need to be cooked to the boiling stock. Don’t worry: Nothing takes more than five minutes. Pour hot stock and vegetables on top of each bowl of preferred noodles and meats.
These Elementary School Students Went Vegetarian, and the Results Are Astounding - Ellen’s Good News
In April, 2013, Public School 244 in Flushing, Queens became the first elementary school in the US to offer students a completely vegetarian menu. Instead of chicken fingers and hamburgers, the school offers black-bean and cheddar quesadillas, organic roasted tofu, veggie wraps and falafel. There are no vending machines full of sugary sodas or high-calorie snacks on school property. Students are also required to attend a weekly class about making healthy food choices. The results as reported by school officials: the kids have longer attention spans and better academic scores. The number of students classified as overweight has dropped 2% as well.
Wrap It Up - Bonnie Liebman
Be aware of cues that make you munch. A group of researchers studied roughly 60 female students in their 20s.
Study 1. Reseachers gave each student a bowl of 20 individually wrapped or 20 unwrapped chocolate candies and told her to eat as much as she wanted. After 5 minutes, the students averaged about 5 pieces of unwrapped candy, but only about 3-1/2 pieces of wrapped candy.
Study 2. Similarly, the students ate 5 unwrapped candies that they could grab with their fingers, but only 3-1/2 candies wrapped in transparent foil or unwrapped candies they had to pick up using tongs.
If you are trying not to snack, keep it wrapped up.
Before Marathoners Had Energy Bars - Ian Chillag
In the October/November issue of Running Times, distance running great Bill Rodgers reflected on his life as a runner, including details on his diet while training for the 1976 New York City Marathon. He consumed 4,000 calories a day. He raided the refrigerator in the middle of the night, drank bottles of honey, devoured boxes of Oreo cookies,
scooped out gobs of peanut butter or mayonnaise from the jar and, for the grand finale, submerged the globs in
a bottle of bacon bits. On this diet, Rodgers was a whopping 128 pounds with 7 percent body fat. It is worth noting
that Rodgers was running as much as 180 miles per week, proving the old runners adage, “if the furnace is hot
enough, it’ll burn anything.”
Spices Have Double Salmonella Risk Compared With Other Imported Foods: FDA Mary Clare Jalonick
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that almost 7 percent of imported spices over a three-year period were contaminated with salmonella. A report released on Wednesday (10/30/13) indicated that testing of imported spices between 2007 and 2010 showed that spices were twice as likely as other inspected foods to be contaminated with the pathogen. More than 80 different types of salmonella were detected. The agency notes that when spices are cooked, much of the pathogen is eliminated and the amount of spice generally eaten at a meal is small, reducing the chances of getting sick from a contaminated spice. Even so, the FDA has targeted spices because their route to a diner’s plate is so circuitous and the potential for contamination comes at many different points. Most all of the spices eaten in the US are imported, and most come from small farms in a variety of countries that all have different levels of food safety oversight. Michael Taylor, FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods, says the agency is “not recommending that consumers stay away from spices,” though the chances of someone getting sick can be reduced by adding spices to food before it is cooked.
FLATULENT-FREE COWS? - The Herb Quarterly, Winter 2013
One of the biggest contributors to global warming is methane gas, and scientists believe that a whopping 80 percent of methane comes from animals with (to put it delicately) digestive problems. Dairy cattle are thought to be the gassiest of their hairy brethren. Researchers at Banaras Hindu University in India may have a solution. In a study involving 18 cows, the researchers gave six calves food mixed with herbal medicines, while another six calves received food spiked with allopathic medicines. The final six calves ate food containing no medicine. Researchers found that the cattle in the herb group had a “remarkably lower count of methanogenic bacteria” and better digestion than the cows fed the other diets.
But if you can’t feed your cows herbs, there may be another solution……
Argentine scientists tap cow burps for natural gas - Maximiliano Rizzi
Natural Gas From Cows? Argentine Scientists Tap Methane In Bovine Burps - Huffington Post
Argentine researchers have demonstrated how methane can be separated from other digestive gases produced by cattle. The scientists say that harnessing cow power on an industrial scale could create a new form of sustainable energy while also reducing the carbon footprint produced by cattle ranches. Methane is the main component of natural gas, used to fuel everything from cars to power plants. “Once you get it compressed, it’s the same as having natural gas,” said Guillermo Berra, head of INTA’s animal physiology group. Each head of cattle emits between 205 and 300 liters of pure methane a day, enough energy to keep a refrigerator running for 24 hours. Argentina is one of the world’s top beef exporters, with around 51 million heads of cattle. Gases emitted from those animals account for 30 percent of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
The Future of Food (Packaging) - Modern Farmer
Inventor Dave Edwards has the rare ability to conceive futuristic ideas and turn them into reality. His last idea, a breathable drug delivery technology, was acquired for $114 million in 1999. His most recent brain wave, edible food packaging, arrives stateside this month. Edwards’ company, WikiFoods has partnered with various food producers and its first collaborator is Stonyfield Farm. This fall they’ll launch their first product—edible frozen yogurt and ice cream encased in flavored edible skins and sold in biodegradable cellophane bags at two Whole Foods near Boston. Getting customers used to treating ice cream like they would a piece of fruit (namely, rinsing it off before eating the whole thing) will take time, says Gary Hirshberg, Stonyfield chairman and founder, whose company has been committed to reducing packaging waste since the ‘80s.
As if Oreo addiction is not enough……
Oreo maker Modelez International is getting ready to introduce video display units near checkouts that estimate a person’s age and gender so as to deliver targeted advertising. The technology compares a person’s facial features to proprietary algorithms to determine gender and approximate age. According to the company the images are not saved and the smart displays only targets adults.
When Food Network launched 20 year ago America was sitting at a very different dinner table. After all, this was before we’d learned to fetishize cupcakes, before Instagram made our every mouthful a shared experience, before vegetables had cult followings. But the gamble paid off. Two decades later and the Food Network has morphed into a lifestyle, a marketing behemoth turning chefs—and home cooks—into household names even, if not especially, with people who never cook. When the network launched, Americans did not take food seriously. Less than a decade later, a culinary awakening—fueled in part by the network itself—allowed Food Network to succeed. Food Network didn’t invent the food celebrity—the fame of James Beard, Julia Child and others predate it by decades—but it codified it into an industry. Today, of course, food television is a crowded field. Still, Food Network—one of many lifestyle brands owned by Scripps Networks Interactive—touts enviable numbers. And then there is the profitability algorithm, which goes something like: less cooking equals more viewers and sizzling ad dollars. It actually took years for the network to get profitable. And many say it did so by turning its back on some of its own fans and stars. In the early red ink years, the network was known mostly for food television with a how-to attitude aimed at people who cook. But on television, personality trumps talent, entertainment trounces know-how. Just as MTV was ridiculed for letting videos die, Food Network has been ribbed for favoring reality TV over real cooking. Anthony Bourdain practically launched his post-Food Network career by bashing it. In response, Food Network in 2010 created The Cooking Channel, a back-to-basics, edgier sibling.
22 Food & Drink Events for October and Beyond - Amy McKeever
Food and drink events are plentiful throughout the month of October from New York to Sydney and beyond. Some have extended runs throughout the month, such as the deep friend madness that is the State Fair of Texas. The annual Good Food Month returns to Sydney, Australia. New York City is playing host to a number of events including, of course, the annual New York City Wine & Food Festival. Meanwhile Vegas also has a number of events in the works, and Washington DC, will be the site of the second iteration of a rather large craft beer festival. Follow the link above for a full line-up.
Critter Fritters - The Economist
Somehow this event didn’t make the list referenced above. But for those who would like something really different…..Each fall around 15,000 people descend on Pocahontas county in West Virginia, more than doubling its population, to celebrate a strange kind of harvest festival where the menu includes raccoon, squirrel and bear. Begun as a joke in 1991, the Annual Roadkill Cookoff is still going strong. You can enjoy a bluegrass band playing under maple trees while multiple teams stir the pots. Last year one stall was manned by men and women celebrating the 35th anniversary of their high school graduation, while another stall was overseen by a re-enactment cook who uses only old-fashioned utensils and cooks over fire. OK, so none of the food has actually been run over, despite recipes that begin: “pry deer from underneath vehicle and gut if necessary.” The rules of the contest stipulate that 20% of each dish should be made from wild game.
Despite its name, Munich Germany’s Oktoberfest actually begins in the third weekend of September and lasts until the first Sunday in October. Here are 10 facts you probably didn’t know about Oktoberfest:
- Oktoberfest originally began as a celebration of the marriage of Crown King Ludwig and Queen Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen in October of 1810.
- Only six breweries are allowed to participate in Oktoberfest, all brewing within the Munich city limits. Each brewery has a tent where only their beer is served.
- While the festival rings in the beginning of October, the beer was traditionally brewed all the way back in March, when the summer’s heat and rampant bacteria wouldn’t interfere with the brewing process. Today, the beer is still brewed under the same style, but it’s now brewed right before the fall.
- The original incarnation of Oktoberfest was a country fair with horseracing, contests and even freak shows! Horseracing is no longer part of the festivities, but you can still hit up the carnival culture.
- It wasn’t until 1892 that beer was served in glass mugs. Traditional beer steins were made of stone, then metal, and some of those are still used.
- Oktoberfest beer is typically around 6% ABV, far stronger and sweeter than typical German lager.
- If you’re going to the fest expecting some traditional German party jams, you’ll have to wait until after dark. There’s a ban on music above 85 decibels until after 6:00 PM.
- Oktoberfest has been officially canceled 24 times over the years due to disease and war.
- Besides the beer, there are also activities in the tents. The Armbrustschützenzelt is a tent famous for crossbow competitions.
- The idea of bringing children to a massive beer festival might seem pretty far out, but hundreds of children attend the festival every year. Unfortunately more than 100 children were reported lost in Oktoberfest 2012, though it is believed they’ve all been claimed by now.
10 Things You Didn’t Know About Apples - Emily Saladino
Like football season and fleece vests, freshly picked apples unmistakably signify fall. Whether you prefer yours covered with candy or plucked straight from the tree, here are 10 things you probably don’t know about apples:
- As American as applis tartyrs: America claims apple pie as its signature dessert, but European variations on the theme pre-date us by several centuries. The earliest recorded recipe comes from 1382 England.
- Banner year: Farmers from Massachusetts to Minneapolis proclaim 2013 the year of the apple.
- Destined for greatness: The earliest apple trees grew in what is now Kazakhstan some 30,000 years ago. Alexander the Great is credited with introducing dwarf apples to Europe in the 4th Century BC, and European colonists brought apple trees to the Americas in the 17th Century AD.
- What’s your type? While many bakers pledge allegiance to Granny Smith or Crispin, in reality, any hard, firm apple will do for dishes like apple turnovers and fried apple pie.
- Blinded by science: The newest star of the apple world is Honeycrisp. Its sweet taste and signature snap is credited to David Bedford, a Minnesota scientist who crossbred Macoun and Honeygold until he reached an unexpectedly delicious genetic variation. Its limited harvest (between mid-November and early December) makes it even more appealing (pun intended).
- Not a popularity contest: The US grows 2,500 varieties of apples in 36 states. But apples still rank as the second most popular fruit, just behind bananas.
- To your health: Apples contain flavonoids that lower cholesterol and help clear and relax arteries, making them a decidedly heart-healthy food.
- A rose by any other name: Apples are fruits, but they also happen to be a member of the rose family, which includes pears, apricots and cherries.
- Fertile fruit: The apple plays a starring role in Norse mythology. According to Norwegian lore, when King Rerir prays to Odin for a child, a goddess drops an apple into his lap. Once his wife eats said apple, she gets pregnant. For six years!
- Fermentation nation: American apple cider is raw, unfiltered apple juice that is opaque and highly perishable. Europeans further age the unpasteurized juice to create fermented, fruit-forward ciders that can have an alcohol content of up to 8.5% ABV.
Apples Really Can Help Keep the Doctor Away - Elaine Gordon
Apples don’t get the same buzz as popular “superfruits”, but don’t overlook them. They are chock-full of powerful disease-fighting nutrients and health benefits, in addition to being affordable and portable.
- Apples keep you hydrated: 84 percent of an apple’s content is water.
- They are low in calories, fat-free, sodium-free, cholesterol-free and full of fiber.
- They contain immune-boosting Vitamin C, which is important for the growth and repair of all body tissues.
- They help you meet your daily fruit intake.
With apple season in full swing, maximize your “apple a day” by leaving the skin on and choosing the right apples. Most of the fiber in apples comes from the skin and pulp. When you remove the skin, you remove about half the fiber. An apple’s skin is also incredibly nutrient-rich. Apples are loaded with the powerful antioxidant quercetin, which is found predominantly in the skin. Quercetin is a phytochemical with anti-inflammatory and heart-protecting qualities, and may reduce the growth and spread of cancer cells. Choose apples with the stem intact. You should also be able to actually smell their freshness.
History Behind ‘An Apple a Day - Margaret Ely
Apples have long been associated with a healthful diet, but just how long ago did humans coin the adage “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”? According to Caroline Taggart, author of “An Apple a Day: Old-Fashioned Proverbs and Why They Still Work,” the first recorded use is in the 1860s, when it is said to be an old saying from Pembrokeshire in Wales. The original phrase, Taggart said, was, “Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.” The phrase evolved in the late 19th and early 20th century to “an apple a day, no doctor to pay” and “an apple a day sends the doctor away.” The first recorded use of the current phrase was in 1922. Although the term is fairly new, the concept is quite old. Ancient Romans and Anglo-Saxons knew about the healthful properties of apples. The fruit also pops up in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, dating back about 1,500 years in southern Asia. The longevity of the phrase, according to Taggart comes from its simplicity and the fact that you can take it at face value.
Just What The Doctor Ordered: Med Students Team With Chefs - Kristin Gourlay
For the past few weeks the culinary arts students at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI, have been working with some unlikely sous chefs—fourth year med students from Tulane University School of Medicine. These med students are in a short rotation through a new program designed to educate med students and chefs-in-training about nutrition. One of the med students, Clinton Piper, believes this program to be forward thinking, “…to view food as medicine.” So-called lifestyle diseases mainly spring from bad habits, particularly bad eating habits. Think obesity or diabetes. Piper says the goal of this partnership between New Orleans, LA-based Tulane and Johnson & Wales is to change the way doctors think about food. As far as the creators know, it’s the first time a culinary school and a medical school have partnered like this. One of their assignments is to feed the Johnson & Wales track team. According to assistant professor Todd Seyfarth, an instructor in culinary nutrition, the assignment is to create a “recovery meal”. “We’re going to try to take advantage of what’s called an anabolic window, a specific period of time after the workout where we can give them the best gains,” he says. This is the culinary medicine program’s inaugural year. But organizers hope to train more Tulane medical students and Johnson & Wales culinary students together on each other’s campuses.
9 “Healthy” Alternatives That Are Just As Bad As the Original - Renee Jacques
Here are a few so-called health foods that probably aren’t any better than the originals:
- Fat-free Milk. When companies take out all the fat in milk, they’re also removing good vitamins like A and D. Opting for milk with just a bit of fat helps you get nutrients like conjugated lineolic acid without packing in too many calories.
- Reduced-fat peanut butter. Nuts contain good sources of heart-healthy fats. The reduced-fat versions of peanut butter replace the missing fat with extra sweeteners and empty carbs.
- Soy meat alternatives. According to Dr. Oz, many meat alternatives made with soy protein may have less fat and saturated fat than processed meats, but they are also highly processed. Most of the “frankensoy” products “…are likely to be loaded with added sugars, fats and refined flours.” To get a soy protein fix, try a natural, whole-food source like edamame or tofu. These options are also full of calcium and omega-3 fats.
- Fat-free Turkey. Most packaged turkey products (especially fat-free ones) are loaded with crazy amounts of sodium to keep them fresh.
- Gluten-free cookies (if you don’t have Celiac or a gluten sensitivity). Medical concerns aside, just because it’s gluten-free, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a healthy alternative.
- Fat-free microwave popcorn. When you microwave popcorn kernels, the steam they emit contains about four-dozen chemicals from the fake butter flavorings and the ink and glue in the bags. One compound in fake butter—diacetyl—has been found to cause respiratory illness in factory workers where it is processed.
- Diet Frozen Meals. Frozen diet meals contain: butylated hydroxytoluene, a chemical used to preserve meat that has been linked to increased cancer risk. Also polysorbate 80, a chemical used to keep the oil and food from separating when you nuke it. Oh, and don’t forget that each of these “healthy” meals replace the fat with loads and loads of sodium.
- Light Bread. Light bread is really comprised of white flour with added sweeteners. Take the time to read the nutrition labels.
- Reduced-fat Veggie Chips. Chips made out of veggies—how could that not be healthy? Think about it—potato chips are also technically made out of a vegetable (albeit a starchy one) and vegetable chips are just as salty as their potato counterpart. Some veggie chips are simply food coloring added to potato starch to make them “appear” more vegetable like. Again, read the labels.
Diet Of Defeat: Why Football Fans Mourn With High-Fat Food - Shankar Vedantam
Backing a losing team isn’t just bad for your pride—it’s bad for your waistline. A study that links sports outcomes with the eating behavior of fans, finds that backers of NFL teams eat more and fattier foods the day after a loss. Backers of winning teams, by contrast, eat lighter food, and in moderation. Pierre Chandon, a professor of marketing at the business school INSEAD in France and his co-author Yann Cornil, also at INSEAD, conducted a study of the connection between eating and sports outcomes. They tracked the eating behavior of people in cities with NFL teams and measured how eating changed after victories and defeats. After a defeat, the researchers found that saturated fat consumption went up by 16 percent; while after a victory, it decreased by 9 percent. It wasn’t just about eating saturated fats. Overall calorie consumption went up by 10 percent after losses and down by 5 percent after wins. In many ways the research fits with what we already know about the psychology of eating. When your happiness levels are low, junk food and high-calorie food provide the brain with much-needed pleasure. The most interesting part of Chandon’s research is the effect that victories seem to have on fans. The satisfaction of winning seems to increase the capacity of people to withstand difficult choices—to pick the salad over the fries.
Zombie Endocrine Disruptors May Threaten Aquatic Life - Erik Stokstad
Trenbolone, although popular in the bodybuilding and weightlifting communities, and as an athletic performance enhancer, has long been banned for human use, and also is banned for agricultural uses in the E.U. Federally approved for agricultural use in the US, ranchers implant cattle with the synthetic androgen trenbolone acetate to beef them up, but concerns have been raised that its metabolites leach into streams and ponds, disrupting endocrine systems of aquatic life. Studies have indicated that low concentrations of these endocrine disrupting environmental steroids affect fish by reducing egg production of females and skewing the sex of some species. Sunlight was thought to permanently degrade such metabolites, but a new study led by the University of Iowa and published online September 26, 2013, in the journal Science, shows that the degradation products can revert at night, zombie-like, back into the endocrine-disrupting metabolites. Researchers say the study is a first step toward better understanding the environmental role and impact of steroids and pharmaceutical products, all of which have been approved by the federal government for various uses and that have been shown to improve food availability, environmental sustainability and human health. In the lab the team found that the steroid’s chemical compounds, while breaking down as expected in sunlight, never fully disappeared; even in conditions that mimicked surface water, a small percentage of the chemical structure remained after extended sunlight. The remains regenerated themselves at night, in some cases to up to 70 percent of the metabolites’ initial mass. The researchers validated the lab results with two experiments in the field.
Walker D. Smarandescu & B. Wansink
After a long week, you relax and pour yourself a glass of wine—but could the wine glass you choose cause you to pour more than you think? Researchers from Iowa State and Cornell universities recently published the results of a new small study in the journal Substance Use and Misuse. Researchers recruited 73 students of drinking age who drank at least one glass of wine a week. The students were brought to several different stations and were asked to pour themselves a normal serving of wine. At each of these stations, the researchers manipulated environmental cues to measure their effects. They used three different types of wine glasses to test the effect of size and shape (large, wide or standard). To examine the effects of pouring position, students either poured their wine into a glass they were holding or into a glass placed on a table. To examine the visual effects of color contrast, there was either low contrast between the wine and the glass (white wine in a clear glass) or high contrast (red wine in a clear glass). Indeed, certain cues led to more wine being poured into the glasses. A wider glass was linked with 11.9 percent more wine being poured, holding the glass was linked with 12.2 percent more wine being poured, and high color contrast between wine and glass was linked with 9.2 percent more wine being poured. So go ahead and relax, but pour white wine in a clear skinny glass sitting on the table.
Meet the Food Incubators Behind Your Favorite Artisans- Tasting Table
The world is full of accountants-turned-macaroon mongers, artisanal jam makers and would-be pie peddlers with a recipe and a dream. But how do they go from half-baked idea to reality? The answer for many comes from the community minded shared-use kitchens, or food incubators, that are popping up in cities across the country. These aren’t just spaces for entrepreneurs to cook; business planning advice—as well as a sense of camaraderie—is part of their appeal. New incubators are joining the ranks of more established organizations like San Francisco’s La Cocina, changing and fueling our food landscape one business-planning session and takeout window at a time. In New York City, Hot Bread Kitchen founder Jessamyn Rodriguez calls her nonprofit “The united Nations of bread,” as a crew of international bakers produce 35 varieties—from challah to Moroccan m’smen. The profits help fund classes and business training for HBK’s participants. In 2011, Rodriguez launched a formal food business accelerator, HBK Incubates, which supports its participants with culinary coaching, computer and English classes, and financial advising. Detroit Kitchen Connect in Detroit, MI, is a brand new incubator—a partnership between food startup community FoodLab and Detroit’s historic Eastern Market. It connects producers with underutilized kitchen space in the city’s most downtrodden neighborhoods. According to co-founder Rochelle Johnson of The Cookery in Durham, NC, “We found that a lot of people who were starting business might have a great recipe but need a little bit of help with everything else.” So the two-year-old incubator holds educational seminars for its members, hosts public markets and gatherings in a new on-site event space, and even published a business planning workbook for aspiring food producers. Launched in December of 2012, Union Kitchen in Washington, DC, is already up to 47 members. “We want to create culture in DC,” says co-found Jonas Singer—which they’re accomplishing through weekly Saturday night gatherings on the building’s adjacent lot that feature a pop-up market and live music. Five hundred people chowed down at one recent event.
What is Cream of Tartar? - Food Republic
Neither cream nor tartar, why is it in the pantry? Cream of tartar is the culinary name for potassium bitartrate, a by-product of winemaking. It’s actually a purified form of the residue found in wine fermentation tanks. It’s used to stabilize egg whites when beating them to stiff peaks, helping them hold their shape and add volume to meringues. Another useful trait is its ability to keep whipped sugar (like in frosting) from crystalizing, helping to keep it smooth and uniform. And if you run out of baking powder use two parts cream of tartar plus one part baking soda and one part cornstarch.
Photos: The Easy-Bake Oven Turns 50 - Whitney Matheson
This year Easy-Bake is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Created in 1963, the first model was big and turquoise and included a fake stovetop, too. It sold for $15.95. Today’s model sells for $59.99, which seems like a fair markup. It was invented at Kenner, which is now owned by Hasbro. The 2003 oven allowed kids to cook entire meals—not just cake. The 2013 model was created for the modern young chef. The black model looks like an adult appliance. Over the 50 years, more than 30 million ovens have been sold. The link will take you to photos of the ovens over the years.
One-third of the world’s food goes to waste every year. In the US, about 40 percent of our food gets thrown out. It’s happening on the farm, at the grocery store and in our own homes. Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about what to do about it. Former Trader Joe’s president Doug Rauch is planning to open a store that sells expired food. His project, called The Daily Table, will by a hybrid of a grocery store and a restaurant. The store will sell prepared food, along with fruits and vegetables. He plans to be open early next year in Dorchester, MA, and The Daily Table will be aimed at lower-income consumers in the Boston area.
Follow this link for Tasting Table’s Fall Preview 2013. Tasting Table brings you everything you should be excited about in the food world. Since the dawn of time, the approach of the Autumnal Equinox has signaled the return of many beloved things. Things like aspirational apple picking. And hot toddies and a month-long period when everyone says “foliage.” All that and the inevitable bumper crop of “Fall Preview” round-ups just like this one. So, in the spirit of the season, here are the restaurant openings, cookbooks and culinary happenings we’re looking forward to.
Eater National’s Fall Preview 2013 - Hillary Dixler
Here’s one of the “inevitable bumper crop” of Fall Preview roundups. Follow this link to Eater’s Fall 2013, 40 most anticipated restaurant openings, cookbook and food book preview, food TV preview, and food and drink events preview.
And Fall means “Back to School” so…..
Do College Students Eat Like the Rest of Us? - Elaine Watson
By examining a school-year’s worth of order data from students ordering food at more than 350 US college campuses, GrubHub—a leading online and mobile food-ordering company dedicated to connecting diners with local takeout restaurants—found that students are 28% less likely than average GrubHub diners to include healthy substitutions or preparation instructions when ordering (no mayo, salad instead of fries, dressing on the side, light cheese, steam instead of sauté, etc.) GrubHub’s website and mobile apps are free to use 24/7 so students can find food—and caffeine—when they need it most. Its ordering platforms allow diners and 4,000 corporate businesses to order directly from approximately 25,000 takeout restaurants in more than 500 cities. GrubHub also found that certain foods are far more popular with college students than with the average GrubHub diner:
- Energy drinks are 45% more popular with college students
- Mozzarella sticks are 186% more popular with college students
- Cookies are 77% more popular with college students
- General Tso’s Chicken is 70% more popular with college students
- Sesame Chicken is 67% more popular with college students
- Wings are 55% more popular with college students.
Meanwhile, college students spend 10% less on meals than the average diner, are 70% less likely to order early morning meals (from 6-9 am), and are 87% more likely to order late-night meals (10pm-2am). The #1 order is cheese pizza, followed by Pad Thai, General Tso’s Chicken, sesame chicken, chicken tikka masala, chicken wings, Caesar salad, spicy tuna rolls and cheeseburgers.
Trying to Avoid the Freshman 15? There’s a Dorm for That. - Lenny Bernstein
There are a few colleges that offer fitness- and wellness-themed residences, places that take schools’ increasing interest in their students’ health and welfare to another, 24-hour level. They are more philosophies than boot camps, but the kids who live in them love them, and school officials believe they are working. For example, at Maryland’s Frostburg State University’s bWell dorm the 70 freshmen residents attend the kinds of health-oriented programs that many schools now offer new students, but they also do P90X and Insanity workouts together, learn how to cook healthful meals, take a substance-free pledge and try to prevent one another from going on those midnight fast-food runs. At Goucher College, a small liberal-arts school in Baltimore, MD, it’s the Sondheim residence. There, 64 students, freshmen and upperclassmen, troop off to yoga classes together, take dance lessons, learn how to cook healthful meals and sign a contract that requires them to abstain from alcohol, drugs and tobacco. There are occasional family-style dinners and a true interest in creating an environment where there’s no pressure to drink. At American University, the newest dorm has a fitness center on the first floor, a conscious choice the university made when the building was planned. There has been no formal follow-up research, but anecdotal evidence shows that residents of these dorms are more engaged in campus life.
Schools Promoting Healthier Foods, CDC Finds - Food Product Design
An increasing number of school districts are promoting nutritious foods and cutting out the junk, according to a comprehensive study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Between 2006 and 2012, the percentage of school districts that require schools to exclude junk food in vending machines rose to 43.4 percent form 29.8%. Districts also are cracking down on soft drink advertisements on school grounds, with only about one third (33.5%) permitting such ads. This is down from 46.6% in 2006. According to a Times report, a few pieces of legislation, signed a few years ago but only now coming into effect, will bring school meals better in line with national nutrition recommendations. Some of the highlights are:
- Starting in the 2013-2014 school year, kids eating breakfast at school much have access to low-fat milk. In addition, half of the grains in their breakfasts must be whole grains. In 2014-2015, the meal must be 100% whole grain.
- Schools have more flexibility with lunch portions this year, after students complained last year that new portion-control rules didn’t give them enough food.
- Laws governing snacks sold at schools are set to come into effect for 2014-2015 as well. Snacks will have to meet certain upper caps for how many calories and how much fat, sugar and sodium they have.
These change stem from the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The requirements were written to come into play slowly so schools would have time to make adjustments, particularly in budgeting.
School officials in four states have decided to allow Beef Products Inc.’s lean finely textured beef (LFTB)—the ammonia-treated mash of meat trimmings more commonly known as “pink slime”—back into their school lunch programs for the coming year. Schools in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Texas ordered ground beef that “may contain the controversial products” for use in school lunches over the next nine months. They join schools in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota, which didn’t stop serving “pink slime”. The safety of “pink slime” remains an unsettled question. Some food safety advocates and many in the meat industry insist that LFBT is just as safe as other ground beef. But The New York Times reported that numerous government reports have connected the product with elevated levels of disease-causing E. coli bacteria. Schools are likely embracing the meat-stuff again because the public outrage seems to have subsided, beef prices are hovering at all-time highs, and school lunch budgets continue to be tight.
Maintaining the Zen of Summer at Mealtime - Casey Seidenberg
Children are normally much more relaxed in the summertime. They seem to be healthier and happier with all of the unstructured time. Here are a few ideas of how to extend summer, at least for mealtimes:
- Keep logistics away from the dinner table. Don’t talk about schedules, carpools, homework, or backpacks that need to be packed.
- Eat outside as long as the weather permits. As the temperature drops, grab sweaters and prolong outdoor eating as far into the fall and winter as possible.
- Slow the pace of dinner. Relax and be present at mealtime. Set a time frame. Don’t rush through or jump up to start the dishes.
- Turn on the music. Dinners feel more carefree with music—not just classical to calm everyone, but whatever Top 40 songs the kids are into.
- Keep fresh food accessible. In the fall, apples and pears are available or other sliced vegetables can sit in the fridge waiting for snack time.
Rituals Make Our Food More Flavorful - Catherine Saint Louis
Culinary rituals have long been studied by anthropologists and sociologists. But four experiments in a study published recently online in Psychological Science, actually tested the notion that ritualized gestures enhance ensuing consumption. The researchers found that even simple rituals, which they defined as “a series of behaviors that are seemingly irrelevant to the act that follows.” Like scraping wooden chopsticks together or tapping a soda can before pulling the tab, raised participants’ interest in what they subsequently ate or drank. For the first experiment 52 students were randomly assigned to two groups. One group was asked to break a chocolate bar in half, wrapper and all, then to open one of the halves and eat it, followed by unwrapping the remaining half and eating that. The other group relaxed for a bit then unwrapped and ate the whole bar. The camp that followed the two-step ritual rated their pleasure higher and said they would be willing to pay 25 cents more, on average. The second experiment, of 105 students, investigated whether any movements had positive effects compared with another ritual devised by the researchers. Before eating a carrot, some of the students always performed a standard ritual, which involved knocking twice before grabbing a bag of baby carrots, followed by another two knocks, taking a deep breath, and eating a carrot. Others performed random gestures like turning their heads, snapping their fingers or clenching their fists. Some had to wait between carrot No. 2 and No. 3. Others didn’t. Incredibly, repeating the rituals concocted by the researchers proved powerful and heightened subjects’ anticipation of a mini carrot. The third experiment tested the effects of watching a ritual vs. performing the ritual. Researchers had people mix lemonade and found that the act enhanced enjoyment for the drink, while people who watched did not find the drink as flavorful. A final experiment which simply asked students how fun or interesting their chocolate was, confirmed that one reason food rituals enhance flavor and enjoyment is the ability to focus people’s interest on the ensuing consumption. The study’s findings raise intriguing possibilities. Could rituals make often-maligned vegetables worth savoring and help out parents struggling to get their children to eat healthy food? Also, researchers believe rituals may help in portion control. When you savor food, you enjoy it more and sometimes you eat less.
Whole-Diet CSAs Offer Food-and-Farm Connection - Emily C. Horton
Every Tuesday and Friday afternoon the open barn at Moutoux Orchard in Purcellville, VA, looks like an especially well-stocked natural foods co-op. One day in mid-July finds a rich array: quarts of plump cherry tomatoes, a riot of heirlooms, zucchini, fennel, chard, carrots, cucumbers, and small baskets of varyingly hot peppers, tomatillos and okra. Crates of peaches, a little blemished because they weren’t sprayed. Bins of flour: buckwheat, rye, oat, barley and wheat. Refrigerators with diagrams of animal cuts taped to their doors and packages of beef, chicken and pork inside. In another cooler you can find raw milk, exempt from pasteurization laws. By mid-afternoon, the space is humming with subscribers to Moutoux’s whole-diet community-supported agriculture program (CSA). Most travel 20 to 30 miles each way, trunks loaded with coolers, tote bags, and glass bottles. Along with the totes and coolers, members also bring compost buckets full of their past week’s trimmings. On pickup days at Moutoux, handwritten signs let subscribers know what’s in abundance and what’s not. (“Can tomatoes and make pickles this week!” “Don’t be greedy with the chard.”) Shopping is by honor code, or “buy what you can eat.” The open-shopping format, common among whole-diet programs, provides flexibility not always found in other CSAs. Increasingly, vegetable CSAs are offering on-farm and in-town pickup at which subscribers can customize their own share. On-farm pickups are standard for most whole-diet CSAs, but a significant urban customer base leads some farms to provide in-town deliveries, too. Despite demand, whole-diet programs nationwide are scarce, numbering in perhaps the dozens in the US compared with an estimated 6,000+ vegetable and/or meat programs. To sell a whole-diet CSA, a farm has to produce more than just, well, produce and a completely diversified farm is challenging to say the least.
Just before the start of the Labor Day weekend, the US Department of Agriculture quietly announced that it was ending a ban on processed chicken imports from China. The kicker: These products can now be sold in the US without a country-of-origin label. Initially four Chinese processing plants, who passed USDA inspection in March, will only be allowed to export chicken products made from birds that were raised in the US and Canada. Because of that restriction, the poultry processors will not be required to have a USDA inspector on site. That’s a pretty disturbing thought for anyone who’s followed the slew of stories regarding food safety failures in China in recent years. What’s more, critics fear that the changes could eventually open the floodgates for a whole slew of chicken products from China. And, chicken lovers, brace yourselves: There’s more. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) said that it has serious “questions about the validity” of new procedures for inspecting poultry across the country. The problem? According to the GAO, the USDA did a poor job of evaluating the effectiveness of the pilot programs it has in place. The USDA maintains that the changes will, in fact, boost food safety.
Massive Molasses Spill Devastates Honolulu Marine Life - Mark Memmott
On Monday, September 9, Matson Navigation Company had a self-reported molasses spill. Approximately 1,400 tons of molasses spilled into Honolulu Harbor. A diver for Hawaii News Now went into the water to see how sea life was being affected. He came back to say, “It was shocking because the entire bottom is covered with dead fish…Every single thing is dead. We’re talking in the hundreds, thousands. I didn’t see one single living thing underwater.” Gary Gill, deputy director of Hawaii’s Environmental Health Division of the Health Department tells the news station that, “this is the worst environmental damage to sea life that I have come across.” The Department of Health has warned people to stay out of the water by the Honolulu Harbor and the Keehi Lagoon because the dead fish could attract sharks and barracudas. State reef biologist Dave Gulko said, “Unlike an oil spill, which can be cleaned by skimming the surface, the molasses quickly disperses to the deepest points. It’s sucking up all the oxygen.” Also, because the spill happened in a harbor and there’s less circulation than in the open ocean, it could be months or possibly years before the molasses is completely washed away.
Recently teams of designers in the GE Appliance home office in Louisville, KY, presented their predictions for future gadgets at the HOME 2025 challenge. Trends like the aging US population, a decrease in demand for larger homes, and an interest in fresh produce were major influencers. The most notable ideas for innovative products include an entertainment center that also has cooking capabilities and a refrigerator that can take inventory of what’s inside and place an order for a food delivery. Here are a few others:
- Amana’s Dry Erase refrigerator door. Write your grocery list, things to do or reminders on the fridge door—then wipe it clean and start over.
- Norcool featured an under-the-counter all drawer fridge.
- Samsung’s fridge boasted a sleek design and is loaded with apps for things like recipes, news and controlling settings.
- Are your roommates stealing your food? The Electrolux Flatshare is the solution. It is made up of cooling compartments so everyone in the house has their own space.
- Prefer that your fridge look like a conversation piece? Cambus solid wood cabinet is beautiful and still keeps your food fresh.
- And if you’re just looking for something to keep your drink cool at your desk, try the USB Cooler, which keeps one glass or can cool as long as you can plug in to your computer’s USB port.
Alton’s interview with Eater’s Amy McKeever. Follow the link below:
Food of the future?
Test-Tube Burger: Lab Cultured Meat Passes Taste Test (Sort of) - Areille Duhaime-Ross
First taste of test-tube burger declared ‘close to meat’ - Kate Kellend
The world’s first laboratory-grown beef burger was flipped out of a petri dish and into a frying pan on Monday (8/5/2013), with food tasters declaring it tasted “close to meat”. Grown in-vitro from cattle stem cells at a cost of 250,000 euros ($332,000), the burger was cooked and eaten in front of television cameras to gain the greatest media coverage for the culmination of a five-year science experiment. Even the scientist behind the burger’s creation, vascular biologist Mark Post of Maastricht University in the Netherlands, was relatively muted in his praise of its flavor. “It’s a very good start,” he told the hundreds of reporters who had gathered to watch the meat being cooked and served. The Dutch scientist’s aim is to show the world that in the future meat will not necessarily have to come from the environmentally and economically costly rearing and slaughtering of millions of animals. The World Health Organization (WHO) says meat production is projected to rise to 376 million tons by 2030 from 218 million tons annually in 1997-1999, and demand is expected to rise beyond that. While the science looks achievable, affordable mass production will be challenging. Post said he is confident the concept can be scaled up but said it might be another 20 years before lab-grown meat appears on supermarket shelves.
A new project from Austrian designer Katharina Unger proposes that a home could produce a good portion of its own meat protein right in the family kitchen. It would be cheap, easy, quick, and nutritious. But there’s a catch….the protein source in question is the larvae of the black soldier fly. Unger says that a future in which insects are the only economical choice for meat protein might not be so far-fetched. The black soldier fly is a truly impressive source of energy, however: the larvae are made up of as much as 42% protein and contain many essential amino acids. In fact, just 1 gram of black soldier fly eggs can turn into 2.4 kilograms of protein. Unger says the best way is simply to cook them up as-is. “They smell a bit like cooked potatoes. The consistency is a bit harder on the outside and like soft meat on the inside. The taste is nutty and a bit meaty.” Her favorite recipe? Tomato-larvae pasta with Parmesan cheese.
There has been a huge push recently to get consumers thinking about alternative protein sources, given the global food crisis. Two young entrepreneurs have developed a high protein bar using crickets that they say has superior nutritional qualities and can go a long way in making insect consumption mainstream in America. The start-up has sourced funding on Kickstarter—a site dedicated to crowd-funding for creative projects. Exo has generated just shy of $50,000 in pledges from members of the public. Exo roasts whole crickets sourced from US farms, then mills them into fine flour. The cricket flour is used in a formulation of almond butter, dates, coconut flour and shredded coconut, raw cacao in powder form and nibs for texture, raw honey and sea salt. In total each bar contains around 25 crickets. The original plan was to rent commercial kitchens and make the bars themselves, however due to overwhelming interest Exo would like to work with one US-based co-manufacturer and is currently assessing its options. The cricket bar makers will target health-conscious consumers initially—particularly those on the paleo or “cave-man” diet—but eventually hope to spark broader appeal among any consumer looking for a healthy snack. Cricket bars can already be found in the US—Utah-based firm Chapul sells them online in three flavors and candy firm Hotlix also retails ‘bug’ lollipops.
And if you don’t want to eat bugs….how about wood?
Could Wood Feed the World? - Charles Choi
Let Them Eat Wood! (If It’s Turned Into Starch) - Eliza Barclay
For Zhang Percival, growing up in China meant learning to appreciate just how critical a stable food supply is to avoiding unrest and disasters like famine. As an associate professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech, he is concerned with just how risky growing food has become because of the finite resources it requires: land, water, seeds and fertilizer. According to Zhang, “Wood, bushes, grasses—they don’t need special attention, and in nature, there’s more than 100 times more of this non-food biomass than the starch we currently grow as food.” In a study published this spring with colleagues in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Zhang explains a process he developed to transform solid cellulose—which could come from wood, grass or crop residue (like corn husks)—into a carbohydrate called amylose. Cellulose also contains glucose, but Zhang wants to create a healthier food product that won’t cause blood sugar levels to rise and fall. One company, Ingredion, has developed all kinds of products from corn, tapioca, wheat, potatoes and other raw materials and is already turning the cellulose in corn husks of GMO corn into edible products. But Zhang says his process is unique because he can use any kind of biomass, and he can convert it efficiently. In the short term, he thinks his starch might be useful as a low-calorie, easily digestible coating to transform the texture of other food products. For example, his powder could be subbed in for bread crumbs to coat and fry chicken. But in the long term, he hopes that this kind of technology will allow humans to turn to cellulose as a food source, if and when traditional agriculture is up against more severe resource limitations. For now, the production cost is too high, though Zhang says he is confident that the cost will come down.
Food of the Past….
Three Ways Cooking Has Changed Over the Last 300 Years - Amy Guttman
With help from food historian Annie Gray, Judith Gray has been cooking—and blogging—her way through
The Unknown Ladies Cookbook, a 300-year-old British compendium of family recipes jotted down by hand by several different women between 1690 and 1830. The recipes provide insights into the cooking habits of the Georgian and Regency periods as well as tell us a bit about how much culinary craft has changed over the centuries.
Inventive Cooking with Carrots: Carrots featured heavily in the cookbook and were popular for lots of things beyond salad and carrot cake. Carrots were frequently used because, like potatoes, carrots have a longer harvest and less spoilage. Carrots mashed with sugar or boiled, scooped out and filled with dried fruit and sugar were typically served as a second course. The dessert course would be ice cream, biscuits or fruit. Those carrot dishes today would probably be served as dessert and the biscuits and/or fruit served at other times during the meal.
About Eating the Whole Animal. When people kept their own animals, they were much more conscientious about using as much of it as possible. This is reflected in many recipes that call for offal prepared using slow-cooking techniques to tenderize the tougher cuts. In the 20th Century, people became more urbanized and squeamish. But the habit also died because World War I and II took a heavy toll on the culinary skills in British middle- and upper-class kitchens.
Incredibly Expanding Eggs: Some recipes call for as many as 30 eggs to bake a cake; others suggest whisking for an hour. Eggs have grown larger over the last century. As eggs began to be classed by quality and weight, farmers culled smaller chickens in favor of larger ones that produced bigger eggs. While whisking for an hour sounds like a workout, with servants to do the actual work, the women running a household wouldn’t have minded.
About 6,100 years ago, an unnamed Stone Age chef made culinary history when she flavored a simple dish of deer meat or fish, cooking in clay pot over an open wood fire, with the pungent round seeds of the garlic mustard plant. Researchers at the University of York analyzed burnt food remains from clay cooking pots found in Neolithic dwellings in Denmark and Germany. On the clay, along with meat fats or traces of fish, they found the distinct remains of garlic mustard seeds. While cumin, coriander, capers, basil, poppy and dill have been collected at other sites in southern Europe, the Middle East and India, some older they may have been around for medicinal or even decorative purposes. This is the earliest conclusive evidence of a spice’s use in ancient cuisine. Because no whole seeds were found in their “very well preserved” samples, researchers deduced that the Neolithic communities used well-ground seeds rather than whole ones in their cooking. The seeds were found in eight vessels collected from three sites in Germany and Denmark. A majority of the fats found in the pots were fishy preparations. Meat fats were also identified, and were likely to have come from roe deer or red deer, which would have been the dominant ruminants in the area at that time.
Hass avocados usually weigh half a pound or more. In the summer of 2013, though, hundreds of thousands of trees in Southern California are sagging with the tiniest Hass avocados in local memory—some just the size of a golf ball. The main reason for the lemon-sized fruits, sources say, is a very unusual growing year that consisted of low winter rainfall in early 2012 (avocados spend more than a full year developing on the tree), erratic bee activity during the late spring bloom period, and lots of unseasonably cool and cloudy weather in the year since. But the positive trade-off is that this year’s crop consists of more individual fruits than usual and, in fact, will probably weigh in at more than usual. Gary Bender, a University of California avocado specialist and farm adviser in San Diego County, says that most years, several months after pollination, high July temperatures cause many fruits to drop off the branches. That didn’t occur in the summer of 2012. The resulting abundance of individual fruits on each tree, combined with low rainfall, cool temperatures and sluggish photosynthesizing, has likely caused the stunting. Farmers and other fans of bigger avocados may get relief next year when industry experts expect this spring’s relatively low number of newly set fruits to result in fewer but larger avocados.
HuffPost Healthy Living
The mighty powers of the avocado stretch farther than you probably realize.
An Avocado Is A Fruit, And More Specifically A Berry. The avocado is technically a fruit, and even more specifically, a single-seeded berry. A fruit is “the matured ovary of a flower”, according to University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources. Fruits consist of a tough outer layer (skin or rind), a middle layer we typically think of as the flesh and a casing around a seed (or seeds).
An Avocado Has More Potassium than a Banana. A single avocado has 975 milligrams of potassium, while a banana delivers just half that with 487 milligrams per large fruit.
Avocados Ripen More Quickly with a Banana or Apple Around. If you store your unripe avocados in a brown bag with an apple or banana, the naturally occurring ethylene gas released and trapped in the bag will help green avocados ripen more quickly.
Avocados Are One of a Few High-Protein Fruits. Avocados have the highest amount of protein of any fruit, and it’s good-quality protein to boot—100% of the protein is available for use by the body.
You Can Swap Avocados for Butter in Some Baked Goods. The creamy texture and healthy fats in avocados make for a surprisingly easy baking substitution. And no, you won’t be making green muffins.
You Don’t Have to Eat Them to Reap their Benefits. The antioxidants, amino acids and essential oils inside an avocado can help repair damaged hair, moisturize dry skin, treat sunburns and maybe even minimize wrinkles.
We do know that quinoa is a versatile, protein-filled superfood. While similar staples like bulgur and barley tend to be relegated to health food aisles and your hippie aunt’s vegetarian casserole, quinoa is a crowd-pleaser with enormous global appeal. What else?
- Though it is often called a whole grain, quinoa isn’t a grain at all. True grains are derived from grasses but quinoa is part of a protein-rich plant family that includes fellow iron maidens like spinach and beets.
- A superfood in more ways than one, quinoa can grow in diverse climates and terrains including areas with minimal rainfall, irrigation and fertilization.
- Andean peoples in Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Bolivia first cultivated quinoa some 7,000 years ago. Contemporary consumers (such as US) developed our appetites within only the past decade.
- In the 1500s Spanish conquistadors deemed quinoa unholy due to its elevated status in indigenous cultures and even prohibited natives from cultivating it.
- Twenty years ago, NASA researchers declared quinoa the perfect inflight snack for astronauts because it is mineral-rich, gluten-free and contains all essential amino acids.
- In January 2013, a UK newspaper ran a provocative piece about how quinoa’s rising popularity worldwide has rendered it too expensive for the Bolivian people. Other analysts argue that quinoa’s rising prices can be good for indigenous smallholder farmers. Food politics are complicated. All things in moderation.
- There are over 120 different identified varieties of quinoa, but the most commonly cultivated and exported are white, red and black.
- The UN named 2013 The International Year of Quinoa, citing how its endurance and durability as a crop contributes to the world food security.
- While we norteamericanos typically use quinoa as a rice substitute, locals in cities like Bogota and La Paz drink the stuff.
- The quinoa crop protects itself from predators with a waxy, bitter-tasting coat of saponins, an organic chemical compound that gets rinsed away during cultivation. Resourceful Andean families would traditionally save this saponin-heavy wash water to use as shampoo.
And speaking of hair….
Finding a hair in your spaghetti is gross, no question. But it is not, for the most part, a health threat. It’s so benign that the Food and Drug Administration in its Food Code guidelines doesn’t even place a limit on strands per plate. The FDA has set many standards for what it defines as “natural or unavoidable defects” in foods, but hair doesn’t even make that list. The only real scenario in which hair would pose a threat is if you ate a whole head’s worth. Large quantities can do to your digestion what it does to your shower drain. The truth is, you might have eaten hair today. Food manufacturers use L-cysteine, an amino acid in keratin to stabilize dough and perk up the taste buds that detect salty, savory flavors. Although some factories derive their L-cysteine synthetically or from duck feathers, others get it from human hair.
Along with the death of the 9-to-5 job, the lunch break has vanished from many employees’ work schedules. According to a 2011 survey by human resources consulting firm Right Management, only one in three American workers take a lunch break. But your lunch habits can make a big difference in your work life according to a Germany study recently published in the journal PLOS ONE. Test participants ate meals in completely different contexts: Lunch consumed in a bland office environment was eaten alone in a short period of time, whereas at a restaurant, subjects were given time to select and consume the meal in the company of others. The restaurant meal also concluded with a short walk back to the lab. After the meals, researchers measured sematic memory, cognitive control and error processing, the processing of emotional facial expressions, and subjects filled out a questionnaire ranking their mood. Although a long off-site lunch might seem like a productivity-killer, it could actually help you get more done, Fast Company reported. Time for relaxation has been linked with heightened productivity and can help ward off stress and burnout at work.
If you eat at your desk because you don’t want the shame of eating alone…..
So that its students will not have to endure the humiliation of actually eating with each other, Kyoto University and Kobe University in Japan have installed “lonely seats” in its dining hall. The seats have a barrier that runs down the middle of the table that prevents eye contact between diners. It’s designed to help busy students avoid the pressure to socialize. This marks a tide change in the world’s acceptance of solo dining. Now there are pop-ups dedicated to solo dining.
But if you’re depressed about dining alone…..
Coffee-Drinkers now have another reasons to continue filling up their morning mugs. Drinking several cups of coffee daily may reduce the risk of suicide by about 50%, according to a new research published in The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) reviewed data from three large US studies and found the risk of suicide for adults who drank two to four cups of caffeinated coffee per day was about half compared to those who drank decaffeinated coffee, very little or no coffee. Despite these findings, the authors do not recommend depressed adults increase caffeine consumption because most individuals adjust their caffeine intake to an optimal level for them, and an increase could result in unpleasant side effects. Few participants in the HSPH studies drank large amounts of coffee, so the studies did not address the impact of six or more cups of coffee per day.
If you don’t like the taste of coffee….
Tired of the dreaded coffee aftertaste? Ben Yu, a 21-year-old tech fellow, and Deven Soni, his 33-year-old former venture capitalist partner have created a caffeine spray that can be applied directly to the skin, so caffeine fiends do not have to down a cup of coffee or energy drink to get a boost. And it’s calorie free! The patent-pending energy spray is absorbed through the skin and apparently distributed through the body over a period of several hours for a long-lasting caffeine buzz. Though each dose contains less caffeine that a normal cup of coffee, it packs the same amount of punch. Once approved and on the market, each bottle of spray will contain about 120 sprays (40 doses) and is expected to retail for $15.
Stuffing your face in most cases can do more harm than good. But in certain situations, noshing can actually help…
- If you’re in a funk, eat sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are one of the most nutritious sources of carbohydrates and, thanks to the fiber, the carbs will enter your blood stream at a more gradual rate, avoiding a crash later.
- If you can’t sleep, eat Hummus. Tryptophan, an amino acid in chickpeas, is a precursor to melatonin, and levels of this hormone rise in the evening, making you sleepy.
- If your muscles ache, drink tart cherry juice. Tart cherries have anti-inflammatory antioxidants called anthocyanins, which may help in reducing muscle soreness after exercise.
- If you feel sluggish, drink coconut water. Low energy is sometimes a sign that you are not drinking enough water throughout the day. Turn to coconut water for a pick-me-up since it has electrolytes such as magnesium, calcium, and potassium, which help regulate how and where fluids are distributed throughout the body.
- If your stomach is rebelling, drink peppermint tea. Studies have shown that peppermint can help relieve abdominal pain and discomfort by suppressing the muscle spasms that make you want to curl up in a corner.
- If you have a pounding migraine, eat spinach. Instead of popping a pill, try a salad. Magnesium is used in the ER to treat acute migraine attacks, and spinach contains magnesium as well as riboflavin.
- If you need to raise your blood sugar levels, eat dried apricots. The best way to increase your blood sugar levels is to consume sugar, but go for a healthy sweet source, such as dried apricots, which immediately increase blood sugar levels because they are rich in glucose and low in fructose.
To help people become more aware of their physical activity—or lack of it—companies are marketing high-tech gadgets with claims that they can measure movement, sleep, food intake and weight. Here’s a quick look at some of the devices available now or coming soon.
Wrist gadgets. Older devices, such as pedometers, simply count your steps, but the newer trackers are designed to continually monitor all of your movements. Some can also track your sleep quality and calories burned, and even automatically transfer the information to your smartphone or computer. Wristband gadgets can comfortably be worn round the clock.
Phone gadgets. Almost half of all Americans carry smartphones, according to a recent survey from the Pew Research Center. That means that many of us might be able to turn to easy-to-use fitness apps to help step up our workouts.
Diet gadgets. The HAPIfork is an eating utensil that vibrates and lights up if you eat too quickly. It also transfers your eating-habit information to your computer or smartphone. The fork is meant to make you more aware of what you’re consuming.
Bathroom gadgets. Smart scales can automatically upload your weight via a WiFi connection to your computer, tablet or smartphone to help you keep track of your daily progress.
Bottom line: It’s important to keep moving as well as to keep watching your weight. Use whatever helps you stay motivated—whether its high tech or not.
An extravagance that’s good for you….
LA restaurant Ray’s & Stark Bar has added a 20-item Water Menu to its beverage list as well as water sommelier Martin Riese. The list includes waters from ten different countries including Spain, France, Germany and Canada. The bottles range in size from .75 – 1 liter, and are priced from $8 – $16. The most expensive bottle is Riese’s own California-made water 9OH2O, which is made “in limited editions of 10,000 individually numbered glass bottles.” The menu is a booklet that features descriptions of each water varietal, including information on origin, mineral content, and tasting notes.
Water sommelier not necessary for this…..
Beer is a pain to bring along on hiking trips. Pat’s Backcountry Beverages has a solution: a just-add-water beer concentrate and an easy-to-carry carbonation system. Owner Pat Tatera says that basically beer is just “barley, water, hops and yeast.” The beer concentrate isn’t made by dehydrating a conventional beer. Instead their process—patent pending—allows them to start with little or no water and carefully control the fermentation. Each beer packet makes a single 16 oz. pint. The carbonation system looks more like a water bottle, and is activated by simply moving a lever on the contraption up and down.
This article may be too late for this year’s garden, but may explain your garden’s success or failure.
Garden Friends and Foes - Lucy Gilmour and Lisa Kalis
The Wall Street Journal
Relationships can be tricky, even in the garden world. Some plants thrive in each other’s company; some just don’t get along. A particular plant can help another one grow by supplying nutrients through the soil, or it can inhibit its growth. Some improve their neighbors’ flavor and some protect against pests. Here are a few guidelines for companion planting.
The cabbage family—known as Brassica, including broccoli, cauliflower, kale and kohlrabi—is good to plant with aromatic herbs like sage and mint, which can repel the white cabbage butterfly. It also pairs well with onions. Keep away from tomatoes.
Potatoes are also a good match with the cabbage family, but also keep away from tomatoes and cucumbers, which share a common blight.
Tomatoes help protect asparagus from the asparagus beetle. Some gardeners report that basil seems to improve the flavor of tomatoes as well as lettuce. Basil also deters many garden insects.
Garlic, in the Allium (onion) family repels insects. Plant it around fruit trees, roses, tomatoes and cabbage. Keep away from peas and beans, as it may inhibit their growth.
U.S.D.A. Approves ‘Non-Bioengineered’ Label -Jay Sjerven
The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the US Department of Agriculture has approved use of a label for meat and liquid egg products with the claim the products were from animals raised on diets containing no bioengineered grain or ingredients. The approval was in response to an application for such a label from the Non-G.M.O. Project, Bellingham, Washington, and three West Coast food companies. The Non-G.M.O. Project is an organization, which offers North America’s only third-party verification and labeling program for non-bioengineered food and products. It has developed a “Non-G.M.O. Project standard” to which companies seeking verification that their products are free from bioengineered ingredients must adhere. The standard prescribes methods such as segregation, traceability, risk assessment, sampling techniques and quality control management. Once the Non-G.M.O. Project’s product verification program determines a company’s products are in compliance with the requisite standards, a licensing agreement may be signed to allow the company to use the Non-G.M.O. Project’s logo and verification mark on the product packaging. According to Cathy Cochran, FSIS office of public affairs and consumer education, “The approved labels state that the products meet the standards of a third-party certifier regarding the use of non-GMO feed.” Ms. Cochran continued, “The agency has not developed any new policy regarding non-genetically engineered or non-GMN products and is not certifying that the labeled products are free of genetic engineering or genetic modifications.”
Coca-Cola has a rainbow’s worth of product packaging these days: blue and green for Sprite; silver and gold for caffeinated and non-caffeinated Diet Coke; black for Coke Zero. But the colors in the basic Coca-Cola logo—ornate white letters on a red background—haven’t changed in over a century. But in Argentina, for the last few weeks, the words Coca-Cola are spelled out in those same ornate white letters on a green background. It’s everywhere from a giant electronic billboard in the heart of downtown Buenos Aires, to the sides of delivery trucks, to supermarket shelves. It’s the global kickoff of what Coke is describing as a “natural” and therefore “green” lower-calorie cola called Coca-Cola Life. What makes it “natural” is that Coca-Cola Life is sweetened with a mix of sugar and stevia, an extract from the leaves of a shrub in the chrysanthemum family that grows in Latin America. It’s said to be as much as 400 times sweeter than table sugar, without the calories. Should Coca-Cola Life become a substantial hit in Argentina, it could expand to other markets. If not, it can disappear without the fallout that accompanied the scuttling of New Coke in the 1980s. Coca-Cola Life is also packaged in a “PlantBottle” made of a plastic that’s 30 percent vegetable fiber and which Coke says is 100% recyclable. But that’s nothing compared to the recvclability of bottles being marketed by the company elsewhere in Colombia, right on the equator, where bottles sold at the beach are made of ice. Though Ice Bottles are selling for almost twice the price of a regular bottle, vendors can barely keep them in stock. They come with a thin plastic band printed with the Coke logo to make them easier to hold. Spying a possible logo-fashion opportunity, Coke notes that the plastic holder can be used as a bracelet once the bottle has melted away.
We put up with a lot of crap—literally. Last year, at least 4.7 billion gallons of hog manure in the US came from one company, Smithfield foods, the nation’s leading pork producer. The feces load will rise if US regulators green light a proposed merger that will bring the firm under the auspices of a China-based company. Under a proposed multibillion-dollar deal, Hong Kong-based Shuanghui International Holdings would buy Virginia-based Smithfield Foods. The stated purpose of the merger, the companies say, is to efficiently increase pork production and ultimately to increase pork export to China, where the appetite for pork continues to climb, even as Americans buy less. Smithfield, which operates across 12 states, brought 15.8 million hogs to market in fiscal 2013—and each hog produced an average of 1,100 to 1,300 liters of manure during its lifetime. The majority of hog feces from Smithfield sit in earthen lagoons where it naturally ages for six to 12 months before the slurry is then sprayed on agricultural fields as fertilizer. Studies on communities living around such farms have indicated individuals exposed to the odors and emissions have more respiratory complaints and increased asthma symptoms. Moreover, hogs raised in crowded environments in industrial-scale farms require greater quantities of antibiotics to promote growth and compensate for unsanitary conditions. Researchers in particular worry that antibiotic-laden hog manure can seep into the water and air as well as bodies of people surrounding such farms, with subtle implications both for health and for the spread of antibiotic resistance. With the deal, Shuanghui would also be acquiring the clout of Smithfield’s name and knowledge of US production practices and technology. The merger would help fuel China’s shift toward even more hog farms that adopt Smithfield’s vertically integrated process—namely industrial-size farms that raise pigs in close quarters and dispose of their waste through the lagoon-and-spray method, thereby threatening to reproduce the same health and antibiotic-resistance issues in China. Smithfield claims that without this opportunity outside the US, there are no opportunities for US pork producers to expand. The proposed merger is being reviewed by the US inter-agency body called the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US.
Lionfish, which have venomous spines, are a well-documented problem in Atlantic coral reefs, where the foot-long, one-pound invaders from the tropical parts of the Pacific and Indian oceans live without predators and eat other fish voraciously. Divers are encouraged to capture and eat any lionfish they encounter, and last month the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission waived the recreational license requirement for divers harvesting lionfish and excluded them from bag limits. What’s slowly coming into view is just how deep into the ocean their invasion has spread. Recreational divers max out around 130 feet deep. Researchers and wildlife officials rarely have the means to venture deeper than that, but they’ve realized the lionfish they can’t see may be their biggest concern. Last month, Seattle-based OceanGate Inc. offered scientists and wildlife officials a close-up look at deep-water lionfish in dives aboard a yellow submersible. They got a close-up look at deep-water lionfish living on a wreck 250 feet deep into the Atlantic where there are no predators and no divers. To date the deepest confirmed sighting of a deep-water lionfish was at 1,000 feet in the Bahamas. The next frontier battle with lionfish is in deep water areas. Another problem is there is no commercial market per se. NOAA launched a campaign in 2010 urging the US public to “eat sustainable, eat lionfish!”
Can Oysters With No Sex Life Repopulate The Chesapeake Bay? - Pamela D’Angelo
The Chesapeake Bay once supplied half the world’s oyster market. But pollution, disease and over-harvesting have nearly wiped out the population. It’s a dire situation that has united former adversaries to revive the oyster ecosystem and industry. Scientists and watermen have joined forces to plant underwater farms in the bay with a special oyster bred in a lab. Called triploid oysters, they have been selected for attributes like disease tolerance and fast growth. The oysters are sterile, which means that instead of using their energy to reproduce, they use all of it to grow. That allows them to reach market size twice as quickly and be harvested year-round. When it comes time to plant the lab-bred oysters, the watermen have great input. The collaboration makes sense—watermen don’t have the education the scientists have and scientists don’t have the education watermen have. The watermen are each paying $1,500 to participate in the project. The money goes to pay for things like equipment and oyster larvae. The Potomac River Fisheries Commission kicked in another $150,000. It took about a year for 20 watermen to commit to the three-year project. The first four acres of river bottom was planted last year. Scientists and watermen recently went out to plant this year’s crop and also check on last year’s oyster plantings. A majority survived but aren’t market size; still the group remains optimistic. If all goes well, the oysters will be ready in time for the big demand of the holidays.
ScienceShot: Scared Earthworms Help Plants Grow - Jules Wellinghoff
A frightened earthworm is a plant’s best friend. Researchers testing the ecological role of the earthworm Pheretima aspergillum in an alpine meadow have found that when a beetle that preys on earthworms is present, plants grew more. When beetles were present, earthworms migrated to the deeper soil, probably to avoid the beetles’ foraging range. The earthworms broke up this deeper soil, and nutrients and water moved into it. The researchers speculate that the enriching nutrients and water brought to this deeper soil may have been more beneficial to plants than improvements to the upper. So the next time your outdoor plants aren’t growing, it may not be because there aren’t enough earthworms, but because the earthworms are complacent.
Tomato, Apple Peel Purifies Polluted Water - Food Product Design
Water scarcity may be a thing of the past thanks to apple and tomato peels, according to a recent study published in the May issue of the American Chemical Society journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces and in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal RSC Advances. Ramakrishna Mallampati, Ph.D. candidate and lead researcher of the study came up with a way to purify water, using peels of apples and tomatoes that can help disadvantaged communities around the world and be a long-term inexpensive solution. The two-year study found that the peel from eight tomatoes can almost fully remove heavy metal ions, such as lead, from a liter of water in an hour. Food and water waste is occurring all across the globe and it can be prevented. Mallampati, along with other students are looking into the use of other fruit peels and natural fibers for water purification.
NYC Doctors Are Now Prescribing Fruits and Veggies - Katharine O’Marra
A new program in New York City has doctors prescribing fruits and vegetables to obese or overweight patients. Under the program, obese or overweight patients can be prescribed Health Bucks redeemable for produce at local farmers markets. Health Bucks are a part of the city’s GrowNYC initiative to make locally grown produce available to low-income New Yorkers. The vouchers are accepted at more than 140 New York City farmers markets. The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program is meant to benefit whole families and communities at a time. Patients in the program receive $1 in Health Bucks per day for each person in their family for a period of at least four months. Each month, patients check in with the hospital to have their prescriptions renewed, and their weight and body mass index evaluated. They also receive nutritional counseling. The long-term goal of this program is a whole generation of kids who reach adulthood at a healthy optimal weight.
5 Surprising Food Lies - HuffPost Taste
Lie #1—Chilean Sea Bass is a Sea Bass from Chile. The fish’s real name is Patagonian toothfish and the fish is as ugly as its name. The clever name isn’t the only problem with Chilean sea bass: according to a 2011 DNA analysis at Clemson University, 15 percent of Chilean sea bass sold with eco-labels weren’t actually from approved, sustainable stock. Worse, eight percent were actually different species of fish altogether.
Lie #2—The first Ceasar Salad was a salad fit for Roman emperors. The first Caesar salad was actually made from scraps. In 1924, chef Caesar Cardini ran out of food in his restaurant’s kitchen, so when a customer asked for a salad, he made do. He put together bits of lettuce with olive oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, egg, garlic, croutons and Parmesan. He then added the dramatic flair of tossing the salad tableside.
Lie #3—Your steak is always a prime cut. Meat glue, or an enzyme called transglutaminase, binds protein together and is often used to stick together scraps of meat into prime cuts of steak. Not all restaurants resort to this cheap trick, but the practice is probably more pervasive than you’d think.
Lie #4—Fortune cookies are quintessentially Chinese. The origin of fortune cookies is controversial, but food researchers point to its origin as distinctly Japanese, supposedly invented by Japanese bakers who immigrated to the US. In the early 1990s, Wonton Food, the largest fortune cookie manufacturer in the US, attempted to introduce fortune cookies to China, but gave up because the cookies were considered “too American” by the Chinese.
Lie #5—You can always tell between cheap and expensive wines by tasting. In 2001 Psychologist Richard Wiseman of the Hertfordshire University conducted a blind test in which he asked 578 regular people to tell the difference between a variety of wines, both cheap and expensive. The overall result suggests a 50:50 chance of identifying wine as expensive or cheap based on taste alone—the same odds as flipping a coin. The results aren’t much better when experts were tested. Fifty-four wine experts were asked to rate two glasses of red and two glasses of white wine. The experts couldn’t even tell that the red wine was actually the same white wine, but colored by red dye. Then the experts were asked to grade two bottles of the exact same wine—one bottle had a fancy grand cru label and the other an ordinary table wine label. Experts praised the “grand cru” wine and dismissed the ordinary as less favorable.
Mystery of the Smoke Ring Solved! - Amanda Greene
What causes a “smoke ring” to be around smoked meats? If you’re not familiar, a smoke ring is a region of pink colored meat usually seen in the outermost 8-10 millimeters of smoked meats. A pink (or red) color in meat usually indicates the presence of myoglobin. Myoglobin’s reddish pigment is usually lost when meat is cooked because the heat causes it to denature and turn brown. The center of a rare steak remains red because it never reaches a high enough temperature to denature the myoglobin. The outside of smoked meat gets extremely hot over the course of cooking, so cool temperatures can’t be the cause of the pink color. It turns out that burning organic fuels like wood, charcoal or gas produces a variety of chemicals, including trace amounts of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) gas. When NO2 gas meets the surface, it dissolves into the meat and picks up a hydrogen molecule, becoming nitrous acid (HNO2), which then gets converted into nitric oxide (NO). NO reacts with myoglobin, and together they form a stable pink molecule that can withstand heat. The thickness of the ring depends on how deep into the meat the NO is able to penetrate before reacting with myoglobin. A similar reaction occurs in nitrite-cured meats like ham, corned beef, and hot dogs.
Chow Down In Sync With Your Circadian Clock - Allison Aubrey
There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that when we eat during a 24-hour cycle is likely ore important for our health than we realized. Researchers in Spain recruited hundreds of middle-aged folks who were overweight and put them on a diet for five months. All the dieters consumed approximately the same number of calories and had similar levels of physical activity. At the end of the study, the folks who ate their main meal of the day before 3 p.m. lost about 5 more pounds than the people who ate a dinner meal later in the evening. Researchers believe that in addition to the master clock in our brains, there are also little time-keeping clocks in all the organs of our body—from our liver and heart to our guts. When the timing of our meals does not coincide with the sleep-wake cycle, there’s a disconnect, and our body stores extra energy as fat. So, bottom line, respect the clock.
When Lettuce Was a Sacred Sex Symbol - K. Annabelle Smith
Lettuce was depicted by ancient Egyptians on the walls of tombs dating back to at least 2,700 BC. The earliest version of the greens resembled two modern lettuces: romaine, from the French word “romaine” (from Rome), and cos lettuce believed to have been found on the island of Kos, located along the coast of modern day Turkey. In Ancient Egypt around 2,000 BC, lettuce was not a popular appetizer; it was an aphrodisiac, a phallic symbol that represented the celebrated food of the Egyptian god of fertility, Min. According to Salima Ikram, Professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo, who specializes in Ancient Egyptian food, “Over 3,000 years, Min’s role did change, but he was constantly associated with lettuce.” The Greeks and Romans later popularized the leafy veggie as an appetizer during the 81-96 A.D. reign of Domitian. When they first introduced a set order of courses, the meal included a salad at the beginning to stimulate the appetite and also at the end to encourage digestion. It was still considered a medicinal goldmine by the Greeks and Romans, but for a different reason than the Egyptians—they believed it helped people sleep.
There are apps for this…….
A new app will soon let users share their leftover dinner with strangers. Seriously. Launching at the end of August, LeftoverSwap will allow users to upload a photo and description of their pad thai, pizza or pho and connect them with hungry neighbors nearby. Theory is that diners will eat less of a delicious meal if they know the leftovers will not go to waste. While the idea may sound a bit crazy, it might actually be contributing to the greater good: LeftoverSwap will start as a donation-only model. While a payment model could be a possibility in the future, the app could also be more philanthropic in nature. The company will focus its marketing on Seattle (where it’s headquartered) and San Francisco to start, but plans to be available across the country.
Le Laboratoire, a Paris-based center of art, design and science is developing what is called the OPHONE. The idea is to communicate scents much the same way we communicate sounds and sights: by using our smartphones. An app connects to a pocket-size device that’s able to capture smells and break them down into their components—a sort of olfactory alphabet—then transmit them to another device thousands of miles away, where they are reconstituted. A fairly simple prototype limited to coffee smells is being demonstrated already at an exhibition in Paris. Fully commercialized OPHONEs are probably something for later in the decade.
2013’s Hottest Beer Trends
Wine Enthusiast, August 2013
**Mad Brewers. New beer categories, like Belgo-American styles and IPLs (India Pale Lagers), and brews that incorporate experimental hop varieties or exotic spices.
**Beer Loves Wine. Breweries are turning to the world of wine to produce new brews that bridge the gap between wine drinkers and beer drinkers. From wine grapes and must to yeast and used barrels, brewers have plenty of wine-derived options.
**For the Love of Lagers. Lagers often get a bad rap for being too light or weak, which may be true of some mass-produced selections. Today’s craft breweries produce many fine examples that offer nuance, complexity and flavor.
**The Can Revolution. Sam Adams recently launched its “Sam Can”—the result of two years of ergonomic and sensory research and testing—which aims to approximate drinking beer from a glass. Sly Fox Brewing just put its Helles Golden Lager in a new “topless” can whose entire lid is removable.
**The Ladies Love Beer. Not only are women becoming more interested in craft beer, but they’re also becoming a larger part of the business. A recent documentary, “The Love of Beer”, produced by Alison Grayson offers an inspirational portrayal of women in the craft-beer industry.
**Homebrewing for Everyone. In 2012 there were more than 1 million American homebrewers, and that number is expected to climb. The federal government legalized homebrewing in 1979, but each state has had to individually legislate homebrewing. In May, Alabama was the last state in the nation to legalize the hobby.
There’s been a lot of hating on food TV recently. Let’s celebrate six food shows no longer on air that make us remember how great food TV can be.
- Molto Mario: 1997-2004. Before Mario Batali started a global restaurant empire, he had a wonderful Italian show on the Food Network “Molto Mario.” What draws us to this show is the pacing—not too slow, not too fast.
- Two Fat Ladies: 1996-1999. Don’t you just want Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Paterson to keep you company when you cook dinner.
- The French Chef: 1963-1973. The great thing about Julia Child is that she celebrates mistakes. Sometimes your food isn’t going to come out perfect. That’s OK.
- Yan Can Cook: 1978-?? So as far as we can tell, this show is still on, though we haven’t seen anything in a long time. But we could watch those knife skills all day long.
- Good Eats: 1999-2011. Alton Brown may be goofy, but he relayed a lot of good information in this quirky show.
- Galloping Gourmet: 1969-1971. Sure, it’s a little past its prime, but it’s still a lot of fun.
People naturally become skeptical when foods are overhyped in the media, but there are plenty of health foods that are not fads—no matter how much the media raves about them. These foods are even better when paired with equally–impressive partners.
Kale. Kale should always be a staple in your crisper. It contains powerful molecules that do amazing things in our bodies. Take glucosinolates for example, a class of water-soluble compounds that stopped cancer cells in their tracks in animal trials. Kale also contains special fiber that is activated when cooked—whisking fat and dietary cholesterol out of your body before it’s absorbed. Pair kale with its synergistic partner, fats! Of course, use healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, seeds, or even a pat of pasture-raised butter.
Dark Chocolate. Dark chocolate is touted for its ability to calm blood pressure and deliver antioxidants in the form of flavonoids, but this is only the case with chocolates that contain at least 70 percent real cocoa. Unsweetened cocoa powder is 100 percent dark chocolate, so no need to read the label. Luscious, sweet red apples are the perfect pairing with dark chocolate, because apples contain quercetin, especially in the skins. Quercetin has been invoked to reduce the risk of allergies, heart attack and a host of other ailments because of its dual-action as an antihistamine and an anti-inflammatory.
Turmeric. Turmeric has many talents, including the ability to soothe skin disorders like psoriasis, calm the nervous system and PMS, and even potentially fight cancer because of its active ingredient curcumin, which works as a powerful anti-inflammatory. Turmeric’s perfect pairing is a big glass of warm milk. Apparently both heat and fat make turmeric more bioavailable and thus more powerful.
Quinoa. Quinoa is a complete protein and has all nine essential amino acids, great for a vegetarian diet. It’s very high in manganese that helps keep bones strong and healthy, and high in iron. Quinoa also contains niacin, which has been proven to lower cholesterol and triglycerides. Red bell pepper is quinoa’s match, since red bell pepper is high in vitamin C that promotes iron uptake.
A sponge that can’t absorb a single drop of water may seem like a dud. But if it readily soaks up oil, it could help purify chemical syntheses or clean up oil spills on water. Researchers now report a simple chemical method for turning a household sponge into a water-blocking oil absorber. Thanks to its absorbent nature, a sponge is an efficient tool in cleaning up oil spills—drop a sponge in some oil-laden water, and it’ll suck some of it up. The problem is that sponges indiscriminately suck up both the oil and water. Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Science purchased polyurethane sponges at a local furniture store and coated its entire surface with a thin layer of polypyrrole. This polymer is well known for being water-repellent and having a strong affinity for oil. To prepare the sponge for its polypyrrole coating, the researchers first dipped it into ferric chloride and 1H, 1H, 2H, 2H-perfluorooctyltriethoxysilane (PTES). They then put the PTES-coated sponge into a sealed chamber over a pool of volatile pyrrole, which vaporized and infused the sponge. The PTES helped the pyrrole adhere to the sponge surface. Meanwhile the iron from the ferric chloride helped catalyze the polymerization of the pyrrole into a thin coating over the sponge’s pores. When the scientists added droplets of water to the surface of the revamped sponge, the water stayed in a bead and wasn’t absorbed. Droplets of oil, however, disappeared into the sponge immediately. The researchers also dipped the sponge into a variety of oils, including motor oil and soybean oil. The sponge sopped up more than 20 times its dry weight for each of the oils. They sopped up oil with the sponge and then wrung out the absorbed oil. After repeating those steps five times, the sponge could absorb at least 17 times its weight in oil. Although the sponges themselves are cheap, the chemicals used in the treatment are expensive. For now, the super-hydrophobic sponges, though may find a place in certain industrial operations.
John Innes Centre News
New research from Rice University and the University of California at Davis shows that to prevent starvation at night, plants perform accurate arithmetic division. The calculation allows them to use up their starch reserves at a constant rate so that they run out almost precisely at dawn. Plants feed themselves during the day by using energy from the sun to convert carbon dioxide into sugars and starch. Once the sun has set, they must depend on a store of starch to prevent starvation. Suddenly subject plants to night, and they adjust their usage accordingly. A smaller store of starch leads them to a slower rate of metabolism, ensuring that they make it through to dawn. By tracking their use of starch reserves in response to odd nighttime schedules, scientists were able to prove that the plants can estimate the length of a night, the size of their food reserves, and enact the appropriate rationing system with astonishing accuracy. No matter what, the plant will aim to use up 95% of its starch by morning. It’s becoming increasingly clear that not only do plants know and care what time it is, but that we can exploit that tendency to make them better for us—even after they’ve been ripped from the soil. One recent study from Rice University made the rather startling discovery that post-harvest plant life like a head of cabbage can still react to the time of day. Plants don’t die right after harvest, and by using artificial light to simulate the sun’s movements we can trick them into continuing a normal daily cycle—or even an abnormal one. Antioxidants are one healthful metabolic product of plant biology, and research has shown that they increase production of these potentially cancer-fighting molecules at certain times of the day. A possible consequence of this work is that plants could be made more nutritious simply by changing how we store them, no genetic modification required.
The invention of farming some 10,000 years ago set the stage for the rise of civilizations in the Near East. Yet archaeologists disagree about how it happened. Some say it arose in a single spot near the Mediterranean, and spread from there. Others argue it had multiple independent origins, a view that is getting new credence, thanks to findings from an early farming site in Iran. Most research over the past decades has focused on the western stretches of the Fertile Crescent—including modern-day Israel, Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Turkey. Recent excavations in those areas have suggested that hunter-gatherers first began to gather and plant seeds from wild cereals and legumes, such as wheat, barley, and lentils, as early as 13,000 years ago. Only a few sites were known as far east as Iran, and most of them had been excavated in the 1960s and 1970s, before that country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution and also before the advent of modern archaeobotanical techniques that make it much easier for researchers to recover tell-tale plant remains. In 2009, archaeologist Nicholas Conard of the University of Tubingen led an excavation of Chogha Golan, a village in the foothills of the Zagros, a mountain range that runs along the Iran-Iraq border. Iranian archaeologists had discovered the village about 15 years earlier, but never fully excavated it. Before long, they hit pay dirt: The sediments were rich with artifacts. There were sculpted clay objects, clay cones, depictions of animals and humans as well as stone tools, like sickles, and mortar and pestles, some clearly used for grinding food. And then there were the grains and seeds—hundreds of them, charred but otherwise intact and well preserved. Conard suspected he had uncovered an “agricultural village,” but he sent the grains to his colleague Simone Riehl to double check. She confirmed that the grains were indeed varieties of lentils, barley and peas. She also identified a range of nuts and grasses, and a kind of wheat called Emmer, known to be a commonly grown crop in later centuries throughout the Middle East. The team concludes that the advent of farming at Chogha Golan, and in the eastern Fertile Crescent, was an independent event that paralleled developments much farther west. This suggests, researchers say, that farming was more or less inevitable once the Ice Age had ended and climatic and environmental conditions were right for it, rather than being a fluke that arose in just one location.
The author has always been of the belief that food heated in a microwave cools faster, because food heated hastily will cool hastily, just to spite her impatience. In a burst of “science-y” curiosity, she called Harold McGee, a man who has made a career of applying chemistry, physics, and biology to cooking, for a and kind of not”; the bottom line is that heat is heat. However, our nuked food could really be cooling faster, but for the following three reasons:
- The Container. Heated in an oven, a metal baking sheet or pan will absorb heat from the oven and become much hotter than the food sitting on or in it, helping to cook the food while in the oven and continuing to keep it warm once it’s sitting out on the counter. In a microwave, the containers are not heated directly by the microwave and never get hotter than the food itself. The microwaved food doesn’t benefit from the ongoing source of heat once removed from the oven.
- Uneven Heating. Microwaves heat food, particularly large food, unevenly due in part to differing amounts of energy in different parts of the appliance. This often leaves the center of the food cold while the edges are piping hot. Once removed from the microwave, the heat from the edges will migrate to warm up the center.
- Higher surface area to volume ratio. Smaller pieces of food (which is very often what we’re microwaving) cool faster than larger ones due to their higher surface area to volume ratio.
Ecologists have long assumed that birds help plants mostly by separating seeds from their parents, to reduce the chance that seedlings will succumb to diseases that adult plants harbor, or face competition. According to a new study, seeds of Capsicum chacoense, a wild chili pepper native to South America, are almost four times as likely to germinate after passing through the intestines of Elaenia parvirostris, a common fly catcher. In this case, distance from parents had no effect on the chili’s success. Instead, the researchers found that gut passage removed a common pathogenic fungus and scrubbed the seeds of an odor that attracts seed-eating ants. This is the first time anyone has shown that being digested actually helps protect seeds from predation and infection. The full report can be found this month in Ecology Letters.
Imagine if you will: Agropolis, a supermarket where all your produce is hydroponically grown right there in the store. No matter where you live you’d have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Transportation time and costs will be eliminated. Unfortunately, Agropolis is purely conceptual, the idea of a team of Danish designers who wanted to take the farm-to-table concept to a new level. Their grown-in-store model, while fun, has its drawbacks, namely that the technology required to make this a reality is prohibitively expensive. Here are five ways you may see now or in the not too distant future in which supermarkets may make use of technology to create better shopping experiences.
- Same-Day Delivery. Many food retailers now allow customers to fill a virtual cart online and have their order of goods delivered directly to their doorstep, however there is a delay between the time you place your order and the time you receive goods—as much as a few days depending on the delivery time slots available. In April, Google began testing a new service dubbed Shopping Express in the San Francisco Bay area. Customers can order from big box stores—like Target and Walgreens—as well as from participating local stores. Not to be outdone, both Amazon and Wal-mart are each testing same-day and next day delivery services.
- Receipts in the Cloud. This June, Booths supermarket in the UK has started phasing out paper receipts, instead sending them to a customer’s cloud-based account. The idea of e-receipts isn’t new; however, Booths cloud refines the idea in such a way that digital-only receipts have advantages for the consumer. Shoppers have an account so they can track not just how much they spend on each shopping visit, but also their expenditures by category, allowing them to make budgetary and dietary adjustments as needed. There’s also the ecological bonus of eliminating an estimated 100,000 rolls of receipt paper per year.
- Scanning With Your Smartphone. Some chains, like Giant and Stop and Shop, are publishing apps that turn your smart phone into a barcode scanner. Though these apps are usually free to download, you may get hit in the wallet elsewhere; stores are using mobile technology to get shoppers to spend more money by offering app-exclusive coupons to spur impulse buys. In a supermarket in Paris, customers use their phones to scan the item and, in addition to maintaining a running total of the grocery order, they will be provided with nutritional information and other data about the item before they decide to place it in their carts.
- No More Typing in Produce Codes. While smart phones may be the new barcode readers Toshiba is figuring out how to do away with barcodes altogether by developing a scanner savvy enough to tell the difference between your Fuji and Granny Smith apples. Unveiled in spring 2012, the Object Recognition Scanner hones in on patterns and colors in food much in the same way that facial recognition scanners use certain criteria to identify people.
- Shorter Waits in Line. Infrared cameras used to detect body heat are a tool traditionally used by police and the military. But food retailer Kroger sees a use for them in the grocery store. By mounting the cameras at the entrance to the store and at the cash registers, the cameras work with in-house-developed software that records supermarket traffic at different times of day, allowing managers to know how many lanes need to be open and when to open them. Currently in use at some 2,400 stores, the average customer wait time has been reduced form 4 minutes to 26 seconds.