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Posts Tagged ‘fatty acids

The Taste of Summer…

 

From Aaron Carroll and The Incidental Economist:

I was amused to read many of my favorite bloggers and journalists note with surprise the food seen at Iowa’s state fair a week or two ago. The shock! The horror! Deep fried butter!

Please. Deep fried butter is so 2010. I laugh at deep fried butter… It’s what we let the tourists see. Come, join me now, and let a true Midwesterner (for 8 years at least) take you on a culinary voyage unlike any other. Let me show you the wonders of the 2011 Indiana State Fair food…

Carroll’s journey down the midway uncovers such gems as…

Enjoy the complete tour (readers will never again understand “eat dirt” the same way) at “Adventures in Indiana State Fair Food 2011.”

 

As we cradle our cans of Crisco, we might wish a grateful Happy Birthday to chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul; he was born on this date in 1786.  Chevreul pioneered the study of Fats, and discovered Fatty Acids.  He isolated and named margaric acid– which paved the way for the invention of margarine (created in 1869 in answer to a challenge from Emperor Louis Napoleon III to make a satisfactory substitute for butter, “suitable for use by the armed forces and the lower classes”).  Chevreul lived to 102… and appropriately enough was a pioneer of gerontology.

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It wasn’t the snake’s fault…

From Collectors Weekly:

These days, “snake oil” is synonymous with quackery, the phoniest of phony medicines. A “snake oil salesman” promises you the world, takes your money, and is long gone by the time you realize the product in your hands is completely worthless.  But… the original snake oil actually worked.

In the 1860s, Chinese laborers immigrated to the United States to work on the Transcontinental Railroad. At night, they would rub their sore, tired muscles with ointment made from Chinese water snake (Enhydris chinensis), an ancient Chinese remedy they shared with their American co-workers.

A 2007 story in Scientific American explains that California neurophysiology researcher Richard Kunin made the connection between Chinese water snakes and omega-3 fatty acids in the 1980s.

“Kunin visited San Francisco’s Chinatown to buy such snake oil and analyze it. According to his 1989 analysis published in the Western Journal of Medicine, Chinese water-snake oil contains 20 percent eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), one of the two types of omega-3 fatty acids most readily used by our bodies. Salmon, one of the most popular food sources of omega-3s, contains a maximum of 18 percent EPA, lower than that of snake oil.”

However, it wasn’t until several years after Kunin’s research that American scientists discovered that omega-3s are vital for human metabolism. Not only do they sooth inflammation in muscles and joints, but also, they can help “cognitive function and reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, and even depression.”

So why does snake oil have such a bad rap?

Well, hucksters that sold patent or proprietary medicine caught wind of the miraculous muscle-soothing powers of snake oil. Naturally, they decided to sell their own versions of snake oil—but it was just much easier to forgo using actual snakes…

Read the whole story (and see more nifty pix) at “How Snake Oil Got a Bad Rap.” [TotH to Presurfer]

As we give credit where credit is due, we might recall that it was on this date in 1721 that John Copson of Philadelphia became the first insurance agent in the Americas, and took out the first advertisement for insurance (in the American Weekly Mercury); he opened the first insurance office several days later.  While there’s no record of how Copson fared, his initiative was sufficiently precedential that four years later the first book printed by Benjamin Franklin contained a long passage extolling the virtues of indemnification.

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Happy Towel Day!

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