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Posts Tagged ‘nutrition

“The man who invented doritos has passed away at the age of 97. He asked to be buried with the creators of Fritos and Cheetos in a variety pack”*…

 

All told, there are 26 separate ingredients in Doritos Nacho Cheese Tortilla Chips…

While most of these individual ingredients aren’t all that bad for us, they’re a cheese-dust-covered grenade when consumed together. “The more you mess with food, the more you’re demanding your immune system to figure out what the heck all these new things are — and it can make mistakes,” Shanahan says. For instance, studies show that over-processed foods have contributed to the rise in food allergies in Western countries.

Weirdly, while the ingredients that sound like they’d be unhealthy (i.e., disodium inosinate) aren’t really all that bad, the ingredients we think we recognize (i.e., vegetable oils) are slowly waging the real war on our insides. “The main thing people need to pay attention to are the first few ingredients in these foods, like vegetable oil,” Shanahan urges. “Vegetable oils alone can cause diabetes, and they don’t even contain any sugar.”

All 26 ingredients in America’s favorite cheese-flavored chip, singly and as a whole, explained:  “What’s in This?: Doritos Nacho Cheese Tortilla Chips.”

* Jimmy Fallon

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As we wipe our fingers, we might send apocalyptic birthday greetings to The Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus; he was born on this date in 1766.  An English cleric and scholar, he was influential both in political economy and demography.  He is best remembered for his 1798 essay on population growth, in which he argued that population multiplies geometrically and food arithmetically; thus, whenever the food supply increases, population will rapidly grow to eliminate the abundance, leading inevitably to disastrous results – famine, disease and/or war… a conclusion that remains controversial to this day.

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Written by LW

February 13, 2017 at 1:01 am

“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings”*…

 

Deb Fallows, who (with her husband Jim) is driving the American Futures project (which readers can– and should– follow here), has just posted a fascinating piece on the way that the local food movement, often assumed to be a (privileged) feature of upscale urban life, is taking hold and changing prospects in the rural U.S.– specifically, in a remote desert town with very modest financial resources, and with a long history of the health problems that arise from poor nutrition.

Ajo, Arizona, the small desert community we have visited several times and written about for American Futures, offers something unique: a thriving local agriculture and food movement in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. For starters, conditions are about as challenging as you can imagine: desert temperatures with freezes in the winter and 110 degrees in the summer; poor soil with low organic and microbial content, high alkalinity and caliche (a natural cement); and four inches of rainfall annually, often arriving in downpours.

Undeterred, the active Ajo community pooled their energy and opportunities to build an intricate, cooperative network around food. Cooperating together in this town of only a few thousand people are the school, the clinic, local gardeners, the farmers’ market, local restaurants, the town’s grocery store, student interns, adult volunteers, the food bank, the CSA, and the anchor of the Sonoran Desert Conference Center, with its spaces for gardens, a chicken coop, celebratory events, teaching and demonstration space, and a newly-finished commercial kitchen…

Read the full story– important and heartening– at “Farming in the Desert.”

* Masanobu Fukuoka

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As we tend our gardens, we might send cultivating birthday greetings to Peter Henderson; he was born on this date in 1822.  An immigrant from Scotland, he settled in New Jersey, where he became a market gardener, florist, seedsman, and prolific author, publishing best-selling books like Gardening for Profit and Practical Floriculture.  The Henderson Seed Co., which he founded in 1847, operated until 1953… for all of which he is widely known as “the Father of America Horticulture.”

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Written by LW

June 9, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Anyhow, the hole in the doughnut is at least digestible”*…

 

Because of the way foods are mass harvested, factory processed and packaged in the States, the FDA has to allow food companies to include a certain number of “defects” in the final products. The term “defects,” is code for the inclusion of “foreign matter” in canned and packaged foods, including insects, insect parts, rodent hairs, larvae, rodent poop, mammal poop, bone material, mold, rust, and cigarette butts. These “defects” are not dangerous in the quantities they’re allowed, the FDA says, but still: what was that about ignorance and bliss?..

From the “20 maggots ‘of any size’ and 75 mites, per 100 grams” permitted in canned mushrooms to the “30 or more fly eggs per 100 grams” allowed in tomato sauce, “What Defects the FDA Allows in 11 Types of Food.”

[As a bonus (if that’s not a perverse way of putting it), “The 20 Unhealthiest Foods on the Planet.”]

* H.L. Mencken

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As we eat a peach, we might send a basketful for birthday greetings to Clarence Saunders; he was born on this ate in 1881.  A Memphis grocer, he developed the the modern retail sales model of self service– he received U.S. Patent #1,242,872 for a “Self Serving Store”– and thus had a massive influence on the development of the modern supermarket.  His Memphis store grew into the Piggly Wiggly chain, which is still in operation.

The first Piggly Wiggly store

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Clarence Saunders

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Written by LW

October 9, 2015 at 1:01 am

“I never drink coffee at lunch. I find it keeps me awake for the afternoon”*…

 

 

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U.S. coffee consumption peaked around 1950, then declined dramatically– displaced, largely, by soft drinks, 8 of the top ten selling of which are loaded with caffeine…

With protagonists like Monsanto and Coca Cola, it’s a tale with which to conjure.

Read more at “The buzz(kill) about caffeine.”

* Ronald Reagan

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As we top up our cups, we might recall that it was in this date in 1896 that the first pedestrian was killed by a motor car in Great Britain.  A Benz automobile, being demonstrated on the grounds of the Crystal Place, struck Mrs. Bridgette Driscoll, who died minutes later of head injuries.  Though the driver, Arthur James Edsall, was accused of tampering with the governor (which was meant to hold the car’s top speed to 4 miles per hour) and of being distracted as he drove by conversation with the young woman who was his passenger, a Coroner’s Inquest return a verdict of accidental death.

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Written by LW

August 17, 2015 at 1:01 am

“There’s no better feeling in the world than a warm pizza box on your lap”*…

 

Ingrid Kosar always dreamed about running her own business. She didn’t know what kind of company it would be, but she liked to picture herself carrying a little briefcase. As it turns out, a very different kind of bag would define her career. It’s a bag that appears on doorsteps millions of times a week for Friday family movie nights and college study sessions.

It’s the insulated pizza delivery bag, and Ingrid Kosar invented it…

Read Kosar’s captivating tale at “Life of Pie.”

* Kevin James

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As we agree with the King of Queens, we might spare a thought for William Prout; he died on this date in 1850.  A physician and chemist, Prout is probably best remembered for Prout’s hypothesis (an early attempt to explain the existence of elements via the structure of the atom; memorialized by Ernest Rutherford, who named the newly discovered “proton”” in Prout’s honor).  But Prout was also noteworthily the first scientist to classify (in 1827) the components of food into their three main divisions: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

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Written by LW

April 9, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Count your blessings, but count your calories too”*…

 

We’re skating into that time year…  the onslaught of celebratory meals and Holiday parties that promise to test our waistbands.  But help– or at least a nagging caution– is at hand.  The app Calorific uses simple, pastel images to reveal how much of virtually any food adds up to 200 calories.

From God’s condiment…

…to rabbit food…

More at “What 200 Calories of Every Food Looks Like.”

* Erma Bombeck

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As we go down for the count, we might send well-digested birthday greetings to William Beaumont; he was born on this date in 1785.  An American army surgeon, Beaumont was the first person to observe and study human digestion as it occurs in the stomach.  As a young medic stationed on Mackinac Island in Michigan, Beaumont was asked to treat a shotgun wound “more than the size of the palm of a man’s hand” (as Beaumont wrote).  The patient, Alexis St. Martin, survived, but was left with a permanent opening into his stomach from the outside.  Over the next few years, Dr. Beaumont used this crude fistula to sample gastric secretions.  He identified hydrochloric acid as the principal agent in gastric juice and recognized its digestive and bacteriostatic functions.  Many of his conclusions about the regulation of secretion and motility remain valid to this day.

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Written by LW

November 21, 2014 at 1:01 am

Oops…

 

In 1870, a German chemist made a single, simple error in transcribing his data on how much iron was in spinach… and provided an object lesson in the spread and persistence of erroneous information in society:

One of the strangest examples of the spread of error is related to Popeye the Sailor. Popeye, with his odd accent and improbable forearms, used spinach to great effect, a sort of anti-Kryptonite. It gave him his strength, and perhaps his distinctive speaking style. But why did Popeye eat so much spinach? What was the reason for his obsession with such a strange food?

The truth begins more than fifty years earlier. Back in 1870, Erich von Wolf, a German chemist, examined the amount of iron within spinach, among many other green vegetables. In recording his findings, von Wolf accidentally misplaced a decimal point when transcribing data from his notebook, changing the iron content in spinach by an order of magnitude. While there are actually only 3.5 milligrams of iron in a 100-gram serving of spinach, the accepted fact became 35 milligrams. To put this in perspective, if the calcu­lation were correct each 100-gram serving would be like eating a small piece of a paper clip.

Once this incorrect number was printed, spinach’s nutritional value became legendary. So when Popeye was created, studio ex­ecutives recommended he eat spinach for his strength, due to its vaunted health properties. Apparently Popeye helped increase American consumption of spinach by a third!

This error was eventually corrected in 1937, when someone rechecked the numbers. But the damage had been done. It spread and spread, and only recently has gone by the wayside, no doubt helped by Popeye’s relative obscurity today. But the error was so widespread that the British Medical Journal published an article discussing this spinach incident in 1981, trying its best to finally debunk the issue.

Ultimately, the reason these [types of] errors spread is because it’s a lot easier to spread the first thing you find, or the fact that sounds cor­rect, than to delve deeply into the literature in search of the correct fact.

From Samuel Arbesman’s The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date.

[TotH to the wonderful Delancey Place— from which, the image above]

And lest we think that this kind of mistake has faded into the past, it turns out that the academic research that underpins Paul Ryan’s budget (and the agressive austerity approach that it embodies) contains a simple arithmetic error (not to mention a serious structural flaw)… one that, when corrected, suggests that deficits are not, after all, necessarily an impediment to economic growth and health.

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As we eat our spinach anyway, we might spare a thought for Gerardus Johannes Mulder; he died on this date in 1880.  An accomplished organic and analytic chemist, Mulder was the first to use use the word “protein” (drawing on work by Berzelius), the first to propose that animals acquired protein by ingestion (of plants, Mulder suggested), and the first to identify “fibrin,” the clotting protein in blood.  (Mulder had an impact in the Plant Kingdom as well:  he was first to analyze phytol correctly during research on chlorophyll, and confirmed that theine and caffein were the same compound.)

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Written by LW

April 18, 2013 at 1:01 am

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