Sunday, December 12

Thinking about food can make you less hungry?

I was flipping channels yesterday and came across CBS talking about a new study being done at Carnegie Mellon, by researcher Carey Morewedge, about thinking about your food. The hypothesis is that if you concentrate on eating your food and every part of the process of consuming that food item (smell, taste, texture) that it would make you have less of a craving to eat said food.


The Real Reason McDonalds Failed in Jamaica

After watching Life and Debt I researched how McDonald's has been fairing in Jamaica. As of 2005, it was out of business, just a few years after it opened in Jamaica. But why?

Simply put, the portions were not big enough! Eloquently expressed by Jamaica Star columnist, Leighton Levy.



Thursday, December 9

organosulfur, magnesium, omega3fatty, phosphorous, zinc, etc :)

Wednesday, December 8

Burying Seeds near Norway and More GM discussion

I was looking through an old Seed magazine ( "Science is Culture" is there header), and was reading up on how a small group of Artic Ocean islands, north of Norway, will become home to the world's largest bank of seeds. I realized it was from 2007 so I decided to look at their website to try to get an update.
I searched the article's name, and the Svalbard bank, a project of the Global Crop Diversity Trust which was to function as a centralized depository located on or inside politically stable ground. The Svalbard vault which is built into a sandstone mountain is to withstand just about any imaginable catastrophe. One of the questions and challenges was how to get the seeds to Svalbard intact, along with building a digital infrastructure to sort and catalogue the seeds currently stored in places from Colorado, to Peru to Zambia. The deposit opened in the winter of 2008. A strong interest and point to the article was how protecting this genetic material , which is the foundation of all agriculture and the link or wall between thriving societies and potential societies, is more important now than ever.
This article came out nearly 3 years ago, and as I tried to look into what had happened here, there wasn't much I could find. I wonder whether or not it has advanced or helped in this 3 year span since this was written, but it sounds like we are finding ourselves still in a place where these genetic material and seeds are more relevant and crucial as ever to find a solution and way to feed the world.

I did find an article titled Scientific Flip Flop.
It is a debate between "5 experts" who discuss the roots of the GM opposition, whether we've achieved real scientific consensus and the role of big "agribussiness."
The article starts it's debate discussing a pest resistant maize manufactured by Monsanto called "Mon 810"
But even though Mon 810 has an official sanction under EU law, countries such as France, Austria, Greece, Hungary, and Luxembourg have imposed national bans on the GE crop and apparently Germany was just added to this list.
That's huge.

Apparently Europe in general is turning increasingly against GE crops.
Most Europeans do not seem to be anti-science, in fact Europe fully embraces the scientific consencus on global warming. So another question and debate of this article investigates whether or not it is about the technology itself or the mistrust of "big agribusiness."

I think these are obvious questions we have been pondering ourselves in class with this last debate!\

thats the link!


Tuesday, December 7

urban foraging in Chicago

We have discussed farming, but what about foraging? In the city? 

Here is a short documentary about urban foraging in Chicago.


Future Food at Moto Restaurant

Over the thanksgiving break I visited the Museum of Science and Industry and found myself in the "future" section. One futuristic scientist caught my eye because he's also a well-known chef. Homaro Cantu is the Executive Chef of Moto Restaurant right here in Chicago and he also has a tv show called "Future Food". He's invented some pretty incredible (and EDIBLE) stuff from edible paper that tastes like chips & salsa to a tuna maki roll made out of watermelon.

This past month he did a TED talk on the Future of Food and how he's trying to create a sustainable way of eating. Check it out. Pretty sweet... (pun intended)


Sunday, December 5

Documentary: The Pipe

In the most dramatic clash of cultures in modern Ireland, the rights of farmers over their fields, and of fishermen to their fishing grounds, has come in direct conflict with one of the worlds most powerful oil companies. When the citizens look to their state to protect their rights, they find that the state has put Shell’s right to lay a pipeline over their own.

The Pipe is a story of a community tragically divided, and how they deal with a pipe that could bring economic prosperity or destruction of a way of life shared for generations.

Grasshopper Sushi

Went out to dinner for a friend's birthday last week and they happily gave him their grasshopper special, on the house. The owner/manager even took a picture of him eating the grasshopper sushi.
The article may be heavy on the food review side but I think this relates to the water bugs AY ate several months ago.

-Liberty H

Palin's Reckless Views on Obesity

Roland Martin asks Sarah Palin to stick a fork in it for criticizing Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign against obesity. Read the article here and get the whole story.

-Liberty H

Tuesday, November 30

Great Depression Cooking

ever since we brought up the topic about low income families not being able to get or provide a healthy meal because all the cheap food was high sugar high fat content and what not, it made me remember this youtube channel i found a couple years back: Great Depression Cooking.

Her name's Clara, and she is 95 years old, she has also written a book: Clara's Kitchen. Her great grandchildren thought it would be a good idea to keep a video diary/documentary about what she went through during The Great Depression as well as what she ate.
With the little money they had, they were still able to make due with what they were able to buy which seemed (to me at least) pretty nutritious, albeit processed and starchy, but it seems better to eat that stuff than a brick of government cheese and koolaid to wash it down.

anyway, here's one of the videos that's currently showing:

it's interesting to see that some of her videos talks about foraging for food... it's a pity that it's semi-unheard of nowadays to forage unless you're stranded in the forest and your name is either Bear Grills or Les Stroud.

also, it's fun and scary to watch this granny wield a knife around in her tissue-paper-crinkly skin....


Monday, November 29

The GMO Debate ~

k, so that was a good debate in class! But clearly we didn't have the proper amount of time to discuss it all as we should together, which is a shame the GM food issue is so critical.

So: I want us to continue the conversation over the next two weeks on our blog! How would you address the resolution yourself personally?

I am asking everyone to post their personal reflection on the issue here. In the comment line of this post.

You can come down one side or another, but you can also be undecided or less black and white. Either way, please say what you are thinking and WHY. What arguments and rationales in the debate do you find most or less compelling? If you are Pro or Anti, what concerns on the other side might be legitimate (but in the end may be of low priority to you or perhaps fixable?)

Or, perhaps the resolution itself is poorly formulated and leads us to oversimplifying conclusions? What is a better way to think about the issue? What questions still remain that need to be answered?

Write to out here thoughtfully and drawing from all the various forms of arguments and evidence we've come across (I'd say a minimum of 150 words). Please sign your name too so we know who's thoughts we are reading!

As a consumer, voter, and cultural producer it is important to have a point of view on GM as it is likely to only between a larger issues in the years to come in our daily lives and globally....

The risks of GM foods outweigh the purported benefits and should not be allowed to be sold and planted.

Meanwhile, feel free to continue posting to blog items of relevant and interest!


Sunday, November 28

Edible Alchemy!

I recently learned about Edible Alchemy, a Chicago-based food exchange program founded by SAIC alumni in early 2009. Here's their mission statement:

"Edible Alchemy is a catalyst for the creation, expansion, and connectivity of a vibrant food community. We organize open discussion and potlucks, distribute local organic produce shares, offer volunteer opportunities, and provide for community-related events. We believe that nutritious food is essential to the healthy individual and to healthy shared environments."

You can pay $20 to receive a box of a combination of local fruit and produce. The contents of the boxes depends on what items are in season. Although a delivery service isn't available, the boxes contain enough items " fill your kitchen with fruits and veggies for about 2 weeks for 2 vegetable lovers cooking 3-5 meals a week."

In addition to participating in the fruit and produce share, dry bulk, homemade baked good, dairy products and eggs are available for purchase.

-Anna Gorman

Thursday, November 25

Sweet Potato, The SuperFood!

Here's a great article published in the New York Times on Thanksgiving this year, about modified sweet potatoes and their possible use in preventing malnutrition in Africa. Runs right up next to the movie we saw last week. Very uplifting!

"Bless The Orange Sweet Potato"


Seaweed, The SuperFood!!

This article discusses the amazing capabilities of seaweed, and the possibility of harvesting the greenery to help feed our fishies and clean our oceans and waterways. It can be used as a major component in nutrient rich feed for cattle and livestock (lessening our reliance on soy). It's great food for human consumption (so rich in protein), and it needs no fertilizer to grow, helping cut out nitrates. And we have tons of space, no need to compete over land... we can use our oceans!

From Ode Magazine:


Saturday, November 20

Modern Toilet

I know this doesn't directly connect to health or the environment, but I just had to mention this place because I find it interesting how some food is presented and how customers gravitate towards it. The reason I mention this is because I would definitely want to go here one day. There is a restaurant in Taipei, Taiwan called "Modern Toilet," and just like it sounds, it's a bathroom themed restaurant. I have a fondness for themed places, but this one is particularly hilarious.

Posted below is the link to the restaurant's site and a link to a video clip about it that was on the travel channel.


Food for a dollar

A book by photographer Jonathan Blaustein that investigates food products valued at one dollar. Living in Mexico he only choose food he could attain there so "viewers can see how interconnected global commerce can be".

Friday, November 19

The Supersizers

The other night my friend mentioned this BBC television series to me. It's called The Supersizers. It's a show about the history of food, main focus being in Britain.

"The series originated in a one off edition in April 2007 as part of a season of programmes on the Edwardian period, "Edwardian Supersize Me", a reference to the film Supersize Me by Morgan Spurlock. This programme set the format for the subsequent television series in that Coren and Perkins adopted the persona of a couple living in the Edwardian period and for a week ate the food which people from that period would have eaten. In addition they would take part in the interests and activities of them too, even going so far as adopting the dress and mannerisms of the time. Before and after the experience they are subject to medical tests to see how the diet affected them."

More info, the wiki page:

You can view it here for free. If it doesn't work, all episodes are apparently on youtube.

I have yet to sit down and watch the series, but I plan to view a bit during Thanksgiving break. :)


Tuesday, November 16

1/4 of all Americans in a government food program

The number of federal food programs (upwards of fifteen) vary quite a but and include school lunch programs  (breakfast and lunch for 30 million children) and Women, Infants and Children - WIC -  which serves more than 9 million mothers feeding infants and children.

These data are interesting consider given the question of government food policy, nutritional guidelines, food stamp regulations, and commodity food the the governmet some times provides those in need. 

To read more:


Monday, November 15

Nutraloaf: Cruel and Unusual Punishment

We can all imagine that the food served in prison couldn't be very tasty, but guess what... it can get worse! Inmates in Cook County Jail who step out of line find themselves faced with a food nightmare: NUTRALOAF. That's right, its a loaf "Packed with protein, fat, carbohydrates, and 1,110 calories. Nutraloaf contains everything from carrots and cabbage to kidney beans and potatoes, plus shadowy ingredients such as “dairy blend” and “mechanically separated poultry.”

It's not necessarily a cruel punishment, but most inmates who exhibited behavioral issues and were force fed the bland concoction got their act together fairly quickly.

Check out the yummy article you ne'er do wells...


Morphine in cheese...

Apparently, since the 1980s there has been trace amounts of morphine in the cheeses that we've been eating. On top of being regulated by Dairy Management to be placed in as much of our food as possible, it's got legitimate addicting properties. When cheese is processed, the levels of the morphine are greater than would be in just plain milk.

“Since cheese is processed to express out all the liquid, it’s an incredibly concentrated source of casomorphins—you might call it dairy crack.”

Read more at Care2 by clicking the dairy crack


stare at some meat and relax (?)

or at least be less aggressive!

This is the claim on some psychologists interested in the idea that traits that might have been adaptive for our ancestors earlier in our evolution can still be detected in us today.

In this case the original hypothesis actually was quite the opposite: that people would behave more aggressively upon seeing images of meat, the reasoning being that such aggression in the presence of an important food source should have been adaptive in our ancestors, and hence favored by natural selection as a trait in us.

The methodology of the study is interesting, but also maybe iffy?  The fact people actually become less aggressive is also explained by the researchers as adaptive after all - I'll let you read the short blurb on this and be the judge!


Hold the salt, please!

Some new research suggesting salt intake in your youth has significant affects in health later and that the amount we are taking in via processed foods may indeed present a significant problem:


Sunday, November 14

Do You Eat Crap?

This silly little piece of satire comes from The Pump Energy Food, a New York City restaurant that claims to serve and prepare foods from the finest ingredients -- without dipping them into a yellow bowl filled with salt and butter.

Again, this touches on the topic of food advertising and how advertisers can manipulate you into thinking that the too-good-to-be-true Chef Salad drenched in low fat Ranch dressing you're eating happens to be rather healthy.

As more and more Americans gear more towards healthier options in their diets, restaurants and other food companies still manage to find a way to convince consumers to buy their products, even if, in actuality, they aren't the healthiest option.

-Kimberly P.

Saturday, November 13

Which Side to Cut the Cheese?

Last Wednesday I was listening to WBEZ on my way home and they covered a story on exactly what we had been discussing in class. This newscast covers the United States' increasingly complicated relationship with cheese, and how two governmental agencies are pushing two very different viewpoints to the American consumer.

Robert Siegel explains that cheese is good for you! (One side says) It can even help you lose weight!

While Melissa Block explains the other side claims that Americans eat far too much cheese, it's very bad for us!

Listen to the newscast, its great, even if it is just to hear the soothing creamy texture of Robert Siegel's airwave-y goodness.
(it's 4 1/2 minutes long)

Tessa P.

Friday, November 12

Eat Your Dog

This is a pretty old article, but one I found to be interesting anyways. The article points out the carbon footprint of owning a pet such as a cat or dog, and suggests that a more sustainable pet would be one that eats less meat and one that you, yourself can eat as well; like a chicken or something.
Here is the article if you want to check it out.

-Ashlee Mays

Wednesday, November 10

The Twinkie Diet?

Kansas State University professor of human nutrition, Mark Haub, created a unique diet to which he adhered for two months. Haub lost 27 pounds, lowered his BMI, LDL and triglycerides and raised his HDL. This diet consisted of almost purely junk food, more specifically, snack cakes and chips (aside from a few stalks of celery or a can of green beans, a multivitamin and a protein shake every day). The catch? Haub was mostly concerned with caloric intake. Normally, a man of his build should eat about 2,600 calories, but during the two month span, Haub was only eating 1,800 calories a day. With conclusive evidence that such a radical diet yields impressive results, Haub is wondering whether we should re-think how we think about dieting and caloric intake,
"I wish I could say the outcomes are unhealthy. I wish I could say it's healthy. I'm not confident enough in doing that. That frustrates a lot of people. One side says it's irresponsible. It is unhealthy, but the data doesn't say that."

Here's the story:

-Anna Gorman

Tuesday, November 9

Extreme Baby Carrots!

And on we continue with the topic of food advertising... I actually love this ad.  I also happen to love baby carrots, but that is besides the point.  As a clever and ironic take on commercials, highschoolers and the kulturkool alike should likely take a liking to the ad.

Her is another commercial from the series, and the campaign's official website.

Click here to listen to the NPR story!

ps: how are baby carrots made? I was wondering too! Here go you.

ps 2: Baby carrots myths de-bunked.

World's Strangest National Dishes

I found this article awhile ago while I was checking tasteologie out at work.

Some of the foods listed are pretty out there, but some are just like meh.

I feel like nowadays it's harder to find foods that will gross anyone out because now we're all desensitized by television, especially since the dawn of Andrew Zimmerman's Bizzare Foods (but I'm not a fan of the way he describes the tastes or textures).

anyway here's the article: sperm sack....


Vitamin D and....childhood obesity?

As we try to make our way through the complex connections between geogrpahy, genes, dieat, and health an interesting report yesterday actually connects Vitamin D not only to calcium absorption, but perhaps to childhood obseity as well:

"The federal standards for vitamin D intake have come under fire by public health professionals as being much too low, and disagreement continues over the proper amount of vitamin D necessary for optimal health.

"We found that the kids with the lowest vitamin D levels at the beginning tended to gain weight faster than the kids with higher levels," said Eduardo Villamor, associate professor at the U-M School of Public Health, who added that children with the lowest vitamin D levels had more drastic increases in central body fat measures.

Accumulation of abdominal fat, or central fat, may lead to a so-called apple body shape, which is commonly linked to increased risks of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions later in life, says epidemiologist Villamor, senior author of the study."

Does this mean that the heavy coats and apparently perennial winter the characters from the show South Park exist in could be setting them up for obesity?  The one in the front actually does look apple-shaped...

Like we talked about in class, the complex physiology is just beginning to be understood!


Fast Food Advertising vs. Industry Vows

I recently discovered a story on NPR about a new Yale University study on fast food advertising geared towards children and families. According to the study, ever since fast food restaurants started offering healthier options on their menus, they have decided to increase the amount of advertising aimed at their most impressionable customers.

This interested me as an Ecology of Food student, mainly because it reminded me of the power advertising can have over what we choose to eat. It not only tries to convince us to buy something, but does so by appealing to their wants and desires. Thus, advertising reflects these desires by letting us know or convincing us that they can be fulfilled by buying a certain product. So I think what this story tells us is that fast food joints are still well aware of the ability of their advertising and are still able to rely on it to lure customers into buying food they know is bad, but tastes so good.

Click here for full story on

-Kimberly P.

Monday, November 8

This is Why You're Fat

This is Why You're Fat is a forum where users send pictures of excessively outrageous, extravagant foods to a webmaster who selects the cream of the crop to be featured on the daily-updated site.

There are a few things I find especially interesting about a forum like this:

1. The aesthetic appeal
There's a reason why viewers keep hitting, "Older Posts." The ugly-pretty subjects of the featured photographs are fascinating and intriguing. These portraits of such ridiculous, almost otherworldly items are sometimes disgusting and repulsive, yet we can't look away. Perhaps we're addicted to being shocked.

2. The competitive element
Everyone is always trying to post the "biggest" or the "worst" or the "most creative" food. Users leave comments expressing disdain for lack of originality and praise for innovation.

3. The decidedly American concept
From buffets, to reality TV to Super Gulps, Americans like excess. Even though obesity and hunger are both serious epidemics in our country, we continue to embrace the "more is better" lifestyle. This website is a perfect illustration of what it means to be an American in 2010.

4. The lighthearted attitude
The slogan on the homepage is, "where dreams become heart attacks." There's an interesting operation of both guilt and pride at work here.

5. The fantastical nature
The money, time and planning that goes into making the food featured on TIWYF is extraordinary. It makes me wonder how long users have been waiting to actualize these things. Surely the Deep Fried Reese's Cups Wrapped in Bacon appeared to Justin Valcarcel in a dream, the Huge Homemade Twix was the stuff of Rafael Paulin's imagination, and Jade Desumala was forced to eat The Lasandwich as the result of losing a bet.

-Anna Gorman

Twinkie diet helps nutrition professor lose 27 pounds

(CNN) -- Twinkies. Nutty bars. Powdered donuts.

For 10 weeks, Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, ate one of these sugary cakelets every three hours, instead of meals. To add variety in his steady stream of Hostess and Little Debbie snacks, Haub munched on Doritos chips, sugary cereals and Oreos, too.

His premise: That in weight loss, pure calorie counting is what matters most -- not the nutritional value of the food.

The premise held up: On his "convenience store diet," he shed 27 pounds in two months.

For details:


Saturday, November 6

High-Fructose Corn Syrup…Good or Bad?

There have been commercials on TV recently about how high-fructose corn syrup and plain table sugar is treated in the same way within our bodies and that it's not a bad ingredient like people say it is. I went to see what they had to say about it in more depth on

We just read about how fructose doesn't react with the coenzyme, Malonyl-CoA, when we eat it unlike glucose. The way our brain tells us that we are full is through hormones like leptin but when we take in fructose, leptin is not released. Because of the name of high-fructose corn syrup, I thought that it was mostly fructose which can cause people to eat more than they need to even after having sugary foods. I think the main reason why I thought that it was bad for people is the mercury content, since some high-fructose corn syrup is manufactured using the Castner-Kellner process. (found on wiki-pedia) I found that there was researched done on the mercury content of high-fructose corn syrup and it seems that it's hard to determine how much concentration there is in some foods because of the different amounts of the corn syrup involved. (

The corn sugar site says that high-fructose corn syrup is made up of glucose and fructose in similar ratios compared to honey and table sugar. According to the site, it is because people take in so much sugars in general that there is obesity, and not just because of high-fructose corn syrup. I understand the point they are trying to make. Yet I think the one reason I don't trust this site is because of the repetition of the fact that high-fructose corn syrup is sugar and sugar is sugar. Also they don't place any actual data about the structure of high-fructose corn syrup compared to table sugar and honey. It's mostly just quotes and tips from selected Doctors. It's obvious that the people who made the site and who run the commercials want the stigma against it to dissipate. The other reasons they bring up why it's not a bad product is because it makes products affordable and their shelf life longer.

Personally, I think the corn sugar site is sketchy in the amount of information their giving to the audience. I would have wanted a more detailed explanation of their claims but I can see how some people may be convinced with their repetition tactic. I don't think I'll believe their claims for now.


Friday, November 5

Not just knowing where your meat comes from, but making a celebration of it.

Our cultured way of living has found it easier and more profitable for us to have a distanced relationship with most of what we do, eating included. Since we pay next to nothing for our meats, we take the food for granted, and can get massive amounts of it, in detriment to the ecological health of the planet.
This article is in regards to what andrew brought up in class, about butchering your own meat. It details classes that some people run, in which they teach technique of butchering in conjunction with a night of fine dining. They describe it as an odd stark contrast, but maybe a necessary one that puts together the origins of our food, and drawing the line up to when it reaches our dinner plate.

Butchery Classes and Parties


Tuesday, November 2

Eating peanuts during pregnancy may increase risk of child peanut allergy

Two articles (one from a Canadian paper and one from online) claiming that studies show that a mother's consumption of peanuts during pregnancy was linked to stronger positive peanut allergy test results in their offspring. Interesting since I would automatically think the offspring would build a tolerance to it.


Monday, November 1

14 Horrifying Soft Drinks Around the World

Basically what the title says, although I personally don't find the majority of them horrifying, more so interesting or amusing. My brothers actually got the Jones Holiday Pack that is featured on the list and one of the flavors was Green Bean Casserole, which according to them, really did taste like it. >_>

I do kinda wonder what Hentai Tentacle Rape Soda would taste like...?


Wednesday, October 27

What's Inside: Doritos Late Night All Nighter Cheeseburger Chips

By Patrick Di Justo Email Author September 27, 2010 | 2:00 pm | Wired October 2010

Photo: Tim Morris

Whole corn
The word doritos is supposedly pidgin Spanish for “little bits of gold.” The main ingredient in these bits of gold is heated and steeped in an alkaline solution, usually lye or lime. This frees up the corn’s niacin and balances some of its amino acids, leading to better protein quality.

Vegetable oil
Each chip is nearly 29 percent fat by weight, and almost all of that is corn oil, sunflower oil, or soybean oil. That’s good, because fat activates the brain’s natural mu-opioid receptors, provoking what scientists call a hedonic response.

Simple pasteurized cow milk, used as the basis for the two cheeses.

Cheddar cheese cultures
Usually Lactococcus lactis cremoris bacteria. They’re injected into the milk during the cheese-making process, and their enzymes break down milk proteins into various smelly/tasty compounds.

Monosodium glutamate
Some people swear they can taste ketchup on these chips, even though tomatoes aren’t on the ingredient list. Since the principal component of a tomato’s flavor is glutamic acid, it is possible (Frito-Lay isn’t talking) that the addition of MSG and a few spices is responsible for the taste sensation.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists seven criteria, any three of which makes a substance addictive. Salt has four of them: withdrawal symptoms, the development of tolerance, inability to control level of usage, and difficulty quitting or restricting (even with full knowledge of health hazards).

The last piece of the unholy trinity: fat, salt, sugar. Lab rats given sugar show an increase in their brain’s D1 (excitatory) receptors and a decrease in D2 (inhibitory) receptors. Just like lab rats given cocaine! Over time, they need more and more—blow or sugar—to get high.

Natural beef flavor
If you pressure-cook clarified beef stock and then distill away the water, you’re left with chemicals like 4-hydroxy-5-methyl-3(2H)-furanone, 2-methyl-3-furanthiol, and Bis(2-methyl-3-furyl) disulfide. All the flavor of a hamburger with none of the nutrition.

Swiss cheese cultures
Those bubble holes in Swiss cheese? The acne sores on your face? They’re both the result of gas and acids given off by members of the propionibacterium family, which have been distilled into these chips.

Corn maltodextrin
Different kinds of maltodextrin can be used as a fat substitute or fiber supplement, but here its absorptive qualities and lack of taste are put to use as a medium for delivering the beef and cheese flavors to your mouth.

Onion powder
Onions complete the cheeseburger—their sulfurous goodness strengthens the savory flavor of the meaty compounds.

Mustard seed powder
What’s a cheeseburger without mustard? But the most common complaint about this snack is that Frito-Lay went too heavy on the stuff. It’s so hard to fake things just right.


Monday, October 25

School Lunches

I read a lot of blogs. I have a select 20 that I check everyday on a regular basis (I think I might have a problem). Anyway, most of them pertain to food, here's an interesting one:

This blog is about an elementary school teacher (Mrs. Q) somewhere in IL that isn't too happy with the school lunch program, she feels that her students lack energy and aren't eating healthy... also, THEY DON'T HAVE RECESS.

So what Mrs. Q does is that she does something similar to what Morgan Spurlock does in 30 days/Super Size Me, she eats what the students eat for a full school term and she gets medical checkups and stuff just to see how it's effecting her body.

So far from what I read she's not doing too bad, after she posted for a year she said that she has noticed that the school is actually introducing more vegetables and fresh fruit into the menu.

this is an image of one of her meals, they have pizza so far it looks like every friday.

What surprises me the most is that how everything is packaged in containers that look like they're just steamed or microwaveable -- does this school even have an industrial kitchen that works?

there's some pretty interesting posts on there and a bunch of mediocre school lunch pictures... check it out if you have a chance.


So You Think Your Cows are Pampered…?

Have any of you ever researched for beef that is above the USDA grading system (according to the Food Network)? Kōbé (not koh-bee) beef is known for its beautiful marbling and tenderness.
This is probably the main source of beef that is keeping me from quitting red meat. If you're vegetarian, well, there probably will not be a replacement made up of vegetables for this kind. In the U.S., there are places that say they use Kōbé beef (in the Wikipedia site, they refer to them as "Kōbé-Style") but a lot of them seem to misunderstand it for the general form of Wagyū (Japanese beef) or a mixture of Wagyū and other cow species. I would recommend going to restaurants in Japan since they usually advertise and actually sell true Kōbé beef but I know that it's not very affordable to go to another country just to try one thing and come back. Fortunately there are restaurants in the States that sell the same kind of beef.

The one negative aspect in general: because of the expenses when raising these cows are very high (The cows are massaged and treated to some alcohol, and other pampering) the actual meat itself is way more expensive than people in the States may be willing to pay for. Just a sirloin steak can cost from $80-85, according to Mouriya. (Also since the U.S. as we learned in class today, has lowest prices on any kind of products compared to anywhere in the world, this does also lend a hand in the big surprise of the price) I know that most people would be reluctant to try, I still believe it is definitely worth having at least once in a lifetime.

This link shows the different places and restaurants you can go to have some for yourself. I'm not really sure though, only because they refer Wagyū as a general term. Apparently there is one in Chicago. Good to know! :)


Pictures taken by me at the restaurant, Mouriya, in Kōbé, Japan.


the FDA versus Four Loko?

A drink with a viscous alcoholic and caffeinated double punch is being blamed for what investigators at first thought was a mass use of the "date-rape" drug "rufies" at a big off-campus party in Washington state.

The horrible symptoms however seem to be due to a easily obtainable drink called "Four Loko" being imbibed by the party-goers.

This article reports on the recent realization by officials of the cause of the poisoning as well as a call by lawmakers to have the FDA ban the drink nationwide. This revelation follows a report earlier this week of a college student had a heart attack after consuming Four Loko on another college campus.

In terms of the question of food safety (a big topic for this week) we see that the FDA deals with more than just pathogens!


ps. the Four Loko music video...

Fake Eggs

Listening to a conversation in class about fake milk reminded me of what I once saw on a show while in Japan; fake eggs. The video is here (sorry, it's in Japanese with Chinese subtitles…):

It also talks about other things that can be made to look like food, like grapes and sausages.
The guy making the various fake foods says that he's not making fake food and is making "artificial food" but it's not his problem how people use it.

I didn't see this one while in Japan, but what I saw also had a clip where they showed the tutorial DVD that talks about how to make fake eggs, and the DVD was sold at an expensive price despite the fact that they didn't show how to make the shells.

I found an article here:

by searching for fake eggs and it seems like this was considered a hoax once for cover up. But then they comment that"the fake egg was made from calcium carbonate, starch, resin, gelatin and other chemical products," which was what the tutorial video captured on a show revealed as well. I'm not really sure what to think about the reality behind the fake eggs though if people can make them, we never know what human beings would think of doing with it…anyway, it's certainly unappetizing…


films etc

here's a clip from a documentary called "The Gleaners & I", a french film that begins with a bit of a history lesson. gleaners live (or lived) off of what is left in the fields after they are harvested. the film also explores related present day practices. i highly recommend it.

brazillian short-film; "Isle of Flowers"


jenny wright
this photo was taken at caraways in sudbury massachusetts a few years ago.
in the past year, it was demolished and a huge cvs is being built.
caraways was a unique small business that offered quality food,
and this event is an example of a greater pattern.

farming family, logan square farmers market 2009

near by is a food co op, may be the only one in chicago?

Thursday, October 21

Nestle Interest in Great Lakes

Here is a little information about where Nestle's "Ice Mountain" bottled water is sourced from, and some of the conflict revolving around their disputed 'emptying' of the Great lakes aka "The Basin".

In 2006 George Bush passed the Great Lakes Compact, a set of agreements that was supposed to safeguard and maintain this area of water that holds 20 percent of the world's freshwater.

The Compact included a loophole that, according to the Michigan Land Use Institute, "undermines the structure and purpose of the Compact by stating that the term “diversion” does not apply to “water produced in the basin and used ‘in or as’ a product and transferred outside of the basin." This sentence opens the door for exports of water as a “product.” This means that if water is produced and labeled as a product, it can go out of the Great Lakes basin without a limitation on the size of the container or quantity. The problem with the loophole is that we’ve created a situation where water can be labeled as a product, transferring its public protection to private control using the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other agreements to suck water out of the Great Lakes Basin."

Basically what the quote is saying is that the loophole allows for Great Lakes water to be labelled a commodity, that our public water supply, Lake Michigan, is being tapped and sold to Nestle for a very low price, flipped for an incredible profit (The Free Press, 2006):

The new Michigan law allows Nestle Corporation to continue its five-year takings of up to 250,000 gallons per day and sell them at a markup well over 240 times its production cost. Nestle's profit from drawing this water could be from $500,000 to $1.8 million per day. A key proviso is that the bottles can be no larger than 5.7 gallons apiece.

I wrote to Nestle, my statement:

I currently live on Lake Michigan. I am interested to know about your practices on our Great Lakes, I would like to know exactly how much water is extracted per day from our lakes, and what the water is used for. Thank you. Tessa

And their reply:

October 5, 2010

Dear Tessa P.,

Thank you for taking the time to contact Nestle Waters regarding if we are receiving water from Lake Michigan. We welcome questions and comments from loyal consumers such as yourself and appreciate this opportunity to assist you.

All of our spring source locations are from deep underground aquifers. We do not receive any water from Lake Michigan or any other lakes throughout the United States. In the state of Michigan we receive water from Sanctuary Springs in Rodney, Michigan and Evart Springs in Evart, Michigan.

At Nestle Waters, we are committed to providing you with products that live up to your high standards for taste, quality, nutrition and enjoyment. Your feedback is valuable to us, as it helps us to improve our products and services.

We appreciate your interest in our products and hope you will visit our website often for the latest information on our products and promotions.

Beverly Watson
Consumer Response Representative
Ref #:18153393


Do you think they are telling the truth?


Tuesday, October 19

Echoing ourselves

So I really enjoyed that reading titled, The Human Bumblebee, from "The Botany of Desire".

Please watch this video which made me think of it:

If you dont know the Books, you should look at their other stuff, they are amazing.

One of my favorite quotes was
"All those plants care about is what every being cares about on the most basic genetic level: making copies of itself."
I think its a pretty strong and true claim.
Futher in the excerpt he explains how that our grammar has taught us to divide the world into active subjects and passive objects, but in a coevolutionary relationship every subject is also an object, every object a subject. The relationship being the plants trained us as much as we trained them.

He references later Darwins "The Origin of Species" and how Darwin uses the word artificial and not as in fake (in the term artificial selection) but as in artifcat: a thing relfecting human will. And how theres nothing fake about hybrids, ie a hybrid rose, butter pear, cocker spaniel etc.

The excerpt ends with him explaining how he is trying to close the gap between us and nature, or as he says "put us back in the great reciprocal web that is life on Earth.

It then made me think of this one:

Monday, October 18

Milk but not really milk?

More than 54,000 affected by Chinese milk scandal

Chris Buckley, Reuters · Monday, Sept. 22, 2008

BEIJING -- The number of Chinese infants sick in hospital after drinking tainted milk formula doubled to nearly 13,000 as the country’s top quality regulator resigned in the latest blight on the “made-in-China” brand.

Four deaths have been blamed on the toxic milk powder, which causes kidney stones and agonising complications, and a string of Asian countries have banned or recalled Chinese milk products.

The official Xinhua news agency said in a brief statement that the country’s quality chief, Li Changjiang, had quit in light of the scandal. It did not elaborate.

The Health Ministry said the number of children hospitalised due to the milk powder contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine rose from a previously announced total of 6,244 -- which included many who had left hospital -- to 12,892, including 104 who were in a serious condition.

More than 1,500 had already left hospital and nearly 40,000 with milder symptoms “received clinical treatment and advice” before going home. The ministry did not explain the sharp rise.

The jump to more than 54,000 affected children was announced late on Sunday, escalating a scandal that has again shaken trust in Chinese products after last year’s scares over toxic and shoddy goods from toothpaste and drugs to pet food and toys.

Melamine has also been found in cartons of milk and some dairy exports, but no illnesses from those sources have been reported.

Medical experts said on Monday that, as well as causing kidney stones, melamine could potentially cause far more serious complications by crystallising and then blocking tiny tubes in the kidneys.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited hospitals in the national capital in a bid to reassure an anxious public. But he also said the outbreak of poisonings exposed deeper failings.

“Although the ordinary people are very understanding, as the government we feel very guilty,” he said, according to the Xinhua news agency. “This event is a warning for all food safety.”

He also vowed stiff penalties if the problem re-emerges. “If there are fresh problems, they must be even more sternly punished under the law,” Mr. Wen said.

China’s food quality watchdog has said it found melamine in nearly 10 percent of milk and drinking yoghurt samples from three major dairy companies: Mengniu Dairy Co, the Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group and the Bright group.

Nitrogen-rich melamine can be added to watered-down milk to fool quality checks, which often use nitrogen levels to measure protein levels.

Past product safety scandals have exposed corruption, influence-peddling and lumbering, feuding bureaucracies overwhelmed by fragmented, cost-cutting producers. The milk scandal has shown a government campaign did not end those woes.

China’s dairy producers faced a “crisis of confidence” that would need strong official steps to cure, said Lao Bing, manager of a Shanghai-based dairy investment company.

“Consumers will start rebuying in a month or two if they feel sure the government is undertaking a vigorous clean-up,” he said. “Exports will take longer. This will have a major impact.”

Japan’s Marudai Food Co. Ltd withdrew buns made with milk supplied by Yili. A spokesman for Japan’s Nissin said that group had also recalled products with Chinese dairy ingredients.

The Japanese government has asked 90,000 companies to check if imports have been contaminated with melamine.

Other markets that have that have banned or recalled Chinese milk products include Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Taiwan banned all mainland dairy products from Sunday.

Dutch dairy group Friesland Foods removed three types of milk products from shelves in Hong Kong, Singapore and Macau as a precaution, a spokesman told the ANP news agency.

The products were made by a Chinese company in which Friesland Foods holds a minority stake. Friesland Foods said less than 1 percent of products marketed under its “Dutch Lady” brand were affected.

Even White Rabbit Creamy Candy, a popular Chinese brand of milk sweet, was contaminated with melamine, Singapore’s Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority warned on Sunday.

At the weekend, a three-year-old Hong Kong girl was found to have a kidney stone after drinking a milk product tainted by melamine, making her the territory’s first suspected victim.

But the biggest worry remains in China.

Sanlu, the nation’s biggest maker of infant milk powder, knew about the problem but did not disclose it publicly for at least a month throughout August, when Beijing hosted the Olympics, officials have said.

The revelation brought a surge of panicky parents and children to hospitals, and the government has promised free treatment for stricken children. But some parents said they worried about costs and long-term complications.

Zhou Zhijun, from south China’s Hunan province, said she took her wailing, increasingly thin daughter to hospitals at least three times from June to late August before doctors diagnosed a kidney stone.

“All those visits and checks cost 20,000 yuan ($2,900), and I still don’t know who will pay for that,” she said, adding that her 15-month-old baby had drunk Sanlu milk powder. “Also what if there are complications and problems later? Who’ll pay for that?”

The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture said despairing farmers were dumping milk and killing cattle after companies stopped buying their supplies. It promised subsidies to help farmers.

© Thomson Reuters 2008


Cats and the Black Plague

The Persecution of Cats

Cats came under suspicion for a variety of reasons. Unlike dogs, they did not behave subserviently toward humans. This was considered unnatural, because it violated the biblical view that humans should have dominion over animals. Also, cats were very active at night and engaged in loud, raucous mating rituals. Though cats had always behaved in this manner, to the superstitious minds of the Middle Ages, cats were practicing supernatural powers and witchcraft. Most accused witches were older peasant women who lived alone, often keeping cats as pets for companionship. This guilt by association meant that roughly a million cats were burned at the stake, along with their owners, on suspicion of being witches.

In the early thirteenth century Pope Gregory IX (1145–1241) declared that a sect in southern France had been caught worshipping the devil. He claimed the devil had appeared in the form of a black cat. Cats became the official symbol of heresy (or religious beliefs not advocated by the church). Anyone who showed any compassion or feeling for a cat came under the church's suspicion. By the beginning of the fourteenth century, Europe's cat population had been severely depleted. Only semi-wild cats survived in many areas.

In 1347 the bubonic plague swept across Europe. Called the Black Death, it killed twenty-five million people (nearly a third of Europe's population) in only three years. Thousands of farm animals died as well, either from the plague or from lack of care. The death rate peaked in the warm summer months and dropped dramatically in the wintertime because the plague was being spread to humans by fleas on infected rodents. The plague revisited Europe several more times over the next few centuries. In addition, millions of people are thought to have suffered from food poisoning during the Middle Ages because of the presence of rat droppings in the grain supply. Centuries of cat slaughter had allowed the rodent population to surge out of control.

Cats Under Welsh Law

Cats weren’t always persecuted in Europe. In the 900s, the Welsh took the sensible position of assigning value to cats, recognizing their ability to protect human food stores. The Welsh ruler Hywel the Good created laws that imposed strict penalties for stealing or murdering cats. Hywel mandated that if anyone were to kill or steal a cat

more at:


6 Most Terrifying Foods and 5 Horrifying Additives We Consume

Cracked articles that I find amusing and relative to the class, particularly the second one. Title says all. Enjoy. ^_^

- Stephanie Ledesma

the secret to why airplane food is bad?

According the some recent studies highlighted in this article, it may have to do with the airplane itself:

"The researchers fed 48 blindfolded participants a variety of foods from biscuits to rice crackers to cheddar cheese. At the same time, headphones either canceled out noise or provided various levels of white noise. The subjects then rated the intensity of the flavors and how much they liked or didn't like them.

The result: the higher the noise level, the less the participants tasted salty or sweet flavors. Their sensitivity to the crunchiness of their food was amplified."

Of course, some restaurants on the ground are plenty noisy but still tasty, so what gives? Read the article for more...


This Flickr site is a great resource for photos of airline meals.


Wednesday, October 13

"Japanese Ice-Cream : In Weird Flavors"

indian curry flavor
octopus flavor

Japanese Ice Cream: in weird flavors

By Geoff Botting

When the world-renowned Fat Duck restaurant in England came out with ice cream with the flavor of bacon and eggs, it caused a huge stir in the world of cuisine. The item was part of chef's Heston Blumenthal's approach of experimenting with people's basic perceptions toward food.

However, anyone familiar with the esoteric ice cream emporiums of Japan would hardly be surprised by bacon and eggs as an ice-cream offering. For the last few years, some of the strangest and most unlikely flavors on the planet have been available in iced form in Japan. How about an ice cream tasting of octopus or squid?

One place to find these and many other mind-blowing flavors is the Cup Ice Museum, which is part of Namco Nanja Town in the Sunshine City shopping complex in Tokyo's Ikebukuro district (access Yamanote and various other lines). Name a type of food you like, and chances are it's available in ice-cream form here. Got a penchant for beef tongue? How about Indian curry? Yep, they are both here, frozen, creamy and ready to be consumed either at the premises or in takeaway form.

This museum (it's actually a retail store) is divided according to region. Hokkaido, a vast land of diary farms and vegetable fields, takes up a large portion of the shelf space, not surprisingly. Here, you can satisfy any craving you might have for iced Jaga Butaa (buttered potato) and a range of other regional delicacies.

Offerings from Miyagi Prefecture, in Northern Japan, are not to be outdone. Prominent is "tan" (beef tongue) flavor ice creams. "Surprise your friends," says the container's label - and if you give it to them you no doubt will!

There's also miso ramen flavored ice cream - a perfect dessert after, um, a hot bowl of ramen, perhaps. How about salt? That's right, just plain old salt. The operative ingredient, the label tells us, comes from a bay famous for its high-grade sea salt - one natural resource Japan has never really run dry on.

Indeed, it seems the role of many of the ice-cream products is to showcase regional delicacies and ingredients. A container of kelp-flavored ice cream advertises itself as a "unique kind of ice." "Made from pure kombu (Japanese for "kelp") that's full of vitamins and created from an especially high grade of kombu," it reads.

Filling out the seafood selections are octopus, squid and a long thin fish called Pacific saury, sanma in Japanese, flavors beyond the threshold of this squeamish writer but all tastes based on popular Japanese seafood dishes, albeit not often found in such a form.

"The weirdest flavor would have to be Pacific saury," nods a young woman employee. "The most popular flavor among the Japanese visitors is beef tongue, and with the foreigners it seems to be the Indian curry" she adds.

The prices here are a tad steep. Cups of 130 milliliters each sell for 350 - 400 yen. But keep in mind, the ingredients are natural and the products, many of which are claimed to be "handmade," are meant to be savored slowly, not gulped down.

Given the plethora of strange flavors, it might come as a surprise that plain old vanilla occupies a prominent place in the Cup Ice Cream Museum. Being a neutral flavor, vanilla seems to be a way for the ice-cream makers to showcase their standards and quality. These products are made from fresh and rich creams, clearly not for those on a diet.

A vanilla cup produced by the Nagato Diary Farm Ice Cream company bears a somber-looking crest featuring a cow in a pasture. The 120 milliliter cup is priced at 440 yen. Clearly, this stuff is for purists and connoisseurs.

Booze is also featured. A cup of amazake (sweet Japanese sake seen in the colder months and at festivals) goes for 350 yen. The fad for shochu, a distilled beverage, hasn't been left out, either. A shochu variety made from rice is on offer, made at a Suntory distillery on Kyushu Island in Southern Japan. Beer-flavored ice cream can also be had.

Yet you needn't be a masochist or a connoisseur of the weird to enjoy ice cream in Japan. Conventional ice cream counters typically have the familiar flavors: vanilla, chocolate, rum and raison, and so on. But a handful of surprises will be thrown in as well. The Blue Seal chain of ice cream counters, for instance, offers Chura Imo (sweet potato flavors from Okinawa) and Shio Chin Sukou (salted biscuits).

Bacon and eggs ice cream never sounded so conventional - did it?

I haven't been here but found out about this place through a korean tv show that I saw months ago. A lot of travelers from all around the country visit here to explore and taste many interesting icecream. It's not on the article but there are also: rose icecream, tofu icecream, miso ramen icecream, dracula(garlic)icecream, salt icecream, black rice icecream, vegetable icecream, pearl icecream, crab seafood icecream, squid icecream, sake icecream, soysauce icecream, astronut icecream, etc.

-So Jung Cho