Tag Archives: food

‘The Katering Show’ Quits Sugar

The Katering Show is a hilarious, absurd, deadpan parody of a cooking show, built on the premise that one of the hosts can cook well and the other is intolerant of a lot of foods. On its third episode, Kate and Kate quit sugar — one of the few foods that Kate can eat — because Australian author Sarah Wilson did it.

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From YouTube, via Laughing Squid

A Can Of Soda A Day Keeps Your Last Years Away

Researchers from UCSF looked at roughly 5,000 adults with no diabetes or heart problems and asked themselves how sugary beverages affect lifespan. They analyzed drinkers of normal, sugary sodas, of sugary flat drinks, of diet sodas, and of 100% fruit juice drinks. To figure out lifespan, they looked at telomeres, which are endcaps on chromosomes, and which have been shown to correlate with how long a person lives. Those with shorter telomeres tend to age faster, die earlier and have more cancer. And it turned out that people who drink sugary sodas regularly, have shorter telomeres.

Warning label on a can of soda

Diet sodas didn’t seem to have any correlation with telomere length, though there are other problems with them. Non-carbonated sugary sodas had no correlation either. Regularly drinking fruit juice correlated with longer telomeres, though eating the actual fruit, instead, has the added benefit of healthy fiber. But for sugary sodas, extrapolating additional aging from how much the telomeres were shorter, the study found that drinking 8oz per day (about two-thirds of a can) shortened lifespan by 1.9 years, and 20oz shortened it by 4.6 years — the same amount as smoking.

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From American Journal of Public Health, via Time

How To Get Pizza Delivered For Free

The video calls this a prank, but it’s more of a good deed disguised as a prank on the pizza company, likely for the purposes of fitting in with the video makers’ target audience of … Beastie Boys fans, or whatever. Because without the word “prank” in there, it’s just a pretty touching — albeit clever — gesture.

BUT, if you were actually evil, you could just pretend to be the homeless people and get the free pizza for  yourself. However, you’re still kind of impersonating a police officer, which is therefore kind of a crime. So, just do it for the bums.

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From YouTube, via FAIL Blog

Menu From Lincoln’s 1865 Inaugural Ball

The Smithsonian Magazine has an interesting article about President Lincoln’s second inaugural ball, in March of 1865 — about a month before the Civil War ended and Lincoln was assassinated. (Presidential terms have only ended on January 20 since the 20th ammendment was ratified in 1933.) It hosted about 4,000 people and was a very late affair: carriages began arriving at 9pm, the president and his wife entered at 10:30, and dinner was served at midnight. It was buffet-style and, even though 300 people could serve themselves at the same time, the rush for all the men to fill up plates and take them back to their ladies resulted in a giant mess:

About the hour of 12, the Presidential party were escorted by a private entrance to privileged places. Soon afterward the doors were opened, and a throng of more than a thousand, who had collected at that end of the hall, poured into the supper-room. Of course, when three persons occupy the space barely sufficient for one, a “crush” is the result; and the crush which followed can better be imagined than depicted.

But this was not the worst feature. With that indecency of conduct and want of politeness and etiquette which characterizes many American people at table, and which is the certain accompaniment of a large crowd at a public supper, many gentlemen, and even some of our own sex who delight to be esteemed ladies, seized upon the most ornamental and least nutritious part of the table decorations, demolished them, carried the pieces off in handkerchiefs or crushed them under foot.

In less than an hour the table was a wreck; a few ornaments not destroyed were removed, and the array of empty dishes and the debris of the feast were positively frightful to behold.

The doors were now wide open, and hundreds of ladies in elegant silks, satins and velvets, and gentlemen in dainty broadcloth, surged and struggled back and forth. A few obtained something to eat, others very little, and many more only succeeded in ruining their toilets. As much was wasted as was eaten, and however much may have been provided more than half the guests went supperless. But it was a public supper; we were not much disappointed, and though the gentlemen who managed it may have been to blame for the want of room, the fact remains that the supper was a disaster, and detracted from the otherwise pleasant aspect of the occasion.

from the New York Times report of the ball

The entire write-up of the ball in the Times is very detailed and interesting, so it’s worth reading. Finally, here’s what they were all starving for:


The Times journalist noted that the food was tasty, but that the “name of the cuisinier has escaped us, and it is not worth while to hunt it up now. Suffice it to say it was not Delmonico, therefore we did not expect perfection.”

From Smithsonian Magazine, via NPR

Food Lasts A Lot Longer Than the Date On The Package

We’ve seen before that the three types of dates on food packaging (use-by, sell-by, best if used by) have nothing to do with how safe the food is, and that they’re just an indicator of quality. Now NPR wrote an article which sheds some light on how companies come up with those dates. There’s an outfit called The National Food Lab — which thinks its perfectly acceptable to call itself The NFL — that food companies hire to taste their aging food and rate it. As the food gets older, it starts to taste worse, so a yogurt company will look at the scores over time and say “ok, it looks like after five days, the scores have dropped 10%, so lets make that the sell-by date.”


After that date, the food might not taste quite as good as it did originally, but it will still taste perfectly fine. And if it’s been properly handled, it’s definitely not going to make you sick. Why? Because you have this thing called “the sense of smell” which makes you sick to your stomach before you even have a chance to put bad food in your mouth. If it’s spoiled, you’re not even going to want to eat it — so if that’s what you’re worried about, you can ignore the date on the package altogether.

In fact, even if you were to eat something spoiled — say milk or meat — it probably isn’t going to affect you that much. The outbreaks of food-borne illnesses usually arise from food that’s been improperly handled but is still well ahead of the date on the package, and looks and smells fine even though it’s riddled with salmonella or E. coli.

This is why freeganism and dumpster-diving exist: pretty much 100% of the 40% of our food that we throw away, is perfectly good. Canned foods, even though they have an expiration date, last for decades. So next time you’re cleaning out the fridge, give it a smell test: if it fails, throw it out; if it smells fine and tastes good, do your part for the environment and save it.

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From NPR

The Detroit Rule

From Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

McRib To Be Delayed Until Christmas This Year

The people at Advertising Age got their well-manicured hands on an internal memo from McDonald’s. It says that while the McRib was going to sell from October 22 to November 11 as per the usual, they’ve had a change of heart and pushed that window to the latter half of December. Why make us wait with watering mouths for two agonizing months more? Greed, that’s why!


This coming winter is supposed to be fairly snowy, and bad weather keeps people from trolling to McDonald’s for their burger with a side of large French heart attack and refreshing diabetes. So how do you get the lazy cowards to brave the elements and make the trek to McDonald’s? You make them an offer they can’t refuse: a delicious, pre-formed mostly-pork shoulder patty that looks like ribs, topped with onions, pickles, and probably heroin to make it irresistible. Because McRib fans will turn into veritable postmen and neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these people from the swift devouring of the most elusive of sandwiches. And so, the McRib will prove to have yet another power: that of saving 4th quarter corporate profits from Old Man Winter’s cold, sinister hands.

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From Advertising Age, via NPR

Food Riots Fed The Arab Spring; More Predicted For 2013

The French Revolution is probably history’s most famous food riot. It came about due to the aristocracy ignoring widespread hunger among peasants — an episode in history we now erroneously associate with “let them eat cake.” The French had forgotten what the Romans figured out 2,000 years before, and implemented via their bread and circuses policy: a well-fed, entertained, and somewhat free population doesn’t overthrow the government.

We like to think that we revolt against tyranny, but the truth is that we don’t mind tyranny that much, as long as there are enough things for us to eat and be amused by. However, when the food runs out and people believe their rulers are standing in the way of nourishment, governments will fall. And in that respect, the Arab Spring was no different than the French Revolution: it started when Tunisian police confiscated a 26 year-old street vendor‘s fruit cart, which was the only, meager source of income for his mother and six sisters; he set himself on fire in front of the governor’s office, after shouting “How do you expect me to make a living?”

Food price index, 2004-2011, with the timing of riots around the globe


In 2011, researchers noticed that the number one predictor of riots worldwide in the prior 5 years, was the price of food. Since 1990, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization has been calculating a monthly food price index and if that number is above 210, recent history shows that riots become a lot more likely. The data fits this month’s American consulate riots which are supposedly due to the Muhammad video, but are probably more about the price of food — the current index is at 213. People will put up with a lot, but once they can’t afford to eat and death looms around the corner, consequences disappear and they begin to think of their legacy: it’s better to die in a riot while trying to change the world than to die of starvation in your bed.

During the Arab spring, the food price index was around 230. Due to widespread drought, prices are expected to rise 3 to 4% in 2013, likely putting the index above 220 and causing even more rioting. Meanwhile, America is in the midst of an obesity epidemic caused by food being too cheap — so cheap, in fact, that 40% of it gets thrown away.

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From MIT Technology Review, via motherboard and Slashdot

Americans Throw Away 40% Of Their Food

The NRDC, an environmental advocacy group, is saying that almost half of food in America ends up in a landfill — about 20lbs per person per month. That’s 50% higher than in the 1970s and 10x as much as is wasted in Southeast Asia. Fully 50% of fruits, vegetables and seafood are thrown out, about 38% of grains, and 20% of meat and milk. (Which is ironic, because if we ate all of those fruits, vegetables and seafood, the entire country would probably be fit as a fiddle.) That excess could feed 25 million people but instead, the resources that go into making it — energy, land, chemicals and 25% of all fresh water — are also wasted. The food then sits in a landfill, where it produces 25% of all methane emissions. It also enables notions like Freeganism, in which people go dumpster diving for their dinner.

A freegan dumpster diving in Copenhagen


This, of course, is a problem caused by economics: food is so cheap, that we can easily afford to throw it out without thinking twice about it. It’s one of the unintended consequences of economic policies from the 1970s, when the government decided to start subsidizing large farming corporations, with the good intent of making so food cheap that no American would starve. The other unintended consequence: all the cheap food is also causing the current obesity epidemic.

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From NRDC, via Reuters and Neatorama

Heartburn Is Generally Caused By Caffeine, Alcohol, And Fat

Common thinking is that acidic foods and drinks — like orange juice, tomato sauce and jalapeños — cause heartburn. According to NPR, this makes no sense because the acid in our stomachs is going to be much stronger than almost anything we eat. Heartburn is simply that stomach acid escaping through the valve at the top of the stomach — the lower esophageal sphincter. Therefore, heartburn is independent of the food we eat, because even the healthiest, most non-acidic food will still need stomach acid to be digested and if it can overflow, it will. The trick is to keep the sphincter from opening, which it does for generally two reasons:

  • The sphincter is weak or broken for some reason (being fat makes this more likely)
  • The sphincter is relaxed and just doesn’t fully tighten up

The lower esophageal sphincter is #6


It turns out that caffeine and alcohol both relax the sphincter, so if you’re thin and getting heartburn, stay away from Irish coffee. Also, avoid eating big, fatty meals: fatty foods take longer to break down, so the stomach acid will be around longer, giving it more opportunity to back up through an opening in the sphincter. Ditto for large amounts of food, just due to their bulk. So large amounts of fat food, followed by alcohol or caffeine and a weak sphincter are a recipe for heartburn. Eating Tums and drinking milk will help by neutralizing some of the stomach acid so it doesn’t overflow, but that’s counterproductive to actually digesting the food in it.

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From NPR