The Write Way
Friday 2 March 2012
The Food We Eat ...
You know how I occasionally rabbit on about the things we eat?
All right, maybe it's more than "occasionally," perhaps I even have a teensy obsession about what's in our frankenfood. (Who can forget Cows with Fishing Lines?)
But if you thought some of the things we've discovered together over the years were worth filing away for uncomfortable lulls in the conversation, just wait till you see what we've got today! And this might come as a bit of a nasty surprise for all who consider themselves vegetarians ...
You know when you go to the supermarket and you head for the fresh fruit and vegie section, and it just makes you feel good looking at all that lovely fresh produce? You pick up and admire the quality of the apples, the lettuce, the tomatoes. They look as if they've just been plucked from the tree, the ground, the bush.
You can't help yourself, you cradle the tomato in your hand and lift it gently to your face to inhale that wonderful tomatoey aroma ...
Mmm ... There's nothing quite like the smell of a fresh tomato straight from the bush ...
But alas and alack, this isn't one. It has no aroma whatsoever, because it's been encased in what the retailers coyly refer to as "an edible coating." These are the latest in a long line of coatings sprayed onto produce to prolong shelf-life.
And if you're thinking, "That's OK. This edible coating is perfectly safe and it protects my tomatoes from contamination," and you take it home and eat it, just what will you be eating?
Ah ... that's the Big Question, isn't it? Especially if you're a strict vegetarian (for moral, ethical or health reasons).
You'd better sit down for this one ...
The edible coating has a flash name -- it's Modified Atmosphere Packaging (hereon known as MAP), and what exactly is MAP?
The FDA explains, "... [M]odified atmosphere packaging (MAP) ... involves either actively or passively controlling or modifying the atmosphere surrounding the product within a package made of various types and/or combinations of films ... Edible films may consist of four basic materials: lipids, resins, polysaccharides and proteins ... The most common plasticizer used to cast edible films is food-grade polyethylene glycol, which is used to reduce film brittleness ...
The list of potential ingredients is a long one, and will vary from product
to product, but can be generally divided into four basic materials:
Gelatin is ... extracted from the boiled crushed bones, connective tissues, organs and some intestines of animals such as domesticated cattle, chicken, and pigs ...
Common additives to these base
That's right, Boys and Girls. Your fresh produce may well have extracts "from the boiled crushed bones, connective tissues, organs and some intestines of animals such as domesticated cattle, chicken, and pigs" ...
But the worst part is that often even organically grown produce is treated with these "edible coatings," so even when you think you're doing the right thing by your own health, the well-being of local farmers and the planet, the Big Boys can still bring you undone!
This week's Little Something Extra has all the gory details from the FDA about MAPs, and if you're still sceptical about plastic coatings on your food, watch this video.
So the moral of the story is that just because you think you're buying healthy food, doesn't necessarily make it so ...
Ah yes ... it might make you healthy, but the food itself is healthful.
Healthy means 'being in a sound state; enjoying health; conducive to health; showing or resulting form good health' e.g. a healthy body and a healthy mind.
Healthful means 'serving to promote health; salubrious' e.g. a healthful diet, healthful food.
Both words share the same Anglo-Saxon root of hal meaning 'whole.'
Sad to say, these days, the words are almost interchangeable, but at least we know the difference!
When the waitress in a fast-food
restaurant brought the man his soup, he was a bit dismayed. "Good heavens," he
said, "what's this?"
This week's quiz:
Some terms to help you communicate with your frankenfood ...
hybrid, promoter, biotechnology, herbicide, pesticide, plasmid, substantial equivalence, agrobacterium, cloning, genotype
1. small circular DNA molecules acted as vectors for carrying the target DNA into bacteria or plant cell for the purpose of genetic modification; generally contains a marker gene such as antibiotic resistance gene for identification of successful gene transfer
2. substance used to kill plants especially weeds
3. cross between two organisms that are genetically different
4. common soil bacterium that can naturally carry genetic information (DNA) into plant cells, often used in genetic modification
5. the application of biological organisms, systems or processes to manufacturing and service industries
6. concept that allows a novel food to be compared with a similar existing food
7. piece of DNA that helps ensure that a modified gene works properly
8. genetic make-up of an individual organism
9. general term refers to substance that used to control pests, such as insects, weeds or micro-organisms
10. producing large numbers of identical cells or organisms from a single ancestor e.g. taking cuttings of a plant
And we've looked at this recipe before ...
Why Engineers Don't Write Recipe Books
Chocolate Chip Cookies:
Last week's quiz:
Here are some words you probably should know if you're going to hang out with the Big Kids ...
decibel, modem, bandwidth, packet, kilobyte, emoticon, baud, gigabyte, pixel, megabyte
1. the term used to represent 2 to the power 30, or 1,073,741,824 (i.e. 1,024 x 1,024 x 1,024) bytes; actually larger than a billion bytes - GIGABYTE
2. a unit of measurement based on the logarithmic scale; used to define an increase or decrease in the power of sounds and electrical signals, and the term is often associated with the measurement of signal-to-noise ratio - DECIBEL
3. a measure of the information carrying capacity of a communications channel, whether it be of the wired or wireless type - BANDWIDTH
4. the term used to represent 2 to the power 20, or 1,048,576 (i.e. 1,024 x 1,024) bytes; actually larger than a million bytes - MEGABYTE
5. a small block of data that is communicated in packet switched systems, such as is used on the Internet and in the more recent mobile communication networks - PACKET (Although it may appear that data is flowing in continuous streams to and from a subscriber, in actual fact this is an illusion, because the packets of data may be sent via different routes through a network, and the original information is only re-assembled in the correct order at the receiving end by using a unique address code transmitted with each packet.)
6. the term used to represent 2 to the power 10, or 1,024 bytes; actually larger than a thousand bytes - KILOBYTE
7. computer peripheral equipment used to send digital data over conventional telephone lines - MODEM (The term modem is an acronym derived from (MO)dulator - (DEM)odulator, and a modem will convert analogue signals into digital signals and vice versa.)
8. traditional unit used to measure signalling speed or modulation rate on a communications channel, and it was first used to measure the speed of telegraph transmissions - BAUD
9. the smallest picture element found on a display - PIXEL (In the colour screens of televisions, computers and mobile devices, there will be an array of evenly spaced pixels covering the whole of the screen area. For example, in a mobile phone with an LCD display measuring 128 pixels wide by 160 pixels high, there will be 128 x 160 or 20,480 pixels in total. Generally, the greater the number of pixels, the sharper and more detailed will be the image that can be displayed.)
10. a set of symbols and letters that look like a human face turned on its side when put next to each other; the most basic is a pair of eyes and a smiling mouth, made by a colon and a bracket :) and all others are variations on this simple theme - EMOTICON
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Just in case you're unsure, here are 5 reasons you know you're eating genetically modified food:
1. Your green beans are attempting a split flanking manoeuvre on your clearly surprised mashed potatoes.
2. Family of seven, one turkey -- yet everyone gets a drumstick.
3. The box says that your buffalo
chicken wings are made from REAL flying bison.
5. You use the leftover chicken as a night-light for your kid's room.
A Little Something Extra
Find out about some of our essential dining utensils here
All about MAP (Modified Atmosphere Packaging) from the FDA here
Oxymoron of the week: GM food
Word of the week: Transgenic (adj) organism containing genetic material artificially placed there from another organism by the technique of genetic modification.
Such as frankenfood!
And a fitting Latin phrase this week ...
De gustibus non est disputandum
DAY goos-TEE-boos NOHN EST dees-poo-TAHN-doom]
(There's no accounting for tastes.)
Did you know that you can have your very own Latin reminders?
How about undies proclaiming, Bene est rex esse? (It's good to be king)
Or a shopping bag that warns, Emptrix nata sum (Born to shop)? Click here
for these and more:
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Copyright Jennifer Stewart 2012
Individual articles copyrighted by their authors.
Copyright 2009 Jennifer Stewart Write101.com