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Posts Tagged "food"

Anecdotes from the Archive

A Horse Is a Horse, of Course, of (Main) Course

horsehead

Let’s talk about horses. With news of Europe’s horse meat scandal grabbing headlines last month, it’s hard not to have equine on the mind. In 1875 Scientific American published an article, “Shall We Eat the Horse?” hypothesizing the economic benefits of consuming horse meat in the U.S. At the time hippophagy was practiced in Europe, [...]

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Anthropology in Practice

Culture Bites: The Changing Nature of the Food Truck Industry

Broad St. lunch carts, New York, N.Y. | Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection, LC-DIG-det-4a13502

What do you normally have for lunch? Leftovers? A sandwich? Do you bring it from home or do you buy it from a local eatery? In New York City, a sandwich from a deli (with a pickle and a bag of chips) will cost you about $8.00 to $12.00. A salad starts at about $6.00; [...]

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Anthropology in Practice

Our public affair with food porn

Image by Phil Thomas, CC. Click on image for license and information.

Do you ever feel like your social feed is overrun by pictures of food? A report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project from October 2013 found that more than half of all Internet users have posted original photos or videos to a website. Thanks to the portability of cell phone cameras and the [...]

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Anthropology in Practice

Thanksgiving Tidbits

Photo by Satya Murthy, Creative Commons.

Now that you’ve filled yourself with good company and good food and you’re settled on your couch, how about some light reading before the tryptophan sets in? I’ve assembled some of my favorites from around the web. What did your meal look like? The New York Times has a neat round up of recipes from [...]

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Anthropology in Practice

Thanksgiving Live Blog 2015

Our Thanksgiving table, 2013.

Happy Thanksgiving from the D’Costas! Back in 2011, I experimented with sharing my Thanksgiving with you, Readers, and I thought it might be time for a resurrection, so welcome to our kitchen and table. This year we’re not hosting, but we’re still cooking! Instead of the traditional late dinner tomorrow that we usually prepare, we’re [...]

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Anthropology in Practice

Green Thumbery: Water, Sunlight, and Data

Peas in bloom. Photo by KDCosta, 2014 Garden.

All of those concerns I had at the beginning of the season have disappeared. My plants are healthy and flowering—and they’re slowly taking over the backyard, much to my delight. Now, if only I were home more often to enjoy them. My Flower Power has kept watch these past months and it’s been helpful is [...]

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Anthropology in Practice

Green Thumbery: Flower Power

Planting officially underway!

Things have been quiet on the Green Thumbery series because I’ve been watching my plants anxiously. The lengthy winter we experienced has made for a sluggish start and it was touch-and-go for a few weeks. But I’m getting ahead of myself; I should take a few steps back and bring you up to speed. We [...]

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Anthropology in Practice

Green Thumbery: Death and Destruction

From top to bottom: Dragon beans, sugar snap peas, and Chinese long beans.

Quick Garden Stats: Zone 7 – New York Anticipated last frost date (per local nursery): 5/20 Plants in ground: None It’s been a rough start to the planting season. The seedlings are dead. All of them. It happened essentially within 24 hours: I left for work and came home to find most of them bent [...]

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Anthropology in Practice

Green Thumbery: The Seedlings are Coming!

Trinidadian Scorpion and Scotch Bonnet Peppers

Okay, it’s not Friday, but I owe you guys a Green Thumbery post. Plus I spent part of yesterday turning over the soil in the two beds I’ll be planting this spring, and I’m eager to share that the beds were full of earthworms! This is news because when I turned over the beds last [...]

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Anthropology in Practice

Green Thumbery: A Gardening Series and Winter Sowing

The initial yield from last year's garden, which then triggered a gardening furor.

Last summer was the first time I had space to have a garden of my own. I had never really tried to grow anything but marigolds prior to that—and that’s only because they insisted on surviving despite being neglected. Because of this history, it wasn’t really all that surprising that S cast a skeptical eye [...]

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Anthropology in Practice

Burger with a side of toys: How is fast food being marketed to children?

CC, click on image for license and information.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) began to heavily legislate cigarette marketing in the 1960s following a report from the Surgeon General’s office on the dangers of smoking. Efforts were largely focused on reducing the ads that targeted children, which often ran during programs for children and teens like The Flintstones. In a story that has [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Yeast: Making Food Great for 5,000 Years. But What Exactly Is it?

Candida_albicans_wiki_cc_Y_tambe_200

Fire was the first force of nature tamed for cooking. Yeast was second. In the early days of ancient Egypt, around 3100 B.C., there lived a ruler named Scorpion, who probably did not look like The Rock. When Scorpion died, pyramids had not yet been invented, so he was buried in a broad, low tomb [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

Satisfy Your Curiosity with Our New E-Book, Can We Feed the World? The Future of Food

Future of Food Cover

Still hungry after devouring our September 2013 single topic issue: Food? Engage in some guilt-free gluttony with our new companion eBook: Can We Feed the World? The Future of Food. With global population numbers projected to increase by 2 billion by 2050, a veritable food crisis is on the horizon. In this eBook, we examine [...]

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Cocktail Party Physics

Nobel Vintage: Fundamental Physics Prize Co-Winner Sells No Wine Before Its Time

Nobel laureate Brian Schmidt checks the status of his fermenting grapes.

Last night the winners of the 2015 Breakthrough Prizes were announced, including the $3 million Fundamental Physics Prize — likely the most lucrative such honor in science. And while prior winners have skewed heavily towards string theory and theoretical cosmology, this year’s winners were the Nobel-winning teams responsible for measuring the accelerating expansion of the [...]

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Compound Eye

Six tips for better pollinator photographs

Toxomerus1f

June 17-22 is National Pollinator Week! Below are six tips for better photographs of flower-loving insects. But first, a digression on why Pollinator Week matters. Pollination- the transfer of genetic material from one plant to another- is important. Pollination is how plants have sex. Without it, many species simply can’t make the fruits, nuts, seeds and [...]

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Dog Spies

How to make people eat dog food

kid_eating_dogfood_1

I have to assume John Bohannon woke up one morning and thought, “What does dog food taste like?” That, or he might have just been out of food and people were coming over. Either way, the outcome was the same. Bohannon gathered eighteen people together to voluntarily consume dog food in a study investigating whether [...]

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Expeditions

You wanted to know: what’s the food like on board?

There are 25 scientists on the Knorr, and 24 crew members. (And then me — the weird one with the camera). That’s 50 people altogether…which makes operating the Knorr quite a logistical feat. And that includes feeding us. How is your food? What are they feeding you? Is it like space food or more like [...]

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Expeditions

On digestion: Reflections on the feeding frenzies of seagulls, squid and humans

sea of cortez seagulls stanford biology cruise gilly

Editor’s Note: William Gilly, a professor of cell and developmental biology and marine and organismal biology at Stanford University, is traveling with a group of students on board the Don José in the Sea of Cortez. They will monitor and track Humboldt squid and sperm whales in their watery habitats. This is the group’s eighth [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Tea and Consequences: Unsustainable Cultivation Puts Honeybush Tea at Risk

honeybush tea infusion

The Web sites selling sweet-smelling honeybush tea proudly proclaim its supposed health benefits, which range from lowering cholesterol and improving respiration to controlling the symptoms of menopause. Although none of these claims have been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, there is some minor research backing up a few of these benefits. That [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Tourists Are Giving Endangered Iguanas Diarrhea and High Cholesterol

iguana grape

Hop on over to the photo-sharing site Flickr and you’ll find dozens of photos and videos of people eagerly feeding grapes to hungry iguanas on the beaches of the Bahamas. It looks like great fun and the iguanas obviously go crazy for the fruit, which is usually fed to the lizards on the ends of [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Lion Meat Tacos (You Read That Right) Are the Latest Threat to Conservation

lion

Why do U.S. restaurants keep trying to sell lion meat? This month a Florida restaurant called Taco Fusion put $35 lion tacos on its menu, and a California restaurant called Mokutanya announced $70 lion skewers, its second such promotion in the past year. Public outrage rose up almost immediately, forcing both restaurants to remove the [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Lack of food drives human-grizzly conflicts—and human-grizzly fatalities

As their traditional food supply disappears because of climate change and invasive species, Yellowstone National Park’s grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis ) are increasingly seeking sustenance outside their protected home—a move which more than ever puts them in the crosshairs. An estimated 75 Yellowstone grizzlies where killed or "removed from the wild," as the U.S. [...]

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Food Matters

Fungal Foods, Science in Politics, and some GMOs – March Link Dump

Here are some things I saw around the internet in the last month that might be of interest. Food If you can access it, read this week’s edition of Cell, it’s all about food, and there are some great articles in there. Bill Nye examines the science, and admits that he got some stuff wrong [...]

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Food Matters

New Issue of the Journal Cell is All About Food

Microbes grow on all kinds of foods, from salami to cheese to tea (kobucha). Figure from Wolfe et. al.

I suspect that the Venn diagram of Food Matters readers and readers of the journal Cell doesn’t contain a lot in the overlap portion, but this week, that should probably change. Cell is one of the big three in biology science publishing (the other two being Nature and Science), and usually contains predominantly wonky, jargon-laden cutting-edge research on [...]

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Food Matters

Antioxidant Supplements: Too Much of a Kinda Good Thing

Emergen-C

There appears to be a continued public misconception (encouraged by the supplement industry) that free radicals are bad, and that antioxidants are good. Of course, like most phenomena affecting our health, it’s not that simple. Free radicals are molecules or atoms containing an unpaired electron. Unpaired electrons are attention seekers. They really don’t like being [...]

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Food Matters

Vitamania: Why We Swallow the Supplement Industry’s Magic Pills

Vitamania

Now and then a book comes along that educates and entertains at the same time. When an author manages this with the beaten-to-death topic of nutrition, it’s doubly impressive. Catherine Price’s forthcoming (Feb 24) “Vitamania: Our Obsessive Quest for Nutritional Perfection,” is the surprisingly fascinating story of vitamins—their discovery, their functions in our bodies, and [...]

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Food Matters

Is Our Focus on Obesity Holding Back Public Health?

gardening

What causes obesity? Advertising junk food to kids? Cheap soda? The demise of physical education in public schools? Too much screen time? Or maybe, it’s one of the little boxes in this Obesity System Influence Diagram, developed in 2007 by British researchers for their government’s Foresight Project: Holy cow, I believe are the words you’re [...]

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Food Matters

Microbial sex and not sex – Passing genes around the dinner table

Horizontal-gene-transfer

As mammals, I think we sometimes take sex for granted. I’m not talking about the frequently messy act of having sex, or the extensive effort most of us go through in order to have sex. I’m talking about the fact that sexual reproduction gives rise to some pretty impressive genetic diversity in a population. But [...]

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Food Matters

What To Eat When You’re High (up): Why Not Caviar? And Plenty Of H2O

Winter Park, Colorado, Image buy Author

If you are from the Midwest, or a place of comparable altitude, and have ever taken a trip to the mountains, then you are probably familiar with the humbling experience that is trying to breathe air that just doesn’t seem to be there. A simple task, such as walking up a hill can elicit dizziness, [...]

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Food Matters

The Microbes in Your Kitchen (Or in your Starbucks mocha)

Graph of microbial diversity in 3 different diets

I can’t write an intro better than this: Far more attention has been paid to the microbes in our feces than the microbes in our food. Research efforts dedicated to the microbes that we eat have historically been focused on a fairly narrow range of species, namely those which cause disease and those which are [...]

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Food Matters

All the microbes of the field will clap their hands

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: microbes are everywhere, and everywhere important. As regular readers will know, I’ve recently become obsessed with cultivating our microbial companions to make delicious foods. But you don’t have to have to constantly minding jars of kraut or jugs of mead in order for microbes to be [...]

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Food Matters

Ferment Friday – My First 3 batches of Sauerkraut

2014-11-20 - img_0452

There’s something wonderful doing things yourself. This is not just my observation, there’s data on this. For example: people love their Ikea furniture more than any particle-board-glued-to-plastic-wood-patterned furniture has any right to be loved. Mostly, the hypothesis goes, because their own sweat and labor (and if my experience is any judge, a fair bit of cursing) [...]

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Guest Blog

Turning to Bacteria to Fight the Effects of Climate Change

A fluorescent microscope image of the plant root cell with the red fluorescent particles representing beneficial microbes attached to the cell. (Image courtesy of Yoav and Luz Bashan)

Recently the United Nations warned that the world could suffer a 40 percent shortfall in water by 2030 unless countries dramatically cut consumption. Since 70 percent of the world’s fresh water goes to agriculture, this means changing the way people farm.  The need is ubiquitous. In California’s Central Valley, farmers drilling for water are now [...]

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Guest Blog

Cell Phones Monitor Water, Soil on African Farms [Q&A]

Pulsepod, a cellular-enabled system for low-cost environmental sensing. (Photo: Adam Wolf)

When he was in elementary school, Kelly Caylor built a weather station in his parents’ Tallahassee, Florida backyard. Decades later, he’s distributing high-tech environmental sensors, or “pods,” throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Unlike the DIY contraption he built as a student, these pods are smart, high-tech, and talkative. Now an ecohydrologist at Princeton University, Caylor wants to [...]

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Guest Blog

The Quest for Better Broccoli Starts with More Science

Image: Puamelia/Flickr

Everyone knows that broccoli is good for you. What was not known—until researchers examined how broccoli was prepared for distribution—is that frozen broccoli lacked the cancer-fighting nutrients that the fresh vegetable provided. With a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), however, scientists at the University of Illinois discovered [...]

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Guest Blog

Reducing Lifestyle Diseases Means Changing Our Environment

The gym. (Health Gauge/Flickr)

I’ve always found gyms a bit strange. Think about it: Dozens of people sweating in close proximity, running on conveyor belts going nowhere, lifting and dropping heavy objects for no reason. There’s a guy grunting as he flings a barbell to the ground, a woman repeatedly leaping on and off a stack of boxes, and [...]

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Guest Blog

How Overeating May Contribute to a Metabolic “Traffic Jam”

Oooh, donut! (Mark H. Anbinder/Flickr)

In what has been dubbed “The Great Crawl of China”, in August 2010 commuters in Beijing accumulated along a 74.5-mile-long stretch of road for a preposterous 11 days straight. No mere rush-hour delay, the absurdity of this pile-up—one of the worst in recorded history—suggests that multiple factors were to blame. Just as fewer cars and [...]

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Guest Blog

Artificial Sweeteners May Have Despicable Impacts on Gut Microbes

Sweet'N Low is a brand of artificial sweetener made primarily from granulated saccharin. (Credit: Mike Mozart/Flickr)

I find it ironic that Thanksgiving coincides with American Diabetes Month. In honor of that irony, two recently published studies have suggested a possible link between what you eat, how it impacts the behavior of the microbes living in your gut, and type II diabetes. To further explain, allow me use the most adorable analogy [...]

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Guest Blog

Catching Big Mama Fish Curbs Ocean Fertility

A gravid female cod at the U.K.'s MacDuff Aquarium. (Credit: Bruce McAdam via Flickr)

Scientists recently confirmed what anglers have known for centuries—there’s something special about a big mama fish. The bigger the fish, the better the bragging rights—and often, the bigger paycheck or prize. For centuries, this has led anglers and fishers to selectively target the largest fish in a school. But a new study published in a [...]

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Guest Blog

For Diabetics, Healthy Habits Trump Medicine

syringe sticking up from a pile of granulated fine sugar

Against the backdrop of a government shutdown precipitated by healthcare issues and the rollout of the insurance exchanges mandated by the Affordable Care Act, a conference called Diabetes + Innovation 2013 took place in Washington, D.C. earlier this month. The gathering, organized by The Joslin Diabetes Center at Harvard Medical School, focused on prevention and [...]

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Guest Blog

You Say Potato, I Say Double-Stranded RNA

potato

Amidst the outrage, puzzlement and theories caused by the finding of genetically-modified wheat in an Oregon field, USDA is considering whether to commercialize another dinnertime staple–the potato. Last month, Idaho-based J.M. Simplot asked the Agriculture Department to grant a deregulated status for a new variety of potatoes genetically engineered to reduce bruising and develop lower [...]

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Guest Blog

Honeybees and Monoculture: Nothing to Dance About

Beehives stacked and secured on a truck for transportation (Photo: Mark Lehigh)

With all the talk of honey bee decline in the news, you may already know that honey bees don’t just make honey. They also give us almonds, cherries, avocados, raspberries, apples…pretty much everything delicious. Of course, there are plenty of native pollinators that can also do that job. But domestic honey bees (first brought to [...]

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Illusion Chasers

Your Brain on Thanks

800px-Frances_Brundage_Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It may not have the cache of winter holidays or the Cash! Yay! of a birthday, but it is the best feel-good holiday of the year. At least it feels that way to me. But why is that? Of all the wonderful annual holidays, why would I prefer a single meal, shared with family, loved ones, and friends? Many of these holidays include similar meals. What makes Thanksgiving different for my brain?

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Illusion Chasers

Fat Tuesday: Hypoglycemia Is Tied To Low Income In Diabetics

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/74/McDonald%27s_French_fries_Potato_%2801%29.jpg

I disagree with this study’s conclusion. It’s not that I don’t believe that low-income is tied to diabetes and hypoglycemia at the end of the pay cycle. I do believe it. But I suspect that these diabetics are eating too much inexpensive high-carbohydrate junk foods at the end of their pay cycle, rather than starving.

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Illusion Chasers

Illusion of the Week: Japanese Burger-Chain Breaks the Curse of OCHOBO!

Picture1

Horking down a huge honking burger–American style–is considered unladylike in Japan. So Freshness Burger uses an unconventional approach to maintaining Ochobo–the Japanese cultural practice of maintaining small delicate mouth features in women. They use illusory replacement of the disgusting burger-eating pie-hole with the dainty and ladylike fake ochobo face mask.

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Illusion Chasers

Fat Tuesday: Why stress leads to obesity

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Grasa-abdominal-cintura.jpg

Stress is transient Type II diabetes, even when you’re otherwise healthy.

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Illusion Chasers

Fat Tuesday: Believe in Will Power, and You Shall Have It

320px-Sodas

Some people believe that will power is a bodily function that requires glucose to power it. Carol Dweck’s new paper shows that its not so.

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Illusion Chasers

Fat Tuesday: Feed the Addict

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/31/CocaColaGlassBottle.jpg/194px-CocaColaGlassBottle.jpg

When the substantia nigra is super charged by food restriction, or drugs, or both, you become super motivated to seek out more food, or more drugs… whatever floats the substantia nigra’s boat.

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Illusion Chasers

Fat Tuesday: Does Jet-Lag Make You Chronobese?

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cooked_crayfish_with_dill.jpg

Chronic jetlag, habitual night shifts, and rotating shift work, can have deleterious consequences on circadian organization and metabolic health, says a new report in the Annals of the New York Academy of Science. The reason may be the significant crosstalk between the circadian system and the metabolic system, leading to “chronobesity”.

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Illusion Chasers

Fat Tuesday: Neurosurgery versus bariatric surgery in obesity

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/91/Parkinson_surgery.jpg/402px-Parkinson_surgery.jpg

A study in the journal Neurosurgical Focus has calculated thate DBS will have to be 83% effective in order for it to be a better choice than gastric bypass for obese patients.

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Illusion Chasers

Fat Tuesday: Surgery for everyone! How science validated the gastric bypass.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Male_Abdominal_obesity.jpg

An important and exciting piece of research just came out in Science Magazine last week showing why gastric bypass surgery has such powerful curative effects on diabetes, beyond the previous belief that the dietary restriction helps diabetes.

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Illusion Chasers

Fat Tuesday: Even if you eat a healthy diet, your genes can make you fat

Three sibling mice. The one on the left has a genetic defect that causes it to grow fat even though it was given the same diet.

Mice that have certain genetic defects can eat exactly the same healthy diet as their genetically normal siblings, yet still become obese.

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MIND Guest Blog

Looks Can Taste Deceiving: How Color Can Affect Taste

Is it possible that our vision can affect our taste perception? Let’s review some examples of studies that claim to have demonstrated that sometimes what we see can override what we think we taste. From wine to cheese to soft drinks and more it seems that by playing with the color palette of food one [...]

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Not bad science

Robins Pay Attention To Which Way You’re Looking When Stealing From You

The Wild North Island robin

In a week where gaze-following seems to be the hot topic, there being studies in both primates and dogs, another study took a rather different approach to looking at gaze-following. Wild North Island robins are unusual in that they live on an isolated island and as a result are unafraid of humans and other mammals. [...]

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Observations

Toxins in Nutrition Supplements Still Escape FDA Oversight

Image: Womenshealth.gov

When young and middle-aged adults started showing up at the hospital with liver failure last spring, doctors in Hawaii struggled to find the thread that connected the patients. They found it in the form of a popular sports supplement, OxyElite Pro. The supplement was linked last May to severe hepatitis, but the U.S. Food and [...]

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Observations

Drug-Resistant Superbugs Kill at Least 23,000 People in the U.S. Each Year

Image: CDC

Each year, more than two million people in the United States develop antibiotic-resistant infections, and at least 23,000 of them die as a result, says the first-ever national snapshot of the issue. That toll only rises when other conditions exacerbated by these infections are included in the count. Because it’s difficult to attribute a death [...]

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Observations

Cultured Beef: Do We Really Need a $380,000 Burger Grown in Petri Dishes?

cultured-beef-patty

For the first time, the public has been treated to the spectacle of lab-grown meat cooked and eaten via live Webcast. Backed by Google billionaire Sergey Brin, Dutch tissue engineer Mark Post unveiled his “cultured beef” at a press event on August 5, answering the question posed by a 2011 Scientific American feature: “When Will [...]

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Observations

Global Water Shortages Grow Worse but Nations Have Few Answers

Image credit: José Manuel Suárez/Flickr

As we have been hearing, global water shortages are poised to exacerbate regional conflict and hobble economic growth. Yet the problem is growing worse, and is threatening to deal devastating blows to health, according to top water officials from the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) who spoke before a [...]

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Observations

Nanopowder on Your Doughnuts: Should You Worry?

powdered-donuts

There are nano-sized particles in your food. Does this make you nervous? A new report from an environmental health group, As You Sow, raises concern about nanoparticles in some popular sweets. The group says it found particles of titanium dioxide less than 10 nanometers in size in the powdered sugar coating on donuts from Dunkin’ [...]

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Observations

What Is Geodesign–and Can It Protect Us from Natural Disasters?

As New York, New Jersey and other states hit hard during Superstorm Sandy last fall begin their long road to recovery, the decisions they make on how to rebuild are crucial to determining how well they’re weather than next big storm. The choices range from installing large storm-surge sea barriers near Staten Island and at [...]

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Observations

How Corn Syrup Might Be Making Us Hungry–and Fat

fructose brain hunger obesity

Grocery store aisles are awash in foods and beverages that contain high-fructose corn syrup. It is common in sodas and crops up in everything from ketchup to snack bars. This cheap sweetener has been an increasingly popular additive in recent decades and has often been fingered as a driver of the obesity epidemic. These fears [...]

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Observations

Mealworms: The Other-Other-Other White Meat?

mealworm protein climate change population

Looking for the perfect holiday entrée? Something nutritious yet easy on the Earth? Something with a subtle, yet distinctive, je-ne-sais-quoi flavor? Have you considered the humble mealworm? What about the super superworm? Before you click away in disgust, remember that the creeping, shelled, 10-legged crustacean we now so lovingly dip in butter (ahem, the lobster) [...]

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Observations

New Slice of Wheat Genome Could Help Feed Growing Global Population

wheat genome sequence

Common wheat (Triticum aestivum) might seem as boring as the sliced bread it is baked into. But genetically, it is vexingly complex. Its genome is about six times as big as our own, and its genes are distributed among six sets of chromosomes (we humans have just two). In fact, the T. aestivum genome contains [...]

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Observations

Fish Shoots Down Prey with Super-Powered Jet [Video]

archer fish water jet

With a juicy insect dinner perched on a leaf above the water, what is a hungry little archer fish down below to do? Knock it down with a super-powered, super-precise jet of water that packs six times the power the fish could generate with its own muscles, according to new findings published online October 24 [...]

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Plugged In

The impacts of a changing climate on future Thanksgivings

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Agriculture is highly dependent on the climate. Global food supplies are already feeling the impacts of changing global rainfall and temperature patterns resulting from climate change. As Americans move from the Thanksgiving table to Black Friday sales, one wonders – how will these changes impact future Thanksgiving feasts? Will the country be full of tastier [...]

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Plugged In

If Climate Change Was Not Real…

A Scarlet Ibis Water Bird in the once-receding Amazon rainforest. Courtesy: Brandon Hoover.

… there would be a lot of other environmental issues to deal with. This is no big revelation, but it’s a question I’ve been pondering recently: What is the state of the world, not counting climate change? Or rather, what if we managed to reduce CO2 emissions to necessary levels, what would our focus be on [...]

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Plugged In

It’s Time for a Neonicotinoid Time Out

Photo courtesy of  C. Löser via Wikimedia Commons

There’s a mounting pile of evidence that three particular neonicotinoid insecticides, clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, are harming bees. During the late 1990’s this class of pesticides began being used to treat corn and other field crop seeds. Today, they are the most commonly used pesticides in the U.S., and have covered millions of acres. Despite their [...]

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Plugged In

Plenty of Fish in the Sea?

A cluster of tuna off the southern tip of Italy. Photo: Courtesy of the UN FAO

In 2010, people across the globe munched their way through 128 million tons of seafood. That’s according to the latest data coming out of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). This hefty supply of fish equals around 41 pounds per person each year, and is taking its toll on the health of the oceans [...]

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Plugged In

Spring’s First Harvest: local organic produce

Rise ‘N Shine Farm’s first bounty of the year   Spring is here, and with it the first harvest of the season. It’s my family’s second year belonging to a CSA. This time around we chose a farm with a drop off site much closer to home. Our produce now comes from Rise ‘N Shine Organic Farm, [...]

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Plugged In

The Earth Beneath Our Feet

Healthy soil begets healthy plants, says the Dirt Doctor. (photo courtesy of shutterstock)

Some people take Earth Day more literally than others. Howard Garrett is one of them. Better known as the Dirt Doctor, Garrett believes that the health of the planet begins with the earth beneath our feet; it starts with cultivating strong vibrant soil, and blossoms outwards from there. “Without healthy soil, we won’t have healthy [...]

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Plugged In

More on food sourcing and food sustainability

I heard this story on NPR/PRI’s The World while driving home from yoga last night. Here’s the tl;dr of it: a Dutch company is perfecting ways to grow food indoors using LED lights and elaborate climate controls. By optimizing light levels and wavelengths, a range of crops can be grown. One could theoretically grow plants [...]

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Plugged In

Food waste in the land of ‘Man vs Food’

Here is some more food for thought about the modern global food economy. A study recently published by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization found that about one-third of all food produced on the planet is wasted, to the tune of 1.3 billion tons per year. Put another way, planet Earth throws away over 300 [...]

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Symbiartic

Urban Farm Versus the Apocalypse

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Urban Farm on a Rainy Day © Jon Ellis (aka jonorobo). Click each image to see enlarged version on DeviantArt. Most concept art is obsessed with various forms of self-inflicted apocalypse.  If humanity has any hope to avert future catastrophes, that hope lays with designers, architects and engineers. I came across the Urban Farm concept art [...]

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Symbiartic

Your Kitchen Is a Chem Lab and This Is Your Textbook

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Maybe you cook, maybe not, but I bet you eat from time to time. If you’re reading articles on Scientific American, I also bet you are at least partially interested in science, and whether you eat gazpacho or goulash, KFC or cronuts, you have to concede this point: cooking is essentially applied chemistry. The beauty [...]

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Symbiartic

Hello!? This is Your Conscience Speaking…

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Good ol’ visual.ly. They always know how to ruin a perfectly good Thanksgiving binge! I wonder where mom’s pecan pie fits in… by visually.Browse more infographics.

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Symbiartic

Do you prefer your maggots salty or sweet?

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There have been a whole slew of articles about the merits of eating bugs lately. The Atlantic, The New York Times, and The New Yorker have all run articles within the last month on various people in Europe and the US who are trying to reverse our deep aversion to entomophagy, the practice of eating [...]

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The Urban Scientist

#DispatchesDNLee: Culinary Tour of my Tanzanian Meals

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You have to eat. No matter what else happens in life, where we go or why we go, we can’t escape the necessity of eating, fueling up. One of the most popular questions I get about my visits to Tanzania is: “How’s the food?” It was different. Not bad at all. My biggest surprises was [...]

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The Urban Scientist

Fork & Knife Politics: 5 Names in the Food Justice Movement you should know

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The September 2013 Issue of Scientific American Magazine is a special issue devoted to the topic of food and the entire Scientific American Blog Network is celebrating Food Week September 2-6, 2013. As I was writing my post Appreciating what is on my plate (September 4, 2013) I was thinking of how how others are [...]

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The Urban Scientist

Appreciating what is on my plate

Tomatoes from my Mother's garden

Both my maternal and paternal grandmothers grew up during the Great Depression. That lean, harsh economic time made an indelible imprints on them – their spirits, their habits, and outlook on life. Those marks were especially present in each of their relationships to food, so much so, that 40-50 years later that I too was [...]

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