At Buzzfeed (Yes, Buzzfeed
. Yes, I know.) Peter Andrey Smith has written a fascinating, long-form story about the American/Asian eel industry
, eel life cycles, and where your sushi roll really comes from. Turns out, like pandas, eels don't breed well in captivity. So, in order for farmers in Japan, Korea, and China to raise eels for markets in both Asia and the U.S., they first have to get a hold of large quantities of sort-of preteen eels, known as elvers. The elvers come from Maine, where a pound of the live creatures can fetch thousands of dollars and elver dealers engage in turf battles and drive around with Glocks in their pickup trucks. — Maggie
There's a trade-off being made by some people in the agricultural industry
. Turns out, you can produce better-tasting produce by cutting off the massive supply of irrigation water that's typically used by vegetable and fruit farms. The downside: Way less yield. — Maggie
John Brownlee recalls how a 17th-century fish sauce evolved into a patent medicine, a health hazard, and finally a $3bn industry. It's all about the bottle:
How bad were the ketchups of the time? In a study of commercial ketchups conducted in 1896, 90% of all ketchups on the market were found to contain "injurious ingredients" that could lead to death. ... If there was one principle that Henry J. Heinz valued more than any other, it was purity and transparency. "It is always safe to buy the products of an establishment that keeps its doors open," Heinz once famously wrote. That every bottle of Heinz Tomato Ketchup sold is see-through is no accident. It’s a design statement: purity through transparency.
Archaeologists used scanning electron microscopes to look for phytoliths — the remnants of silica left over after plant cell walls decay — on ancient cookware. Their research led to the discovery of 6000-year-old garlic-mustard seed, the oldest evidence of spices being used in Northern European cooking
. (Insert your own joke here.) — Maggie
Crunchy, tart apples
— defined by some* as the only kind of apples worth eating — could soon be threatened by changing climates. A study of 40 years worth of harvests from Japanese orchards growing Fuji and Tsugaru apples found that, over time, those varieties have become softer and sweeter — a fact that's probably driven by warmer temperatures prompting earlier flowering of the trees. — Maggie
Nerd food enthusiast and recipe blogger Chris-Rachael Oseland has outdone herself with this pictorial HOWTO for Transformers-themed fougasse bread. Pull-apart bread shaped like Decepticon? Transformers: Carbs in disguise!
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A sugary-sweet coda to Amanda Palmer's song for the Daily Mail with its climactic "OMG NIPPLE!" Some of Amanda's fans in Minnesota baked her a nipple-cake [link NSFW, especially if you W at the DM] sporting "5 different skin tones, 2 piercings, 2 tattoos, a mastectomy scar, a tan line, freckles, and a birth mark."
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A program called "Operation Orange Fingers" will see Seattle cops will welcoming attendees at this weekend's Hempfest with miniature bags of Doritos with links to the department's Marijwhatnow? guide to staying on the right side of the state's law that decriminalized simple possession of sub-one-ounce quantities of marijuana.
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Here's a crazy fact: Thanks to soda and the sneaky added sugars in store-bought foods, 25% of Americans consume a diet that is 25% sugar. In fact, all it takes to hit that is three cans of soda on top of an otherwise sugar-free diet. What does eating like that mean for your health in the long term?
Scientists are still trying to figure that out. Scicurious breaks down a recent study in mice that successfully demonstrates both why our sugar intake has health experts concerned AND why we don't yet know exactly what we're doing to ourselves. — Maggie
Researchers have figured out a way to feed meat-eating fish on an all-vegetarian diet — essentially, they've made the fish-food version of Tofurky
. Why? Turns out, commercial fish farms catch lots and lots of small, wild fish every year, in order to feed the bigger fish that they raise and sell. This new feed (based on plant proteins) could save both money and wild ocean fisheries, leaving the small fish to grow and multiply. — Maggie
is a strain of rice genetically engineered to produce extra beta-carotene, part of a humanitarian effort to get more Vitamin A into the diets of people who subsist primarily on rice. The genes that produce the beta-carotene come from corn and a soil bacterium. On the legal end, the rice was developed using free technology licenses that allow the International Rice Research Institute to hand the rice out for free to subsistence farmers, and allow those farmers to save seeds and replant in subsequent years. Last week, anti-GMO activists destroyed a test plot
of Golden Rice in the Philippines. — Maggie
Cakecrumbs, who created the amazing Jupiter Cake and Earth Cake, has posted a tutorial (with video) explaining in detail how to bake nested, hemispherical cakes so you can create your own.
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Marmite is tasty or disgusting, depending on who you ask, and marketing campaigns have long acknowledged the 'acquired' quality of its unique appeal. The latest ad, however, is ruffling feathers for its fakeumentary format, in which jars are rescued, animal-welfare style, from the homes of neglectful owners.
The best Marmite is the rare Marmite Extra Old special edition; the Gold Edition was just a stunt and can be safely ignored.
Previously: Denmark bans Marmite.
Yesterday, Rob told you about the first public tasting of a burger that was grown in a laboratory
, from strips of flesh built up from muscle stem cells. I found a couple of great links today that build on that news. First: The secret ingredient in lab-grown meat
is fetal cow blood. (It's both a significant part of the high price of lab meat, and a reason why your vegan friend won't be eating lab meat anytime soon.) Also be sure to check out synthetic biologist Christina Agapakis' perspective
— she tones down some of the hype while making it clear why lab meat is still pretty impressive. — Maggie
A delicious lab-burger, comprising meat grown in a test tube rather than hacked from the corpse of a once-living creature, was eaten for the first time today at a news conference in London. Genetic material was taken from a cow and "turned into strips of muscle" that were then combined into a patty, reports the BBC.
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