Symptoms of Food Allergies

April 16, 2010 on 3:06 pm | Written by: | In Uncategorized | Comments Off on Symptoms of Food Allergies

 

In Shirley Corriher’s Cookwise, she briefly discusses the topic of allergies. I found it interesting that she said only 1-2% of people actually have food allergies, but 20% of people think they do. Like the other readings we read, she states that allergies occur when the body’s immune system treats an allergen as an intruder. Antibodies then release chemicals such as histamines to produce the common symptoms associated with food allergies. The size of cells change as fluid enters, causing inflammation and swelling like puffy eyes or a stuffy nose. The blood vessels can become larger, internal organs contract and breathing can become difficult, which may result in anaphylatic shock. In serious cases, epinephrine is injected and as a stimulant, it helps to open airways temporarily and has saved many lives. Corriher also mentions how restaurant personel often get frustrated with people who say they have food allergies as this is a lot of extra work when 20% of people are conviniced that they have a food allergy. However, as a friend of someone who is allergic to dairy, eggs and peanuts, allergies are a serious health and safety issue for those who actually have an allergy (cookwise p 366-367).

Kevin’s Law

April 11, 2010 on 3:57 pm | Written by: | In Uncategorized | 9 Comments

In our discussion about the Food Inc. documentary, Kevin’s Law was briefly mentioned. I was interested in figuring out what happened to Kevin’s Law as it seemed like a very simple, legitimate proposal. I discovered that the bill is more formerly known as the Meat and Poultry Pathogen Reduction and Enforcement Act of 2003 and was first brought to the congressional floor by Representative Anna Eshoo in 2005. It was referred to the subcommittee on Health and since then nothing more has happened. I remember discussing in my senior year government class that leaders of the houses in congress have a major impact on what gets reviewed and many bills will sit unattended to or may be disregarded completely. I find it hard to believe that Kevin’s Law has not gotten the attention it deserves, as this bill directly affects the health of Americans. According to the Center for Disease Control, “foodborne diseases cause approximately 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year.” These statistics seem powerful enough to cause change, yet large companies have gained so much control that decisions seem to be based around efficiency and profits moreso than people.

Sources:

http://www.opencongress.org/bill/109-h3160/show

http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol5no5/mead.htm

Antioxidant assignment response

April 8, 2010 on 2:32 pm | Written by: | In Uncategorized | Comments Off on Antioxidant assignment response

Some of my favorite foods tested for TAC included strawberries, pecans and granny smith apples. I thought a serving size of 1 cup of strawberries was slightly less than an average serving. Of course, I really like strawberries and may eat more than the average person for one serving. A serving size of one ounce of pecans seemed appropriate as nuts are rich and filling and smaller proportions are typically eaten. Also, a serving size of 1 granny smith apple seemed appropriate because although granny smith apples are often small, I do not usually see anyone eat two apples for one serving. In order of strawberries, pecans and granny smith apples, the TAC’s were 5938, 5095 and 5381. I was surprised that the TAC’s were so close and I expected the strawberries to have a much higher TAC. When I think of antioxidants, I typically think of fresh fruit, but according to the study, foods like nuts and even spices have beneficial amounts of antioxidants.

Treatment of chickens

April 5, 2010 on 10:51 am | Written by: | In Uncategorized | Comments Off on Treatment of chickens

I was disgusted by the Food Inc. film we watched in class today. I felt guilty for buying store bought meat without even a thought as to where it came from. It is awful to think that millions of people are blindly buying foods without having any idea what went into the production of these foods, and it is sad that the meat market has evolved into a monopoly that is concerned with profits and efficiency over people’s health and the treatment of the animals. I was also really surprised to hear that many of the people working in agencies who are supposed to be overseeing these corporations actually worked for or with the corporation previously.

I have seen products that say “free-range” on their packaging and was interested on what “standards” this would entail. I found a website called “United Poultry Concerns” whose goal is to promote respectful treatment of domestic fowl. Though free-range is associated with visions of chickens roaming outside in the sunshine, the website stated that the only criteria for a “free-range” chicken is that it must be exposed to the outdoors at some point in the day. There are no regulations for the time, which could be only a few minutes, or the number of chickens per area. The “range” at one farm was “a bare patch of dirt between sheds.” Cage-free was even worse, because although the chickens are not kept in cages, they may never see daylight as they are squeezed into commercial sheds. This problem seems to have spiraled out of control and as the video we watched today stated, it is disheartening to know that the “businessmen making the decisions are sitting in offices that will never experience the consequences of their actions.”

UPC website: http://www.upc-online.org/freerange.html

Kitchen Thermometers

April 4, 2010 on 11:23 am | Written by: | In Uncategorized | Comments Off on Kitchen Thermometers

I watched one of Dr. Kiki Sander’s videos called “Thermometer” where she discussed how to test the temperature of cooking surfaces. In class we saw videos that used thermometers to test the inside temperature of food like meat, but Dr. Kiki points out that many recipes call for the cooking surface to be a specific temperature. To test these temperatures, there is a neat tool called an infrared cooking thermometer that can be held near the surface. An optical sensor detects black heat radiation, which has wavelengths in the infrared range, and records the temperature to the tenth degree! Dr. Kiki stated that many people will sprinkle water on their grill and if it sizzles then they assume it is ready to be used. However, Dr. Kiki pointed out that water will sizzle in a broad range of temperatures (160 – 227 degrees Celsius) whereas many foods need to be cooked between a more narrow window of temperatures. So although typical cooking thermometers are good for testing the inside temperatures of food, an infrared thermometer is useful when testing the outside temperature or cooking surface temperature when preparing food.

http://www.onnetworks.com/videos/food-science/thermometer

Cream of Tartar

March 29, 2010 on 10:14 am | Written by: | In Uncategorized | 2 Comments

This past Christmas break my mom, who is not a cook, and I attempted to make snickdoodle cookies. We got out the recipe and realized that we had all of the ingredients except for cream of tartar. Neither of us had any idea what cream of tartar was and since there was only a small amount of it used in the recipe, we decided it would be fine to make the recipe without it. What a mistake that was! As we learned today in the experiment with leavening agents, cream of tartar acts as an acid to react with the basic baking soda, which we did add in our cookies, in order to produce carbon dioxide and make the dough fluffy. Our cookies, without the cream of tartar tasted similar to Dr. Slunt’s cupcakes with only baking soda added. At the time, my mom and I could not figure out what had made our cookies turn out so poorly (we assumed it was our lack of cooking skills). Now I realize that adding only baking soda is  ineffective without an acid, which should have been cream of tartar, to create an effective leavening agent and in turn delicious cookies! Though a recipe may only call for a small amount, cream of tartar has a major impact on the outcome of the recipe.

Fat: The Sixth Flavor

March 24, 2010 on 11:26 pm | Written by: | In Uncategorized | 1 Comment

In biology class we were discussing the senses and I was surprised to hear my professor say that in addition to the five flavors we discussed in class (salty, bitter, sweet, sour, umami) there has recently been talk of a sixth flavor, fat. I discovered an article in the Science Daily that commented on the recent research that has lead to the belief that fat may be the sixth flavor. One experiment concluded that fats caused electrical changes in the taste cells of rats. In order to determine if fat was detected as a taste based on its odor molecules or its flavor molecules, Richard Mattes, a professor at Purdue University, conducted another experiment. He tested four groups of people that included people who could smell and taste cream cheese (the fat), people who could only taste the cream cheese or only smell the cream cheese and people who had neither taste nor smell. The experiment tested the person’s blood fat levels and found that people who could only taste the cream cheese had increased blood fat levels, while the people who could only smell the cream cheese did not. The conclusion from this study is that fat can be detected by taste buds that send signals to the brain to distinguish a fatty flavor. Other scientists say these results make sense as the evolutionary advantage to tasting fat meant obtaining essential fat acids necessary for survival.

Purdue University (2001, December 4). Fatty Food Triggers Taste Buds, New Research Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 25, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2001/12/011204073223.htm

“Keeping the greens green”

March 21, 2010 on 3:35 pm | Written by: | In Uncategorized | Comments Off on “Keeping the greens green”

In class on Friday we did an experiment to test the effects of salt and baking soda on cooking green beans. These methods were said to preserve the green color of the vegetables, but I was interested in knowing what caused the initial deterioration of the green pigment.

In Shirley Corriher’s book Cookwise, she discusses what takes place when green vegetables are heated (p 326-328). She discusses how when vegetables are cooked, their cell walls are denatured and the chlorophyll, which provides the green appearance, loses its magnesium. Apparently, all vegetables contain acids in which the hydrogen protons replace the magnesium when the cell walls are damaged. This exchange then changes the appearance from a bright green to a brownish, yellow green color. Her rule of thumb is to cook green vegetables for a maximum of 7 minutes so that they retain their bright green color.

Many caterers will use a method known as blanching, which briefly boils the vegetables and then immediately the vegetables are transferred into ice water to stop the cooking process.  This method works because fresh vegetables have a thin layer of air that hides the vegetable’s true color. Boiling allows for this air to be released from the vegetable and the color becomes significantly more vibrant. Though I did not read anything about the color of vegetables when cooking with salt, she stated that snap beans tend to get “softer 10% faster” in boiling salt water, which I noticed when I ate the beans on Friday and the beans in salt lacked the same amount of “snap” that the beans cooked in only water had. She says that adding baking soda, a base, is supposed to neutralize the acid that causes the pigment’s deterioration, but since bases also destroy the cell walls, adding baking soda tends to make the vegetables mushy. She’s goes on to discuss how even cooking utensils can affect the color of vegetables. I had no idea that there were so many factors involved in retaining a vegetable’s color.

Heat and Cooking Methods

March 16, 2010 on 2:26 pm | Written by: | In Uncategorized | Comments Off on Heat and Cooking Methods

After reading the assigned material for the new section, I was still slightly confused as to the difference between heat and temperature. I found this youtube video that was entertaining and seemd to do a good job explaining the difference. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rU-sPzshVnM) Temperature is an average of all the molecules’ energy, while heat is the total amount of energy being transferred by a system. I was also still confused about dry versus wet methods of cooking. Cookwise listed the wet methods as including poaching (boiling), steaming, braising, and stewing. Dry heating includes methods such as roasting, broiling or sauteing, and the difference between wet and dry is that wet heat cooking methods use moisture whereas dry do not. I discovered that although cooking with oil would appear to be a wet method, it is dry due to the fact that oil acts as a cooking material and does not mix with water as it is nonpolar. I also found the following chart that better describes common cooking methods: 

Cooking Method Heating Method Wet/Dry Browning?
Grilling/broiling Primarily radiation from heat source, secondarily conduction from grate and convection of air between food and heat Dry Yes
Baking/Roasting Primarily convection of air, secondarily radiation from oven walls and conduction from baking pan Dry Yes
Boiling Convection Wet No
Steaming Convection of steam and condensation of vapor Wet No
Pan-frying/Sautéing Conduction of pan and oil Dry Yes
Deep Frying Convection of oil Dry Yes
Microwave Radiation Dry No

http://www.cookingforengineers.com/article/209/Heat-Transfer-and-Browning-Foods

Long term effects of MSG

March 8, 2010 on 11:23 am | Written by: | In Uncategorized | Comments Off on Long term effects of MSG

Today in class we watched the Food Detectives’ video that discussed the immediate effects of MSG, or what is typically known as “Chinese restaurant syndrome.” It was interesting to see that people can psychologically talk themselves into thinking that they are sensitive to MSG; however, I have also heard rumors that there are long term health effects to consuming MSG. People have associated health issues, such as alzheimer’s disease and obesity. However, the Health Mad website stated that obesity has occured in rats that have consumed MSG, but MSG has not yet been linked to obesity in humans with the intake of MSG. Although there are additional claims suggesting that MSG acts as a brain “excitotoxin,” there is no supporting evidence that MSG causes severe neurological damage. I found it interesting that there seem to be no long term side effects because I know several people who are very particular about choosing foods without MSG. I was shocked when the Food Detectives discussed that one man’s complaint after eating chinese food has led to such a major controversy and it is amazing to see the reaction of the American public to MSG when there is little supporting evidence.

Health Mad website: http://healthmad.com/nutrition/the-health-effects-of-msg-should-you-be-concerned/

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