Image Source: AP Photo/Steve Helber
Earlier this month, pizza was delivered to the International Space Station along with a cheese smorgasbord, fresh apples, tomatoes, and kiwi. The supply run also included a mounting bracket for the station's new solar wings, some material simulating moon dust, and slime mold for a French educational experiment called the Blob. The space station is currently home to three American astronauts, two Russians, one French and one Japanese. If the Russians get the next food delivery pick, maybe they'll all be dining on beef stroganoff.
Image Source: Steve Bodnar/William G. Pomeroy Foundation
Salt potatoes were recently immortalized on the shores of Onondaga Lake Park in Syracuse, New York. The regional specialty was the first in a new series of roadside markers funded by the William G. Pomeroy Foundation. The foundation's Hungry for History program is still accepting applications for foods of community importance. Your local specialty could be next!
Image Source: Nathan Yau/Flowing Data
Since 1970, the USDA has tracked what Americans eat, including more than 200 different foods ranging from grapefruit to veal. Infographic whiz Nathan Yau turned all five decades into a colorful series of enlightening timelines. From proteins and produce to dairy and grains, each graphic illustrates how the American diet has changed...or not. The vegetable graphic clearly shows that our vegetable consumption has remained relatively stable for five decades: Potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, and onions are still in the lead. Dairy is another story. That graphic illustrates the slow decline of cottage cheese since the 1970s and the meteoric rise of yogurt. As for meat, our favorite protein is chicken, which edged out beef back in 2004. If you compare the graphics, you can see that Americans eat more meat by weight than any other food category. And we have for decades.
Image Source: Finn Thilsted/World Food Prize
In the 1980s, Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted began studying how small fish improved the diets of malnourished people in Bangladesh. Thanks to Thilsted's groundbreaking work, aquaculture in Bangladesh has tripled since 2000 and is now the fifth largest in the world, supporting 18 million people. Thilsted's fish-based "pond polyculture" food systems have also helped feed millions of low-income families in other countries around the world. For this pioneering work, Thilsted was recently honored with the World Food Prize and a $250,000 grant to expand her work. Check out this video to see Thilsted explain how micronutrients in small fish can help improve the diets and incomes of the world’s most vulnerable people.
Image Source: 50 Next
Branching out from restaurants, the World’s 50 Best organization is shining a light on other food pioneers. Its "50 Next" list celebrates game-changing food producers, educators, entrepreneurs, and activists around the world. The winners represent 29 countries, including archival chef Jennifer Rodriguez who cooks dishes that preserve rural Colombian cuisine and Filipino activist Louise Mabulo who helps cacao farmers thrive without resorting to deforestation. Check out the full list to discover today's vanguard of the food world.
Image Source: Ariel Schalit
Mayonnaise isn't generally considered health food, but it's certainly helped a group of sea turtles in Israel. A recent 1,000 ton oil spill off the Israeli coast, considered one of the country's worst ecological disasters, has caused extensive damage to wildlife, including endangered green sea turtles. The reptiles have been ingesting loads of sticky, black tar. At Israel’s National Sea Turtle Rescue Center, employees found a creative way to flush the toxic substance from their digestive tracks. “We continue to feed them substances like mayonnaise, which practically clean the system and break down the tar,” said Guy Ivgy, a medical assistant at the center. The turtles are expected to recover in a week or two, and then be released back into the wild. Remember that the next time you accidentally ingest some toxic black tar. Mayonnaise to the rescue!
Image Source: The Verge
Mushrooms are helping architects and engineers create more sustainable building materials. Construction accounts for about 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions, more than the global shipping and aviation industries combined. Compared to traditional building materials like cement, those made with mycelium, the fungal network from which edible mushrooms grow, produce far less carbon dioxide. Mushroom construction materials are still in the early stages of research and development, but they are showing potential as insulation and a possible replacement for concrete blocks. Check out the video to see how durable a mushroom brick proved to be in several tests, including a flame retardant test.
The past year will go down in history as one of the globe's most tumultuous: more than 2 million people dead from COVID-19, a global recession as the Dow suffered its worst single-day drop ever, the planet's hottest year on record (tied with 2016), the most destructive wildfires in history in Australia and California, US President Donald Trump was impeached twice, the police killing of George Floyd and others sparked a worldwide Black Lives Matter movement, and giant murder hornets invaded the US. Amid the chaos, some bizarre food crimes managed to fly under the radar: more than 4 million bees were stolen along with their hives in California, 3 tons of chickpeas went missing in Washington DC, and in Copenhagen, thieves tunneled their way into the wine cellar of Michelin-starred restaurant Formel B to abscond with $200,000 worth of their best wines. Be careful out there: Distraction is the essence of deceit.
Image Source: Luigi Spina / Pompeii Archaeological Park via AP
A termopolium (Latin for hot food counter) was recently discovered in the ruins of Pompeii in an area not yet open the public. On the front of the food stand brightly colored frescoes (shown above) depict some of the animals used in the food once sold there, including duck and chicken. Archaeologists also found traces of nearly 2,000-year-old food in terra cotta jars at the site, which had previously been buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. The Pompeii Street Food Cookbook is sure to follow soon. Stay tuned.
Image Source: Shutterstock
A choice quote: "We pride ourselves on serving bland, lukewarm food to distract you from the crushing existential dread that accompanies ending a relationship with someone you don’t particularly like but have kept around for seven months too long so that you wouldn’t be utterly alone."