Image Source: Magone /Getty Images
Two million years ago, Homo erectus emerged with a larger brain, smaller gut, and longer limbs than our ancestors. According to conventional wisdom, these evolutionary changes were made possible by eating meat. Not so fast, says new research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In this controversial report, scientists reveal evidence that Neanderthals consumed hefty portions of starchy carbohydrates as they expanded across eastern Africa and into Europe, casting doubt on the theory that meat-eating is what made us human.
Image Source: Eater
Saffron is the world's most expensive spice, ranging from $500 to $5,000 an ounce. Each saffron thread is the stigma of a particular crocus flower, and each flower contains only three stigmas. It takes about 15,000 stigmas to equal just 1 ounce of saffron, and the stigmas are so delicate they must be collected by hand. Watch how Gulzar Ahmad Kuchay and his family harvest high-quality saffron in Kashmir, India, demonstrating the harvest, sorting, drying, aroma, and color that make saffron so valuable worldwide.
Image Source: Aaron Joel Santos
Christmas is over. Time to kick your Christmas tree to the curb. Or is it? Could you squeeze another ounce of value out of it? Perhaps you could break off a branch, simmer it in sugar water and make spruce syrup for cocktails. Or you could cure gravlax or make pickles with a few fir fronds instead of using dill or another herb. You could even flavor a braise or stew with the aromatic evergreens. That fresh woodsy scent has all sorts of culinary applications. Like most of the wonderful things about Christmas, you just need to use your imagination.
Image Source: Courtesy of New York University
Is it a book? Is it an art object? Does it need to be refrigerated? These are among the questions asked of 20 Slices of American Cheese created by book designer Ben Denzer. The unnaturally yellow cloth-bound book/art object is currently on display in New York University's virtual exhibition, The Interactive Book. Denzer also created a bound mortadella collection called 20 Slices of Meat, begging the question, what is a food book?
Image Source: Ottavia Busia-Bourdain
As Anthony Bourdain's longtime writing collaborator, Laurie Woolever heard all sides of his story from friends, family, colleagues and the chef himself. In this excerpt from Woolever's Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography, she lets them all answer the biggest questions about the obsessive chef's fateful final year in their own words.
Image Source: Stephanie Kalina-Metzger
Believe it or not, water has flavor. Hard water tastes minerally and municipal water can taste like chlorine. For 31 years, judges at the annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting have evaluated and ranked bottled, tap, sparkling and still waters from more than a dozen countries. Each water is rated on appearance, mouthfeel, aroma, flavor, and aftertaste. A few exceptional waters topped the list again this year, including Svalbardi Polar Iceberg Water from Norway, which retails for $116.99 for a 750-ml bottle. Here's one judge's take on this curious annual event.
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.