Watch a Brief History of the Hamburger, From Khan to Car Hops


Want to discover the complete history of the hamburger in two minutes and 11 seconds? Here’s a clip from National Geographic Channel’s miniseries EAT: The Story of Food which traces the dish all the way back to the days of Genghis Khan (aka the late 12th century). Mongolian soldiers apparently carried meat under their saddles “because they realized it would be tenderized as they were banging away against the saddle as they wrote,” says TV foodperson Simon Majumdar. The Mongols are credited with bringing it West, to Russia and Germany (where the Hamburg steak originated).

As legend has it, the Hamburg steak became the modern-day version of the hamburger-on-a-bun during an American state fair: When vendors ran out of plates to serve the steak, they gave it to customers on bread. “Through these kind of acts of chance or serendipity is how you develop a dish,” Majumdar says. EAT: The Story of Food debuts tonight, November 21, but first, catch the clip above.

Here’s What American Drinking Habits Look Like (And It’s Not Pretty)

According to a recent book, 10% of American adults consume a whopping 10 drinks per day.


Written by Weekly alcohol consumption among American adults. (Photo: Washington Post, Flickr)

Weekly alcohol consumption among American adults. (Photo: Washington Post, Flickr)

Some sobering news about the economics of alcohol: The top 10% of drinkers in this country account for more than half of all alcohol consumed in a year. “If the top decile somehow could be induced to curb their consumption level to that of the next lower group (the ninth decile), then total ethanol sales would fall by 60 percent,” writes Philip Cook in his recently published book Paying the Tab.

The Washington Post‘s Wonkblog has illustrated weekly alcohol consumption among American adults with the above chart. As you can see, it’s a pretty steep climb when you get to the heaviest drinkers.

According to the chart, “30 percent of American adults don’t drink at all. Another 30 percent consume, on average, less than one drink per week.”

drinking2 Heres What American Drinking Habits Look Like (And Its Not Pretty)

“On the other hand,” the chart continues, “the top 10 percent of American adults—24 million of them—consume an average of 74 drinks per week, or a little more than 10 drinks per day.”

drinking3 160x500 Heres What American Drinking Habits Look Like (And Its Not Pretty)

What we’re talking about here, obviously, is alcoholism. But the massive difference in the volume of alcohol consumed by this top tier versus everyone else is startling. Wonkblog puts it in perspective this way: If you drink a glass of wine with dinner every night you’re in the top 30% of per-capita booze consumption. If you have two glasses of wine with dinner every night, you’re in the top 20%. But to be in the top 10% you’d have to drink more than two bottles of wine every night, since the average in that decile is a staggering 18 bottles per week.

cdc1 Heres What American Drinking Habits Look Like (And Its Not Pretty)

Information from the CDC about the costs of excessive drinking

Gawker points out that these drinkers represent the majority of the alcoholic beverage industry’s business, which means booze companies are hugely incentivized to encourage alcoholism and to discourage recovery from it. “Big Tobacco has been slammed for decades because of a similar dynamic in their industry, but Big Booze seems to have escaped somehow.” This is despite the fact that 1 in 10 deaths among working age adults is alcohol related, according to the CDC.

cdc2 Heres What American Drinking Habits Look Like (And Its Not Pretty)

Alcohol abuse is a widespread and serious problem, but as Prohibition taught us, legislating around it is complex. In his book, Cook points out that policy makers would do well to recognize that supply is part of the problem, and the good news that’s a factor that they can control. “Beer and liquor are far cheaper and more readily available today than in the 1950s and 1960s,” reads the flyer on Paying the Tab. “Alcohol is too cheap, and it’s costing all of us.”

Time to Discard That Wire Brush?

Internal injuries from ingestion of wire grill-cleaning bristles are well documented.  In a single hospital system, 12 patients with injuries due to ingestion of wire bristles were reported between July 2009 and June 2012. The severity of injury ranged from puncture of the soft tissues of the neck, causing severe pain on swallowing, to perforation of the gastrointestinal tract requiring emergency surgery.[1]

On May 29, 2012, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, joined by Chuck Bell, programs director at Consumers Union, called on the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to determine whether metal bristle grill brushes are safe for consumer use.[2] Two men from New Jersey and Washington state had also been recently hospitalized and underwent emergency surgery after accidentally swallowing a metal bristle that had broken off their grill brushes and become attached to their food. Schumer called on the CPSC and the FDA to launch a review of whether the bristles are safe and to issue warnings to consumers about the dangers of ingesting metal grill bristles.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends actions to prevent these injuries by increasing awareness among consumers, manufacturers, retailers and medical professionals to promote prevention, timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment.  In an editorial published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), the agency suggests that awareness on the part of manufacturers and retailers of the risk of ingesting wire bristles might encourage alteration of current products or development of safer ones.  The CDC recommends those in the food services industry “examine whether their patrons are at risk for this injury” and advises the “use of alternative grill-cleaning methods or products.”[3]

Recently, on the evening of Friday, September 19, 2014, Diane Norman bought pizzas at Domino’s Pizza located at 2800 Milton Way in Milton, Washington.  She took the pizzas home for her family to consume.  Michael Norman chose two slices of Canadian bacon and pineapple pizza and took a bite of one slice.  He swallowed and immediately felt something sharp in his throat.  He started to choke and dashed to the sink to drink water to help clear his throat.  At this point he felt a sharp tearing at his throat and drank a glass of cranberry juice.  His throat felt scratched and to relieve his pain he ate a slice of bread.  Although this action eliminated the feeling that food was lodged in his throat, Michael felt a dull pain in his stomach.  Since he no longer felt hungry, he did not eat any more pizza.  Diane Norman froze the remaining leftover pizza.  Sometime later she examined the frozen pizza slices and found a wire in a piece of the pizza she had saved.

Over the next few days Michael continued to feel a dull pain in his abdomen.  His doctor ordered x-rays, which showed two metallic objects inside his abdomen.  A CT scan revealed that one of the metal objects had punctured his small intestine.  After a failed attempt to remove the metal objects via endoscopy, Michael was rushed into surgery on September 27.  It was then that surgeons removed two wires from Michael Norman’s intestines.

On September 30 Michael Norman filed a complaint with the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department.  In response to his complaint, TPCHD environmental health specialist, Christina Sherman, conducted an on-site investigation at the Domino’s in Milton.  Ms. Sherman reviewed the pizza making process with Domino’s employee, James Tyler.  She noted that a wire brush was used to clean a wire rack inside the oven at the end of each day.  Ms. Sherman also observed wear on some of the brush bristles.  This wear was evident in photos of the brush taken by Ms. Sherman.

On October 8 Michael Johnson at TPCHD conducted a second on-site visit to Domino’s.  Mr. Johnson wrote in the inspection report:

Observed a wire brush with food debris between the wires.  Wires on the brush were bent and pointing in different directions and did not maintain its original design.  Employee stated they had another brush that was used to clean the oven but was discarded last week.  Person in charge stated the outside of the oven is cleaned every night and the inside of the oven is cleaned once a month using the brush.

Ms. Johnson advised that”equipment and utensils must be designed and construction to be durable and to retain their characteristic qualities under normal use conditions.”

The wire brush was discarded.

Perhaps that is what all of us should do?  Michael has the scars to prove it.

[1] Grand DJ, Egglin TK, Mayo-Smith WW. et al. Injuries from ingesting wire bristles dislodged from grill-cleaning brushes – Providence, Rhode Island, 2009-2012. J. Safety Res. 2012 Dec. 43(5-6):413-5.)

[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Injuries from ingestion of wire bristles from grill-cleaning brushes – Providence, Rhode Island, March 2011-June 2012.  MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2012 Jul 6;61(26):490-492.)

DNA Spray-On Technology Could Revolutionize Food Traceability

It sounds like something straight out of agricultural science fiction: a liquid solution containing unique bits of DNA that gets sprayed on foods in order to easily identify information about where it came from and how it was produced in the event of an outbreak or recall.

DNATrek, a Bay Area startup, is hoping to revolutionize the food traceability industry with DNA “barcodes” that can be added to fruits and vegetables via a liquid spray or a wax. The company says the tracers are odorless, tasteless and pose no food safety risk.

Founder and CEO Anthony Zografos heard about the DNA tracing technology developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a biodefense tool under a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Zografos saw an opportunity to apply the technology to the food safety industry to more quickly trace back outbreaks and recalls — a very challenging endeavor with current technology, he said.

“Because of the way food traceability is set up, traceback investigations are very often inconclusive or take weeks or more to complete,” Zografos told Food Safety News. “Without being able to figure out the problem, food companies usually issue these massive, expensive, knee-jerk recalls.”

The technology works by taking small snippets of synthetic DNA or genetic material from organisms typically not found in the grocery produce section — right now they’re using seaweed and other sea organisms — and adding those snippets with trace amounts of sugar in a sprayable solution that goes directly on the fruit and vegetables. If a problem with the produce arises, the DNA on the surface can be swabbed and identified within 15 minutes.

The advantage of having a DNA barcode directly on fresh produce is that it significantly reduces the potential for traceback information to be lost. Very often, boxes used to transport fresh produce have been discarded long before anyone catches on to a problem with the products, and those boxes have traditionally carried traceback information.

The technology allows for multiple layers of spray, as well. The grower can spray it on the farm, the processor can spray it in their sorting facility, and the transportation company can spray it when it’s en route to a store.

Each barcode has two parts. The first part is a fixed code unique to the company handling the food, assigned by DNATrek.

The second part is a configurable code that food company supplies based on whatever parameters they wish to track. They can use a unique code to identify which field the produce was grown, the harvest date, the picking crew, the machines that were used, or any other metric they want to track.

The more specific a company gets with their identification codes, the better they can identify any food safety problems that might arise with their fruits or vegetables.

Zografos reiterated the safety of the product and differentiated it from genetic engineering.

“If you bite into an apple, that has DNA in it. It’s not like we don’t consume DNA,” he said. “There is no scientifically-based concern about this. We can extract DNA from anything, and I don’t think anyone would argue that seaweed is unsafe.”

The next step is testing the effectiveness and safety with pilot programs on five or six types of produce, Zografos said.

Assuming they can get the fresh produce industry on board with their idea, they see a myriad of other potential applications. The wine and juice industries could be next.

“Ultimately, this is nothing more than ink,” Zografos said. “We can put it on pretty much anything you like.”

Unilever, Suing Over Rival’s Use of ‘Mayo’


The word “dressing” was added to comments that consumers had posted referring to Hellmann’s mayonnaise dressing with olive oil as simply “mayonnaise.”

And a post to Pinterest that had promoted Hellmann’s creamy balsamic mayonnaise dressing as “mayonnaise over the top in taste” vanished — although it still can be seen on Twitter.

The changes represented another round in the fight between the consumer product and food giant Unilever and a tiny start-up, Hampton Creek, which it has sued over the eggless, mayonnaise like spread Hampton Creek has been selling as Just Mayo for a little less than a year.

Josh Tetrick, the founder of Hampton Creek, with its eggless, mayonnaise like spread.
Jim Wilson / The New York Times

Unilever claims that the word “mayo” and the image of an egg cracked by a pea shoot that Hampton Creek uses on its packaging fraudulently leads consumers to believe the product contains eggs. It also contends that consumers equate “mayo” with mayonnaise, which must contain eggs under the standard set by the Food and Drug Administration in 1957.

“They have an egg on their package but not in their product — they’re just not mayo,” Mike Faherty, vice president for foods of Unilever North America, said Sunday in the company’s first comments about the case.

The F.D.A. has even gotten involved, contacting Hampton Creek. No other information about the agency’s role was available.

“We’ve been going back and forth with them because the simple fact that this has happened speaks to the larger issue, which is we need for our regulatory framework to be more into line with the way we hope people are starting to eat,” said Josh Tetrick, the founder of Hampton Creek. “My hope is that the F.D.A., Congress and policy leaders are seeing the incredible amount of attention this is getting and will start thinking about that.”

Just Mayo, which does not use the word “mayonnaise” to describe itself, contains Canadian yellow peas instead of eggs.

On Friday, Hampton Creek, which is represented by the law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner, was collecting information for a countersuit, combing websites for Hellmann’s mayonnaise, which is sold as Best Foods west of the Rockies.

On Nov. 4, the company wrote to Unilever pointing out that it had used the word “mayo” to describe products that do not meet the Food and Drug Administration’s definition of mayonnaise, which includes eggs and a certain percentage of oil.

And consumers posting comments on the Hellmann’s site — or the site of Best Foods — referred to what Unilever calls “mayonnaise dressing” as simply “mayonnaise” or “mayo.”

Mr. Tetrick happened to be on the Hellmann’s site on Friday, talking with Michele Simon, a public health blogger and lawyer who has written about the lawsuit, when Unilever was making changes. The page for Hellmann’s creamy balsamic mayonnaise dressing disappeared as the two spoke.

“It was kind of freaky,” Ms. Simon said. “I was on the phone with Josh, and he was reading something from Hellmann’s website to me — and then it just vanished.”

In August, the page for Best Foods Canola Cholesterol-Free Mayonnaise, which lacks the amount of oil required to call a product mayonnaise under the F.D.A. standard, did not include the word “dressing.” It now does.

Unilever edited customer comments that referred to mayonnaise dressing simply as “mayonnaise.” Early Friday, for instance, a comment by a consumer read, “I could taste no difference in the olive oil mayonnaise and I will continue to buy it because it has olive oil in it!”

It vanished, then reappeared seven minutes later, Ms. Simon and Mr. Tetrick said, reading, “I could taste no difference in the olive oil mayonnaise dressing and I will continue to buy it because it has olive oil in it. “

At least 10 customer comments have been removed from Hellmann’s and Best Foods sites since Friday, Hampton Creek said.

Mr. Faherty said that was proof that Unilever had moved promptly to address the issues raised by Hampton Creek. “Contrast our actions over the last week and Hampton Creek’s,” he said. “They’ve known about their misleading labels for months and done nothing, but the minute we found out there was something misleading on our pages, we took action.”

He said some customer comments were “inadvertently edited when they should have just been removed.”

No-Wash Lettuce in High Tech Sterile Labs

By Mark Solomons

Not surprised a company has been working on this, just surprised it is a car company.  Great idea , hopefully it will have a positive effect on the environment.  Just hope a company like Esso does not try making molasses or something.  They might get that and car Oil mixed up at the factory.   You never know.  It could happen.

A company best known for computers moves into the futuristic salad space.

All photos: Quartz/ Dan Frommer

All photos: Quartz/ Dan Frommer

Innovation is what tech companies do best, and Japanese brand Toshiba will introduce its latest innovation to the consumer market next week: no-wash salad.

Although most people associate the brand with computers, Toshiba plans to apply its technological know-how to the healthcare industry, according to an article in Quartz. Part of that expansion includes advances in indoor agriculture, such as farming in a “clean room,” a futuristic iteration of the greenhouse.

lettuce2 Toshiba is Growing No Wash Lettuce in High Tech Sterile Labs

Every aspect of the clean room is carefully controlled and sterilized, including the workers, who look more like lab scientists than farmers in their specialized suits. The results of this carefully regulated environment are a boon to healthy eaters and busy cooks alike, explains Quartz:

Why plant lettuce in a clean room? The obvious answer: Because it’s clean. Everything is tightly controlled, including air pressure, temperature, lighting, bacteria, and dust. The result is a crop that doesn’t need pesticides, doesn’t have bugs, and doesn’t need washing.

lettuce3 Toshiba is Growing No Wash Lettuce in High Tech Sterile Labs

Toshiba’s clean room is located in Yokosuka, 35 miles from Tokyo; the company projects that it can produce 3 million heads of lettuce in it annually. It will start selling salad greens in the domestic market next week, and plans to expand into herbs and other vegetables in the future. But it’s also aiming to sell the clean room system overseas, where climate conditions like extreme heat or cold make outdoor agriculture challenging.

The million dollar question is how does the lettuce actually taste? Good, reports Quartz, which describes the leaves as crisp, peppery, and clean-feeling.

Ever Seen a Clam Lick Salt?

By Mark Solomons

This is a very interesting video.  It’s always cool to watch something like this take place.  Many creatures have very interesting ways of getting around from one place to another.  Enjoy.


Written by

OK, ok, so this clam isn’t actually “licking” salt, it’s trying to dig with it’s “foot” (which, as it turns out, looks exactly like a tongue).

When shown a similarly strange clam vid, marine biologist Miriam Goldstein told The Huffington Post, “Clams don’t have tongues, in fact. So what that clam is doing is it’s trying to find a place to burrow… clams live in mud and sand and they use their foot to help them dig.”

feet Ever Seen a Clam Lick Salt? You Need To

Photo: Biology Junction

According to Nat Geo, clams have no brain, but the mollusks burrow deep in the mud to avoid predators such as the cow-nosed ray.

Either way, clams are straight-up weird—something we don’t necessarily think about when feasting on geoduck sashimi, giant clam nigiri, or good ole clams casino.

e4kxr 2 Ever Seen a Clam Lick Salt? You Need To

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