Breaking Down: Pickles

Pickling is an ancient method of preserving food that has been used for centuries. The earliest known records of pickling date back to ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, where fruits and vegetables were preserved in vinegar or salt water. Pickling was a necessary practice in the days before refrigeration, as it allowed people to store food for long periods of time and avoid spoilage. As people began to explore new parts of the world, they brought pickling techniques with them, and the practice spread to Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Pickling became a popular way to preserve food in all cultures, with each region developing its own unique variations and flavors.

In Europe, pickling was a common method of preserving food during the Middle Ages. Pickled vegetables, fruits, and fish were a staple in the diet of many people, as they could be stored for long periods of time without spoiling. Pickling was also used as a way to preserve food during the winter months, when fresh produce was scarce. In the Americas, pickling was also a common practice among Native American tribes, who used it to preserve food for the winter months. Pickling was also used by early settlers in the Americas, who brought European pickling methods with them.

The popularity of pickling reached its peak in the 18th and 19th centuries, with the rise of commercial pickling operations. The mass production of pickles allowed them to become more widely available and affordable for the general population. Today, pickling is still a popular method of preserving food, and many traditional pickled foods, such as dill pickles, sauerkraut, and kimchi, continue to be enjoyed around the world.

The science behind pickling is relatively simple. Pickling works by creating an environment that is inhospitable to bacteria, which is the main cause of spoilage in food. The acidity of the vinegar or fermentation of the brine creates a low pH environment that prevents the growth of harmful bacteria. Salt is also added to the pickling solution, which further helps to inhibit the growth of bacteria.

One of the most popular pickled foods around the world is the cucumber. Pickled cucumbers, also known as dill pickles, are made by soaking cucumbers in a vinegar and salt brine, along with spices like dill and garlic. Pickled cucumbers are a staple in many cuisines, from the classic American hamburger accompaniment to the traditional Polish dill pickle. Another popular pickled food is the Korean dish known as kimchi. This traditional fermented food is made from Napa cabbage, radishes, and other vegetables, and is flavored with a spicy chili paste, garlic, and ginger. Kimchi is a staple in Korean cuisine and is known for its strong, pungent flavor and numerous health benefits. In addition to cucumbers and kimchi, other popular pickled foods include sauerkraut, pickled beets, pickled ginger, and pickled onions. The popularity of pickling has also led to the creation of new and innovative pickled foods, such as pickled watermelon, pickled blueberries, and even pickled eggs.

In conclusion, pickling is an ancient method of preserving food that has been used for centuries. Today, pickling is still popular and widely used, with cucumbers, kimchi, sauerkraut, beets and many other foods being pickled. The science behind pickling is simple, it creates an environment that prevents the growth of harmful bacteria, allowing for food to be stored for long periods of time. Pickling not only preserves food but also creates unique flavors and is a staple in many traditional cuisines around the world.


Packaging Food and Presents This Holiday Season

At this time of the year, our thoughts turn to the holiday season and what we will eat during it. But both raise a common problem: packaging. Whether you give a gift, order food, or buy fresh groceries, they all come in packaging. As society shifts towards being more eco-friendly, how can we solve the problem of packaging materials?

Sustainable food packaging is packaging that is designed to be environmentally friendly, meaning it has a minimal impact on the environment throughout its entire lifecycle. It is an important issue because the production and disposal of packaging can have negative impacts on the environment, including pollution, waste, and the depletion of natural resources. According to Adam Springer of Ahold Delhaize USA, “43% of consumers feel sustainability is now ‘extremely important’ – up from 28% of consumers pre-pandemic”.

In terms of sustainable packaging practices, there are some similarities between food products and Christmas presents. For example, both types of products can benefit from the use of packaging materials that are easily recyclable, such as cardboard and paper. One of the main goals of sustainable food packaging is to reduce the amount of waste that is generated. For example, packaging that is made from a single material is typically easier to recycle than packaging that is made from multiple materials that are difficult to separate. Currently, materials that are recycled in the US consist of 66% paper, 27% glass, and 8% plastic. Even though wrapping paper sales skyrocket during the holiday season, the amount of it that is recycled does not experience such an immense rate of change.

Both types of products can also benefit from the use of materials that are renewable or recycled, such as plant-based materials, to reduce the demand for new, raw materials and the environmental impacts associated with their extraction and processing. Packaging materials that are made from plant-based materials, such as cornstarch or bamboo, are an example of renewable options that can be used in place of traditional materials like plastic or glass. Instead of having a ton of plastic food packaging for every four tons of food, we can have a ton of plant-based materials, which are much better for the planet.

In addition to reducing waste and using renewable materials, sustainable food packaging should also be designed to be as efficient as possible in terms of transportation and storage. Packaging that is lightweight and compact can help to reduce the carbon emissions associated with shipping and storage, as it requires less energy to transport and store.

Overall, the adoption of sustainable food packaging practices is essential for reducing the environmental impacts of the food industry and ensuring that we have a healthy planet for future generations. It requires a shift in the way we think about packaging and the materials we use, but the long-term benefits for the environment and for society as a whole are well worth the effort.


Thanksgiving is Becoming Less Affordable

Thanksgiving is one of the most iconic American holidays, along with Christmas and the Fourth of July. But while other holidays are bringing in even more revenue as time goes on, why is Thanksgiving becoming less popular? Through economic and environmental struggles, Thanksgiving is recieving the rough end of the stick from both.

The entire market has been on a decline for the past year. While some billionaires who control it are thriving, most have been facing hardships. During the pandemic, when the customers of these large enterprises were dependent on the online capabilities of their applications, the market was doing great, and promoting companies that were not even remotely connected to the outbreak. Now, as we slowly get more accustomed to our previous ways, our dependency online has diminished, bringing down the market.

Along with this, the raging issue of global warming has also impacted the situation. According to Brad Rubin, “The virus doesn’t usually flourish in warm temperatures, but this season was different”. The global temperature has been at a rise for so many seasons in a row that viruses have adapted to it. The fluctuation in weather has offset the environment, and livestock aren’t able to survive in the harsh conditions. 2.5% of the national turkey population has died off, most of that coming from the turkeys that were supposed to be for human consumption. This is causing a 23% price increase in turkeys, meaning that many families will not be able to afford the now-expensive bird.

One way to save money in today’s economy is to consider not buying a turkey at all. Chickens are a healthier alternative that are much cheaper due to a higher production. If you insist on turkey, maybe consider buying just the breast. The breast itself has also experienced a price jump, one even higher than the jump of the entire bird. But if you calculate a weight to price ratio, the breast is still a better option than the entire bird. For other parts of the Thanksgiving meal, try out canned cranberries. Many people prefer canned cranberries over fresh anyway, so now, it’s their time to shine. With potato prices rising, sweet potatoes and yams are becoming seemingly better choices. It is always smart to improvise, and buying in bulk is the next best solution. You might not want to buy multiple turkeys, but you could buy a lot of potatoes (whether they are sweet or not) and use some of them now, some of them later. Canned goods have a long life, so the cranberries will last a few Thanksgivings.

In January, the price for a dozen eggs was $1.20. Now, it’s at $3.50. With prices growing at such fast rates, it is hard to see a future without outrageous prices for staples of cuisine. We don’t know anything for sure, but if we want these hard times to end, we can all work together and help. By making the planet healthier, the animals that live on it will become healthier too. Make smart decisions, and realize that every action has its own effect.


The Purple Tomato

History has been made in the Food and Agriculture Industries. The Purple Tomato, a genetically engineered tomato-snapdragon hybrid, is an antioxidant, anthocyanin, and nutrition-rich fruit that has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancerous, and anti-viral properties. It has revolutionized the fruit by giving it properties only found in superfoods, making this a super tomato. Read on to understand what is so special about this tomato!

In the past, the United States has been extremely cautious about what GMOs are to be let into the country and which ones should be prohibited. Organic foods from foreign countries can bring in diseases that the US is simply not able to fight against. Whether it be the climate, the hygienic norms, or other reasons, some foods should not be distributed internationally. If a product that is genetically tampered with is being brought into the country, the diseases that may lie inside it could be some that have never been seen before, making the country more vulnerable than ever. Since the topic of even letting the product inside the country is so heavily debated, then the topic of letting that plant be grown and bred inside the country itself should be an obvious no, right? Well, the USDA approved the Purple Tomato on September 7th, making it the first time the USDA has approved a GMO plant designed to target human health.

Since 2008, Professor Cathie Martin from Norfolk Plant Sciences has been developing the Purple Tomato with one goal in mind. She wanted to “enable [her] ground-breaking plant research to make a positive impact in people’s lives”. Tomatoes are narrowly behind potatoes in being the best-selling vegetable. They are extremely relevant, showing up in many cultures around the world. Because of their impact on the world, Professor Martin wanted to help people through tomatoes. She mixed genes from the snapdragon flower into a tomato, and when it fully developed, it donned a deep purple color, along with an arsenal of nutritional benefits.

She tested these tomatoes by feeding mice. The control group was fed a normal, mainstream tomato, while the test group was fed the Purple Tomato. The mice from the test group lived for 30% longer on average. These mice were also highly susceptible to cancer, and while the mice from the control group suffered and died from it, the mice from the test group stayed unaffected. They didn’t develop any cancerous traits and lived a long life. Along with a longer shelf life, protection against diabetes, and antioxidants throughout the fruit, this tomato is too good to be true.

These tomatoes are entering the public market soon, and Norfolk Plant Sciences hopes to have them worldwide and grown by local farmers by the end of 2023. Lack of anthocyanin, antioxidants, and fiber will be ideas of the past as NPS’s Purple Tomato becomes the norm around the world. Do you think that GMOs like this one should rival the naturally occurring version of itself?


Breaking Down: Fiber

I’m sure you’ve heard of fiber before. The general information, how it helps with your digestive health, how it is essential to consume, and it is one of the things listed on the nutrition label of foods. Unlike proteins or sugars, the term “fiber” isn’t explained very well, almost as if you are just supposed to take a surface-level answer and deal with it. You need to be in charge of your own nutritional health, and because of that, it is important to be educated on what fiber is.

Fiber is a carbohydrate. This is probably a term you have heard before, as it is commonly used interchangeably with sugars. Though fiber is a carbohydrate, it is not a sugar. For something to be sugar, it has to be able to be broken down into simple sugars, if it isn’t already one. Examples of simple sugars are glucose, fructose, and galactose. There are others, but those are the most relevant, in order from most to least. Fiber can not be broken down into these sugars, instead, it passes through your digestive tract without being disassembled whatsoever.

If fiber cannot be broken down into energy, then why is it an important carbohydrate? Well, its rare quality of not being able to be broken down by your stomach acids is the reason why it is able to facilitate and check your sugar levels throughout your body. If you had food that has a lot of sugar, let’s say an apple, for example, the sugar can be quickly broken down and passed through. But because the apple also has fiber, all the nutrients are able to be digested at a normal speed, where your organs are not under excess pressure, it does not. Fiber is an important aspect of your body maintaining its homeostasis, which is when your body is able to stay at equilibrium.

Some fibers are able to be broken down by the waters in your body, while others are not. They each serve their own purpose, so it is important to consume both of them. Soluble fibers (the ones that can be broken down) are found in oatmeal, nuts, beans, apples, and blueberries. Insoluble fibers (the ones that cannot be broken down) are found in whole wheat, brown rice, green vegetables, and again, apples. Because they have been mentioned three times already, it is smart to assume that apples have a lot of fiber. They do! Whenever you are experiencing digestive problems, have an apple or two! Along with providing both types of fiber, it also provides sugars for energy and other nutrients for general health.

Now that you know what fiber is, what it does, and where it is found, you can safely say that you have more than a surface-level understanding of fiber. And even though this post is called “Breaking Down: Fiber”, remember that what makes fiber special is that it does not get broken down! Stay healthy and eat fiber!


Best Foods To Eat When You’re Sick

When you are unwell, your diet is one of the most critical factors that define how quickly you can recover. It should be one of your top priorities during these rough patches. Through many studies, nutritionists have deducted the best combinations of food to ensure you get all the nutrients you need to get back to 100% as soon as possible.

One method is known as the BRAT method, something heavily researched by the Cleveland Clinic. BRAT is an acronym that stands for Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast. These foods are especially easy to digest, so even if your digestive system isn’t at its best, nutrients will still be easy to derive from BRAT. Bananas have sugars, fiber, and potassium, Rice has vitamins and minerals, while applesauce has Vitamin B, Vitamin C, and healthy carbohydrates. Finally, there is toast. Toast is better than plain bread for a few reasons. Toasted bread is healthier to digest, helps relieve your nausea, and has a lower glycemic index, which basically means that it won’t raise your blood sugar that much. These four foods combined can help your body spend energy on fixing itself rather than digesting junk food and microplastics.

Next is the most popular choice, chicken noodle soup. Soup in general is extremely beneficial for you, whether you are sick or not. It hydrates you, none of the nutrients are lost, and you can put whatever you want. Chicken noodle soup has a few obvious ingredients, such as chicken and noodles. But other ingredients, such as green beans, corn, onion, celery, and spinach add Vitamins A, C, and K, along with calcium, potassium, folate, and iron. Most soups are healthy, and normally very easy to tell whether it is healthy or not. Water and broth-based soups are the healthiest, while cream-based ones tend to be a bit less healthy.

Finally, all spicy foods are beneficial for recovery. As I’ve explained in previous Blogs and Fast Facts, capsaicin is the compound that makes food spicy. Other than the basic benefits of spicy food, such as clearing your nose, making you sweat out toxins, and more, capsaicin is also able to relieve congestion, itching, and surprisingly, pain! Spicy foods may seem to be initially causing the pain, but it numbs your body in many areas and can help in reducing coughing and vomiting. Don’t push yourself too far over your limit and you should be fine.

Eating food is important for any living being, but when you’re unwell, the stakes are higher than ever. Remember to follow these tips and drink lots of water!


Sprite Changes Iconic Green Bottle

Sprite is the 6th best-selling soda in the world and has been consistently making the Top 10 since the 1960s. A simple citrus-flavored soft drink, they weren’t anything special. But their bright green plastic packaging was different from anything else on the shelf. It looked more appetizing than it would have looked without the green bottle. So why did they change it?

Sprite says that their Lemon-Lime drink will “now [be] made with clear plastic to help this bottle be re-made”. Clear plastic is a better material to be recycled than colored plastic because less energy needs to be used in the dying of color and further organization. The billions of Sprite bottles that will and have been produced since August 1st, 2022, can now be used more efficiently.

However, many sources have been suspicious about whether Sprite truly has good intentions. The manufacture of green plastic has very similar carbon emissions to the manufacture of clear plastic, so there isn’t any difference there. The Coca Cola Company stated that the recycling benefits were the true reason for the change. But recycling plants sort the plastics by color anyway, and reducing just green plastics won’t have that big of an effect. People have suspicions that The Coca Cola Company simply wants their Sprite bottles to be less recognizable. Take this image, for example.

A majority of the bottles are clear. They could be from any brand, so without labels, no company can be blamed. The second most common color? Green. And when you see green bottles, you can immediately blame Coca-Cola for their Sprite bottles. Now that Sprite also has clear bottles, they can join the majority and won’t be singled out anymore.

Sprite is always going to be a part of the biggest soft drink manufacturer in the world, Coca-Cola. They might make it look like they want to help out, but they are targeting the lesser informed. Stay knowledgable and healthy!


Breaking Down: Seasonal Foods

As the Northern Hemisphere enters the hottest months of summer, the change in seasonal produce has become quite obvious. The fruits that had a prominent impact in the Spring are long gone, and the fruits that will be important in the Autumn have just started growing, not yet ready for harvest. Why are fruits and vegetables seasonal? What produce is in season now? What are some tips to remember when I go grocery shopping? Read on.

Famous fruits that grow in your area fluctuate from time to time. In one or two seasons, they might be heavily advertised and held by many vendors. In the other seasons, they are barely mentioned. As plants experience their lifestyles, some are genetically built to sprout and grow fruit at different times of the year. Since most plants take time to grow, August and September have the largest and most diverse set of produce. The two months exist at the crossover from summer to autumn, meaning that the crops that grew in the spring, the summer, and what will start being harvested, what grew in the autumn.These fluctuations in product influence how big companies organize their menus.

Even though preservatives are starting to make the idea of “seasonal produce” a myth, companies still have to pay attention to the fame and cravings that go behind each fruit and vegetable. One example is the Pumpkin Spice Latte. It can be found at many different branches of large companies, and even in small cafes or someone’s own home. The flavor has become extremely famous. According to many influencers, it is among the “best-tasting drinks” of all time. Why am I bringing this up? Well, PSLs are normally only available in autumn and a part of winter. It is a seasonal flavor. This adds to the craze behind it. The knowledge that you won’t be able to buy this drink for more than half the year promotes you to go buy it more often than you would any other drink. Modern day companies are able to make advertisements out of anything, including seasons!

At the beginning of the year, it is peak winter. Throughout the late winter months, citrus fruits are the freshest and most commonly grown locally. This includes grapefruit, lemons, and oranges, and tangerines. Turnips, radishes, and rutabagas are also prominent in the winter seasons. Farmers have learned that some root vegetables do extremely well during the late winter, while some are at their extreme worst. As the months go by and we enter the spring. Spring is known for many beans and ferns. Any plant that falls into either category does exceptionally well in the spring. Some flower plants start to do well, but these come into play later in the summer. Speaking of summer, some of the most common and loved fruits are at their healthiest during the summer. Blackberries, blueberries, nectarines, peaches, plums, raspberries, and watermelon are at their peak. During autumn, a brand new set of fruits are in season. Apples, cranberries, figs, pears, and squash are notable examples of these fruits. What isn’t surprising, is that these fruits are the most common during American Thanksgiving, which is a famous holiday in autumn. It makes sense that the traditional foods that are eaten on that day are foods that were originally harvested on the first Thanksgiving over 400 years ago.

Although the choice of fruit and vegetable is the more important factor on deciding what to eat, what shouldn’t be forgotten is the preparation style. During the winter, what is the better choice, a cold citrus salad or a hearty potato stew? On most occasions, the warm potato stew will be a better choice. During the summer, would you rather have a peach pie or yogurt and granola with figs? The dairy from the yogurt is important to have if you are going to be out and about on a nice, warm day. Keep in mind that refreshing and rehydrating dishes are extremely important during the summer, especially in areas that get extremely hot.

Your food choices always play a big role in your life. But what should be remembered is that your food plan should be composite. You should know what you need to eat to be healthy for the different seasons, and sometimes even different weather might play a role in what you feel comfortable eating. Stay healthy!


Jackfruit Versus World Hunger

World hunger, global warming, and the pandemic are the current problems that the world is facing right now. All three are extremely relevant, and the former two will decide the economic and political future of the world. Since this site is about developments in the food industry, the first problem of world hunger is one that can be talked about. Many countries have high rates of hunger, which means that a person does nto have a guaranteed meal every day. This is a sensitive topic, and there are many levels to world hunger which most people don’t understand. Over the last 5 years, governments have been researching how to better the life of their starving citizens, how to aid them when they need it the most. And a possible solution may just be a simple crop. Jackfruit.

Jackfruit has always been an important fruit in many cultures. One important quality of the fruit is that all parts of it, including the tree it is grown on, can be used for the betterment of said cultures. The leaves of the plant and tree contain antioxidants, detoxifications, and phytonutrients. The wood from the tree is compact and easy to work with. It is also resistant to termites, making it a good choice for furniture. The fruit itself is extremely nutritious. Often used as a meat substitute, it has high levels of protein, potassium, minerals, and vitamins. In addition, it has the texture of pulled pork. This means that many countries in South Asia, where jackfruit naturally grows, can use this fruit to substitute for meats they cannot eat. Jackfruit also grows extremely fast, and produces large fruit that can weigh from 3-10 watermelons (27-90 kilograms).

But this has become a disadvantage. This fruit hasn’t gained the attention it deserves yet. The demand for jackfruit isn’t where it should be. Since the supply is so high, the price of jackfruit has gone down, as suppliers just want to get ride of their stockpile. But this has ruined the economy which goes hand in hand with jackfruit. Mass exports have become impossible due to the low valuation, where suppliers are losing money and still have the remaining 75% of their harvested jackfruit. If only this plant was able to be cultivated in other land masses, where the fruit could be growing in the place where it is needed. World hunger wouldn’t be a problem if this plant was everywhere. Yet, it is found everywhere. The countries with the highest hunger rates are Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen.These countries already have established trade with other countries on the African Continent, such as Kenya, Uganda, Mauritius, and other tropical African countries. These countries are known to be native to jackfruit.

The country which produces the most jackfruit annually is India. As mentioned before, they are forced to waste up to 75% of their annual harvest. This is not good, and the Indian government recognizes it. Fame is being brought to the fruit, and the stigma against it is being lifted. All the magical properties, the convenience, and the speed of growth have made it cheap. And people think that it is for people who can only afford jackfruit. Sales have decreased even more because people don’t want to be seen with an “imitation meat”. Organizations are being developed simply for the cause of bringing fame to the crop, and rightfully so. Jackfruit belongs in a higher category of fruits than it currently is in.

Vegan consumers have been crazing over jackfruit for years. In the past, veganism was correlated with green vegetables, no flavor, and people trying to lose weight. Now, veganism is a heavily studied diet which is also known for attempting to imitate the foods in the world of an omnivorous diet. Jackfruit is extremely versatile, and suitable for so many different dietary requirements. Jackfruit has the potential to become the face of veganism and the solution to world hunger all at once. People just need to give it the chance it deserves.


Breaking Down: Calories

Calories are simply a unit of measurement for energy. Just as meters and feet are for length, pounds and grams are for weight, and liters and fluid ounces are for volume. But the word has come a long way from it’s humble origins. Many misconceptions have been formed about calories, and not many people have a full explanation given to them before they form their opinions regarding them. Since being properly informed is the point of this blog, read on for the full explanation and mythbusting of calories!

The first myth about calories is that they are bad. People see high calorie foods, such as avocados, fish, and dairy items, and immediately assume them to be unhealthy. This is an extremely flawed process of thinking, because fish is one of the best meats, avocados one of the best vegetables, and dairy items are some of the best ways to get Vitamin D and Calcium into your body. As I mentioned before, a calorie itself is not bad. It cannot be bad. As mentioned before, calories are the unit of measurement for energy. But this is not the entire story. Calories are used to measure the energy that can be gained from a fuel source. Even fuels that seem extremely different from a cheeseburger, such as uranium, can be measured in calories. Surprisingly, uranium has about 18,000,000 kilocalories, but it is deemed unhealthy for other reasons which do not need to be explained. At least I hope they don’t have to. All food is fuel, so if you try to maintain a low-calorie diet, you might have to drive to the gas station a few more times.

The second myth is usually “discovered” after a basic understanding of the previous myth. People start to think that they need a lot of fuel. Many athletes have to maintain high calorie diets, but these diets never contain unhealthy foods. This is because of a concept known as an “empty calorie”. To understand what an empty calorie is, you need to understand what gives a food fuel to be high on calories. A few notable mentions, carbohydrates, proteins, fibers, and fats. If a food has fibers and proteins, it can deliver a healthy and full high-calorie meal. But if the calories depend on fats and carbohydrates, then it can result in giving a short burst of energy, but cannot be maintained. When a food’s calories come from fats and carbohydrates, it most likely contains empty calories. When people have to bulk up their meals, they stay away from these foods, and you should too.

The third myth is based off of the format of Nutrition Labels. We’ve all seen thousands of them in our lives. What is the first item on the list? Calories. In bolded and large font, right at the top? Calories. We have been reprogrammed to focus on the amount of calories in a food instead of the other factors. An amount of calories does not make up how healthy a food is. Rather, the important information lies underneath. Keep an eye out for proteins (recommended 50 grams), carbohydrates (recommended 275 grams), sodium (recommended 2300 milligrams), fats (recommended 78 grams), sugars (recommended 50 grams), cholesterol (recommended 300 milligrams), and fibers (recommended 28 grams).

The last myth is more of a fun fact. This is not really a misconception, it just goes unnoticed by a lot of people. When I brought up the caloric information of uranium, my unit of measurement was not calories, but kilocalories. In most places you see the unit of calories, what is actually meant is kilocalories. If you search up how many calories are in a food, your result will most likely be in calories. This is because the two terms have been used interchangeably. In some scientific journals, the unit of measurement is more carefully regarded, but the general rule of thumb: people use calories as the unit instead of kilocalories. So if you ever see someone say 18,000,000 kilocalories, they do not mean 18,000,000,000 calories. They just mean 18,000,000 calories.

Now that these myths about calories have been cleared up, I hope that you will take a more logical approach when it comes to nutrition labelling and food choices. Stay healthy!

For Empty Calories:
For Daily Values:
For Kilocalories vs. Calories: