food

The gross origins of a $100 cup of coffee

Mar 21, 2016
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Nguyen Huy Kham/Reuters

BANGKOK, Thailand — Perhaps you’ve heard of “kopi luwak,” the world’s priciest coffee. And perhaps you know its main claim to notoriety: The drink is brewed from beans swallowed and excreted by civets, small mammals that look something like a cross between cats and weasels.

Sound repellent? That’s not even the most pressing reason to avoid the boutique coffee, which can sell for as much as $100 per cup in London or New York. 

Kopi luwak is tainted by more than a furry animal’s anal glands. Just as off-putting is its cruelty.

2 Breakfasts May Be Better Than None For School Kids

Mar 17, 2016

When it comes to school breakfasts, two is better than none, says a new report released Thursday in the journal Pediatric Obesity.

Pot-infused edibles are big sellers in states that have legalized marijuana. The problem is, it's been tough to measure and regulate the potency of these ganja-laced gummy bears, lollies and brownies.

Stinging Nettles
Flickr Photo/J Brew (CC BY SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/4SPejs

Ross Reynolds interviews food writer Sara Dickerman about an early green offering in the farmers market: stinging nettles. They really do sting, but Dickerman explains how to handle them and make a delicious pesto that's distinctively different from basil pesto. You can pick them in the wild or get them at farmers market through May.

Miss Manners and skilled prep cooks should be pleased: Our early human ancestors likely mastered the art of chopping and slicing more than 2 million years ago. Not only did this yield daintier pieces of meat and vegetables that were much easier to digest raw, with less chewing — it also helped us along the road to becoming modern humans, researchers reported Wednesday.

And our ancestors picked up these skills at least 1.5 million years before cooking took off as a common way to prepare food, the researchers say.

Maya Swinehart weighs recovered food from the SPU campus kitchen.
KUOW Photo/Kate Walters

Food waste — we all do it. We put that bag of spinach in the back of the fridge and forget about it. We make a casserole big enough to feed an army and never eat the leftovers.

Now multiply that waste by thousands. That's what was happening at Seattle Pacific University. Nearly 100,000 pounds of food went uneaten every year. 

Maya Swinehart decided to do something about it.

Nearly one-third of households on SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, still have to visit a food pantry to keep themselves fed, according to data highlighted this week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

There's lots of evidence that getting too little sleep is associated with overeating and an increased body weight.

The question is, why? Part of the answer seems to be that skimping on sleep can disrupt our circadian rhythms. Lack of sleep can also alter hunger and satiety hormones.

Slice The Price Of Fruits And Veggies, Save 200,000 Lives?

Mar 2, 2016

Lowering the price of fruits and vegetables by 30 percent can save nearly 200,000 lives over 15 years — roughly the population of Des Moines, Iowa. That's the message being touted by researchers this week at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology meeting in Phoenix.

Denmark is once again distinguishing itself in the race against food waste — this time, with a supermarket hawking items once destined for the trash bin.

Those items might include treats for a holiday that happened last week, a ripped box of cornflakes, plain white rice mislabeled as basmati, or anything nearing its expiration date. In other words, perfectly edible items that are nonetheless considered unfit for sale by the retailers and manufacturers who donate them.

Every winter, a small fleet of commercial fishing boats sets gillnets in the San Francisco Bay. Their target: Pacific herring, which enter the estuary in huge numbers to spawn and are easily caught by the millions. The fishermen fill their holds with herring just yards from the waterfront of downtown San Francisco, where many restaurants serve fresh, locally caught seafood.

In Northwest farm-country, tiny blueberry buds are already starting to plump up. But cold snaps could kill them. And that’s a bummer for your morning smoothie. Now, Northwest scientists are trying to help farmers by studying how low blueberries can go.

I came home from a trip the other day with a small plastic bag filled with 4 ounces of brown powder that, truth be told, made me a little nervous.

The powder had a strong odor that reminded me of badly burnt coffee, with perhaps a note of brown sugar.

I didn't dare open that bag. It contained crude caffeine, about 90 percent pure. That small bag held as much caffeine as 1,000 tall lattes from Starbucks, or 2,000 cans of Coke or Pepsi. It was enough to kill several people.

Meat has a greater impact on the environment than pretty much any other food we eat. As The Salt has reported, billions of cows, pigs, sheep and poultry we raise as livestock guzzle massive quantities of water and generate at least 10 percent of the total greenhouse gases attributed to human activity.

But scientists say we've been slow to acknowledge yet another side effect of our taste for meat: nitrogen pollution.

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