The United States government shutdown has slowed or halted federal efforts to protect Americans’ health and safety. Now in its 9th day, the shutdown has impacted food safety efforts, flu programs and disease-tracking, scientific research, and the economic and social well-being of families, children, individuals and communities.
Today more than ever, science is playing a pivotal role in food and cooking as the worlds of the laboratory and the kitchen come closter together. A perfect example of this in today’s culture is the Food Network show Good Eats with Alton Brown along with websites like the Science of Cooking, Molecular Recipies, Modernist Cuisine and the Molecular Gastronomy Network.
The result of this movement to bring science into the kitchen is Molecular Gastronomy, the application of biological and chemical knowledge to cooking. Molecular Gastronomy is a discipline practiced by both scientists and food professionals to study the physical and chemical processes that occur while cooking.
This article was written by Allison Bland.
Experts agree that diet and nutrition can reduce risk of many diseases, including different types of cancer and chronic disease. A recent update to a 2007 report by the American Institute for Cancer Research/World Cancer Research Fund (AICR/WCRF) concludes that breast cancer deaths can be prevented by physical activity, breast feeding, a healthy diet and other preventative measures. The study is an update to the breast cancer chapter of Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective . Earlier conclusions were based on data from 873 studies evaluating the relationship between diet, physical activity, obesity and cancer . The 2009 update includes evidence from an additional 81 studies.
According to a study published recently in the Archives of Internal Medicine, a high intake of red or processed meat increases the risk of death . In contrast, those consuming white meat had a decreased risk of both total mortality and cancer mortality. Two years ago, a similar study identified an association between red and processed meat and cancers of the colorectum and lung , but this is the first large-scale study to assess the relationship between red, white and processed meat consumption and the overall risk of death.
Researchers prospectively (meaning in real time) investigated red, white and processed meat consumption as risk factors for total mortality, cancer mortality and cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality. The dietary habits of more than a half-million men and women aged 50 to 71 years were assessed in 1995 using a 124-item food frequency questionnaire. Cohort members were then followed-up over a 10 year period (i.e. from 1995 to 2005).
Do you read labels at the supermarket? If you do, you may soon notice changes in the ingredients of some of the foods you buy. Food makers are quietly substituting cheaper ingredients in processed foods to offset the high price of commodities.
The Wall Street Journal took note of this trend last weekend, reporting that Food Makers Scrimp on Ingredients In An Effort to Fatten Their Profits . However, that may be overstating their intentions. With high fuel prices driving up the cost of basic ingredients such as sugar and wheat, food companies are are forced to make a choice: raise prices or cut corners. Because competition in the industry is so strong, raising prices is the last thing food companies want to do. Instead, they look to the quality and quantity of the ingredients they use . For example:
- Kraft Miracle Whip now contains more water
- Nestle snack products now contain less milk
- Sara Lee has switched to cheaper wheat for some breads
- Mars Inc. is reducing the size of its Funsize candy packs
- Hamburger Helper products have reduced the number of spice and ingredient pouches
- Some of Hershey’s chocolates are now being made with vegetable oil instead of cocoa butter