Category Archives: Food science

How to eat flowers without poisoning yourself

I spent a week adding a floral touch to my meals – but if you don’t know what you’re doing, swiping flowers from the meadow can be a risky business

There are ups and downs in the world of edible flowers. By her own admission, Jan Billington, who grows and sells them from her organic farm in Devon, “smells amazing”. On the downside, she is regularly stung by Italian honey bees and is badly allergic, “although it’s just a matter of swelling”, she says. “It goes down eventually.”

Billington sells seasonal flowers to chefs and cocktail-makers, but more recently she has begun selling to amateur cooks who are hoping to inject a little personality into their cooking. Edible flowers are in the spotlight, or rather the polytunnels (thanks to the frost), because of Instagram, where they are used to zhoosh up food shots, and because of the rise of veganism, where they provide a bit of textural variation.

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Source: gad

How afraid of human cloning should we be? | Philip Ball

The creation of two monkeys brings the science of human cloning closer to reality. But that doesn’t mean it will happen

The cloning of macaque monkeys in China makes human reproductive cloning more conceivable. At the same time, it confirms how difficult it would be to clone a random adult – Adolf Hitler, say – from a piece of their tissue. And it changes nothing in the debate about whether such human cloning should ever happen.

Since the cloning of Dolly the sheep by scientists in Scotland in 1996, several other mammals have been cloned, including dogs, cats and pigs. But the same methods didn’t work so well for primates – like monkeys, and us. That’s why this latest step is significant. It shows that, with a bit of modification, the technique used for Dolly can create cloned, apparently healthy baby monkeys. The pair made this way by scientists at the Institute of Neuroscience in Shanghai have been christened Hua Hua and Zhong Zhong.

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Source: gad

How the sushi boom is fuelling tapeworm infections

As eating raw fish has become more popular, gruesome tapeworm tales have emerged. But how worried should sashimi lovers be – and how else might we become infected?

The good news, said A&E doctor Kenny Bahn, was that the patient who had turned up at the emergency department was not dying. That is about the only happy element of the story Bahn, who works at a hospital in California, went on to tell on This Won’t Hurt a Bit, a medical podcast, about a man who arrived at hospital carrying a plastic bag. Inside the bag, wrapped around the cardboard tube of a toilet roll, was a 1.7-metre (5ft 6in) tapeworm. Bahn measured it once he had unravelled it on the hospital floor.

The patient had complained of abdominal pain. During a bout of bloody diarrhoea, reports Bahn, “he says: ‘I look down and I look like there’s a piece of intestine hanging out of me.’ What’s racing through his mind is he thinks he’s dying … He grabs it and he pulls on it and it keeps coming out. ‘What is this long piece of entrail?’ And he picks it up and looks at it and what does it do?” There is a dramatic pause to enhance the horror. “It starts moving.”

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Source: gad

From antioxidants to iron absorption: how to make the most of your cup of tea

Scientists reckon a cuppa can have cognitive benefits, but how best to make a health-boosting brew?

Five millennia on, tea is still delighting scientists who want to prove slightly obvious things. The latest news on that front is that it can make us more creative. In the journal Food Quality and Preference, Yan Huang, from the Psychological and Cognitive Sciences Department of Peking University, illustrates how his 50 subjects performed better when “trying to come up with a cool name for a noodle bar”, among other tasks, when given a cup of tea instead of a glass of water. As marvellous as this info is for the noodle bar franchising industry, the health and cognitive benefits of tea certainly don’t end there. We’ve all had the debate about how to make the tastiest cuppa. But what about the healthiest? Here are some tips:

Use cheap, bagged tea

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Source: gad