food

Living in Seattle, food phobias are everywhere. If you're afraid of conventionally grown fruits and vegetables, GMOs, hormones in meat, pesticides, gluten, or anything that requires a PhD scientist to produce, then Seattle is your organic Mecca. Despite that Seattle's economy is partially built on the biotech sector (not to mention that the much-loved University of Washington has an enormous biomedical science program -- of which yours truly is a graduate), Seattle is a global headquarters of kooky food fads and alternative medicine.

Why? The entire "natural is better" movement is predicated upon fear. Scaring people is a time-tested tactic employed by politicians. If a politician wants elderly people to vote for him, he will tell them that his opponent will take away their...

Given modern medical advances extending survival rates for chronic diseases like cancer along with the population aging at an exponential rate, companies are seeing opportunities for niche markets. Hormel —of Dinty Moore stews and Spam canned meat fame—has designed its Vital Cuisine meal line specifically to target cancer patients, for example. 

This veil of social responsibility manages to obscure what is likely at its core an economic decision. Patients are more and more frequently being managed as outpatients for cancers, so hospitals and long-term care facilities are no longer the only avenue to access them. Enduring chronic illness while living at home and still going to work is very much a...

Vani Hari, the infamous "Food Babe" who says that we shouldn't eat anything that we can't pronounce, has a new emulator: Panera Bread.

It pains me to write this article because I love Panera Bread. They know me by my name at the restaurant at which I typically eat. However, their management and marketing team have decided that mocking science is the best way to sell food, and this loyal customer is going to fight back.

A few years ago, Panera launched a "clean food" campaign. That sounds innocent, but the implication is clear: Our food is clean, and their food is dirty. Scaring people about the safety of our food supply is a dishonest tactic...

Imagine going to the doctor's office. Noticeably absent are any modern tools -- laptops, DNA tests, X-ray scanners. He likes to do things the old-fashioned way. Medicine was better 100 years ago. How long would it take before you ran screaming out the door?

Yet, that's precisely the attitude the organic food and "back to nature" movements embrace.

In most things in life, we desire cutting-edge technology: Faster computers, self-driving cars, virtual reality, high-definition TV1. From telecommunications and transportation to healthcare and entertainment, we demand the very best that money can buy.

But not food. We don't want technology anywhere near that. Neanderthal know-how is perfectly fine, thanks. What is going on?

Organic Is the...

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines were born of good intentions. They were created to make Americans healthier.

The guidelines, however, were not inscribed on stone tablets and handed to mankind. Instead, they are the result of a bureaucratic process and, as such, are susceptible to dubious conclusions and adverse influence by activist groups.

In 2015, journalist Nina Teicholz conducted an investigation, published in BMJ, that criticized the dietary guidelines for being based on "weak scientific standards" and "vulnerable to internal bias as well as outside agendas." 

For instance, the guidelines recommend against saturated fat, which is commonly believed to cause cardiovascular disease. But...

Food choice should be left as a choice for consumers, but that is not how Michael Pollan, contributing writer at The New York Times, sees it.

Farming and stewardship of the land have always been a part of my life. Growing up in rural Oregon, we lamented that people in cities knew little about agriculture or where their food came from. Despite that, many city dwellers view farmers as enemies of the environment without bothering to drive a few miles to see the careful stewardship of the land that farmers practice every day. 

So, in some ways I am glad the "foodie" movement encouraged people to learn more about agriculture and how farmers provide the food we enjoy.

Anti-Farming Foodies

Unfortunately, that movement, which began as an...

As a greater number of people enter the middle class around the globe, many will turn away from plant-based diets in favor of meat-based diets. This could be a cause for concern, as meat production requires the input of substantially more resources, such as water and energy. The question of how to feed a growing world in a time when wealth is spreading and personal tastes are changing is the subject of some sustainability research.

Outside of the Western world, insect consumption is common. The Chinese, for instance, will eat just about anything that crawls on six (or more) legs. ...

Supermarket Selections

When it comes to matters involving food -- shopping for, eating and disposing of it, just to name a few -- it's surprising how lack of awareness factors into each area. And once again this appears to be a recurring theme given the tepid news coverage of World Food Day last Sunday, coupled with a recent survey of Americans about food consumption and overall food waste.

World Food Day, established in 1979, is a global initiative described by the organization as "a day of action against hunger. On October 16, people around the world come together to declare their commitment to eradicate hunger in our lifetime."

A eminently laudable goal, it's hard not to get behind the effort to address worldwide hunger concerns, as well as those here in the United States. But a news search...

It is nearly impossible to get every last drop of liquid foods out of their containers. Ketchup and syrup are among the worst offenders. In fact, up to 15% of liquid foods can be wasted due to such inefficient packaging.

Superhydrophobic coatings, which are extremely water-repellent, have been proposed as a fix. A few years ago, a company called LiquiGlide made a big splash (no pun intended) with a video that showed ketchup sliding effortlessly out of a bottle. Their technology employs a "liquid-impregnated surface," which as its name implies, involves a specialized surface that is able to contain within it a second...

Do you think this guy will drink synthetic wine? (Credit: Shutterstock) Do you think this guy will drink synthetic wine? (Credit: Shutterstock)

A company called Ava is isolating and identifying the molecular components of fine wines, such as Dom Pérignon, with the intention of recreating these wines from scratch in a laboratory. According to TechCrunch...