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Tag Archives: Food

Oracle Bones
Bone-from-Qesem-Cave1

The article describes the work of archaeologists from Tel Aviv University and the University of Arizona who have been studying cut marks on late Lower Paleolithic period animal bones from Qesem Cave in Israel. Their findings, recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, conclude that the number and placement of these cut marks offer archaeological evidence of an alternative, earlier, and less specialised form of meat preparation. According to Professor Avi Gopher of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Archaeology:

From 200,000 years ago to the present day, the patterns of meat-sharing and butchering run in a long clear line. But in the Qesem Cave, something different was happening.

The cut marks we are finding are both more abundant and more randomly oriented than those observed in later times, such as the Middle and Upper Paleolithic periods […] suggesting that more (skilled and unskilled) individuals were directly involved in cutting meat from the bones at Qesem Cave.

For the past 200,000 years, in other words, the butchering of large animals has been done by one or two individuals in a community, who were specially trained to carry out a relatively ritualised series of tasks. Prior to that, the bones at Qesem seem to show, meat cutting was more of an ad-hoc free-for-all.

The Taste of Climate Change

Cold beer

Beer enthusiasts, myself among them, were upset to read this week that our pints of pilsner lager might be the latest casualty of climate change. New Scientist reported the depressing news: it seems that the quality of Eastern European Saaz hops is going downhill each year.

According to brewing suppliers Seven Bridges Cooperative, “Saaz hops have long been revered as the very mild, spicy, earthy aroma hop associated with European Lagers. This is the hop you will want for your finest European style Pilsners, and it will shine in wheat beers and Belgian style ales.” The delicate bitterness of Czech pilsners is a result of the alpha acid levels in Saaz hops; the best quality hops contain approximately 5% alpha acids, to produce a pale brew with a soft hop aroma but low bitterness.

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The Buddy System: How Medical Data Revealed Secret to Health and Happiness

There’s something strange about watching life unfold as a social network. It’s easy to forget that every link is a human relationship and every circle a waistline. The messy melodrama of life—all the failed diets and fading friendships—becomes a sterile cartoon.

But that’s exactly the point. All that drama obscures a profound truth about human society. By studying Framingham as an interconnected network rather than a mass of individuals, Christakis and Fowler made a remarkable discovery: Obesity spread like a virus. Weight gain had a stunning infection rate. If one person became obese, the likelihood that his friend would follow suit increased by 171 percent. (This means that the network is far more predictive of obesity than the presence of genes associated with the condition.) By the time the animation is finished, the screen is full of swollen yellow beads, like blobs of fat on the surface of chicken soup.

The data exposed not only the contagious nature of obesity but the power of social networks to influence individual behavior. This effect extends over great distances—a fact revealed by tracking original subjects who moved away from Framingham. “Your friends who live far away have just as big an impact on your behavior as friends who live next door,” Fowler says. “Think about it this way: Even if you see a friend only once a year, that friend will still change your sense of what’s appropriate. And that new norm will influence what you do.” An obese sibling hundreds of miles away can cause us to eat more. The individual is a romantic myth; indeed, no man is an island.

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(via Maurice)

And now the weather, brought to you by Tesco

As any self-respecting locavore can tell you, many of us have forgotten how to eat seasonally, at least in the developed world. Nonetheless, the weather still exercises a huge effect on the food we choose to buy and eat.

As British supermarket giant Tesco has discovered, “a rise of 10ºC, for example, led to a 300% uplift in sales of barbecue meat and a 50% increase in sales of lettuce.” Meanwhile, a summer washout in Scotland saw “sales of roast potatoes – traditionally a winter food – soaring by a scorching 454%, while soup sales rocketed by 88%.”

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(For Sosatz Rol, the original locavore =)

Platform21 = Jamming (Help build the breakfast machine!)

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Hollywood directors dreamed of it: the breakfast machine. Imagine a contraption that sets a chain reaction in motion at the push of a button, frying eggs, juicing oranges, brewing coffee, making toast, and serving it all on a plate with jam, meat and cheese. What a perfect way to start the day!
This fantasy will become reality during Platform21 = Jamming, when Japanese designers Yuri Suzuki and Masa Kimura build a machine just like this at Platform21 with help from fellow designers and the public.

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