Upgrade a Batch of Chili With Cinnamon, Cocoa, or Even Coffee

Chili is personal, and you have your favorite recipe. I respect that. I’m not here to argue with your one true chili love.

But I would bet that there are some ways that you could make your tried-and-true recipe even better. I’m just talking about little things to add extra flavor here or give some richness there—small tweaks that, when tallied up, amount to a more fantastic chili.

Source: 10 Ways to Make Your Favorite Chili Recipe Even Better

Some will think cinnamon in chili is an abomination. And I like cinnamon. In ice cream. On apples. In chewing gum. But in chili?  It’s worth an experiment – cinnamon can do some interesting things in more savory dishes.

It’s Official: Bacon, Hot Dogs, Other Processed Meat Cause Cancer

After years of research and hundreds of studies finding links between eating certain meats and cancers, health experts have finally broken out the branding irons.

Today, in a sizzling announcement, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) officially marked processed meat, such as bacon, hot dogs, and sausages, as “carcinogenic to humans,” a “group 1” designation. The agency, an arm of the World Health Organization, also classified red meat, such as beef, pork, and lamb, as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” a “group 2A” grade.

Source: It’s official: Bacon, hot dogs, other processed meat cause cancer

This news is all over the place, but I was really surprised that there’s no actual scientific fact.  All I get is there was a meta-study that amounts to “there’s a correlation”.   It’s all speculative, nothing about how the meat is prepared or cooked.  It was almost a year ago that an actual link was found – in the neu5Gc content

Five Useful Cooking Techniques No One Teaches You

Most of us learn to cook through trial and error, the Food Network, or being forced to feed ourselves when no one else will do it. So naturally, no one’s born knowing how to sauté chicken, or blanch vegetables. Here are some basic (but useful) cooking techniques chefs use every day, but the rest of us rarely pick up.

Source: Five Useful Cooking Techniques No One Teaches You

#6: Sous vide 101.  How much did you know already?  Alton Brown’s “Good Eats” is a good show – last I heard, most was available on Netflix.

Study Finds 20 Percent of Ground Meat Isn’t What It Says On the Label

Once it’s been processed and pulped, most red meat looks more or less the same. This seems to be helping unscrupulous meat suppliers: according to a new survey, 20% of ground meat contains more than what’s just on the label.

Correction: A previous version of this article mistakenly said that ground beef was one of the mis-labelled products; in fact, all the beef products testing in this study were found to be 100% beef.

Source: Study Finds 20 Percent of Ground Meat Isn’t What It Says On the Label

The horse you hate is better than no horse at all? 😉 😀

11 Foods You Didn’t Know Were Hurting the Planet

From composting to opting to ride our bikes to work, this planet is our home and we’ve got to treat it kindly. We try to do our part every day, but considering that we’re on the tail end of Earth Month (and especially if you missed Earth Day!), we thought we’d take it one step further and examine an element you may be overlooking: your diet. Even though you’re healthy homemade lunches and side of guac (skip the burrito) may be fueling your body well, a lot of the foods you’re eating on the daily actually increase your carbon footprint. Sushi lovers, cookie addicts and almond butter freaks, we’ve got some pretty sad news for you, and it may have you completely rethinking your grocery list. Scroll on down to see what foods are actually putting a serious damper on the planet.

Source: 11 Foods You Didn’t Know Were Hurting the Planet

Sadly, the list includes some really healthy things.

Lab Grown Meat Could Get Substantially Cheaper

DOMINIQUE SCHWARTZ: A year and a half ago the professor of vascular physiology gave the world its first taste of a beef burger he’d grown from stem cells taken from cow muscle.

It passed the food critics’ taste test, but at more than a quarter of a million dollars, the lab quarter-pounder was no threat to the real deal. Now, after further development, Dr Post estimates it’s possible to produce lab-beef for $80 a kilo – and that within years it will be a price-competitive alternative.

Source: NT Cattlemen’s Association to hear that ‘cultured meat’ could end their industry within decades

It’s supposed to taste like actual beef, just entirely fat free. Last time I checked, they hadn’t found a way to grow fat into it, so it didn’t taste as good as a real beef burger.

The scientist estimates he would be able to produce it for that price. And note that this still isn’t a steak, or anything like that. It is large scale cell culture, producing thin strands or layers of beef muscle. Thick pieces of muscle currently cannot be created. Fatty tissue currently cannot be created. The price drop may just be accounted to basic problems having been solved and cannot simply be projected into the future, that’s why his estimate is in tens of years.

The tissue is currently cultured by using fetal calf serum, which is produced from bovine fetuses. Effectively not vegan, and it is still very dependent on conventional agriculture. It is unclear to me if, using fetal calf serum, the process still is calorically beneficial, as it should be in theory. Cultures also need to be kept in very clean conditions and depend on usage of antibiotics which might be a problem in large-scale production. Basic research has been done, but it still is a long way before this goes mainstream. I would guess that 3D printing plant proteins will produce cheaper meat replacements much earlier, as it already is doing a pretty good job and is already accepted by parts of society.

We’ve overcome one of the biggest challenges, which is a functional system for growing cells. Experimenting with that to make them thicker, fatter, and less reliant on specific fuels? That’s the next step. None of that would be possible without this framework in place. It’s a stepping stone.

Lab grown meat could get pretty weird. Exotic animals, sure. Perhaps we could harvest enough DNA to try to make extinct animal meat. Dodo, dinosaur, woolly mammoth…

And, of course, there will probably be a market for lab grown human meat. One day you might even be able to mail off a cheek swab sample to some factory… Have your own cells harvested, grown, and then in a couple months – have your own grown muscle tissue mailed back to you so you can eat a burger made of you…

Study: Large Red Meat Consumption Triggers Immune Response, Leading to Cancer

It should be made clear that the research appears reputable. The research does not rely upon statistical analysis that can be potentially biased. It’s about the presence or absence of genetic mutations in different species, making the results extremely robust.  However, in this study the high Neu5Gc diet was 0.25 mg of Neu5Gc per gram of food. For comparison their estimated range of Neu5Gc content in beef is 0.023-0.231 mg per gram.  Effectively the mice were fed ~1,000 times more Neu5Gc in their food than what is found in a steak.  And the mice could only eat this pellet, whereas humans don’t only eat steak.

Red meat has been linked to cancer for decades, with research suggesting that eating large amounts of pork, beef or lamb raises the risk of deadly tumours. But for the first time scientists think they know what is causing the effect. The body, it seems, views red meat as a foreign invader and sparks a toxic immune response.

Source: Red meat triggers toxic immune reaction which causes cancer, scientists find

Red meat contains Neu5Gc. Pork has more Neu5Gc than beef, and dairy has it too. Fish contains trace amounts, and poultry has none.  Cooking didn’t have a significant effect on the Neu5Gc content – cooking reduced water weight, and therefore increased the µg/g value.  Here’s the chart from the paper:

Neu5Gc Content and Percentage of Various Food Groups

Neu5Gc Content and Percentage of Various Food Groups

When our ancestors evolutionary diverged from chimpanzees, we developed a mutation in an enzyme known as CMAH. CMAH catalyzes the addition of a hydroxyl group to sialic acid (NeuNAc) to produce Neu5Gc (NeuNAc w/ added -OH). One of the things that makes you uniquely human compared to almost all other mammals are the patterns of carbohydrates that cover the surface of your cells.  What makes you uniquely human is the striking lack of Neu5Gc on your cells compared to almost all other mammals.

Mutation of the CMAH enzymatic pathway may have promoted developmental brain complexity. This supports the view that human ancestors ate a primarily vegan diet.  With little rare meat consumption to result in accelerated aging, the effects of this reduced fitness was outweighed by increased brain complexity that may have provided a survival advantage for mutants.

Glycoscience is a new branch of science that will help us get closer to understanding the human body in the finest details. If this research is confirmed to be true, it will have great implications on how to make consumption of red meat safe (genetic modification?) and could shed more light on how the body prevents cancer from spreading out of control (not everyone dies from cancer).

Surprising Origins of the Animals [Some of] You Eat

Just what will you be putting on your plate during this holiday season? You probably already know that centuries of selective breeding have produced the creatures we love to feast on, but you might be surprised at how weird the process has been. Here are the 10 most startling origin stories for the animals that most people eat.

Source: The 10 Most Surprising Origins of the Animals You Eat

On a similar note, I treeplanted with a person who enjoyed dogs but would never own one for sake of the domestication the animal species has undergone over centuries.  Which brings up another point – that the list in the article is predominantly North American.

Vegetarianism is a Big Missed Steak

I’m not vegetarian, but I have my own dietary concerns so I’ve gotten more empathetic because I too have had to say “I can’t eat that”.  But between the vitamin K medication impact and a distaste (heh) for medication/supplements, I’ll never identify as a vegetarian on any level.  But I enjoy the challenge of looking at a recipe to determine if it can be more inclusive.

I’m interested to learn the details of someone’s vegetarianism, for the matter of B12 deficiency and how they navigate it.  I was warned about it a couple of years ago, so I’ve worked to correct and vary the sources I use.  One person told me they’d have to ingest ~35 lbs of crimini mushrooms daily to accommodate their diet restrictions so they’re sticking with supplements.  The concern is serious – B12 deficiency symptoms can be easily missed/dismissed.

I’m curious to know how vegetarians react to eating insects (youtube, 3:04).  There’s long been an acceptable level of insect in flour (among other products – see video), but news is increasing about business promoting this more prominently.  Part of that is the environmental and resource footprint of cattle versus insects is staggering.  So the steaks/stakes can only get higher…

Related links: