Posts tagged ‘Food’

Pig-roast-by-Leah A. Zeldes

Cook pork well to avoid disease. (Photo by Leah A. Zeldes.)

Apparently largely because farmers feed regular doses of antibiotic to pigs to make them grow to salable weights faster, many pigs harbor the food-poisoning bacterium Yersinia enterocolitica. One study found that some some 69 percent of supermarket pork was tainted with Yersinia.

How to protect against infection? Always cook pork to at least 145 degrees F. That’s not so high as the 170 degrees that used to be recommended for cooking pork to when Trichinosis was a serious threat.

nuts - public domain image

By Elizabeth Anne Hull

Elizabeth Anne Hull. Photo by Barb Knoff.

Anne Hull

Two headlines in recent news seem at odds:

1) Eating nuts tied to lower risk of death, and
2) Doctors see increase in those allergic to sesame seeds.

The first story touted not only “true” nuts like pistachios, almonds and walnuts, but also said the results of a 30-year study analyzed at Harvard University included peanuts, a legume. Eating nuts seven times a week reduced by 20 percent a person’s risk of dying of any cause.

Since I love nuts, including of all those mentioned, plus filberts, brazils, pecans and others, I rejoiced. Nuts are also reputed to help with weight loss and contain no transfats. Good tidings of great joy!

But not so fast. The second article reported that, since America’s rise in popularity of Middle-Eastern cuisine, especially hummus (which is usually seasoned with tahini, sesame paste) and the general infusion of Asian dishes that also use a lot of sesame, allergists have discovered that any individual sensitive to peanuts is also somewhat likely to react to sesame. Why remains a mystery, since sesame isn’t a nut, it’s a seed, while peanuts are not really nuts, but a legume.

Researchers have been puzzling over the rise in allergies and asthma as well, often blamed on the pollution in densely populated areas. Another theory is that children who have been blocked from infection by cleanliness have not had a chance to build anti-bodies and develop their own immune system defenses.

Since my mind is such that it searches for unified theories, I can’t help wondering if one problem in medical research is that we are supposed to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people by statistical analysis. Applying a set of diagnostic criteria to any individual’s ailment may cure more patients, but it doesn’t help the individual who deviates from the norm.

For now, I intend to continue eating nuts; they are delicious, if high fat — fat is where the flavor is. I’ll also try to find ways to cope with my asthma while enjoying homemade hummus, unless I develop hives or go into shock. I already have noticed that eliminating stress is a bigger factor in controlling my asthma than whether or not I’ve forgotten to take my inhaler today.

Public domain pig


Nobody likes to have a pig farm in his back yard, not even the people who grow them. They relieve themselves of that pungent pig farm aroma by keeping the pigs a long way from their homes, or indeed from anyone’s. The routine feeding and handling of the animals takes place largely in giant barns, fully automated and padlocked both to keep the pigs in and marauders out, preferably in states with plenty of open spaces, like, for instance, Minnesota.

That’s a system that has worked well for pig farmers, especially with the price of pork rising higher and higher. Unfortunately for some of them, they weren’t the only ones who wanted to capitalize on those fat hog prices themselves. For some of those would-be profiteers the fact that they didn’t happen to own any fat hogs to sell was a handicap, but one that was easily corrected.

All they had to do was to drive their trucks up to the unguarded barns, cut big holes in the screening that lets the air in to dilute the aroma, thus let the pigs out and manhandle them into their own trucks.

To the legal owners of those pigs, facing a loss of some $200 a pig, this was an outrage. The pigs themselves, however, didn’t seem to care.

Blonde Dr. Betty

Blonde Dr. Betty

Visiting the SFWA suite at MidAmeriCon seemed worth a try, so we tried it. Unfortunately giving it a try meant quite a lot of walking, which meant a lot of competition for body space as the eager mobs of fans, famished for PARTYPARTYPARTY! wandered the halls, now a crawling mass of fan flesh. It was prime room-party time.

And, I discovered, I was getting tired. The corridor we were walking in had a little bay that looked down into the lobby, far below. It had chairs that were just being vacated by a few fans, their sore feet healed, charging on to the next room party. I took action. I didn’t say anything about wanting to rest my own feet for a moment. I just grabbed a vacant chair and, looking grateful, so did Professor Hull. Leaning over to rub her toes, she looked up at me curiously. “Tell me more about what you do at Bantam. Delany’s book. Is it a big success?

I laughed. “Big enough. I’m Bantam’s wonder child this week. I paid peanuts for it, and it’s selling its head off. Just under six hundred thousand copies last I heard, and it might go over a million.”

“Delany,” she mused. “Yes, I know some of his work. If the administration lets me keep my sci-fi — ”

I gave my throat a meaningful clearing.

She didn’t fail to understand my meaning. “Oh, right,” she said apologetically, “I didn’t mean to say sci-fi, I mean science fiction. If the administration lets me keep my science fiction class, maybe I should teach it next semester. I’ll get a copy and read it real fast.”

I laughed. “That I don’t think you can do. It’s a long one, way more than twice as big as his Ace novels. And it’s not much like his other books. But I think I put a couple of copies in my bag. If I find them, I’ll put one in my pocket tomorrow and if I see you it’s yours.”

“Thanks,” she said, sounding as though she meant it. But she was rubbing her feet again. Then, looking at her watch. “Oh,” she said. “Look at the time. Listen, Frederik, how would you like to try a different kind of room party? Mary Badami — she’s my roommate — and I agreed to have our own party tomorrow. Not a lot of liquor but tea or coffee and soft drinks, and Mary’s making some food. I have to help her pretty son now, but then when the party starts tomorrow you’ll know a lot of the people — some will be the ones we ate dinner with, and I heard you mention Marty Greenberg and Joe Olander….”

I said, “Can we sit down there now? I’m in!”

Continue reading ‘Arrival, Part 4: The Party Plan’ »


Researchers led by Andrew Jarosz at the University of Illinois at Chicago devised an experiment to check the conviction, held by some, that an author’s work desk is not complete without a typewriter, some paper and (at least) one open bottle of beer. They gave 40 men either a vodka and cranberry drink or a non-alcoholic one, after which they all took a test which required them to link groups of words with a given concept.

The vodka drinkers solved 38 percent more problems than the teetotallers and reached the correct answer faster. And so (identities withheld) are vindicated at last.

Wheat (public domain image)


Mr. Left Hand, Meet Mr. Right Hand: You Two Should Talk

Even when it come to food, Congress still likes to talk out of two sides of its mouth at once. Congress has appropriated large sum of tax money to urge Americans to eat more healthful food, their ideal dinner plate supposed to contain 50 percent of fruit and vegetables, and no more than the other 50 percent given to meat and starches.

But Congress is right now in the middle of a new farm bill which would spend the overwhelming majority of its appropriation on subsidies for growing those very starches — wheat, rice, corn and so on — that they are urging us to eat less of.

If you feel moved to write your congressman about this, all you need say is “subsidize fewer fattening starches, more green vegetables and fruit.” If you like him, you can add “please.”