Let’s Talk Food: Did you know?

Ilove tidbits of information about food. Here are some food tidbits from various sources.

Did you know:

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• The first airline meal was served in 1919 on a Handley Page Transport flight from London to Paris. It was a cold box lunch with fruit and sandwich and cost three shillings.

• In 1936 United Airlines had the first ever functional airplane kitchen and featured a choice of fried chicken or scrambled eggs.

• In 1971 Southwest Airlines offered peanuts with its rock-bottom fares with minimal perks, except for a bag of peanuts. Southwest called itself the “peanut airline.” Soon that all stopped, when peanut allergies began to pop up and some with severe allergies could not even be in the vicinity of a peanut.

• In 2000, Jet Blue started to give out free snacks on the plane. Today, 8 million bags of chips are given out annually.

• After Sept. 11, 2001, nearly all airlines eliminated meal service on domestic flights to cut costs. You also could not find a real knife, as it was temporarily banned from commercial flights and airport restaurants. Remember that?

• Natural, unrefined sweeteners are still sugar, as is maple syrup and agave, and although unrefined sugars such as honey, molasses, maple and agave syrups offer some nutrients, they are still sugar. It is best to limit any sweetener for best health advice.

• It is true sea salt is not healthier than table salt. Salt is salt. Although sea salt has a few minerals, the amount of salt in your food is very little. But it is true that generally coarse-grained salt such as kosher salt has less sodium than fine-grained salt.

• Canola oil is not toxic as it has been rumored. Yes, canola oil is derived from rapeseed, which contains erucic acid, a fatty acid linked to cardiovascular risks. But the combination of crossbreeding and combining preferred qualities from different breeds of plants has eliminated the erucic acid in the present plant.

• Activated charcoal will not cure a hangover. Yes, in the emergency room doctors will give activated charcoal to absorb poison in your body, but there is no credible research that it works for hangovers.

• Low fat might not necessarily be healthier. If you read labels, many low fat milks contain palmitic acid, a saturated fat that gives a rich, mouth feel. High consumption of palmitic acid can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Read ingredient labels. It might be in low fat milks, nondairy creamers and even some creamy candies! Children younger than 2 need fat for brain development, and if they have no heart issues, should continue till they are fully developed.

• Wonder bread hit the shelves in 1921, with sliced bread in 1928. Does that mean you had to cut your bread slices for seven years?

• Flavored gelatin, better known as Jell-O, during the Great Depression in the 1930s was a great way to stretch ingredients. Fruits, vegetables, meat and seafood were put into to the mold and added some color to a dark time in history.

• Hippies rebelled against processed foods their parents fed them and turned to natural foods such as whole grains and organic produce in the 1970s. With that movement, health food stores became very popular.

• Although the microwave was invented in 1945, it was not until the 1980s that it was available for home use. With this new appliance, food manufacturers began to produce microwaveable ready foods. The first patent for bagged microwave popcorn was in 1981 and produced by General Mills.

• Consumers in the 1990s wanted to eat healthier snacks, so out came low fat chips, cookies and bagels. Then in 1998, Lay’s came out with Wow chips, made with olestra, a fat substitute. But unfortunately, our bodies could not absorb or digest the fat and with gastrointestinal side effects, this product soon disappeared.

• There is no such thing a a food with negative calories. No matter how hard you chew, you could never make up for the calories in any food. As Joe Schwartz, PhD, professor of chemistry and director of the McGill University Office for Science and Society, says, “If that were the case, you’d lose weight by just chewing gum.”

• There is not enough evidence that cooking with foil is linked to Alzheimer’s disease. The Neuroscience Letters found that chronic exposure to drinking water that contains aluminum is associated with a higher risk for Alzheimer’s. According to Kristine Kirkpatrick, MS, RDN, manager of wellness nutrition services at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, “There is a connection there, but we don’t see enough evidence to connect it to using foil.” To be safe, avoid cooking acidic or heavily salted food with foll; otherwise, other foods are OK.

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• There is no evidence that non-genetically modified foods are healthier. There are three different government agencies overseeing genetically modified foods. Schwart, “The business of certifying foods as non-GMO is total marketing gimmickry. Certifying agencies are making money off of that.” So you might want to eat only non-GMO foods for environmental concerns, but in terms of nutrition and health they are no different. Maybe in the future, scientists will add nutrients to GMO foods, then it will matter.

Email Audrey Wilson at audreywilson808@gmail.com.

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