Just the Facts
Vegan Diet Is Out of This World
What is meat- and dairy-free, nutritious, low in sodium, flavorful, and quick and easy to prepare? A vegan diet, of course. And it's what future astronauts on Mars may be eating as well.
Cornell University researchers were tasked to find foods that can be grown in a spacecraft greenhouse on a planetary surface. The food had to be nutritious and appetizing so that intake would not diminish due to boredom, researchers explained.
Volunteers followed the diet for one month and were very pleased with the experience. "I thought the food was delicious and I'm trying to make my diet more like this," said one participant. The Mars-ready menu was based largely on wheat, rice, soybeans, and a variety of vegetables.
Money Talks, Again
The latest protest against genetically altered crops came from nuns who urged Kellogg Co. to stop using them in their products. The resolution was voted down by 94 percent of the shareholders despite protestor claims that the crops are unsafe and could spark lawsuits. Greenpeace and others have lobbied the world's leading cereal maker to no avail.
Mystery Meat Uncovered
German scientists have developed a test that detects brain and spinal cord material in cooked meat products. Liverwurst and bologna samples from across Germany tested positive. The presence of brain tissue means possible exposure to mad cow disease and Creutzfeld-Jakob disease, a fatal human brain disorder.
No, it's not illegal in Germany to use brain material in meat, and the lead investigator of the study believes that this discovery is no reason for consumers to change their eating habits.
Napoleon: Poisoned—Or Did He Just Eat Shellfish?
That's the question leading criminal pathologists were asking at a meeting in France set to pinpoint the cause of the emperor's demise. Various theories ranged from murder to cancer; however, arsenic found on strands of his hair indicate that he may have been poisoned or that he may have dined on shellfish shortly before he died.
Investigators say that arsenic levels in urine rise 20 to 30 percent after eating shellfish. Because only three of four hairs were available for testing, the committee says the only way to be certain is to exhume his remains.
Secretary of Barbecue
Representative George Albright of Florida has called for the creation of a new cabinet post: Secretary of Barbecue. The governor's appointee would be responsible for promoting the enjoyment of barbecue and barbecue culture. "I am very serious," says Albright. "Barbecue is big business in this state." Albright is also co-owner of two barbecue restaurants.
That's Doctor Frankenstein to You
First into the laboratory were lobsters, manipulated by geneticists to grow into corpulent images of their former selves. Next, there will be giant chickens, pigs, and cows, created specifically to yield larger portions of meat.
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore are the masterminds behind the bizarre procedure, which blocks the genes that limit growth. Animals altered in this way can grow up to 50 percent beyond their normal size. "Visually dramatic" is what Se-Lin Lee, who discovered the gene, calls them.
Unfortunately, the nation's weight problems are also visually dramatic, and this program will do nothing to improve the situation. Similar programs conducted in the past proved disastrous when animals developed a wide range of serious health problems.
Thermy to the Rescue?
The USDA has enlisted the aid of Thermy, the smiling thermometer, to help consumers know when meat is safe to eat. The national campaign, which includes a televised public service advertisement and outreach to consumers, educators, and health professionals, has the cartoon thermometer proclaiming, "It's safe to bite when the temperature is right!" Thermy apparently received no training on how to spot dangerously high levels of fat, cholesterol, and carcinogenic pollutants.