Parents and Kids

Do you think this guy will drink synthetic wine? (Credit: Shutterstock) Do you think this guy will drink synthetic wine? (Credit: Shutterstock)

A company called Ava is isolating and identifying the molecular components of fine wines, such as Dom Pérignon, with the intention of recreating these wines from scratch in a laboratory. According to TechCrunch...

Garlic powder. (Credit: Shutterstock) Garlic powder. (Credit: Shutterstock)

Cooking should be thought of as edible organic chemistry. For instance, what toasted bread, grilled steak, and crème brûlée all have in common is the Maillard reaction, a chemical process that combines sugars and amino acids into delectable, brown goodness.

Because such foods consist of a large variety of different molecules, it is largely unknown what compounds are...

Credit: ShutterstockCredit: Shutterstock

In recent years pasta gained a bad reputation: it will make you fat. Obviously you could insert any food and get the same result, if you eat enough of it. So how does it happen that certain foods get called out and stick in the minds of the public?

Usually a suspect epidemiology paper will get a bestselling New York Times diet book written about it (wheat, sugar) and then food pundits like Marion Nestle will write a book talking about a giant corporate conspiracy to promote this new...

In 2014, Vermont passed a law requiring that food offered for sale by a retailer has to be labeled if it had been entirely or partly produced by genetic engineering. This law will go  into effect this week, on July 1 — unless a preemptive federal law is passed before then.

Well, it's too late for that to happen. The U.S. Senate failed to pass a bill that would have prevented the states from enacting individual labeling laws.

 

shutterstock_366202571 Possible Label via Shutterstock

Realizing what a patchwork of state laws might...

Credit: Shutterstock Credit: Shutterstock

Roasting coffee is more art than science. Under-roast the bean, and the chemical reactions necessary to produce its characteristic flavor and color do not occur at an adequate level; over-roast the bean, and the resulting brew is bitter. But, coffee producers and their customers are interested in consistency. Here, the tools of analytical chemistry come in handy. A group of primarily German...

Salmonella bacteria can cause diarrhea, fever, vomiting and abdominal cramps. It is estimated to cause one million foodborne illnesses in the United States every year, causing 19,000 hospitalizations and 380 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Bacteriophages, natural bacteria predators, may come to the rescue.

Research presented at the international American Meat Science Association’s conference in Texas showed that treating meat products infected with four types of salmonella using Myoviridae bacteriophages during mixing led to the bacteriophages invading the cells of the bacteria and destroying them. Even more good news is that bacteriophages are commonly found in our environment, so there is no reason to object to old science...

bananas Bananas give you AIDS? Photo credit: Deviant Art.

There sure are a lot of toxicology "experts" out there on the web, and they sure don't like anything that is sweet (except maybe when they sell it). I recently wrote about sucralose (Splenda), which is trashed by these "Internut" know-nothings despite the fact that its safety profile is about as good as you'll ever see.

But, they are even more verbal about aspartame. The more verbal they are, the more they get it wrong.

But it would be hard to get it any more...

oops Even Chemists Can Be Wrong. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Medicinal chemists — organic chemists who study drugs — frequently develop an ability that is sometimes informally called "eyeball toxicology," or the ability to determine a rough idea of the toxicity of a substance just by seeing its chemical structure on paper. It is a form of intuition. The longer you do the job, the better you get at it.

It would be reasonable to call this skill a "highly educated guess," which is acquired through years of studying the relationship between the structures of a variety of chemicals and their toxicity....

Dill Mayor Bill de Blasio. Salt hater. Possible anti-mustite?

Like we don't have enough problems in New York City? It costs three grand to rent a barely-decent apartment. And for $2.75 you get two mass transit choices: The subway, where you may or may not get vomited on, or the crosstown bus, which averages 3.5 mph — roughly the speed of a bulldozer being pulled by an arthritic poodle.

We have something called the Cross Bronx Expressway, which is a hybrid of a Mad Max movie and the parking lot at Home Depot on a Saturday afternoon. And, to get to it, you have the privilege of waiting up to two...

Taxman Photo credit: Examiner.com

The comments that follow Mark Bittman's New York Times editorial in which he supports Philadelphia's proposed "added" sugar tax (1) mostly fall into two categories.

Some readers rank the sugar tax right up there with one of the greatest public health innovations since Pasteurization. Others bemoan how a tax on sugar is regressive, and unfair to the poor.

I'll leave that discussion to politicians and economists, but I can say with absolute...