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Fast Food Science What's New

KFC Is First Major Chain To Announce Research Into Lab-Grown Meat

With the search for more sustainable meat options in fast food expanding, KFC has taken a pivotal step in getting major chains to consider lab-grown meat as a potential solution.

KFC’s global team announced in a press release that they were looking into making nuggets that utilize chicken cells as part of the process, making them the first major to chain to publicly announce that cellular agriculture could be an option for them.

These nuggets are being developed in conjunction with 3D Bioprinting Solutions, a Russia-based company known for creating prosthetic organs. The resulting nuggets will use some plant material, but also use cells from chickens to “reproduce the taste and texture of chicken meat almost without involving animals in the process,” according to the release.

KFC will provide spice blends and other ingredient needs to make the nuggets taste like their signature chicken, while 3D Bioprinting will come up with the blend of meat/plant cells needed to get the texture down right.

Lab-grown meat, also known as laboratory-produced, cellular, or cultured meat, has been proposed as an alternative to factory farm-raised meat because it has the potential to scale to global meat consumption levels while reducing environmental costs.

While companies claim that lab-made meat reduces land use, water use, and methane emissions, research has also shown that the technology could increase carbon dioxide emissions. All of this research is still speculative, however, since none of these products have been produced at a commercial scale yet.

Several companies in the United States, including Memphis Meats and JUST, have begun making breakthroughs on lab-grown meatballs, nuggets, and more in recent years. Although there’s still regulatory issues surrounding the technology, the appetite for lab-grown animal products has increased globally, with meat giants like Tyson backing brands working on cellular meat products.

KFC plans to test a prototype of this collaboration in Moscow as early as Fall of 2020.

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Health Science

Study Suggests Eating Kimchi Could Help Protect Against Covid-19

As scientists have been scrambling for potential treatments and vaccines to combat against the COVID-19 pandemic, some have begun testing different unique foods that could play a role in disease prevention.

One food, kimchi, has shown in an early study to be a possible food that could help protect against COVID-19 when consumed.

The pre-printed study took a look at data of death rates from different countries and found that those that eat fermented vegetables, including fermented cabbage products, tended to have a lower death rate. The countries surveyed in this study were European ones, but authors noted that this could be similar for other countries with lots of fermented vegetables in their diets, which includes kimchi.

One could infer from these results that kimchi, sauerkraut, and other fermented cabbage products could help in protection against the disease as a result.

Scientifically, the theory behind this is that fermented vegetables like cabbages have high antioxidant activity, and can inhibit an entry point for coronavirus into the cells called the ACE-2 pathway. ACE-2 is a protein on the membranes of cells that some coronaviruses, including the one responsible for this outbreak, can enter the cell through.

Could eating more kimchi and other fermented cabbage products help prevent you from getting COVID-19? It’s possible, but this study was done to establish some possible hypotheses on how diets could affect the spread of the pandemic. That means that while the possibility is there, now is the time for massive epidemiological research to prove that it’s actually the case.

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Grocery Health Science

Walmart Requiring Face Masks To Enter Starting July 20th

Walmart has added on to the growing list of retailers implementing face mask requirements for customers to help limit the spread of COVID-19 in the United States.

Photo: ungvar // Shutterstock

Starting on July 20th, all Walmart customers will need to be wearing a face mask to gain entry into stores to shop. Walmart will be deploying trained “Health Ambassadors” to remind guests of the new requirements.

At Walmart’s Costco-like subsidiary, Sam’s Club, complimentary masks will be available for members, who can also purchase face masks inside of the store.

Walmart has cited the CDC in their decision to add this policy, saying that “face coverings help decrease the spread of COVID-19, and because the virus can be spread by people who don’t have symptoms and don’t know they are infected, it’s critically important for everyone to wear a face covering in public and social distance.”

The new policy was announced the same day that Starbucks’ own face mask requirements are scheduled to take effect. It also comes shortly after CDC Director Robert Redfield stated that if everyone wore face masks and practiced social distancing, COVID-19 could be controlled within 1-2 months.

Categories
Fast Food Science Sustainability

Burger King Starts Serving Whoppers Using Beef With Reduced Methane Emissions

Over the past few years, switching to meat alternatives has grown in popularity as folks look to eat less meat for environmental reasons. One of the biggest environmental concerns is the greenhouse gas emissions that livestock production gives off, roughly 65% of which comes from beef, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

People still want to eat meat, though, and research has begun to take shape in how meat production could reduce its own emissions. Some of that research has made its way to Burger King, who is now using it to make “Reduced Methane Emissions Beef” for some of its Whoppers.

Photo courtesy of Burger King

Burger King’s new beef comes from research that herbs like lemongrass can be used to reduce the amount of emissions that come from enteric fermentation. This means that in cow’s stomachs, different kinds of bacteria can ferment what they eat into gases that include methane, and by changing around a cow’s diet, you could reduce some of the methane these gut bacteria produce.

Burger King discussed its own test data related to emissions in a press release, which claims that adding 100 grams of lemongrass to cow’s diets helps them release less methane as they digest food. BK’s Reduced Methane Emissions Beef goes on this diet for three to four months prior to slaughter, which, according to Burger King, can lower methane emissions by an average of 33% per day.

Burger King’s own research was conducted in tandem with the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico and U.C. Davis. An independent 2013 study from the Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences found lemongrass to be effective, but lemongrass in conjunction with supplemental herbs and spices like garlic powder and peppermint could possibly lower emissions even more.

Burger King is taking a big step forward, though, in introducing this kind of beef in its locations, as well as trying to reduce the carbon footprint of its burger production.

Right now, you can get Reduced Methane Emissions Beef Whoppers at select locations in Miami, New York, Austin, Portland, and Los Angeles while supplies last.

Categories
Health Packaged Food Science What's New

Hormel’s Newest Meat Products Are Designed For Those With Swallowing Disorders

For those with a form of dysphagia, or swallowing disorder, it can be very difficult to eat various forms of foods, especially meat. Hormel’s Health Labs has come up with a solution specifically for meat, developing a line of ready-to-go meats that are designed for those with forms of dysphagia.

Photo courtesy of Hormel Health Labs

To prepare meat for those with dysphagia, it has to be ground to a certain size and consistency for safety and comfort reasons. The meat products that Hormel Health Labs just developed were made in accordance with the International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI). These meat products are suitable for IDDSI level 5 (“Minced and Moist,” about 4mm in size, the standard size of chewed food particles) and level 6 (“Soft and Bite-Sized,” about 15 mm in size, small enough to prevent asphyxiation should food accidentally get in someone’s airway).

Hormel’s products fit within these standards, but are also meant to be a quick and easy way to prepare tasty meals for those with swallowing disorders. Considering that most meals for those with dysphagia tend to be poor in “quality of life” standards, these could signify a marked improvement in enjoying food when it comes to meals.

You can purchase these in turkey, chicken, pork, and beef varieties. They are available in resealable packaging, and can be portioned out to cook in the microwave or on a stovetop. Buying these requires getting in contact with a sales rep for Hormel Health Labs, which can be done at the above link.

Categories
Drinks Recipes Science Sweets Technology

How To Make Your Own Orange Soda Without SodaStreams Or Sparkling Water

Is summer complete without soda to beat the sun? We’re gonna be sippin’ on a lot in this hot weather, so we should consider how it’s made and where the soda can come from, especially if there’s a way to make your own from scratch.

Today, soda is typically made via industrial processes that bubble carbon dioxide through water. Tons of it is consumed around the world, as major brands like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and the like have made carbonated beverages immensely popular.

However, it is possible to create your own natural form of carbonated soda at home, and it’s a pretty straightforward process. Foodbeast Chris Abouabdo was able to use the “ginger bug” method on our Twitch streams to make his own fizzy orange soda without using sparkling water, SodaStream machines, or any other technology.

Before getting into the method, it should be noted that there are other ways of getting natural “soda water.” Several springs, especially in areas that have or have had high volcanic activity, may have enough carbon dioxide naturally dissolved inside that it may be fizzy upon drinking. Chemist Joseph Priestley later came up with a method to naturally impart the gas into the water, the basis of how the industry makes soda today.

The “ginger bug” method is a third, separate method that would be more akin to how beer gets it fizz. By fermenting ginger with sugar, microbes naturally present in ginger ferment it to produce carbon dioxide, with negligible amounts of alcohol produced. The result is a refreshing sparkling beverage that anybody can drink and enjoy.

A ginger bug does take a couple of days to make on its own, and you can then add whichever flavors you like. After another couple of days of fermentation, the soda is ready to chill and serve.

It’s a more intensive and longer process than sticking water and a capsule into a SodaStream then adding your own juice, or just even grabbing a bottle or can from the fridge. For those looking to make their own soda from scratch, however, this is one of the few ways to do so.

To see the process in full, you can view the above video or check out our stream on Twitch, which breaks down the process in detail.

Categories
Culture Science Technology

16 Black Innovators Who Changed Food Forever

Macaroni and cheese. Ice cream. French fries. Jack Daniel’s whisky. Frozen foods in general.

We wouldn’t have any of the above foods, plus many others, were it not for Black food innovators and figureheads that have made significant contributions and altered the way we eat and make food today.

Below are just some of the stories of these incredibly talented and inspiring individuals. Some of these names came from research via the New York Times and Food and Wine, but we’ve also included historical sourcing and context for each person as well. You can click on their names to view those original pieces.

Nathan “Nearest” Green

Known as “Uncle Nearest,” Nathan Green was a skilled distiller who mastered the “Lincoln County” process. This method of distilling is thought by food historians and whiskey experts alike to have been brought in by slaves, and uses charcoal to filter and purify foods. The “Lincoln County” process, in particular, uses sugar maple charcoal to filter bourbon.

Green trained hired hand Jasper Newton Daniel (known to the world as “Jack Daniel”) while working on a priest’s distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee. Daniel eventually made him the first master distiller of Jack Daniel’s, the famous Tennessee whisky many people drink today.

While Jack Daniel’s shares the story of Green on their website, an all minority-led whisky brand named “Uncle Nearest” continues to build upon his legacy with spirits that use the same distilling technique, but feature Green’s name on the bottle.

James Hemings

While Thomas Jefferson is sometimes credited with bringing foods like mac & cheese and ice cream to the United States, Hemings was the one who actually learned to make them. A slave in the ownership of Jefferson prior to his presidency, Hemings traveled with him to France in 1784 specifically to learn the art of French cuisine.

Hemings became the first American trained as a French chef in history as a result, bringing back several dishes to the United States. French fries, ice cream, macaroni and cheese, creme brulee, French meringues, and French whipped cream are just a few examples. These dishes and others would be incorporated in Hemings’ signature half-French, half-Virginian style of cooking he became renowned for.

Hemings would later also cook one of the most famous dinners in American history: the one between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton that settled who would pay for the Revolutionary War and established Washington, D.C. as the United States’ capital. He eventually was freed by Jefferson in 1796.

Zephyr Wright

Zephyr Wright was the personal chef for President Lyndon B. Johnson and his family for over twenty years. It was her cooking that made the Johnson household a popular one for D.C. dinner parties.

Wright would follow Johnson to the White House during his tenure, and was in charge of the home cooking in the White House kitchen. She would also temporarily cook all meals, including VIP ones, in between the tenures of two White House Executive Chefs.

Wright is thought to have heavily influenced Johnson’s support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964,. Wright was known to have spoken up to the President during his time in Congress about the injustices she faced road tripping between Texas and D.C. during congressional recesses, saying that she was not allowed to use the bathroom in areas she was driving through, and couldn’t stop off and eat at restaurants. President Johnson reportedly used some of her stories to convince Congress to sign the bill. He would also give her a White House pen when the act was signed into law.

Leah Chase

The Queen of Creole Cuisine, Leah Chase was the heart and soul of Dooky Chase’s restaurant in New Orleans across seven decades. Known for her fried chicken, red beans and rice, gumbo, and other classics, Chase started out in the 1940s when she got a job as a server at a restaurant. She eventually took over the helm and made it a safe haven for anyone to come and eat at.

Dooky Chase’s was known as one of the few places that it was publicly okay for races to mix at, since the cops wouldn’t bother activists inside the restaurant. Thus, leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, including local leaders and national ones like Martin Luther King Jr., would often strategize while eating there.

Chase would go on to serve presidents like Barack Obama and George W. Bush, along with Associate Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and other influential figures. Disney has even made a movie with a character inspired by her: Princess Tiana of Princess and the Frog.

Abby Fisher

Around the early 1880s, Abby Fisher was known for her award-winning pickles and the Mrs. Abby Fisher Pickle Company in San Francisco. She had at least 35 years of cooking experience, some estimates had it, and the awards she won for her food reflected that.

However, Fisher is probably best known for publishing one of the first cookbooks ever authored by an African-American woman. The book, called What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking, contains over 160 recipes and uses the dictated words of Fisher herself.

The cookbook surged in popularity in the late 20th century when a publisher began reprinting it in 1995. Today, it offers a window into these early recipes that places like museums try to recreate for guests to sample.

Edna Lewis

Edna Lewis became a legend while she cooked at Cafe Nicholson in Midtown Manhattan starting in 1949. Her fame and Southern recipes led to guests like Marlon Brando, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Salvador Dali showing up for dinner. After stepping away from the chef’s role (as an active partner) in 1952, she would lecture at the American Museum of Natural History while working as a chef and private caterer.

Lewis would later become inspired to write her first cookbook as demand for them grew in 1972. She was one of the first African-American women from the South that would publish a cookbook that did not hide her name, gender, or race. She would go on to publish more in the future, eventually becoming known as the Grand Dame and Grand Doyenne of Southern cooking.

Larry James and Jereline Bethune

The Bethune family, to this day, runs Brenda’s Bar-Be-Que Pit in Montgomery, Alabama. Open since 1942, the restaurant would become an important hub for those in the Civil Rights Movement.

After Rosa Parks infamously refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus, Larry James and Jereline Bethune were instrumental in using their restaurant to organize bus boycott efforts around the city. As the movement continued and literacy test laws (meant to curtail the Black vote) were introduced, Jereline would also quietly hold lessons teaching other African-Americans how to read. They were then able to pass these literacy tests and go out and vote.

Alfred L. Cralle

Ice cream today would not be the same without the work of Alfred Cralle. Born just after the Civil War, he had an affinity for mechanics as a young age, and would go study at Wayland Seminary, a school set up after the Civil War to educate newly freed African-Americans.

Cralle would go on to work as a porter at a drugstore and a hotel in Philadelphia, and developed the idea of the ice cream scoop while watching people struggle using two different spoons to get the ice cream into cones. Cralle’s mechanical inventional, which is the basis of how ice cream scoops work to this day, was invented in 1897.

Cralle would also become a successful promoter of businesses in Philly, and was the assistant manager of the Afro-American Financial, Accumulating, Merchandise, and Business Association in Pittsburgh.

George Crum

Ever heard the story of how potato chips were invented to spite a customer at a restaurant? George Crum was the chef at said restaurant, the Moon Lake Lodge resort in Saratoga Springs. A customer came in around the summer of 1853 wanting extra-thin French Fries, frustrating Crum to the point he sliced them as thin as possible, fried them in grease, and sent them out.

The chips became a big hit, eventually becoming known as “Saratoga Chips.” While Crum never patented the dish, he did open his own restaurant, “Crumbs House,” that served a basket of them at every table.

Chips wouldn’t become a grocery product until 1895, and the concept of bagged chips didn’t show up until 1926.

Joseph Lee

Joseph Lee was one of the most influential people when it came to industrializing the way we make bread.

Having worked in a bakery from a young age, Lee eventually became the owner of two restaurants in Boston, as well as a hotel and a catering company. Looking to find a way to minimize bread waste, he eventually invented a machine that would convert day-old bread into breadcrumbs. Patented in 1895, he later sold the rights and the breadcrumb maker would spread across the world.

That wasn’t Lee’s only invention, however. He would later patent the idea for an automatic bread maker that mixed and kneaded the dough, the basis to the same devices (think, stand mixers) that we still use in our kitchens today.

Lloyd Hall

Lloyd Hall is considered to be one of the pioneers in the world of food chemistry. A pharmaceutical chemist for Griffith Laboratories in Chicago who completed graduate school, Hall would be awarded over 100 patents and received multiple honorary doctorate degrees for his work.

Hall’s main area of work came around the development of techniques to preserve food. Some of his most revolutionary patents included using  “flash-dried” salt crystals that revolutionized meatpacking. He also introduced the use of antioxidants to prevent the spoilage of fats and oils in baked goods, and developed a process known as “Ethylene Oxide Vacugas,” which could control the growth of bacteria and molds in food.

John Standard

John Standard was an inventor instrumental in modernizing two pieces of kitchen equipment that virtually every household has today: stoves and refrigerators.

Refrigeration was a concept that was being researched as early as the 1830s, but mainly focused on using some sort of power. Standard’s improvement to the fridge, patented in 1891, was an unpowered design that used a manually filled ice chamber as the central cooling unit.

Standard also made significant upgrades to the oil-powered stove, patenting one with a space-saving design in 1889 that could be used in applications like buffet-style meals on trains.

Frederick McKinley Jones

If you’ve worked in the food industry or any commercial transportation that required keeping stuff cold, you’ve likely seen the Thermo King brand somewhere in your lifetime. Frederick McKinley Jones was the founder of that company, and inventor of the first automated refrigerated system for trucks.

A skilled and gifted electrician and mechanic, Jones had patents for sixty different inventions across a wide variety of fields, including the portable X-ray machine, motion picture devices, and even medical storage units.

He’s most known for the Thermo King, the refrigerated system he invented, because it allowed for fresh goods from around the world to be transported and sold in stores. Jones is essentially responsible for not just all refrigerated transport globally, but also the entire frozen food industry.

Thomas Downing

Known as the “Oyster King of New York,” Downing was most known for his 19th-century restaurant, Thomas Downing’s Oyster House. His oyster hall was legendary, with prominent figures like Queen Victoria and Charles Dickens having dined there.

Downing was born a free man, as his parents were freed by plantation owner John Downing. He grew up and was educated on Chincoteague Island in Virginia, and eventually made his way up to New York following the war of 1812. Like many other African-Americans in New York, Downing eventually went into the oyster business, opening his own oyster cellar in the 1820s.

Oyster cellars were the universal food of New York at the time (similar to hot dogs today), but many establishments weren’t as trusted as Downing’s. That’s because he specifically catering it towards the fine dining clientele, with a large dining area, carpet, and chandeliers gracing the hall. Elaborate dishes like oyster-stuffed turkeys and a pan roast made with wine and chili graced the menu.

This, at the time, meant that African-Americans couldn’t eat Downing’s restaurant, but few were aware of the double life he led. Downing’s basement was a key stop in the Underground Railroad, and as an abolitionist, he helped many that were escaping the South in search of freedom. He also led political efforts, funding schools for African-American children and leading the fight in desegregating New York’s trolley system.

Downing was so regarded in New York that when he passed away in 1866, the New York City Chamber of Commerce closed so that its members could attend his funeral.

Norbert Rillieux

The sugar industry in the United States has Norbert Rillieux to thank for allowing them to become so powerful. Were it not for his inventions, making sugar would still be a time-consuming and dangerous process.

Originally, the sugar refinement process, known as “The Jamaica Train,” was dangerous and expensive. Laborers (usually slaves) would transfer ladles of scalding hot sugar case juice between open boiling kettles, often resulting in scalding and terrible burns (anyone who’s worked with sugar knows how painful it can be). The result was a dark syrup that was molded into cones and dried before being sold.

From  1834-1843, Rillieux developed a system for refining and crystallizing sugar using a much safer and controlled method, allowing the United States to eventually dominate the sugar market. His process is still used today for freeze-drying food, pigments, and other food products.

George Washington Carver

Many people know George Washington Carver for the myriad of products he invented that utilized peanuts or sweet potatoes. As an agricultural scientist working in the South, he was also a man responsible for helping revitalize much of the economy in that region.

Working out of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, Carver was a teacher and a researcher from the late 1890s until his passing in 1943. An early pioneer of crop rotation, he encouraged farmers to plant peanuts in the soil after harvest to replenish lost nutrients, helping farmers improve not just their livelihoods, but their diets as well.

Carver’s research and work focused on revitalizing soil and maximizing plant production while keeping costs to a minimum. Outside of agriculture, he was a massive promoter of racial equality, and massive advocate of peanut oil as a potential treatment for polio. While never proven, the claim was widely circulated in media, and eventually turned into a “Peanuts for Polio” fundraising effort that helped raise money for medical care and benefits for children affected with the disease.

Following Carver’s passing, then-Senator Harry S. Truman sponsored legislation that would lead to the construction of the George Washington Carver National Monument. It was the first-ever national memorial to an African-American.

Illustrations in this piece provided by Sam Brosnan.

Categories
Culture News Products Restaurants Science

With Just Two Ingredients, You Can Make Bread For Life

With everyone at home right now, the possibilities that all this extra time have unlocked have manifested into Tik Tok videos, Tiger King memes, and throwing down in the kitchen. Now it’s been said that man cannot live on Joe Exotic’s drip and hitting the Whoa alone, as sustenance is key to survival. And though it’s universal to all how much good use of our time has been spent on unlocking our inner Gordon Ramsays, the fact remains that groceries are at a constant flux of being fully stocked to bare shelves in such a short amount of time, with essentials like bread becoming scarce.

But what if I told you that you can literally make your own bread for life with just two simple ingredients? A raised eyebrow of skepticism is what I’d expect, sure, but the overall simplicity of what it takes to bake bread really is just that — simple.

I asked Aaron Caddel, CEO and owner of Mr. Holmes Bakehouse in San Francisco and Los Angeles, why bread seems to be the unlikely hero right now and also to help us understand just how easy it is to make bread for you and yours for life.

“It’s just the survival component with people. Folks got really worried for a short amount of time that there was going to be a food shortage and I think that frenzy is still there,” Caddel explains. “Then also, folks just need to stay in the house. Making bread is cheap living and an essential part of a lot of folks’ dinner tables.”

Now just like the countless businesses and restaurants that have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Holmes Bakehouse has had to pivot their regular business model to still serve their customers. In light of this, while also recognizing the need for bread right now, Caddel has now shifted priorities to offering Bread Starter Kits, with shipping available nationwide. Inside you’ll find everything you’ll need to bring your bread starter to life, including instructions on how to “maintain this bread starter for 100+ years,” as said on the bakeshop’s website.

But how exactly is it even possible to have a lifelong supply of bread from just two ingredients? Well first, one needs to identify that these two ingredients are literally just flour and water. But how does yeast play into this whole process? Isn’t it essential as well? These are questions I myself had at the beginning of my research for this story. To help answer that, I tapped fellow Foodbeast and resident food scientist, Costa Spyrou, for some of his gems:

While you can purchase dry active yeast from stores, it’s not necessary to make your own bread starter. The most unique custom ones come from letting your dough capture the yeast from the surrounding air. Starters of flour and water left out at room temperature (but safely covered) will capture yeast and bacteria from the area. Many wild yeast strains are species that will ferment the dough: the most common yeast species is Saccharomyces cerevisiae. As vital as these yeasts are to turning dough into bread, you also need some bacteria to help the yeast along. It’s a symbiotic relationship between the yeast and bacteria that help produce the many signature flavors of dough.

Ah science (and Costa), thank you for all the clarity you bring. And also, thank you to establishments like Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, who are still finding ways to service the community even during these challenging times. The phrase ‘let’s get this bread’ resonates now more than ever.