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Behold! The Non-Browning Apple!

November 29, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s lunch time. You take a bit of your delicious apple. A colleague asks for your opinion on something, and you forgot about your apple for a few minutes.

When you return to it, you find it has become brown and gross. You throw it away out of disgust.

But its possible this may not happen again, if a new breed of genetically modified apple which doesn’t brown gets approval for growing. A biotech company called Okanagan Specialty Fruits of Summerland (OSF), based in British Columbia, Canada, has developed the apple and believes it will be a hit. Neal Carter, president of the company said

They look like apple trees and grow like apple trees and produce apples that look like all other apples and when you cut them, they don’t turn brown. The benefit is something that can be identified just about by everybody.

He says that the new type of apple will encourage it to be packaged in salads and children’s lunches, helping lead to more healthy eating.

How does it work? Well my biology is a little rusty, but basically what happens is this:

When you pierce the skin of the apple you expose the innards to oxygen. This causes a chemical reaction to occur involving enzymes which create melanin, the same pigment in your hair and eyes, and leads to the apple turning brown.

OSF has licensed a technology from Australian researchers which stops the production of a certain enzyme, polyphenol oxidase, which causes the browning.

It will be interesting to see how this pans out, but it will be awhile. The approval process for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service can take years.

In the meantime, there are a couple of things you can do to prevent your fruit from browning. You could drizzle some lemon juice on it, as the acid helps prevent the enzymes from turning the fruit brown. Also, you could refrigerate the fruit before eating, as the cold temperature reduces the rate of the chemical reaction which produces that nasty brown colour.

Why Does Airline Food Taste So Bad? It Could Be Your Hearing…

October 14, 2010 Leave a comment

 

I’ve only had airline food a couple of times. Of course, the food didn’t taste great, but I chalked that up to the fact that it was a 16 hour flight, and lets just say I have been in better moods.

But the general consensus is that airline food is gross. Even though it is mass-produced food, this is a little bit surprising because it is so universal. But a recent study published in the journal Food Quality and Preference, may shed some light on the subject.

The study involved 48 volunteers who tasted sweet and salty foods while listening to white background noise or complete silence.

The volunteers were then asked to rate how strongly flavoured the food was (the sweetness or saltiness), as well as the crunchiness and how much they liked the food overall.

The findings showed that ratings of saltiness and sweetness dropped dramatically while there was background noise. They also found that volunteers rated the crunchiness of the food higher when background noise was present.

This may suggest that airline food just tastes less flavourful when eating with the background noise of the engines. This could also drive the airline to over-season their food, which could also make it taste pretty bad.