History of Food UPDATES

Earth Eating Earth eating or geophagia has been practised for thousands of years. There are recordings of this practice from ancient Sumeria, Egypt and China. Some nutritionists sympathise with the value of this supplement to the diet , usually a clay as there is a rich provision of silicon, aluminium and traces of iron, calcium and zinc. However the clay may bid trace elements and prevent their absorption, worsening a precarious nutritional status. Geophagia in communities with marginal nutrition geophagia may cause anaemia. Especially in women who can in some cultures be the last to eat at meals. Other studies suggest that geophagia is desired by and provides trace elements to individuals deficient .in a trace element. It has also been suggested that clays act as a detoxicant, whatever that means. Perhaps in some states e.g. pregnancy the earths just taste nice , filling and not harmful. Or causing sickness. The studies on geophagia are very welcome. On the one hand there is ingrained folk tradition and ascribed virtues of say eating clay. The reasons for such a practice should be examined and tested scientifically. This is so necessary and welcome. Such a course of action is in contrast to some vocal media pundits who make ill founded claims which are totally untested scientifically
Trevor Stokes Nature 2006, 444, 30th November 543-4

Food Magazine

The Food Commission magazine. Food Magazine has several good websites
Action on Additives www.actiononadditives.com

Healthy Eating

The couple were 85 years old and had been married for sixty years.
Though they were far from rich, they managed to get by because they watched their pennies.

Though not young, they were both in very good health, largely due to the wife’s insistence on healthy foods and exercise for the last decade.
One day, their good health didn’t help when they went on a rare vacation and their plane crashed, sending them off to Heaven.

They reached the pearly gates, and St.. Peter escorted them inside.
He took them to a beautiful mansion, furnished in gold and fine silks,
with a fully stocked kitchen and a waterfall in the master bath.
A maid could be seen hanging their favourite clothes in the closet.
They gasped in astonishment when he said, ‘Welcome to Heaven. This will be your home now.’

The old man asked Peter how much all this was going to cost.
‘Why, nothing,’ Peter replied, ‘remember, this is your reward in Heaven..’
The old man looked out the window and right there he saw a championship golf course, finer and more beautiful than any ever built on Earth.. ‘What are the greens fees?,’ grumbled the old man.
‘This is heaven,’ St. Peter replied. ‘You can play for free, every day.’

Next they went to the clubhouse and saw the lavish buffet lunch,
with every imaginable cuisine laid out before them,
from seafood to steaks to exotic deserts, free flowing beverages.
‘Don’t even ask,’ said St. Peter to the man. This is Heaven, it is all free for you to enjoy.’
The old man looked around and glanced nervously at his wife.
‘Well, where are the low fat and low cholesterol foods and the decaffeinated tea?,’ he asked.
That’s the best part,’ St. Peter replied. ‘You can eat and drink as much as you like, of whatever you like, and you will never get fat or sick. This is Heaven!’

The old man pushed, ‘No gym to work out at?’
‘Not unless you want to,’ was the answer.
‘No testing my sugar or blood pressure or….’
‘Never again. All you do here is enjoy you’re your self
The old man glared at his wife and said,
‘You and your bran Flakes. We could have been here ten years ago!’

History of British Cooking

British Cooking has received a great deal of opprobrium over the recent years. Many look to the continent for good cooking. Meanwhile undisturbed by this reputation every day delicious dishes and meals are been served in Britain over the centuries.. < br /> Cookery books are major sellers, being of universal interest. They are the recordings of how food was prepared and reflect the cooking practices of the era in which the book was written. Cookery books in English are to be found from the 14th century from the cooks serving Richard II. Through out the ages these writers emphasise the joys of cooking rather than buying ready made meals.
Kate Colquhoun has written a history of British Cooking through the ages. This account starts in the medieval ages and comes to modern times.

Taste, The story of Britain through its cooking Bloomsbury
Worth having and reading

History of Italian Food

Italy is such a mix of cultures from the North with the great City States to the South and Sicily extending into the Mediterranean absorbing the flow of cultures passing by through the centuries.
This great mix is reflected in the wonderful cuisine that Italy enjoys. Even the French cuisine owes something in part to an Italian Princess marrying into the French Royal family and bringing her own Italian Chefs and food delicacies.
Where ever Italians have migrated they have transformed the local diet with their food. To the extent that a well known English Model on returning home said that whilst she was abroad that she had longed for good English food like spaghetti.
John Dickie has written a fine history of Italian food which makes good reading.
The glory of nutrition is the translation of science into an agreeable meal. And the Italians have instinctively achieved this.

John Dickie The epic history of the Italians and their food Hodder and Stoughton.

Jane Austen

Many mothers are cautious about sweets for their children especially towards bed time. This is enthusiasm in youngsters is often attributed to E numbered chemicals. Jane Austen in her novel Persuasion published in 1818 condemned sweets and sugary confectionary for children as they resulted in excessively high spirits and hyperactivity. There was also an acceptance that women lived longer than men.

Medieval Islamic Medicine

Medieval Islamic Medicine published by Georgetown University and Edinburgh University Press
by Peter Pormann and Emilie Savage-Smith
Reviewed by Yasmin Khan in Nature 2007 Medical History without Frontiers vol 448, 870

Islamic medicine has a long history especially in the medieval period of over thousand years and derives its past form vast geographical regions from Spain and North Africa in the west, to central Asia and India in the east. Its origins were the Islamic faith, but also collaboration of Muslims with non-Muslims, who used Arabic to publish heir ideas. .
The book describes the origins of Medieval Islamic medicine and the subsequent contacts with medicine in other cultures.
Muslims saw the body as well as the soul as precious, because it was derived from and accountable to God as the creator. The body therefore required constant and dutiful care. The body was to be maintained and preserved and protected from abuse. These concepts were drawn from ancient Greece and added to by the Islamic faith.
The book emphasizes the influence on early Muslim medical practitioners by Unani Tibb, an Islamic medical tradition dating from early Greek medicine. This involved balancing, through diet and medicinal herbs, the four humours air, earth, fire and water, which correspond to the four bodily fluids blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile and understanding that a good environment and spiritual peace are essential for good health. Today such a holistic approach to well-being, although experiencing a resurgence, is outside mainstream modern medicine.
There was a tradition of free specialized treatment which has its modern equivalence in the National Health Service.

Mediterranean Diet and Diabetese

Many studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet has a role in prevention of cardiovascular disease, and some suggest that it could also protect against diabetes. Protective characteristics include a high intake of fibre, a high intake of vegetable fat, a low intake of trans fatty acids, a moderate intake of alcohol, and the abundant use of virgin olive oil which is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids. Diets rich in monounsaturated fatty acids improve lipid profiles and glycaemic control in diabetics.
Martinez-Gonzalez et al in the BMJ of 14th June 2008 pp 1348-1351 looked at the relationship between adherence to a Mediterranean diet and the incidence of diabetes among initially healthy participants.
The prospective cohort study took into account relative risk adjusted for sex, age, years of university education, total energy intake, body mass index, physical activity, sedentary habits, smoking, family history of diabetes, and personal history of hypertension.
The study was set in a Spanish university department, 13 380 Spanish university graduates without diabetes at baseline were followed up for a median of 4.4 years
Dietary habits were assessed at baseline with a validated 136 item food frequency questionnaire and scored on a nine point index. New cases of diabetes confirmed through medical reports and an additional detailed questionnaire posted to those who self reported a new diagnosis of diabetes by a doctor during follow-up.
Participants who adhered closely to a Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of diabetes. The incidence rate ratios adjusted for sex and age were 0.41 (95% confidence interval 0.19 to 0.87) for those with moderate adherence (score 3-6) and 0.17 (0.04 to 0.75) for those with the highest adherence (score 7-9) compared with those with low adherence (score <3).
They concluded that a Mediterranean diet is associated with a reduced risk of diabetes.

Martinez-Gonzalez et al 2008, Adherence to Mediterranean diet and the risk of developing diabetes: prospective study. BMJ vol 336 pp 1348-1351

Sheila Bingham

Sheila Bingham has died ( 1947-2009) . She was based in Cambridge and her contributions to sensible Nutrition science were enormous. If you go into Pub Med and look at her papers there is always valuable insights with each and every one of her papers. She was also a very nice person. A splendid team player, which is not a common gift. A loss.

Tea bags taste and colour

Have you noticed that when one makes a cup of tea with a tea bag, 90% of the colour leaches into the water in 1 minute and only 10% of the taste.

The Banana

The banana is the most popular fruit eaten in the UK, 95% of families buy bananas each week.
Whilst there are more than 300 varieties s of bananas the majority of bananas grown have been of one type, Gros Michel or Big Mike. A variety which has a universally acceptable taste, acceptable size, colour and sweetness. The modern popularity of bananas came as a result of the activities of the United Fruit Company in the USA which had plantations in the southern American states and Islands. The company developed the sale of these all over the world using a fleet of 100 refrigerated ships.
Hot and damp conditions are ideal for growing the banana. The mass production of the banana plants has lead to problems. The plants are readily infected by a variety of pathogens as the banana plant is a clone, inbred and has inherent vulnerability and susceptibility to a wide range of pathogens. The plants are grown from cuttings and the seeds are quite fragile. The climate must facilitate the activity of pathogens, warm and wet.
The variety of banana now used is the Cavendish and even this is dying.
The transport of bananas to the shops is a masterly exercise in transport. The time from cutting the bananas from the tree on the plantation to the distant shop must be within 12 to 13 days before rotting begins.
The banana plant requires intensive pesticide and fungicide application to keep the plants alive. Hence bananas are amongst the most chemically treated of any food we eat.

This description of the bananas way of life and the politics of the company ( United Fruit ) who developed its widespread usage is to be found in the Financial Times Magazine May 5/6 2007, pp 24-27; written by Peter Chapman

He has also written a book “Jungle Capitalists, a story of globalisation Greed and Revolution published by Canongate. Press

Yorkshire Pudding Recipe

Royal Society of Chemistry recipe for Yorkshire pudding I am a Yorkshire man. My mother always said, the boy who eats the most Yorkshire pudding gets the most meat.
The Royal Society of Chemistry quite rightly has put a lot of thought into what constitutes a proper Yorkshire pudding.
This will have every Yorkshire housewife expressing a view.

Tablespoon and a half of plain flour
1 egg
Half milk, half water for thin batter
Half a teaspoon of salt

Put flour in a bowl, make a well in the middle, add the egg, stir until combined then gradually add the milk and water until the batter is a smooth and thin consistency
Stir in half teaspoon of salt and leave to stand for 10 minutes at room temperature
Put beef dripping into Yorkshire pudding tins but don’t use too much fat. Put into hot oven until the fat starts to smoke
Give the batter a final stir and pour into the tins. Place in hot oven until well risen – 10 to 15 minutes Serve
Always serve as a separate course before the main meal and use the best gravy from the roast joint. (Yorkshire housewives served it before the meal so they would eat less of the expensive main course)
Best eaten with gravy, then with the main course and then with golden syrup as pudding


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