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Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

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Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

The Observer

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Beyond the culinary experience

Food in general is one of the best aspects of living. From rich spices to savory sweets, my mouth waters just thinking about my favorite foods. I’ve always wanted to learn more about the foods I eat, and about other bizarre aspects of nutrition. After browsing the web, I found some interesting tidbits.

Duck feathers contain quite a bit of useful protein. The L-cysteine protein, which is extracted from feathers, is commonly used by companies like Dunkin’ Donuts to make better bagels and other baked items. The feather itself isn’t in the bagel, but a part of it is.

Another food factoid I found involves cockroaches and chocolate. The FDA allows up to 60 insect pieces per 100 grams of chocolate (two candy bars’ worth) when making inspections of manufacturing companies. This means that your favorite chocolate indulgence could be loaded with extra insect proteins – and it usually is. There are similar FDA regulations for insect contaminants in butter, macaroni, fruit, cheese, and much more.

Allergist Morton Teich at Mount Sinai School of Medicine discussed how animal parts like these are impossible to avoid in food products. The only way to eliminate them would be to use much more pesticides at the farming level, which could be very unsafe. So if you insist on eating bug-free, you won’t be eating at all.

The FDA has compiled a list of every food additive ever used – just search “everything added to food in the United States FDA” to access the database. There are more than 3600 man-made compounds added to food to preserve freshness and improve taste. Our taste buds have touched thousands of scientific creations, from complex scientific formulas to simple sucrose.

The world of what we eat is vastly more complex than I could ever have imagined. I am not here to judge if a food manufacturing process is “right” or “wrong.” Rather, I find it fascinating that science has taken food to a whole new level of productivity and nutrition. Is it going too far? Or is it the only way humans can continue to meet the ever-expanding demands of our worldwide population? A famous Spanish proverb says “the belly rules the mind.” Regardless of the direction society goes for its own food consumption and creation, the necessity of food is embedded into human physiology. Only time will tell how humanity will continue to satisfy the belly that nourishes the mind.

Join me next time as we continue to explore the bizarre aspects of our universe. From

ecosystems to the solar system, there are always strange things to discover around us.

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