Skip to content

Should Science and Food Mix?

January 29, 2015

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA look at headlines and news clips and this would be a resounding NO! Keep science far away. What if I said food invites science? Needs science? Stay with me here.

While many want all chemicals out of food, the rush to eliminate science from food is foolhardy. Many skipped, or slept through, basic science, or forgot biology 101. Before insulting, stop and THINK for a few minutes while considering honestly what I’m saying here.

There are polls that show consumers now want DNA out of all food. Apart from CSI Miami does anyone remember what DNA is? More than something to finger the bad guys in television dramas! By definition:

  1. A nucleic acid that carries the genetic information in cells and some viruses, consisting of two long chains of nucleotides twisted into a double helix and joined by hydrogen bonds between the complementary bases adenine and thymine or cytosine and guanine. DNA sequences are replicated by the cell prior to cell division and may include genes, intergenic spacers, and regions that bind to regulatory proteins.

A split tomato - unattractive, but edible, has scientific reasons. Or just dice it for salsa!

A split tomato – unattractive, but edible, has scientific reasons. Or just dice it for salsa!

So to eliminate DNA is to eliminate anything with cells…all vegetables, fruits, nuts, meats contain DNA! So if we eliminate all DNA that leaves – minerals I suppose. Water. But wait – we must also eliminate everything that kills us or something else. Anything that is a chemical sounding word. Sodium chloride has to go. As do these. Indeed, Sodium chloride can be fatal at an ounce per pound of body weight. Can’t have SALT which the body needs to survive. Eliminate salt and seizures, coma, death await.

Growing food from seed or conception to maturity to harvest to breeding a new generation or feeding with this one all rotates around science. It’s surrounded by chemicals which can be as scary or as understood as you want it to be.

Some readers might consider that a pat, dismissive answer and that is not what it’s intended to be. Science surrounds us! It’s not a class to tolerate in school and leave behind! Without being a science geek and getting into $20 words, we need science.

Science combines liquid and oil in dressings. Science changes the consistency of ingredients when flour is added to make paste – add fats and it’s gravy. Science alters the shell of an egg, and if you put an egg in a cup of vinegar, the shell will disappear…it’s not magic, it’s science! (Try it!)

All this time we combine things for recipes called cooking it’s got roots in science. Growing the food has more science than most realize, whether organic or conventional. When something threatens the health of a plant or animal we need to identify what it is, and treat it, hopefully in time to save the plant or animal. Sometimes it’s an easy fix, or sometimes, like a split tomato, the damage is done and we salvage what we can.

So what can cause that split tomato? Largely, temperature changes and water availability – fast growth that’s more than the tomato can handle.

Making cheese transforms liquid to another form - science! Tasty science!

Making cheese transforms liquid to another form – science! Tasty science!

While some folks build companies around fear factor, there’s enough things that we can’t control in life to obsess about things we don’t need to be that concerned with. Science and chemical sounding things have reduced botulism as a source of death. It’s made preserving foods at home something that empowers people who don’t want that factory processed mystery that they don’t understand, but is similar. As we approach summer here’s one thing for the foodies on the list – go and take your kids to a food plant. Many give tours, as I remember going to one in school – not quite when dinosaurs roamed the earth! Go see how food is processed large scale. Visit a farm like Fair Oaks, where a dairy and hog facility are available to tour as well as eating from the production right there.

No yoga mats or other inedible ingredients are put in the food. Some things, like salt, depend on small amounts to do the job intended. Get to know science again – it’s happening in your food and your kitchen!

Don’t fear it – learn it!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 30, 2015 2:22 AM

    An excellent post! I am always bugged to see people trying to eliminate “chemicals” so I’m happy you put is in such good words. As a biologist, I find myself going over the science in everything I do with food, from baking and canning to hunting and gardening, chemistry, physics, biology and ecology all help our understanding of food.
    ~The Homesteading Hippy

    • January 30, 2015 9:29 AM

      Thanks! So much unnecessary fear. We all want safe food, but many homeschool lessons happen in the kitchen!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: