Food! From fast food to comfort food, people around the world enjoy many different types of cuisines. Food can be delicious or gross, boring or exotic - or something you don't really give much thought.
We, on the other hand, think about food - a lot. Food fascinates us, and we learned a lot about it this year. From facts about fruits and veggies to unsettling details about additives and ingredients, here are the food facts that satisfied our intellectual appetites - for now. If nothing else, they'll hold us over until next year.
Take a look and vote up the facts that fill you up, too.
Bread is one of the most ubiquitous American foods, with entire grocery store aisles devoted to this one product. Of course, it isn’t just made from grain, and in the US at least, it also includes a variety of additives, typically to improve texture and color. Azodicarbonamide, for example, strengthens the dough and bleaches the flour.
The compound also turns up in a wide spectrum of industrial contexts, including in the production of yoga mats. The European Union has thus banned its use in food products. There are 27 countries in the European Union as of November 2022.
Children across the world may be devasted to learn that broccoli was, in fact, mankind's invention. But it wasn't just broccoli: cauliflower, kale, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts all stem from the same plant - a cruciferous vegetable in the Brassicaceae family (formerly called Cruciferae).
What is this wondrous, amazing mother foliage? It's the simple wild mustard plant. But this simple plant evolved splendidly with selective breeding. Starting more than 2,000 years ago, farmers painstakingly chose different combinations to try. They reproduced the plants with the largest leaves (creating kale). They propagated plants with larger flower clusters, which they harvested before they bloomed (broccoli). From broccoli came cauliflower. And from cabbage came Brussels sprouts.
So, the next time you enjoy some of your favorite cruciferous veggies, remember to thank the wild mustard plant.
It's pretty common knowledge that a raisin is just a dried grape, but exactly how that grape is dried varies. In some instances, it's sun-drying, although the process can be lengthy. Artificial light and added heat often supplement the sun and expedite the desiccation.
Putting grapes out to dry attracts insects and leaves the fruit exposed to dirt, sand, and other particulates. To combat bugs, many companies use pesticides, but they don't always dissipate or get washed off during processing. According to a 2020 report from the US Department of Agriculture, 99% of raisins sampled and tested were contaminated with two or more pesticides.
Tempura is a staple in what many of us think of as Japanese cuisine. But how Japanese is this dish truly?
In actuality, tempura's roots came from Portuguese missionaries. When they arrived in Japan in the 16th century, they brought the style of coating food in flour, then frying it. When the Japanese saw this technique, they ran with it.
Cut to Edo (Tokyo’s historic name) in the 18th century. It was one of the largest cities in the world, and was growing with a mix of people from different economic backgrounds. Specifically, during this peaceful period, many single Japanese men flocked to the city.
The food vendors needed a way to feed these bachelors quickly (and often cheaply), so food stalls and carts started becoming popular. This aligned with the introduction of tempura, whose (somewhat dangerous) frying process was better to do outdoors than inside.
Because fish was readily available in Edo, it became the popular base of the dish. It was then fried in sesame oil to eliminate some of the fishy smell. The vendors also started putting the tempura on sticks, to avoid the greasy fingers that followed enjoying the dish. Outdoor food courts are still very popular in modern Japan; the city of Fukuoka in particular is known for its open-air dining.