First It Was Cows Generating Electricity, Now It Is Hotel Guests Riding Their Way To Power

I first reported about a farmer in Northern Ireland who had his cows on a treadmill powering up juice for his electrical needs. [See article here.]  Now a Hotel in Denmark is paying their guests to cycle their way to a free meal by supplying some 10 watt-hours of power while cycling. But it gets even better. For the 15 minutes of pedal power the cyclist gets a $36 dollar meal voucher, which is a substantial reward for doing something that most people do for free.

The article goes on to state that:

The bikes are hooked up to generators that require guests of average fitness to pedal for about 15 minutes to create 10 watt-hours of electricity. iPhones attached to the handlebars display the amount of power being generated.

This hardly represents a shocking development for a nation that just can’t stop polishing its green credentials after hosting the international climate summit this past winter.

Which does make one wonder. Maybe we could all help out with out energy problems by cycling our way to add some juice to the electrical grid. What do you think? Should we do the cycling or have the cows do it? LOL

Comments welcome.


The Largest Last Supper

There should be an image here!Were the twelve apostles guilty of overeating at the Last Supper? Two brothers—an eating behavior expert and a religious studies scholar—are publishing findings that might make you think twice at your Easter dinner.

Brian and Craig Wansink teamed up to analyze the amount of food depicted in 52 of the best-known paintings of the Last Supper. After indexing the sizes of the foods by the sizes of the average disciple’s head, they found that portion size, plate size, and bread size increased dramatically over the last one thousand years. Overall, the main courses depicted in the paintings grew by 69%, plate size by 66%, and bread size by 23%.

The study’s findings will be published in the April 2010 issue of the International Journal of Obesity and released in the online version of the journal.

“I think people assume that increased serving sizes, or ‘portion distortion,’ is a recent phenomenon,” said Brian Wansink, professor and director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab. “But this research indicates that it’s a general trend for at least the last millennium.”

“As the most famously depicted dinner of all time, the Last Supper is ideally suited for review,” said Craig Wansink, professor of religious studies at Virginia Wesleyan College.

“The method we used created a natural crossroads between our two divergent fields and a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with my brother,” he added.

Portion size and spatial relationships are familiar topics in Brian Wansink’s work in food and eating behavior. In his book Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, he explores the hidden cues that determine what, when, and how much we eat.

Tom Rushmer @ Cornell Food and Brand Lab

[Photo above by Eric Coulston / CC BY-ND 2.0]

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Rotman Paper Finds Exposure To Fast Food Can Make Us Impatient

There should be an image here!Eating habits have shifted dramatically over the last few decades–fast food has become a multibillion dollar industry that has widespread influence on what and how we eat. The original idea behind fast food is to increase efficiency, allowing people to quickly finish a meal so they can move on to other matters. Researchers at the Rotman School of Management, however, have found that the mere exposure to fast food and related symbols can make people impatient, increasing preference for time saving products, and reducing willingness to save.

“Fast food represents a culture of time efficiency and instant gratification,” says Chen-Bo Zhong, who co-wrote the paper with colleague Sanford DeVoe to be published in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science. “The problem is that the goal of saving time gets activated upon exposure to fast food regardless of whether time is a relevant factor in the context. For example, walking faster is time efficient when one is trying to make a meeting, but it’s a sign of impatience when one is going for a stroll in the park. We’re finding that the mere exposure to fast food is promoting a general sense of haste and impatience regardless of the context.”

In one experiment, the researchers flashed fast food symbols, such as the golden arch of McDonald’s, on a computer screen for a few milliseconds, so quick that participants couldn’t consciously identify what they saw. They found that this unconscious exposure increased participants’ reading speed in a subsequent task compared to those in a control condition, even when there was no advantage to finishing sooner. In another study, participants who recalled a time when they eat at a food restaurant subsequently preferred time-saving products—such as two-in-one shampoo—over regular products. A final experiment found people exposed to fast food logos exhibited greater reluctance for saving —choose a smaller immediate payment rather than opting for a much larger delayed payment.

“Fast food is one of many technologies that allow us to save time,” says Sanford DeVoe, “But the ironic thing is that by constantly reminding us of time efficiency, these technologies can lead us to feel much more impatience. A fast food culture that extols saving time doesn’t just change the way we eat but it can also fundamentally alter the way they experience our time. For example, leisure activities that are supposed to be relaxing can come to be experienced through the color glasses of impatience.”

The researchers point out that it’s impossible to know whether fast food in part caused the value for time efficiency in our culture or is merely a consequence of it—but it’s clear from their findings that exposure to fast food reinforces an emphasis on impatience and instant gratification. “Given the role that financial impatience played in the current economic crisis,” says Chen-Bo Zhong, “we need to move beyond counting calories when we examine the consequences of fast food as it is also influencing our everyday psychology and behavior in a wider set of domains than has been previously thought.”

Ken McGuffin @ University of Toronto – Rotman School of Management

[Photo above by Amy McTigue / CC BY-ND 2.0]

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Keeping Queso Fresco Fresh

There should be an image here!Queso fresco, a quintessential ingredient in Mexican cuisine, would retain higher quality in supermarket display cases if stored at a lower temperature. That’s the conclusion of a report presented here today at the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.

The study was part of a broader effort to establish so-called “standards of identity” for the Hispanic foods now finding a new home in the United States, where Hispanics and Latinos now constitute 15 percent of the population. Among other things, the standards would permit inclusion of queso fresco and other foods in the National School Lunch Program, according to Michael H. Tunick, Ph.D., who presented the report.

Queso fresco means “fresh cheese.” It is unaged, snow white, high-moisture, and mild in flavor. The cheese is ideal for accenting salads, enchiladas, and other dishes. Since queso fresco gets soft when heated, it finds other spots on the menu as a filling in many dishes.

“The increasing popularity of Hispanic food in the US is causing attention to be focused on the chemistry of these products for the first time,” Tunick said. He is with the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service in Wyndmoor, Penn. “Hispanic-style cheeses are one of the fastest growing styles of cheese in the U.S. because of the growing Hispanic population and the incorporation of the Hispanic cuisine into the American diet. Federal Standards of Identity for Hispanic-style cheese have not been established and, as a result, considerable brand-to-brand variation exists for these cheeses sold in the U.S.”

Queso fresco is traditionally consumed fresh, hence its name, but it may be refrigerated for weeks. Tunick’s team used physical chemistry techniques to examine the texture and structure of the cheese during refrigeration.

“In an effort to understand more about the physical chemistry of this product and its impact on shelf life, rheological and microstructural studies were performed on samples refrigerated at 39 degrees Fahrenheit and 50 degrees F. for up to eight weeks,” said Tunick.

They found that storage at a typical home refrigerator temperature of 39 degrees F. allows the cheese to retain its characteristic texture for two months. However, some breakdown in structure occurs at 50 degrees F., the standard supermarket display case temperature.

“As the structure starts to break down (as seen by electron microscopy), the texture becomes weaker and more crumbly,” Tunick explained. “Stores could hold the cheese at a lower temperature, but extra refrigeration costs money.”

Based on the findings, Tunick suggested that the cheese’s sell-by date in stores could be one month, and a “consume-by” date could be a month after that.

“Our research provides the quantitative data required by Federal and State agencies to develop Standards of Identity for use by the cheese industry and specifications needed to bring Hispanic style cheeses into Federal food programs such as the School Lunch Program,” said Tunick, “But research is needed to characterize the attributes (chemical, functional, textural, sensorial and microbiological) that make Hispanic-style cheeses unique, to understand the impact of processing conditions on the properties of the cheeses.”

Michael Bernstein @ American Chemical Society

[Photo above by Maggie Hoffman / CC BY-ND 2.0]

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Food Companies Really Like Blogging Moms

Blogging Moms are being wooed by food companies who see these parents as being of real valuable to associate with their products. Moms are finding that staying at home and blogging can be lucrative as food companies are starting to offer free trips, products and more. But with the FTC trying to impose guidelines for bloggers and free products they receive, is there a real conflict of interest?

The FTC has stated that bloggers must disclose financial incentives or product compensation if given to a blogger in exchange for a review. What is not clear is how these guidelines will be imposed. Some are saying that the FTC has guidelines that are unclear and that this causes confusion in the bloging community.

A recent article at the Los Angeles Times states the following:

But recently, these bloggers say, food companies have upped the ante, bombarding them with free trips to corporate kitchens and mountains of edible swag.

Starbucks, eager to get working parents drinking its Via instant coffee, sent limousines to shuttle bloggers in New York City for a private lunch with executives. They left with bags stuffed with coffee and offers of bottomless future refills.

Fast-food purveyor Taco Bell flew a group of bloggers from Maryland, Michigan and Missouri to California for a retreat this spring, paid for their lodging and let them spend the day creating new taco and burrito concoctions.

Kraft Foods curried favor with mommy bloggers by bringing some to Los Angeles for the Grilled Cheese Invitational, in an effort to get online parents hungry for cheese.

It’s a strategy that recalls post-World War II ad campaigns, in which women touted the benefits of certain laundry soaps and the household brands that would make them a domestic goddess.

“They handle the family budget,” said Amanda Vega, an industry consultant who specializes in social media and public relations. “People read them and believe them, because they’re easy to identify with.”

I can understand that consumers would believe a mommy blogger outside of the corporate environment than they would a star that has been paid to promote a product. But should the moms have to disclose who is giving them products? Would these promotions influence the reviews these Moms may provide?

Let me know what you think.

Comments welcome.


Recipe RX

When it comes to food, a lot of us approach it in a somewhat skewed way. Many times we think about what sounds good to eat, which is fine, but we should spend more time thinking about what would be good for us to eat. Each one of us has a different health profile, and if we ignore it, we could find ourselves in an unhealthy situation. A lot of people resist trying to eat healthy simply because they think it takes more work than just shoveling in whatever food items are near them at the time. The truth is that eating healthy doesn’t have to be difficult, and Recipe RX proves that to be true.

To use the site, you create your health profile by telling Recipe RX about your medical background, dietary needs, and even the types of foods that you prefer. This information is then used to provide you with recipe recommendations and even suggestions for restaurants that you might like to eat at. Yes, eating according to your needs doesn’t mean that you just have to stay home and can never go out to eat. You’re sure to discover things on your own that you’ve found to be beneficial as well, and you’re encouraged to share this information with the community.

3 Buck Bites

I don’t know about you, but I love to eat. I’ve realized that a lot of my decisions and trips are based around food, which is both pitiful and exciting at the same time. I’m sure many of you can relate. In my mind, one of the nicest treats is going out to eat, and I probably do it more than I should. One of the problems with going out to eat these days is that it can be expensive, but if you’re willing to try and find some good deals, then they are out there in places that you might not even expect. 3 Buck Bites documents food items from restaurants that cost US$3.99 or less.

This site comes to us from Citysearch, which is a company that many of you are probably familiar with. The pictures of the food items alone are enough to make you salivate, but the descriptions make them even more appetizing. You can search for these cheap eats in a variety of ways, and the Top Bites section documents the best of the best. If you’d like, you can even submit your own special finds. More than anything else, 3 Buck Bites will make your wallet happy.


Should Craigslist Be Punished For Its Advertising Policy?

The state of South Carolina has given Craigslist until May 15, 2009 to remove what the state considers offending advertising. The issue revolves around the policy that Craigslist has taken on its advertising of illegal sexual activities. Of course this all depends on what your definition of ‘illegal sexual activities’ may be.

But according to an article at MSNBC, South Carolina has taken the following position:

South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster sent the company a letter Tuesday giving site leaders 10 days to remove illegal content and prostitution ads or face prosecution, claiming managers had “knowingly allowed the site to be used for illegal and unlawful activity after warnings from law enforcement officials and after an agreement with 40 state attorneys general.”

That was a reference to a deal Craigslist struck in November with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and 43 attorneys general to crack down on ads for prostitution. Under the arrangement, Craigslist said it would require anyone who posted an “erotic services” ad to provide a working telephone number and pay a fee with a valid credit card; Craigslist said it would provide the information to law enforcement if it were subpoenaed.

It appears that what South Carolina is objecting to is the continuation of Craigslist to advertise or solicit prostitution. Other states are also looking into the advertising policies of Craigslist also and may also file additional lawsuits in the future. This appears to be being caused by the recent investigation in which one person had used Craigslist and attacked a woman he met through the service. The allegations also include one murder the perpetrator may have done as well.

But is it fair to single out Craigslist for prosecution?

What do you think?

MSNBC article linked here.

Yummy Funding For Foodista

foodistaOne might think that there is already enough in the way of recipe search portals out there. But what about recipe wiki sites? Clearly, Foodista is proving that there is indeed a demand here for those who are serious about food! In a funding of $550,000 from Amazon, Foodista is going to be in a position to take their tasty vision to the next level.

But I think a lot of people are going to be asking themselves as to whether or not it makes sense to have a wiki just for recipes? I mean, there are TONS of recipe sites out there already…most of which already allow their users to contribute easily when applicable.

After doing some food exploring, as it is called, I am more lost as to the appeal than ever? The site is attractive enough, yet is not really all that effective for helping to explore food or plan my next dinner. One thing it does well however, is showcase Amazon’s S3 technology…something that has little to do with food or recipes.


I love going out to eat. No, seriously, I really love going out to eat. There’s something about it that just makes me happy, and going out to eat has become one of the most popular social activities of all time. Most of us do enjoy eating at restaurants, but it can be costly, and not just in a financial way. It’s not always easy to eat healthy, and restaurants aren’t making it much easier, either. Sometimes what seems healthy at a restaurant is actually pretty bad for you. The next time you plan on going to a restaurant, try to take a look at Fatburgr beforehand.

This Web site provides the nutritional information from a collection of popular restaurants. You won’t find very many restaurants here, but either way, the information is still enlightening and occasionally shocking. The details that you’ll find can be found in other places and sometimes from the restaurants themselves, but Fatburgr organizes it in one place. I’m usually not too concerned about what I’m eating, but I’m sure we’d all feel better if we did some research before we ate these meals and tried to make good decisions about what to eat and what not to eat.



We all enjoy eating good food, and many times some of us get a little more excited about it than we probably should. Our love of food has an impact on many different areas of our lives including the plans that we make with our friends. Going out to eat is best enjoyed when it’s a social activity, so it shouldn’t be a surprise if we find ourselves constantly making plans to grab a bite to eat with some friends or family members. Whenever you do something with anyone, you’ll inevitably end up enjoying some sort of meal with them at some point, but it can be hard to decide where to go. With lunchn, you’ll be able to figure everything out beforehand. 

Once you’ve formed a group with your friends through lunchn, you simply add restaurants that your group might want to consider and then everyone gets to vote on where they’d like to eat. You can find restaurants in your area through this service, and you’ll also discover restaurants that other groups enjoyed. From my perspective, if you need to use something like this just to figure out where to eat, then either your life is too complicated or you’re making it too complicated.

Google States Why Ad Agreement With Yahoo Is Good

Google and Yahoo have entered into an ad agreement which is under Congressional review in Washington D.C. You must understand that our Congress has nothing better to do with their time than investigate Google and Yahoo. Never mind banks going under, inflation taking off, high gas prices, homes being foreclosed upon and so forth. Congress wants to make sure that Google doesn’t become an advertising monopoly which would…….. I don’t know exactly what would happen. Though it might piss off Microsoft. :-)

So Google is trying to defend their position and wants us to know what they are trying to accomplish and how good it will be for all of us. On their blog site it states:

Because of its founding principles of openness and interoperability, the Internet is an extraordinarily competitive environment, where competition and choice are only a click away. Our advertising agreement with Yahoo! will maintain and expand that competition. Among the key points David will make today are:

  • This agreement will be good for Internet users (who will see ads that are better targeted to their interests); advertisers (whose ads will be better matched to users’ interests, allowing them to reach potential customers more efficiently), and website publishers (who will see increased revenue from better-matched ads on their websites).
  • Google and Yahoo! will remain vigorous competitors, and that competition will help fuel innovation that is good for users and the economy. As we’ve said before, commercial arrangements between competitors are commonplace in many industries. Antitrust regulators in the US have recognized that consumers can benefit form these arrangements, especially when one company has technical expertise that enables another company to improve the quality of its products.

Our agreement will not increase Google’s share of search traffic, because Yahoo will continue to run its own search engine and compete in online search.

  • We’re particularly excited that as part of the agreement, Yahoo! will make its instant messaging network interoperable with Google’s. This will mean easier and broader communication among a growing number of IM users, and enable users to choose among competing IM providers based on the merits and features of the services.
  • We have taken a number of steps in the Yahoo! agreement to protect user privacy. As Google supplies ads to Yahoo! and its partners, personally identifiable information of individual Internet users will not be shared between the companies. Yahoo! will anonymize the IP address of a searcher’s computer before passing a search request to Google.

Though I understand the need for investigating companies that wish to merge and share some of their expertise with each other, my concern is that Congress at this time should be using their energies for more pressing problems. Whether Google and Yahoo working together is good or not, it is not going to lower food nor gas prices.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.



Help Available With Food Costs

I had no idea until a few months ago that there was a source available to everyone to combat the high price of food. This source has no political or financial restrictions. It does not require you to be a member of any church. It is not a welfare resource. You will receive approximately $70 worth of food for $30. The specials are a great savings as well.

The name of this service is Angel Food ministries. It is coordinated through local churches nationwide and works through sheer numbers. The more people who order the better the price they are able to negotiate through distributors. You will not have any particular religious denomination pushed down your throat. You simply go in and order, pay cash in advance, and leave. When you pick up your order you must have a copy of your receipt, arrive during the specified time (if you do not your order is donated as there is no way of freezing items that are not picked up), and bring a cardboard box with you to pick up your items.

We saw an immediate savings. The food was good and for the most part enjoyable. There were one or two items that we probably wouldn’t have chosen but we figured out a way to use them that worked for us.

Below is what the program is offering for August.

 A U G U S T    2 0 0 8   M E N U 

1.5 lb.     Ribeye Steaks (4 x 6 oz.)

5 lb.        Chicken Leg Quarters

28 oz.     Chicken Breast Nuggets

28 oz.     Salisbury Steak Dinner Entrée

32 oz.     Breaded Chicken Breast Filets

12 oz.     Smoked Sausage

16 oz.     California Blend Frozen Vegetables

16 oz.     Frozen Carrots

16 oz.     Frozen Chopped Spinach

10 ct.      Frozen Waffles

16 oz.     Bean Soup Mix

1 lb.        Rice

9 oz.       Instant Potatoes (14 servings)

15 oz.     Sliced Peaches

32 oz.     Borden Shelf Stable Milk              

One Dozen Eggs              

One Desert Item 

***One or More Specials Available Only with the Purchase of a Regular Box Above***  

You are free to purchase as many of the above regular boxes as you need. Once you have purchased at least one you are then free to purchase additional specials.  August specials are listed below:  

7 lb. Family Assorted Grill Box                  $20.00     

1.5 lb  Baseball Cut Sirloin Filet (4 x 6 oz.) (Thick-Cut)     

2 lbs   Juicy Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast     

2 lbs   St. Louis-Style Ribs     

1.5 lb  Hamburger Patties (4 x 6 oz.) 

AUGUST SPECIAL #2 4.5 lb. Steak and Meat Combo                   $20.00     

1.5 lb. New York Strips (2 x 12 oz.)     

1.5 lb. Bacon-Wrapped Beef Filet (4 x 6 oz.)

      1.5 lb. Bacon-Wrapped Pork Filet (4 x 6 oz.)

 AUGUST  SPECIAL #3 4.5 lb. Stuffed Chicken Breast Combo    $18.00     

1.5 lb. Cordon Bleu (4 x 6 oz.)     

1.5 lb. Broccoli Cheese (4 x 6 oz.)     

1.5 lb. Chicken Breast Kiev (4 x 6 oz.)

AUGUST  SPECIAL #4 Fresh Fruit and Veggie Box                       $18.00     

4         Red Delicious Apples     

4 lb     Bag of Oranges     

1         Cello-wrapped Lettuce     

1         Large Cabbage     

6         Russet Potatoes     

2         Cucumbers     

1         Cantaloupe     

1         Honeydew Melon  

Food Stamps (EBT) accepted

Again we found this program a great way to expand our food dollars during this time when fuel/energy costs are soaring and the price of food is rising accordingly.  

For information on how to locate a host site near you go to:

Another way to get an affordable, no pressure meal, is to check out local churches who offer weekday meals. These are often offered once a week at a donation price of under $2.50 a meal for those who can afford to contribute. For those who can’t there is no obligation to pay at all. In other words no one should have to go hungry even if they don’t fall under their state’s guidelines for food stamps.

Both of these opportunities exist for all and I hope that anyone out there in need of stretching their tax dollars will look into them.

Angel Food Ministries Serving 500,000 Families In The US

If you are not familiar with Angel Food Ministries, you may wish to see if there is a distribution center near you. Why? Because they offer quality food at extremely reasonable prices to everyone. There are no applications nor qualifications. You just order and pickup your food when it arrives. On their website they have a FAQ that states the following:

Who qualifies?

Everyone, there are no applications or qualifications to order Angel Food.

Where does the food come from?

Our food is “restaurant grade” meats, frozen vegetables, fruits, dairy products, etc. which we acquire through our involvement with only the best producers/vendors of high quality, “name brand” foods. Never “seconds” or “day old” type products are involved.

Can we receive more than one unit or special?

Yes, you can order as many regular units as you would like. To receive a special box you must first order a regular unit.

Where do I order and pick up my food?

We have host sites all over the United States. Click here to locate a local participant.

So is the food really that good? It is. Everything is fresh and as stated, there are no seconds, just name brand quality food products. We order about $70 worth of food each month that would normally retail at your local market for about $150. So the savings are for real.

So if you are looking to stretch your food budget you may wish to give Angel Food Ministries a try.

Comments welcome.

Source site.

PS Not every city in the US has a ministry. So check your zip code. My buddies in California had none by where they live,  where as our kids in Texas had three ministries within 20 miles from where they live.

Hawaii – Paradise Being Hit Hard By High Prices

I was watching CNN yesterday and was surprised to learn just how high prices were heading in Hawaii. Having just been to the islands last October, I thought prices were high than, but now they have skyrocketed out of sight. To add to the high cost of staples, is also the high cost of plane flights which have been hit buy the rising cost of fuel. With Aloha and ATA airlines going out of business and other airlines cutting flights to the island, Hawaii is being hit with a double whammy.

Tourism is the life blood of Hawaii and they are dependant on visitors to keep their economy afloat. In the articles it states:

One state senator says Hawaii has a brewing crisis on its hands, and wants the state to be proactive before things get really bad. 

To add to their woes are prices that have hit a new high. Consider these prices:

Imagine going to your local grocery store and paying over $8 for a jar of Jif peanut butter. How about $5.50 for a loaf of white bread, $6.50 for a gallon of milk or $7.19 for a half-gallon of orange juice?

 Which means lettuce is running $2 per pound. Tomatoes are at $6.39 a pound and a 3-pack of red peppers costs $7.

That means going without luxuries such as ice cream, which costs about $7.60 per gallon. But when a box of cereal can cost nearly $8, and $7.19 only buys one pack of Kraft American cheese slices, saving money is easier said than done.

Yipes! That’s $2 a pound for lettuce not for a head.

So what do you think? Will you be visiting the islands any time soon? :-)

Comments welcome.

Hawaii Tourist Source.

Hawaii Food Cost Source.