January 24, 2002

Green Ham and Eggs?

In the news today:

Japanese Scientists Breed Pigs with Spinach Genes
It's obviously another in the unending series of evil plots to get children to eat their veggies.

Or perhaps to make cooking (and eating) dinner even simpler. No longer do we have to worry about preparing meat with vegetables on the side - it's a casserole on the hoof, ready for the oven!
Now all they have to do is figure out a way to insert the pasta gene and we're all set.

The first question that I asked myself when I saw this headline was, "why?!".
It turns out the underlying science has to do with the ability to convert saturated fat into healthier unsaturated fat.
Plants contain the gene that leads to this ability but animals do not.
Not up until now, that is, which leads me to the next question:
Why fool around with pigs when you can give us the gene directly?

Another concern: as I understand it, unsaturated fat has more of a liquid consistency than saturated fat, which is hard, like refrigerated butter.
Does this mean that the pig's innards will jiggle around like a waterbed?
-Just askin'...

I guess the idea is to make eating meat healthier, or perhaps less unhealthy. They've already tried this with sugar, and as far as I'm concerned, the results are not promising. For one thing, if the sugar substitutes worked, why are there so many fat I mean overweight I mean uhhhh... well why are so many people still on diets?
Diet drinks are everywhere; is it because if you have a diet drink you feel you're entitled to a free fries with that?

This goes along with Pauline's Theory of Evolutionary Stupidity:
No matter what safety devices are developed (air bags in cars, helmets for sports) people will increase their level of risk-taking so that the ultimate rate of injury remains the same.

So if pork/ham/bacon becomes green (as in environmentally friendly, sorry, I couldn't resist!) then people will just take seconds and feel less guilt in doing so.
(I get around the entire issue by not feeling guilty about anything. Another of my theories is that guilt is a waste of energy.)

And what of those who don't want green ham with their eggs?
I'm referring to the issue of food allergies and intolerances.

I have had food allergies as long as I can remember.
I don't break out in a rash the next day - the reaction is immediate and quite violent.
I won't elaborate except to say that after the last time (about six or seven years ago) I began to carry an epipen (adrenaline) injector in my purse.
I've never had to use it.

During my year-long stint as a lunch mother (1998-1999) I was gratified to see that allergies are finally taken seriously by the school system. They might be indulging in a little overkill, totally banishing peanuts (and hence the staple peanut butter) from the premises, isolating allergic children to a separate lunch table, making them think that sharing is some kind of crime - but this is the lesser of the evils in my opinion.

Not all adverse food reactions are allergies. Some substances are unhealthy for people with various medical conditions. Herbal remedies are added to foods; lactose is added to everything. And now spinach is added to pork.

Linque Du Jour:   The Cook's Thesaurus
According to them:

The Cook's Thesaurus is a cooking encyclopedia that covers thousands of ingredients and kitchen tools. Entries include pictures, descriptions, synonyms, pronunciations, and suggested substitutions.

This actually looks very useful for those of us who cook (of which I hope some day not to be one) and those of us who eat.
No recipes, but an encyclopedia of ingredients and advice on substitutions.
Clean design, easy to navigate, photos of everything!

Check out the Miscellaneous Variety Meats for a delicious ewwwwwww experience!

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