By night and weekend, I may be a chef, but my “day” job keeps me busy in a laboratory as an organic chemist. I enjoy going in to work and solving new problems about synthesis and biology, but my training gives me a special appreciation for the chemistry of the kitchen.
I thought I might share a few of the following links for your reading enjoyment!
The first link is to a subsection of a more general science blog, and is a slightly more formal version of Alton Brown’s “Good Eats” (which is a show I really enjoy!). Basically, the two people who host this website talk about the science of food, both at a high-end level and at a detailed molecular level. For example, popcorn. How much pressure is necessary to pop popcorn? Why is popcorn better at popping than sweet corn? How can I turn this into a sweet lab experiment for my class after studying the ideal gas laws? There are a lot of fun topics on it, so check it out!
Link #2 is to the final post of a series of blog articles on misperceptions the general public has regarding chemistry. The whole series is interesting, but I thought that this particular article was fun because it talked a bit about our perceptions of household or common items. It’s presented in the form of a “would you rather?” game – would you rather eat meat infused with carbon monoxide (CO) or nitric oxide (NO)? Neither sounds great (and both are toxic gases), but you’ve probably eaten meat infused with these gases at some point.
The final link is to the list of approved or banned substances in organic foods. (And that’s an entirely different discussion that I don’t want to go into here.) I’m not suggesting that you go through and read the entire list, but there are a number of surprising entries that challenged my notion of what organic food should contain. For example, trace amounts of aspirin in meat. Copper salts used in processing. Supplemental milk antibodies. There were a number of surprising compounds on the list!