Coconut Oil

By Bernadina Lucia

Coconut oil, not to be confused with palm oil, was first introduced to the U.S from the Philippines in 2001. Over there they use it like Italians use olive oil.

Most coconut oil is made one of two ways: expeller pressed, and wet milled.

Expeller pressed: coconut oil derived from expeller pressing the oil from dried coconut. In this method, the fresh coconut meat is dried first, and then later the oil is pressed out of the coconut. This method allows for easier mass production of virgin coconut oil. Since the dried coconut industry is well established in coconut producing countries, many of these industries have added virgin coconut oil to their product line.

Coconut oil can also be derived through a "wet-milling" process. With this method, the oil is extracted from fresh coconut meat without drying first. "Coconut milk" is expressed first by pressing it out of the wet coconut meat. The oil is then further separated from the water. Methods which can be used to separate the oil from the water include boiling, fermentation, refrigeration, enzymes and mechanical centrifuge. Just spin it until the oil is puked out.

Coconut is fairly healthy. We don't even use hydrogenated coconut oil in the U.S., because of the trans-fats. Coconut oil doesn't have any trans-fats naturally, it's safe to eat.

A Closer Inspection: High Fructose Corn Syrup
By Bernadina Lucia

If you read the ingredients label on most processed foods, you'd have seen it. It's just three little words, they probably don't mean too much to you. Well, they should.

Fructose is naturally found in many fruits, it's natural and fine. However, it is NOT naturally in corn or corn syrup. But in 1957 they found an enzyme that would turn the glucose in corn into fructose. This was then refined in the 70s, and HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) could be mass-produced. It is a long, complicated process that requires three different enzymes. Here's how it's made. Here's where it gets complicated, and a few articles I read left the complicated production part out, but I think you guys can handle it. Corn starch is milled and mixed with an 'acid enzyme', known as alpha-amylase, until the existing carbohydrates are broken down. Amylase breaks longer chains into shorter ones. Then more enzymes are mixed in to turn the broken carbohydrates into fructose. These are known as glucoamylase, and finally, the concoction is filtered with activated charcoal and then deminralized with ion-exchange resins. I swear to god I'm not making this up. The third enzyme used is xylose isomerase. This mixture is 42% fructose. There are some processed further until they are 99% fructose. They are mixed with the 42%, to make 55%.

But, is it all that bad for us? Yes, yes it is. No-shit, this will kill you. You will die and be miserable. Not only does it cause obesity and diabetes, but it can also cause metabolic syndrome, which is a grouping of obesity and high blood sugar and bad cholesterol. IT also speeds up the aging process, and, check this out, you can get mercury poisoning. So not only will you die if you consume a lot of HFSC, you will languish.

Here is the kicker: HFSC has a cousin in town, and it's replacing HFCS. If you see 'fructose' or 'fructose syrup' on a label, that means it contains the 90% fructose HFCS. It is twice as fructose-y as regular HFCS.

How Ice Cream is Made

By Bernadina Lucia

It's getting warm again, and what is the summer treat? Ice cream! A total of 1.5 billion gallons or ice-cream and ice-cream related treats are made ever year in the U.S. Why not? It's cold, sweet, and relatively inexpensive. Perfect for the summer months!

First, a bit of history. We have been eating iced treats for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks and Romans chilled drink and ice, and in the first century, Roman emperor Nero sent minions into the mountains for snow to make flavored ice and honey confections.

A very long time later, and we're still enjoying our iced treats. A lady named Nancy Johnson in 1840 invented a hand-cranked ice-cream maker, similar technology is used today. So thank Nancy every time you enjoy a cone. During the prohibition, people turned to ice-cream. Many breweries were turned into ice-cream plants, though it's possible many of them were used as fronts.

Well, how is it made? Basically, it's tiny bubbles of air, tiny frozen crystals, and itty-bitty globules of fat, held together by sugar. Yum. Science. It can be made with real cream or non-fat dry milk, but by regulation, it has to have at least 10% butterfat. Yum. Law.

The dairy, sweetener, and flavor gets chilled and aerated in a long tube with a spinning blade at the bottom. In Nancy Johnson's day, it would have been cooled with ice and salt. Today liquid ammonia is pumped around the tube.

The ice-cream is only semi-solid at this point, and any chunks, like candy or fruit, are dropped by a hopper into the ice-cream, and then mixed in. Then it gets super-chilled.

It isn't so bad, after all. What you have to watch for are the ingredients. Avoid high-fructose corn syrup and glucose syrup! Enjoy the warm weather!

Palm Oil
By Bernadina Lucia

This week I'm doing palm oil, or dende oil, because last week I did coconut oil. The two are not to be confused, palm oil does not come from the coconut tree. It comes from oil palms, which are Elais, which comes from the Greek word for oil.

Once the palm fruits, little red stone fruit in huge clusters, are harvested, they must be processed in 24 hours. The older the fruit is before processing, the more acidic the oil is. Before production, the fruit is sterilized, which deactivates the lipases. Lipases, long story short, are bad. They tend to cause free-floating fatty acids, which are the ones that kill ya.

After this process, the fruits are boiled, and then pressed, to aid with the oil being extracted. It gets pressed out, and then clarified.

Now, health wise, palm oil is about like butter. But it has a much stronger impact on people, animals, and the environment.

In order to grow the palm plants, huge swaths of forest get cut down. Animals, including orangutangs. 90% of orangutang habitats have been destroyed in the last 20 years. 1000-5000 orangutangs are killed yearly. The Sumatrian tiger is critically extinct.

It has a massive environmental impact. Don't use it.

A Farewell

By Bernadina Lucia

This week I won't be scrutinizing something you use in your everyday life. The cast of RF, myself, Princess, Leo, A.G., Willie, and all of the henz, have school and agricultural projects, and it's becoming quite hectic. We're going to take our summer break, and come back in the second week of August. Rest assured, we WILL BE BACK. Your lives will once again be filled with mirth, feathers, and a fear of processed foods.

The henz will be fine, rest assured, they are just finding new homes.

Good luck, and have fun!

The New Sugar
By Bernadina Lucia

You may or may not have heard, but 43% of sugar on the market is genetically modified with a chemical known as 'sucarose saccheride'. It makes it sweeter, and it grows 30% faster than non genetically modified sugar.

There have been some studies done, not only in the U.S, but also in Italy, China, and Mexico. The studies have only been done on rats and mice, but the findings are compelling, it's obvious SS is not safe. Findings from a study done by Stanford found that rats that consumed SS instead of regular sugar in the same amounts, there was a strong rise in occurrence of cancer

In Italy, the mice born from mothers who consumed SS had a higher occurrence of Alexandria's Genesis, a very rare genetic disorder, characterized by discolored eyes, usually towards purple, stunted hair growth, and poorly formed reproductive organs. While it's more common in mice, it's still literally one in a million.

The studies done in China found that not only did mice and rats who consumed SS have higher occurrences of cancer, and AG, but they also found lower fertility and they actually began to develop food allergies. The Chinese experiment was by far the largest study, but it was shut down due to lack of funding.

The worst thing about it, is it isn't labeled.

Still, the most important thing to remember about SS is: it's fake. April fools. :)

By Bernadina Luca

Brusha-brusha-brush-brush. Every morning and evening (I should hope) you brush your teeth. Almost certainly you use toothpaste. And why not? It tastes good and makes your breath smell like something other than Cream of Mouth, your dentist recommends it, you've been using it forever so it's engrained into you.

But, what is in it? What makes it so foamy and good? Ahaha. You won't like this!

Foaming ingredient: you may remember this one from the article on dandruff shampoo. Yes, your toothpaste has an ingredient that is also used in dandruff shampoo, which if you read the article, you'll know is insanely dangerous. The ingredient responsible for foaming in both is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. It is a medium health concern, and can cause non-reproductive organ systems damage. It is also a known irritant, and it is not suggested to in the eyes or lungs, and you probably shouldn't swallow it either.

Next is fluoride. It seems to be fairly safe, and for most people, including children (but not pregnant and nursing women) 20mg can be taken per day safely. Too much and the bones can be weakened. It is in some public drinking water. Nursing/pregnant women can only take 10mg a day or else the fetus or nursing child can have bone problems.

Sweetener: if your toothpaste has sorbital or aspartate, don't use it. These artificial sweeteners cause a slew of health problems! There are over 92 health problems associated with aspartate alone!

Next is the abrasive. This helps scrub grime off your teeth. Most toothpaste uses hydrated silica. You know, the stuff in the 'Do Not Eat' packets, only tiny.

Triclosan: this is used now almost exclusively in Crest brand toothpaste. It is an antibiotic, but it's bad news. It just builds up the strength of bad mouth bacteria while killing the good, and it has been linked to hormone disruption, and it causes tumors in mice.

Blue coloring: don't even go there.

There are some brands that you can use that won't kill you, Earth Paste is one. However, these brands are expensive and hard to find, you can use salt or baking soda instead.