Dietribes: Eggs


Eggs. We know where they came from (or started ... or was it the chicken?), so I won't bore you with those details. Instead, here are some amazing facts and figures concerning the incredible, edible egg.

"¢ First, a little nutrition information. The health value of the egg has been exhaustively debated over the past few decades (cholesterol content, whether one should just consume the whites, etc). But the facts remain: though the yolk makes up roughly 34% of an egg's liquid weight, contains all of the fat and a bit less than half of the protein, it also contains a higher proportion of the egg's vitamins, including B6 and B12, folic acid, pantothenic acid and thiamin. Vitamins A, D, E and K are exclusive to the yolk.

"¢ Keeping eggs in cartons is the best way to keep them fresh. An egg's shell is actually porous (with about 17,000 tiny individual pores) so that it absorbs flavors and odors around it.

"¢ Here's an "egg counter" for you: A hen requires 24 to 26 hours to produce an egg. Thirty minutes later, she starts all over again. There are nearly 280 million laying birds in the U.S., each of whom produces 250-300 eggs per year, totally around 75 billions eggs - about 10% of the world's supply.

sonya-thomas.jpeg"¢ At a slight 105 lbs, Sonya Thomas (pictured) holds the record for competitive eating in hard boiled eggs: 65 Hard Boiled Eggs in 6 minutes, 40 seconds!

"¢ "Omelet King" Howard Helmer, Senior National Representative for the American Egg Board, holds three Guinness World Records for omelet making: fastest omelet-maker (427 omelets in 30 minutes); fastest single omelet (42 seconds from whole egg to omelet); and omelet flipping (30 flips in 34 seconds). My mornings would go a great deal faster with him on board.

"¢ Humpty Dumpty may be the most famous egg ... but is there evidence to support his being an egg at all? In the original nursery rhyme, there is no mention of Humpty's egg-ness. While there are various versions of stories of what Humpty Dumpty may represent, the poem might have simply been a riddle whose answer was that Humpty was indeed an egg.

"¢ An "Easter Egg" is often code to mean a surprise. "The first Imperial Easter egg was ordered in 1885 by Czar Alexander II. The monarch gave it to his wife, Maria Feodorovna. Inside it contained a surprise: a golden hen, a small ruby Easter egg, and a diamond replica of the Czar's crown." There are only 50 Imperial Easter Eggs in the world, and range in auction price from $80 million to $120 million in total. The most expensive Faberge egg was sold at a Christie's auction in 2007 for £8.9 million ($16.5 million).

"¢ And finally, for all those who wondered, there is no discernible difference in nutrition, taste, or any other factor than color between a brown egg and a white egg. The color difference is due to the specific breed of hen, according to the Egg Nutrition Center. Hens with white feathers and white earlobes will lay white eggs, whereas hens with red feathers and matching-colored earlobes give us brown eggs.

You know what I'm going to ask ... what's your favorite way to eat an egg?

[Previous Dietribes: Strawberries, Macaroni & Cheese, McIntosh Apples, Smoothies, Coffee and The Sweet Potato.]

"˜Dietribes' appears every Wednesday. Food photos taken by Johanna Beyenbach. You might remember that name from our post about her colorful diet.

University of Pittsburgh
Researchers Create Motorized Wheelchair Made for the Water Park
University of Pittsburgh
University of Pittsburgh

Despite advances in technology, there are many aspects of the world that remain inaccessible to people with disabilities. But researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are working to make one activity easier for people who use motorized wheelchairs: navigating water parks.

The average motorized wheelchair has a number of electrical and battery components that can’t get wet, limiting who can access the joys of splash parks and pools. But a new wheelchair that uses compressed air instead of a heavy battery could change that, Gizmodo recently reported.

Created through a joint research project between University of Pittsburgh engineers, the university’s medical center, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the PneuChair is lighter and quicker to charge than traditional motorized chairs. It can also be repaired with basic hardware tools if something breaks in the midst of all the splashing.

The 80-pound chair (a traditional device can weigh up to 400 pounds) can travel about three miles on one charge, about a third of the maximum distance of an electric mobility device. Another benefit: It only takes 10 minutes to recharge rather than eight hours.

The university's Human Engineering Research Laboratories is also working on a scooter version for people who don't need the assistance of a full chair. “The potential to open opportunities for people with disabilities who need powered mobility to access splash parks, water parks, beaches or pools is transformative,” lab director Rory Cooper told the university's press service.

The PneuChair was designed in part for use at Morgan’s Inspiration Island, an upcoming water park in San Antonio that’s designed for people with disabilities. The accessible splash park—which is part of Morgan’s Wonderland, a fully accessible theme park—will initially offer 10 of the chairs to its guests for use while they’re there.

[h/t Gizmodo]

Dietribes: Cabbage

• Cabbages are derived from the wild mustard plant of the Mediterranean region, and have been popular since ancient times. Cato the Elder praised the cabbage for its many medicinal uses.

• Cabbages are highly nutritious, containing large amounts of Vitamin C, folate and fiber. That and its low calorie count is why some people use cabbage on weight-loss diets.

• However, the cabbage is also known to have a certain undesirable gastric side effect. As Nicholas Culpeper said in A Complete Herbal (1653) "Cabbages are extremely windy, whether you take them as meat or as medicine, as windy meat as can be eaten, unless you eat bag-pipes or bellows."

• Remember "freedom fries"? That wasn't the first time the name of one of our foods has been attempted to be changed because of political fervor. During World War I, Americans renamed sauerkraut "liberty cabbage."

• No one knows exactly how the Cabbagetown neighborhood in Atlanta got its name, though stories include the idea that the original poor Scotch-Irish residents (workers at the nearby cotton mill) would grow cabbages in their front yards, and that the smell of cooked cabbage was a nuisance (and later a point of pride). Other apocryphal suggestions include a train derailing or a Model T car overturning and spilling cabbages everywhere for people to snatch up, shouting "Free Cabbages!"

• Georgia has another cabbage connection - Cabbage Patch Kids, which were originally called Little People. In the late 1970s, art student Xavier Roberts started creating "soft sculptures," which he later expanded on by giving them birth certificates and allowing "adoptions." In 1982 the name changed to Cabbage Patch. By the mid-80s, the dolls went on record as having the most successful and in-demand introduction of a toy ever.

• Though cabbages have often been thought of throughout history as a cheap food, that's certainly not true in Northern Canada, where a cabbage can cost $28. The northern Canadian territory of Nunavut is so remote that anything not a product of hunting and gathering must be flown in.

• By the way, that corned beef and cabbage you cook up for St. Patricks Day? Not actually Irish. Though corned beef was made in Ireland in the 17th and 18th centuries, most Irish families were too poor to eat it. Instead it went to British citizens as well as the British and U.S. military. These days, the Irish reportedly find the dish just plain boring.

• Cabbages can have a killer instinct - genetically modified cabbages can produce scorpion poison that kills caterpillars when they bite leaves. But don't worry, the toxin is modified so it isn’t harmful to humans. (I like that the title of the article is "Venomous Cabbage"!)

• Another way to get rid of pests in your cabbage? Er, human urine. According to a 2007 study, "Our results show that human urine could be used as a fertilizer for cabbage and does not pose any significant hygienic threats or leave any distinctive flavor in food products." Good to know?

• The largest cabbage on record was called "The Beast" and weighed 127 pounds. Reportedly it wasn't actually particularly tasty, so it ended up as compost rather than on anyone's plate.

• How do you like to eat your cabbages, Flossers? And have you found a way to counteract their less-desirable side-effects?

Hungry for more? Venture into the Dietribes archive.

‘Dietribes’ appears every other Wednesday. Food photos taken by Johanna Beyenbach. You might remember that name from our post about her colorful diet.


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