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Dietribes: Let's Ketchup Over Lunch

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"¢Â The origins of ketchup were apparently not tomato-based at all. And the origins of "catsup"? A derivation of the spelling "catchup" (which seems to make "ketchup" the more correct term ... maybe?")

"¢Â If you're like me and can't ever seem to get your ketchup fast enough out of the bottle, it's meant to be that way: ketchup exits the iconic glass bottle at .028 miles per hour. If the viscosity of the ketchup is greater than this speed, the ketchup is rejected for sale. (Actually it's been awhile since I've seen a glass bottle anywhere ... remember the trick of putting the butter knife in there to aid things along?)

"¢Â For a more even distribution of ketchup, we should all thank squeeze bottle inventor Stanley I. Mason, who also gave us the peel-open Band-Aid, granola bar, plastic-underwire bra, microwave cookware or wrap and contoured disposable diapers (find a common link and win my respect).
 
"¢ Still, other methods of adding ketchup to your food could stand some improvement, like those tiny, messy packets found at fast food restaurants. Fear not! New packets are on the way - the new design has a base that is like a cup for dipping as well as a tear-off end for squeezing.

"¢Â From the town whose water tower is known as "the world's largest ketchup bottle," Collinsville, Illinois, later partnered with the H.J. Heinz Co. to fill an 8-foot-tall, 4-foot-wide plastic pouch with 1,500 pounds of the tomato goop for a school fundraiser.

"¢Â Speaking of Heinz: although ketchup is the most famous Heinz product today, when Henry Heinz started the Company in 1869, his first product was bottled horseradish made from his mother's own recipe.  Ketchup didn't come along until seven years later in 1876.

"¢Â Ketchup is good for much more than just making your burger and fries tastier - it's also rich in lycopene, which some studies have shown to reduce the risk of cancer. Ketchup can also be used to clean copper.

"¢Â Seymour, WI, claims to be the home of the hamburger, and their annual festival includes a ketchup slide. Ok, it kind of looks like they're sliding through blood ...!

"¢Â Ketchup masterpieces by toddler fools the art world. I actually have a large abstract painting hanging in my house that my summer camp kids collaborated on - everyone always thinks it's a really expensive piece of modern art! Hmmm ...
 
"¢Â Some ketchup combinations are strange, like ketchup and cottage cheese (a favorite of President Nixon's), or ketchup-flavored chips. Flossers, what are some of the more unusual things you pair your tomato-based condiment with? I've known people to put it on eggs and grits, but as much as I love ketchup I just can't get behind that!

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

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Dietribes: Cabbage
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• 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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