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Big News From NASA's Kitchens

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Big news from NASA—2011/12 was a record-breaking year when it came to astronaut applications. In fact:

According to NASA, the agency received 6,300 applications for this cycle of astronaut hunting. This is nearly double the 2,500 – 3,500 applications NASA normally receives, and second only to 1978 with a record 8,000 applications.

With all these new applicants, it should hardly be surprising that the organization now needs tons more chefs to prepare good food for those selected for a simulated mission to Mars. Since a real mission to Mars would last three years, that means lots of variety in the traveler's diet. To prepare proper cuisine, volunteer chefs will be sent to a remote area of Hawaii, eating space cuisine and cooking with space-friendly ingredients in order to determine which foods will work best for the lengthy trip, including items already prepared and food the astronauts will cook themselves.

Of course, other volunteers will need to be brought out to Hawaii to test the cuisine as well. Participants are required to have a bachelors in science, have professional experience in a science-related field, be in good health with a good sense of smell and taste, and have a history of conducting field research. If you're interested in participating, you could earn up to $5,000 in stipends for volunteering for four months.

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Thanks to a Wet Winter, New Zealand Faces a Potential Potato Chip Shortage
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New Zealand has plenty of unique and tasty snacks, but kiwis also love potato chips. The universal comfort food is in danger Down Under, however, as an unusually wet winter has devastated the island country’s tuber crops, according to BBC News.

Twenty percent of New Zealand’s annual potato crop was wiped out from a series of major storms and floods that ravaged the nation’s North and South Islands, The Guardian reports. In some regions, up to 30 percent of potato crops were affected, with the varieties used to make chips bearing the brunt of the damage.

Potato prices spiked as farmers struggled, but the crisis—now dubbed “chipocalypse” by media outlets—didn't really make the mainstream news until supermarket chain Pak’nSave posted announcements in potato chip aisles that warned customers of a salty snack shortage until the New Year.

Pak’nSave has since rescinded this explanation, claiming instead that they made an ordering error. However, other supermarket chains say they’re working directly with potato chip suppliers to avoid any potential shortfalls, and are aware that supplies might be limited for the foreseeable future.

New Zealand’s potato farming crisis extends far beyond the snack bars at rugby matches and vending machines. Last year’s potato crops either rotted or remained un-harvested, and the ground is still too wet to plant new ones. This hurts New Zealand’s economy: The nation is the world’s ninth-largest exporter of potatoes.

Plus, potatoes “are a food staple, and this is becoming a food security issue as the effects of climate change take their toll on our potato crop,” says Chris Claridge, the chief executive of industry group Potatoes New Zealand, according to The Guardian.

In the meantime, New Zealanders are preparing to hunker down for a few long months of potential potato peril—and according to some social media users, kale chips are not a suitable alternative. “Chipocalypse” indeed.

[h/t BBC News]

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50 Sweet Facts About Your Favorite Halloween Candies
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It’s no surprise that candy delights kids and adults alike. We love sweets so much that the average American eats about 22 pounds of candy each year. Whether you’re looking to impress your friends or simply brush up on your candy trivia, check out these 50 sweet facts about your favorite candies.

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