NASA // David C. Bowman
NASA // David C. Bowman

High Schoolers Compete to Have Their Food Served In Space

NASA // David C. Bowman
NASA // David C. Bowman

When it comes to eating in outer space, taste usually takes a back seat to practicality. This has led astronauts to dine on some pretty funky dishes over the years, including thermostabilized yams, over-steeped tea, and borscht from a tube. With their second annual HUNCH cooking competition, NASA is now hoping to aim their sights a little higher while teaching high school students a thing or two about food science along the way.

Launched in 2015, HUNCH (High schools United with NASA to Create Hardware) gives high school culinary teams from across the country the opportunity to compete to have their dish served on the International Space Station. This year, 30 teams are vying for the top honor. Of those teams, 10 finalists will be chosen to visit NASA’s Johnson Space Center Food Lab in April to prepare their entrees one last time for a panel of judges, including astronauts. The winning dish will be processed and delivered to the crew aboard the ISS.

The first round of taste tests began this week, and the meals—like baked penne and quinoa curry—hardly resembled what most people associate with normal astronaut fare. In case cooking for astronauts wasn’t stressful enough, the competitors also had to adhere to a strict set of nutritional guidelines to qualify. Each dish had to be vegetable-based, contain at least three grams of fiber, less than eight grams of sugar, less than 300 milligrams of sodium, and contain between 300 and 500 calories. On top of that, the teenage chefs also had to make sure their food was suitable for processing and consumption in microgravity. Glenn Johnson, a HUNCH design engineer from the Johnson Space Center, said in a video for NASA, “Some of the challenges that we’re looking at are how do you have good nutrition, good flavor, good smells after cooking the food, and then [the astronauts] may not eat it until three years later.”

The winning dish at last year’s HUNCH competition was rice and beans with coconut milk from Phoebus High School. A space-friendly version of their recipe will be sent to astronauts aboard the International Space Station in March.

Recall Alert: Swiss Rolls And Bread Sold at Walmart and Food Lion Linked to Salmonella
Evan-Amos, Wikimedia Commons // CC 1.0

New items have been added to the list of foods being recalled due to possible salmonella contamination. According to Fox Carolina, snack cakes and bread products produced by Flowers Foods, Inc. have been pulled from stores in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

The baked goods company, based in Georgia, has reason to believe the whey powder it buys from a third-party supplier is tainted with salmonella. The ingredient is added to its Swiss rolls, which are sold under various brands, as well as its Captain John Derst’s Old Fashioned Bread. Popular chains that normally sell Flowers Foods products include Walmart and Food Lion.

The U.S. is in the middle of a salmonella outbreak. In June, Kellogg's recalled Honey Smacks due to contamination and the CDC is still urging consumers to avoid the brand. The cereal has sickened dozens of people since early March. So far, there have been no reported illnesses connected to the potential Flower Foods contamination.

You can find the full list of recalled items below. If you have one of these products in your kitchen, throw it out immediately or return it to the store where you bought it to be reimbursed.

  • Mrs. Freshley's Swiss Rolls
  • Mrs. Freshley's Swiss Rolls
  • Food Lion Swiss Rolls
  • Baker's Treat Swiss Rolls
  • Market Square Swiss Rolls
  • Great Value Swiss Rolls
  • Captain John Derst's Old Fashioned Bread

[h/t Fox Carolina]

The Annual Festivals That Draw the Most People in Every State

Every state has that one big event each year that draws residents from across the region or even across the nation. Louisiana has Mardi Gras. Kentucky has the Kentucky Derby. South Dakota has Sturgis. Genfare, a company that provides fare collection technology for transit companies, recently tracked down the biggest event in each state, creating a rundown of the can't-miss events across the country.

As the graphic below explores, some states' biggest public events are national music and entertainment festivals, like Bonnaroo in Tennessee, SXSW in Texas, and Summerfest in Wisconsin—which holds the world record for largest music festival.

Others are standard public festival fare. Minnesota hosts 2 million people a year at the Minnesota State Fair (pictured above), the largest of its kind in the U.S. by attendance. Mardi Gras celebrations dominate the events calendar in Missouri, Alabama, and, of course, Louisiana. Oktoberfest and other beer festivals serve as the biggest gatherings in Ohio (home to the nation's largest Oktoberfest event), Oregon, Colorado, and Utah.

In some states, though, the largest annual gatherings are a bit more unique. Some 50,000 people each year head to Brattleboro, Vermont for the Strolling of the Heifers, a more docile spin on the Spanish Running of the Bulls. Montana's biggest event is Evel Knievel Days, an extreme sports festival in honor of the famous daredevil. And Washington's biggest event is Hoopfest, Spokane's annual three-on-three basketball tournament.

Mark your calendar. Next year could be the year you attend them all.

A graphic list with the 50 states pictured next to information about their biggest events


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