Showing posts with label US Department of Agriculture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label US Department of Agriculture. Show all posts

Mar 13, 2015

Wordology, Fat Free and Free Range

When the dangers of saturated and trans fat became popular headlines, the market was flooded with products that touted their fat-free status. They sometimes contained nearly as many calories as full-fat versions. “Just because it says it’s fat-free, doesn't mean you get a free ride,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix. “Packages could say it is fat free, but be loaded with sugar, and sugar-free products could be loaded with fat.” Check the label for calorie content, and compare it to the full-fat version.

Although a food label may say free range chicken, do not assume your bird was dancing around the farmer's field. The US Department of Agriculture does define the words free range, but there are no requirements for the amount, duration, and quality of outdoor access. “What it’s supposed to mean is that they are out running in a field,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, nutrition expert and author of Read It, Before You Eat It. “But what it really means is they just have exposure to the outdoors.”

Nov 30, 2012


Scientists announced that they have mapped the entire genome of the domestic pig, revealing that besides providing tasty bacon and sausages, the animal may also be useful in fighting human diseases.

The study published in the journal Nature found that pigs and humans share more than 100 DNA mutations that have previously been linked to diseases like obesity, diabetes, dyslexia, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, according to US and European researchers.
"In total, we found 112 positions where the porcine protein has the same amino acid that is implicated in a disease in humans," researchers wrote.

Researchers said that because pigs share many of the same complex genetic diseases as humans, the animals would serve as excellent models for studying the underlying biology of human disease.

A domestic pig breed is already being used extensively in medical research because of its anatomical similarity to humans, and pig heart valves have been used by doctors to replace faulty human ones.

Scientists can use the new genome map to improve meat production by breeding a new generation of super-pigs that will grow faster, survive longer, produce more offspring and yield more meat for less feed.

"This new analysis helps us understand the genetic mechanisms that enable high-quality pork production, feed efficiency and resistance to disease," Sonny Ramaswany, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture said, according to Reuters.

Scientists in the sequencing project compared the domestic pig's genome to that of the wild boar, human, mouse, dog, horse, and cow.

A recent study also revealed that pigs had the most olfactory receptor genes, which highlights the importance of smell in the scavenger animal's lifestyle, and that pigs also had fewer bitter taste receptors meaning that "pigs can eat food that is unpalatable to humans," which is one of the reasons why pigs have become such a highly valued farm animal. I am still trying to figure out how they will know if a pig has Alzheimer's.

Sep 24, 2010

Bringing Home The Bacon

It has become more expensive than in the past, because of shortage of supply and increased demand. On the store shelves, average retail prices have risen more than $1 per pound since last year, to more than $4, the US Department of Agriculture reports. This is happening in the middle of other price reductions and discounts, due to the poor economy.

Bacon was once thought of only a breakfast food, but now is a round-the-clock food showing up as a garnish on all manner of dishes, including concoctions from a variety of chocolate makers. Almost two billion pounds of bacon are consumed in the United States each year, according to the National Pork Board.

One analyst suggests that demand is up because restaurants, seeking to regain business lost to the tight economy last year, have been adding more bacon to sandwiches and salads to spice up flavors.