Science Bitches!

Apparently an article by the name of 8 Foods We Eat In The U.S. That Are Banned In Other Countries has been a bit of a sensation online lately, warning people about all the evil toxic substances being put into the food supply by evil toxic people for evil toxic reasons. Happily someone who has a basic (actually much, much more than basic, but basic is all that’s actually needed in this case) knowledge of chemistry and the initiative to actually look at the research has stepped forward and written a counter-article that completely torpedoes the original fear-mongering piece of trash.

You should really go and read it yourself, but the basic conclusion is something that I’ve thought for years – if the population at large had even a basic understanding of science, there would be a whole lot less bullshit in the world.

Some important points…

  • Elements change their properties and behaviour when combined into molecules with other elements. Just because an element is toxic, doesn’t mean a molecule containing it is toxic.
  • There is no difference between “natural” chemicals and “manmade” chemicals – there’s just chemicals. Chemicals don’t have any kind of memory of where or how they were made and don’t inherit any intrinsic “natural” or “unnatural” quality from their point of origin.
  • All matter, everything you can touch, taste and eat is made of chemicals. The only thing that is “chemical free” is empty space.
  • Nature produces all manner of dangerous, toxic, horrible substances that will really mess up your day. Science produces all kinds of useful, harmless, beneficial substances that you use without thinking about every single day.
  • Poison is only poison above a certain dose. Below that dose it doesn’t hurt you at all.

If everyone could understand these very basic facts the world would be a much better place.

Red Herring

They’re quite good at making chicken.

Over the weekend, in a spirit of scientific enquiry (and because I didn’t feel like cooking and equally didn’t feel like having chicken) I decided to check out Red Rooster’s recently added fish and chips menu.

In order to provide a valid assessment I decided to have the fisherman’s basket, which includes a little bit of everything. My findings were as follows…

Chips: The chips were, as always, excellent. 10/10

Salt and Pepper Squid: The salt and pepper squid was distinctly lacklustre. The coating was stale, floury and tasteless and the squid was oily and soft. 4/10

Prawns: The prawns were passable – there’s not much you can do to harm a prawn – but nothing really special. 5/10

Fish: The fish was pretty bad. Well, actually the fish was OK, it was the batter that was problematic. I’m not sure exactly what it tasted of – if I had to hazard a guess I’d say chipboard – and it was quite hard to chew through, which is not a quality you really want in food. Minus the batter the fish was about the quality you’d get at the average fish and chip place, which is to say passable but a bit oily – not anything you’d go out of your way to recommend. 3/10

So, my considered opinion on Red Rooster’s move into fish and chips? They’re quite good at making chicken.