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8 Grossest Things You Didn’t Know You Were Eating

8 Grossest Things You Didn’t Know You Were Eating

You won't believe some of the things that are in your food

Steer clear of the words “natural flavorings” on foods packaging - it's not what you think it is.

It's no secret that some of the ingredients in your food are stomach-churning. Nobody likes to think about the bacteria in yogurt or the veins of mold in their blue cheese. But, unfortunately, some of the grossest things in our food are ingredients most of us didn't even know were in there.

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One of the biggest problems with our food is transparency. Often times, these upsetting chemicals and items are listed in the ingredients, but using scientific (and unrecognizable) names. Because so much of our food is pre-packaged and filled with chemicals, these nauseating ingredients go unnoticed and the same chemicals that go into plastics and paints make it into our shopping carts and onto our plates. This is, in part, why health experts often advise consumers not to eat foods with ingredients that they can’t pronounce.

The bigger problem, however, is that these ingredients are allowed in our food in the first place. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted these ingredients GRAS status; that means they are "generally recognized as safe." To be more specific, foods that are generally recognized as safe have “been adequately shown… to be safe under the conditions of their intended use.” What that adds up to is that ingredients like animal excretions and human hair are allowed in our food in certain quantities.

Should we worry about these disgusting chemicals and ingredients if the USDA has evaluated them and deemed them safe for inclusion in our food? Most likely, yes — remember that pre-packaged and convenience foods (the foods where we most often unknowingly encounter these ingredients) were first introduced in the 1950s, so we have barely begun to understand the long term impacts of a pre-packaged, convenience-food diet. There is a chance these ingredients are safe, but there is also a chance they're not — it’s simply too soon to tell.

(Credit: Shutterstock)
Those pretty little shiny candies we all love are actually pretty gross; they get their shine from shellac, a substance excreted by female lac bugs. And yes, it’s the same substance used in wood finishes.

(Credit: Flickr/cesar harada)
Propylene glycol, a substance used in anti-freeze, is commonly used in salad dressing because of its lubricating properties — things that don’t combine well with water tend to react positively with propylene glycol.

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Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal's Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.


8 Things You Didn't Know About Filipino Cuisine

Filipino cuisine is often tagged as “the next big thing” in the culinary world. Drawing inspiration from many international influences, Filipino food is created to suit local tastes – resulting in an altogether fascinating cuisine.

Filipino food is a mix of Asian and Western influences transformed through local cooking techniques. Boasting proud indigenous flavors, rich traditions and eating practices unique to the country, Filipino cuisine is distinct, delicious and unlike anything you’ll have tasted elsewhere. Here are 8 things to know about Filipino cuisine.


Kurt Sutter was inspired by the Hell's Angels

In the show's first season, Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) is introduced as struggling with the pressures of being the heir apparent of SAMCRO (Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Original). It's something made all the worse for the kid when he stumbles across some writings by his late father (and club founder) which confirm Jax's suspicions that the club has become the opposite of what was originally envisioned.

In a 2008 interview, showrunner Kurt Sutter confirmed this comes directly from the history of the Hell's Angels. "They went from being this fun-loving fraternity to pretty much an organized-crime syndicate," Sutter said. " I thought, 'What if that first guy who put the jacket on his back and said, 'Hey, let's go out, have a few beers and start some trouble,' how would that guy feel about what the club eventually became?"

And thus, Sons of Anarchy was born. But to really drill into the tensions of such a club for seven pulpy seasons, Sutter also took inspiration from "the irony of motorcycle clubs," meaning how they represent certain American values ("we take care of our own") while aggressively rebelling against "the man." Of course, while they claim to be rebels, they're not exactly free. "[Motorcycle clubs] say they're all about 'ride free' and 'f*** the establishment,'" Sutter told The Verge. "But within the structure of these outlaw clubs, there are more rules and regulations than you or I have."


8 Facts You Didn't Know About Oats

As the weather gets cooler, a hot bowl of oatmeal starts looking more like the perfect breakfast. In honor of National Oatmeal Day, we’ve gathered some fun facts about oats. Spoiler: it's shockingly great for your skin!

It's great for your gut. In a new supplement published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers concluded that the beta-glucan, resistant starch, and the unique polyphenols, avenanthramides, present in oats may boost the beneficial bacteria, Bifidobacteria, in the lower GI tract.A review of 29 studies concluded that oats and oat bran might provide benefits in some cases of bowel disease and constipation.

It's pretty much the perfect breakfast food. Several studies suggest that eating oats may help reduce hunger and increase feelings of fullness. In fact, a recent study from the Nutrition Journal found that subjects who ate 217.5-calorie breakfasts of oatmeal with nonfat milk reported less hunger, increased fullness and a reduced desire to eat more, compared to subjects given an equal calorie serving of ready-to-eat, oat-based cereal with nonfat milk. In fact, oatmeal rated #1 among breakfast foods and #3 overall in a “Satiety Index” created by Australian researchers seeking to find foods that make people feel full and satisfied the longest.

It'll keep your cholesterol in check. A review of the most recent and compelling studies on oat and oat bran and cardiovascular disease risk factors concluded that oats and oat bran lower total cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol) by respectively 2-19 percent and 4-23 percent the effects are particularly prominent among people with high cholesterol levels.

It comes sliced, chopped and flattened. Here’s the low-down on three major types:


5. Grass-Fed Matters

You’ve heard, “You are what you eat.” Well, you are also what your food eats!

Numerous studies have found that cows eating their natural diet of grass are more nutritious than those raised on grains. Yes, grass-fed gelatin will cost more but I believe it’s worth it for the benefits. ( 2 )

Note that the term grass-fed only applies to bovine gelatin. There’s also pork gelatin. However, it’s much harder to regulate what pigs are eating so bovine gelatin is usually the better choice.


In just over 50 years since its official humble beginnings in Italy, Nutella's become an international household name—it is available in 160 countries.

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In 2012, Ferrero was slammed with a class-action lawsuit over the advertising language which claimed that Nutella was part of a healthy breakfast. The first ingredient is sugar, and it doesn't get much better from there. So, sadly, Nutella is confirmed as more of an indulgence than a protein source.


7. He didn’t wear coonskin caps.

Boone has often been portrayed sporting a hat made from the skin and fur of a raccoon, but in fact the frontiersman thought this type of headgear was unstylish and instead donned hats made from beaver. According to Boone biographer John Mack Faragher, the myth of the coonskin cap can be traced to a full-length portrait of Boone made in 1820 by Chester Harding, who authentically depicted the frontiersman wearing leggings, moccasins and a fringed hunting shirt and holding a beaver hat. The painting was displayed in the Kentucky capitol for several decades until it deteriorated. Harding later cut out Boone’s head and pasted it onto a different background however, a record of Boone’s outfit was preserved thanks to artist James Otto Lewis, who had produced an engraving of Harding’s original painting. Lewis hired an actor, Noah Ludlow, to help sell prints made from the engraving, and when Ludlow later performed a show that required him to dress like a frontiersman he modeled his costume after Boone’s wardrobe in the engraving. Unable to find a beaver hat, he substituted it with a coonskin cap. Ludlow’s performances were a success and the coonskin cap’s association with Boone stuck.


10 Things You May Not Know About the Dust Bowl

1. One monster dust storm reached the Atlantic Ocean.
While 𠇋lack blizzards” constantly menaced Plains states in the 1930s, a massive dust storm 2 miles high traveled 2,000 miles before hitting the East Coast on May 11, 1934. For five hours, a fog of prairie dirt enshrouded landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty and the U.S. Capitol, inside which lawmakers were debating a soil conservation bill. For East Coasters, the storm was a mere inconvenience—“Housewives kept busy,” read a New York Times subhead𠅌ompared to the tribulations endured by Dust Bowl residents.

2. The Dust Bowl was both a manmade and natural disaster.
Beginning with World War I, American wheat harvests flowed like gold as demand boomed. Lured by record wheat prices and promises by land developers that “rain follows the plow,” farmers powered by new gasoline tractors over-plowed and over-grazed the southern Plains. When the drought and Great Depression hit in the early 1930s, the wheat market collapsed. Once the oceans of wheat, which replaced the sea of prairie grass that anchored the topsoil into place, dried up, the land was defenseless against the winds that buffeted the Plains.

3. The ecosystem disruption unleashed plagues of jackrabbits and grasshoppers.
If the dust storms that turned daylight to darkness weren’t apocalyptic enough, seemingly biblical plagues of jackrabbits and grasshoppers descended on the Plains and destroyed whatever meager crops could grow. To combat the hundreds of thousands of jackrabbits that overran the Dust Bowl states in 1935, some towns staged “rabbit drives” in which townsmen corralled the jackrabbits in pens and smashed them to death with clubs and baseball bats. Thick clouds of grasshoppers𠅊s large as 23,000 insects per acre, according to one estimate𠅊lso swept over farms and consumed everything in their wakes. “What the sun left, the grasshoppers took,” President Franklin D. Roosevelt said during a fireside chat. The National Guard was called out to crush grasshoppers with tractors and burn infested fields, while the Civilian Conservation Corps spread an insecticide of arsenic, molasses and bran.

4. Proposed solutions were truly out-of-the-box.
There were few things desperate Dust Bowl residents didn’t try to make it rain. Some followed the old folklore of killing snakes and hanging them belly-up on fences. Others tried shock and awe. Farmers in one Texas town paid a self-professed rainmaker $500 to fire off rockets carrying an explosive mixture of dynamite and nitroglycerine to induce showers. Corporations also touted their products to the federal government as possible solutions. Sisalkraft proposed covering the farms with waterproof paper, while a New Jersey asphalt company suggested paving the Plains.

5. A newspaper reporter gave the Dust Bowl its name.
Associated Press reporter Robert Geiger opened his April 15, 1935, dispatch with this line: “Three little words achingly familiar on a Western farmer’s tongue, rule life in the dust bowl of the continent—if it rains.” 𠇍ust bowl” was probably a throwaway line for Geiger, since two days later he referred to the disaster zone as the 𠇍ust belt.” Nevertheless, within weeks the term had entered the national lexicon.

6. Dust storms crackled with powerful static electricity.
So much static electricity built up between the ground and airborne dust that blue flames leapt from barbed wire fences and well-wishers shaking hands could generate a spark so powerful it could knock them to the ground. Since static electricity could short out engines and car radios, motorists driving through dust storms dragged chains from the back of their automobiles to ground their cars.

7. The swirling dust proved deadly.
Those who inhaled the airborne prairie dust suffered coughing spasms, shortness of breath, asthma, bronchitis and influenza. Much like miners, Dust Bowl residents exhibited signs of silicosis from breathing in the extremely fine silt particulates, which had high silica content. Dust pneumonia, called the 𠇋rown plague,” killed hundreds and was particularly lethal for infants, children and the elderly.

Many, but not all, of the Dust Bowl refugees hailed from Oklahoma. As they flooded the West Coast in large numbers in search of jobs, they were given the disparaging nickname “Okies.”

8. The federal government paid farmers to plow under fields and butcher livestock.
As part of Roosevelt’s New Deal, the federal government purchased starving livestock for at least $1 a head. Livestock healthy enough to be butchered could fetch as much as $16 a head, with the meat used to feed homeless people living in Hoovervilles. The Soil Conservation Service, established in 1935, paid farmers to leave fields idle, employ land management techniques such as crop rotation and replant native prairie grasses. The federal government also bought more than 10 million acres and converted them to grasslands, some managed today by the U.S. Forest Service.

9. Most farm families did not flee the Dust Bowl.
John Steinbeck’s story of migrating tenant farmers in his Pulitzer Prize-winning 1939 novel, “The Grapes of Wrath,” tends to obscure the fact that upwards of three-quarters of farmers in the Dust Bowl stayed put. Dust Bowl refugees did not flood California. Only 16,000 of the 1.2 million migrants to California during the 1930s came from the drought-stricken region. Most Dust Bowl refugees tended to move only to neighboring states.

10. Few “Okies” were actually from Oklahoma.
While farm families migrating to California during the 1930s, like the fictitious Joad family, were often derided as “Okies,” only one-fifth of them were actually from Oklahoma. (Plus, many of those Oklahoma migrants were from the eastern part of the state outside of the Dust Bowl.) “Okie” was a blanket term used to describe all agricultural migrants, no matter their home states. They were greeted with hostility and signs such as one in a California diner that read: “Okies and dogs not allowed inside.”


Rope bridges

The Incas had plenty of good roads, but how did they travel across the steep canyons or fierce rivers of their extensive empire? The answer is through an impressive rope bridge design that was terrifyingly perilous to construct. Inca engineers would shoot arrows across a canyon or river to a colleague waiting on the other side who then secured the rope into place. The colleague would then have the terrifying task of climbing down the treacherous precipice to ensure the structure was sound. Many died in the process, but where honored for doing so, as this infrastructure was instrumental in the empire’s expansion.