Posts Tagged ‘DNA’

Service of a Good Appetite: Some People Will Eat No Matter Where or When

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

half eaten apple

When stressed, nervous or sad I find it hard to eat. Everything gets stuck in my throat and I’m not hungry. That’s why my eye caught Michael Wilson’s “Crime Scene” column in The New York Times, “Some Home Burglars Want a Quick Getaway. Others Need a Nosh.”

Regardless, were I in someone’s apartment stealing from them I wouldn’t hesitate for any reason, much less grab a bite. Yet, according to Wilson, this nibbling while on a burglary job is nothing new. The paper wrote about a general’s widow in Poughkeepsie who, in 1886 lost 100 pieces of flatware to robbers who then “went down to the kitchen and brought upstairs to the parlor cooked meats, bread, cake, eggs and milk, and partook of the banquet there and then.”

Wilson reported that the city’s DNA laboratory tests half eated chocolate cakeanything that “can link a suspect to a crime.” He continued, “This is a story about a small and bizarre subset of those objects” some of which include, according to the medical examiner’s office, a “partially eaten apple” as well as “Sunflower seed shells. Half-eaten chocolate cake. Chewed gum…half-eaten biscuit…Chicken bones. Chicken wing. Pizza crust. Fruit pit.” Later in the article Wilson referenced candy wrappers, a lollipop and a bagel.

Police textbooks cover the subject and Brooklyn Detective Anthony Barbee told Wilson “One of the questions we always ask people, ‘Look in your refrigerator. Is there anything open?’” Barbee added that some “make themselves at home. They get comfortable.”

I wasn’t as surprised about those whom Wilson reported took the food or beverage with them. I’d consider that part of the burglary—not an example of eat and run–and not unusual. He wrote about one burglar who took watches and electronics and in a note he left behind he thanked the homeowner for the OJ.

half eaten pizza crustA retired detective, Steve Panagopoulos, told Wilson that the food burglars are junkies. Now that makes sense—though I’m not sure that this would apply to the burglars in the 19th century Poughkeepsie example. “‘They don’t really even care about getting caught. Taking their time, sitting there opening refrigerators, that’s pretty crazy.’ That sort of behavior was the undoing of one serial thief he remembered. ‘He had taken out a thing of cheese, crackers,’ Mr. Panagopoulos said. ‘He left them behind on the table. That was processed for DNA.’”

Can you imagine stopping to snack while doing something illegal and dangerous–when time is of the essence–or do you lean in the direction of Detective Panagopoulos who attributed such behavior, these days in any case, to the conduct of junkies?

chicken bones

 

Service of Tweaks in Tomato Land: Is What’s Good for Shipping & Shelf Life Good for Me?

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

tomato 1

The words “safe” or “healthy” appeared nowhere in Daniela Hernandez’s Wall Street Journal article, “GMO Tomatoes May Stay Firm Longer–The genetic tweaks don’t significantly affect color and may preserve flavor, according to a new study.” She covered highlights from a paper published in Nature Biotechnology that showed that the modified tomatoes stayed firm for 14 days after they were picked, significant for shipping and shelf life.

When tomatoes are old they wrinkle

When tomatoes are old they wrinkle

And there was something else. The study, partially funded by Syngenta [seeds and pesticide], was performed at the University of Nottingham in the UK, a country that forbids people from eating genetically modified foods, so that nobody knows how these two-week-still-hard tomatoes taste!

Growing up in NYC before the advent of farmers’ markets, I disliked supermarket tomatoes that tasted at best like mushy apples. I realized how delicious the fruit can be when I lived in a foreign country where farmers waited until the fruit was a deep red before picking and selling.

“It’s unlikely the same DNA-wrangling technologies will be used for tomatoes grown commercially,” wrote Hernandez. “The tomato market isn’t big enough to ‘justify the cost of going through the regulatory hoops’ necessary to sell genetically modified tomatoes, said USDA plant molecular biologist James Giovannoni. ‘That is why the GMOs [genetically modified organisms] currently in the market are major crops, like maize or soy.’”

Tomato 3 commercialHernandez continued: “The research’s benefit is providing a road map to genes breeders could target. It’s more likely they would cross tomatoes with less pectate-lyase activity to commercial varieties and select those that are firm and tasty, he added.” [Not quite sure what that means.] “That will require growers to figure out what conditions give them optimal flavor and texture, at the right harvest time.”

So should I worry about the definition of “commercial growers?” Obviously they sell to behemoths like Del Monte and Heinz but what about the farmers who sell to small grocery stores, restaurants and at farmers’ markets—will their tomatoes eventually be tweaked to support more favorable shipping and storage or are they subject to the same complicated regulations as commercial growers? Do you believe that a genetically fiddled tomato will be safe and healthy to eat?

tomato 2

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