Food can be strange at times. Chuck will tell you more, but don’t fall in love with his beard.
10 Weird-but-True Food Facts
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* Ever think about how weird it is that we fuel ourselves with masticated dead plant and animal matter? Food is pretty weird, and here are a few reasons why:
* Hippo Nearly Became America’s Other Dark Meat: Around 1910, the U.S. faced a serious problem: a booming population and not enough meat to feed it. One proposal: Import the hippopotamus.
* Hippos could live in areas unfit for cattle. (Newspaper editorials of the time called them “lake cows”.) Hippos eat less than cattle by body weight. And they might’ve helped remove from Louisiana’s bayous a blight of invasive hyacinth that was clogging the waterways and knocking off fish.
* But, despite support from no less than Teddy Roosevelt, the idea gave way to efficient industrial farms and their traditional, nonaggressive food animals. Yes, we’re missing out on lake-cow bacon, but hippos kill more people in Africa each year than any other animal aside from disease-carrying insects.
* [Cheese Can Be Used As Loan Collateral:] The Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy is the only place in the world that produces real Parmigiano-Reggiano. And it houses the only bank that accepts this cheese as collateral.
* The Credito Emiliano SpA (aka Credem) stores around 450,000 aging, 80-pound wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano at any given time. That stacks up to around 160 million euros’ worth.
* Accepting the curd-based collateral is a valuable service to local cheese producers, who must finance new milk-buying and storage while their older products cure. Loans from Credem can reach 80% of the cheese’s market value.
* [Sugar Can Kill You:] Many students of nutrition will decry sugar’s negative effects on the body, but in one disaster, sugar became truly, immediately deadly. It was 1919, and molasses – a sticky, liquid sweetener produced from sugarcane – was in high demand as an ingredient in alcohol manufacturing due to impending Prohibition laws. People wanted to brew all the booze they could before the legislation passed.
* It so happened that a giant molasses storage tank had been constructed in Boston back in 1916. During WWI, molasses was distilled to help make munitions. But this particular tank had been constructed hastily. Modern research indicates its steel walls were at least 50% too thin to hold its full capacity, and contained enough manganese to make it likely to crack.
* When incoming shipments filled the tank in January 1919, the structure collapsed, spilling 2.3 million gallons of molasses into the streets. A 25-foot wave destroyed 2 city blocks within seconds, crushing and suffocating 21 victims stuck in the mass.
* There Is A Serious Black Market For Maple Syrup: In the summer of 2012, the Global Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve in Canada discovered the robbery of some 60% of its stock: That’s about 6 million pounds of syrup, worth about 18 million Canadian dollars wholesale at the time.
* Good-quality maple syrup goes for about 13 times the price of crude oil per barrel. According to police documents, an elaborate criminal ring convened to steal, ship, store, and sell the syrup surreptitiously. They started by refilling the emptied barrels with water to help keep up appearances. As of fall 2014, 26 people had been arrested, but only a quarter of the syrup – and none of the money from its sale – had been recovered.