Food Snark

Is Chia the next superfood?

October 20, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Who can forget the Chia Pet that is mainly advertised during holidays? It is an annual crop and plant and associated Chia Pet container is a gag gift; that is why it is cropping up mainly during holidays. Seeds of the house hold plant Chia are in many of our cereal, granola, dressings, many fruit drinks, baby food, animal food and others. Chia contains fiber and protein, and some thinks it may be the next superfood. Chia believed to provide energy boost to the body and pair nicely with buckwheat, quinoa and other similar healthy food items. Some say Chia can reduce food cravings, lower blood pressure, and help with weight loss. But these health claims are yet to be proven with hard evidence and conclusive scientific research.

Between 2009 and 2013, Chia products grew by more than 1,300 percent and in 2012 its retail sales value exceeded more than $29 million. Botanically called Salvia hispanica, Chia belongs to the mint family and native to Southern Mexico and Guatemala. It is believed that ancient Aztecs planted Chia and it provided important supplement to maize. Some parts of Central America still uses ground Chia seeds in nutritional drinks and as a food source.

Wonderful green of kale

September 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Many consider kale as a super hero or as a super food among many available food varieties. Low in fat and calories, kale is loaded with nutrients. Belonging to the same family as cabbage, collards, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, kale is known as part of Brassica family of food. It contains only 33 calories per cup, however, loaded with vitamin A, potassium, calcium, fiber, and manganese. It also contains 700 percent of your daily vitamin K suggestions by the government. Kale is credited with its ability to lower cancer risks, help the body’s detoxification process, and for its anti-inflammatory capabilities.

Kale’s origin dates back to 600 B.C. That brings a loaded resume of kale preparation methods. Because it is a cruciferous vegetable, it needed to be cooked in order for you to eat it. However, many use young and tender leaves in salads and other preparations in its raw condition. It can be freeze for future use and gives a sweeter taste due to freezing. Add few leaves to your soups and sauces or blend with your smoothie. You can also store it in a plastic bag without washing. When your you want to use kale, run it under cool water, pat dry, and remove stems before chopping.

Snacks and Baseball

August 29, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

This article was written by Phin Upham

Baseball has a long and storied history, but it tends to skip over all of the back-end stuff that makes the game as charming as it is. One of the pieces of that backbone is the vendor. This individual is responsible for feeding fans as they partake in America’s favorite pastime.

Baseball reached new highs in the early 19th century, when it began attracting more fans for actual games. At the time, race tracks and fairs were already known for their concessions. Baseball was merely playing catch-up when it introduced concessions to fans.

Food would often vary by region. Chowder could be found at Fenway, while Philadelphia preferred the pretzel with mustard. Nathan’s famous franks were available in New York City, but even fine dining options were in high demand. People of wealth wanted a place to sit and observe the game at their own pace, eating something with a finer taste than the American hot dog.

If you are one of those people who likes to talk about “the good old days,” and how much cheaper everything used to be, it might surprise you to learn that food was expensive back then too. Stadiums knew the simple economics of it: people who were sitting outdoors for long periods needed food and drink.

The hot dog is what truly revolutionized the world of baseball stadium food. It became the standard offering at most games, and grew to immense popularity in American culture at the time.

About the Author: Phin Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham website

Karo Syrup History

August 1, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

This article was written by Samuel Phineas Upham

The Corn Products Refining Company of New York and Chicago was formed in 1901, and launched its flagship product on May 13th of that year. It shipped both light and dark versions of its corn syrup, and named the concoction after the wife of the chemist who created it, Caroline.

Prior to Karo’s release, the American house wife had a jug that she carried with her to the grocery store. There, she would receive a refill from the barrels of sugar the grocer had. Karo changed all of that in a convenient disposable container.

The product was well-received and marketed to the masses with a “friction top” tin that allowed for easy access to the syrup. The syrup was often advertised in ladies magazines, as a spread for white bread. It was advertised as a sweet treat to be consumed at breakfast, lunch or dinner. The ads were often full page, and full of eleven different recipes that kids would love and parents would value for nutrition.

The president of the Corn Products Refining Company launched an ambitious ad campaign to bring national awareness to his syrup. The company published an edition of its Karo cookbook, which included 120 different recipes worth preparing.

Then, the company found a way to ensure its products would live forever. The wife of one of the sales executives was playing with the syrup in her kitchen when she figured out how to make pecan pie. The use of Karo syrup was so important to the recipe, that Southerners still call it Karo pie today.

About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Samuel Phineas Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Samuel Phineas Upham on his Samuel Phineas Upham website.

Buddha’s Hand

July 16, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Written by Samuel Phineas Upham

Citron is a form of citrus that is capable of flowering and developing fruit during any season. Though it is more sensitive to frost than other forms of citrus, which limits where citron can be grown. The origins of this plant are still a mystery lost to history, but we believe that the source could be either India or Arabia.

Citron is reported to be one of the earliest fruits to appear in the Mediterranean, but this could stem from misconceptions. Citron was poorly defined in those days, as were many foods of the time, so it’s possible that writings mentioning citron are referring to some other plant.

The citron has earned the nickname “Buddha’s hand” because of its role in both Hinduism and Buddhism. Citron is very clearly depicted in no less than three scenes from the lives of Buddha. The Vedic god Kuvera, an earth spirit who was later adopted by Buddhists, is always depicted as gold in color and holding onto a citron fruit.

In China, the fruit was highly valued. Writings from the medieval period talk about ten jars of citron fruit offered to the emperor of China from the west. These fruits were also thought to have been brought to China through the movement of Buddhist monks, which might help to explain the origins of the nickname.

Citron was often carried on a person or placed at a table to leave pleasant scents in the room, similar to modern-day perfume. The rind is the most nutritious part of the fruit, but it is rarely eaten.

Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Samuel Phineas Upham on his LinkedIn page.

Domestication of the Chicken

July 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Written by Samuel Phineas Upham

When Darwin observed the Red Jungle Fowl of Southeast Asia, he believed that he was looking at the ancestor of the modern barnyard chicken. He also made some guesses as to its origins, placing the fowl in India, or the Indus Valley.

Today, we have some more precise ideas on when and where the chicken came from. We know that the chicken was known in Sumer, and that people there referred to it as “the king bird.” The Egyptians knew of it as early as the second dynasty, and the Greeks wrote extensively throughout the fourth century on advice for keeping and raising chickens. There are even Greek writings that indicate the Egyptians raised chickens for their eggs, and that they were able to incubate chicken eggs for hatching. It is said that Egyptians had incubators so grand in scale that they could hatch 10,000 chicks at a time.

Prior to the 1920s, chickens were raised as meat in the USA, but the practice of mass-production did not happen until well after World War I. The best-known birds are the varieties of Brahma that are available. These birds have a full breast, and have large portions of meat in proportion to the size of the bones.

There was also a great emphasis placed on marketing the birds, with special care taken to show packaging. It was recommended that chickens were placed in small wicker baskets and wrapped in linen or white paper to make them appear more attractive. Such a bird was likely to fetch a higher market price than those who were carelessly presented.

Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Samuel Phineas Upham on his Samuel Phineas Upham website

Several decades’ later, Afternoon tea still popular

July 7, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Afternoon tea taken with a light meal traditionally takes place between 4 pm and 6 pm. Started in England in 1840 by Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bradford to get over her boredom and to socialize with her elite female friends is still practiced in many parts of the world. At upper class family homes tea is still served by white gloved. Once was a practice of social elite today the practice is coming back to many tea houses and restaurants all over the world.

Tea served is brewed with loose tea and served in a tea pot. Milk and sugar are served in separate vessels. It provides a calorie boost until the supper is served later. Over the years, many accompanying food items were added to the serving. Scones; small sandwiches made with eggs, cucumbers, and ham; cream puffs; and many others decadents are served along with the afternoon tea. Today the afternoon tea has come a long way from the first cup served in Duchess of Bedford palace.

High tea also occurs between 5 pm and 7 pm. But it refers to a practice mostly by working class people and the tea is accompanied with a hot meal.

Beets and Borscht: Eastern European Treats

June 27, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

This article was written by Phineas Upham

Borscht is made primarily from beets, and it’s a soup that can be served either hot or cold. It is an Eastern European dish that has found moderate popularity elsewhere in the world. Ukranians consider it their national soup, and have a firm belief that they were the origin for the dish. Ukranians not only adore the soup, they have more varieties available in their country than anywhere else in the world.

It was not considered a royal dish, not even fit for royal servants, and the original recipe called for a cow parsnip as the base ingredient. The beet was eventually added as an ingredient before becoming the primary dish. Early versions consisted mostly of the beet juice cooked in egg yolks and cream.

Today’s borscht recipes haven’t changed much. Beets are still the primary ingredient, though meat is added depending on the tastes of the chef. Sour cream is another component to the dish that has existed for centuries.

All beets descended from the same general species, which has most likely been around since prehistory. Beet comes from the Latin word “beta,” which became “bête” in Middle English. We know it’s been around since ancient Greece, and it’s likely that they reached Europe through Roman conquests. Initially, beets were lighter in color. The red beet changed everything, and got cooks at the time enthusiastic about cooking with the colorful vegetable. After a stirring review in 1633 by Gerard, the beet became a dinner time staple.

About the Author: Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phineas Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Phineas on his Twitter page.

Kale: The Super Food of the Ancients

June 20, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Written by Samuel Phineas Upham

Did you know that kale is a lot like a primitive cabbage? The cabbage has evolved to include many veggies we know and eat every day: broccoli and cauliflower being just two of the more well-known varieties.

Kale is sometimes called “borecole,” but the name “kale” is Scottish in origin. The Greeks used the world “coles” or “caulis,” and the Germans called it “kohl.”

The interesting fact about kale is that none of it is new. We’ve known almost every species of kale currently on the market for at least 2,000 years. They are native to Asia Minor, but they have been shifted frequently by traders throughout the ancient world. Therefore, we don’t know where they originated from.

Though the Greeks grew both kale and collards, they did not make a distinction between the two veggies. It’s likely that the Romans inherited kale from the Greeks, then brought the plant with them during their conquests throughout Europe. Though the Americas first mention kale in the late 1600s, it’s likely that the plant was cultivated far before then and was merely a garden favorite not worthy of a full cookbook.

Today, eating kale is considered the ultimate super food. Nutrition experts have tried for several years to popularize kale because of its nutritional benefits, but the taste is not palatable to everyone. In the West, kale is a primary ingredient in fruit-based shakes, where the nutrition of the plant is gleaned through drinking rather than eating.

Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Samuel Phineas Upham on his Samuel Phineas Upham website


Wonderful olive oil

June 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Have you heard the news about olive oil lately? Researchers say that olive oil is a healthy alternative to vegetable oil sprays and dressings. Most of all, they finds olive oil contain anti-aging chemicals including Vitamin E that helps to neutralize free radicals and protect your skin from sun’s damaging UVA rays.

Italian researchers find that monounsaturated fatty acids found in olive oil helps people to live longer. It has been credited to lower bad cholesterol and helps curbing inflammation. Linoleic acid that helps to prevent your skin shedding water is also found in olive oil. Lack of linoleic acid promotes dry and flaky skin. Since you can only get linoleic acid from other sources not from your body, olive oil is a good source of supply. Many of us use olive oil just for cooking. But if you apply it topically, your skin will pay you back. It provides much needed moisture to your skin. Your scalp will thank you if you add few drops of olive oil and massage it. Among many types of olive oil, many experts recommend using extra virgin olive oil due to its antioxidant content. The recommended dose of olive oil is about two tablespoons a day.

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