Carl Sagan was born on this day in 1934. He would be 78 today. He died too soon at the age of 62 in 1996.
He is one of my heroes.
Humans have a tendency to fall prey to the illusion that their economy is at the very center of the universe, forgetting that the biosphere is what ultimately sustains all systems, both man-made and natural. In this sense, ‘environmental issues’ are not about saving the planet—it will always survive and evolve with new combinations of atom—but about the prosperous development of our own species.
—Carl Folke, Science director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University.
Welp, before I turn it over and look at the list of ingredients on the back I’m going to make a guess that it is mostly corn, maybe with some cheese product and then some chemicals derived from oil. Let’s find out!
Enriched Corn Meal – Cornmeal is flour ground from dried maize. It is a common staple food, and common in processed foods. Enriched means that it nutrients such as iron and B vitamins have been put back into the product after it has been ground down in order to match the nutritional content of the unrefined product.
Vegetable Oil – Cooking oil derived from plants, as the list on the back of the package states it’s either from American Corn, Soybean or Sunflower. I’m guessing it’s either a blend or is merely determined by the cost of oil at the time of purchase…
Cheese Seasoning – Which is a complicated slurry of natural and unnatural products. I highlighted the interesting ones below
Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil – Hydrogenation is a complex chemical process. What it basically does tough is converts liquid vegetable oils in to solid or semi-solid fats. These solid or semi-solid fats are preferred in baking and cheaper than the animal source equivalent.
Maltodextrin – A food additive. Here in the United States it is usually derived from corn. According to Wikipedia: Maltodextrin is easily digestible, being absorbed as rapidly as glucose, and might be either moderately sweet or almost flavorless. It is commonly used for the production of sodas and candy. It can also be found as an ingredient in a variety of other processed foods.
Disodium Phosphate – A sodium salt of phosphoric acid, Disodium Phosphate is hygroscopic, which means it attracts and holds water from the environment. It is used as an anti-caking agent in powdered foods and products. It is also used in conjunction with Trisodium phosphate in many steam-boiler applications, the two act to retard calcium scale formation.
Sour Cream – A fat rich dairy product created by fermenting regular cream with lactic bacteria.
Artificial Flavor – This is the top secret stuff and usually not developed by the company itself but instead done by an outside “flavor company” that employs highly skilled and trained chemists who go about constructing the requested flavors. Artificial flavors are define as: flavoring substances not identified in a natural product intended for human consumption, whether or not the product is processed. These are typically produced by fractional distillation and additional chemical manipulation of naturally sourced chemicals, crude oil or coal tar. Yum, coal tar!
Monosodium Glutamate – Good Ol’ MSG! MSG is one of the most abundant, naturally occurring, non-essential amino acids. The MSG you find today is “manufactured” through a process of bacterial fermentation. MSG is a flavor enhancer because it balances, blends and rounds the total perception of other tastes. This is what it most often does in processed foods as well as to preserve food quality
Lactic Acid – Found naturally in many food items. Lactic acid is formed by natural fermentation in products such as cheese, yogurt, meat products and pickled vegetables. In food products it is most often used as either a pH regulator or as a preservative. It is also used as a flavoring agent.
Artificial Color including Yellow 6 -Much like artificial flavors artificial colors are generally derived from petroleum. Yellow 6 also known as Sunset Yellow is useful in fermented foods which must be heat treated. It may be found in orange sodas, marzipan, Swiss rolls, apricot jam, citrus marmalade, lemon curd,sweets, beverage mix and packet soups, margarine, custard powders, packaged lemon gelatin desserts, energy drinks such as Lucozade, breadcrumbs, snack chips such as Doritos, packaged instant noodles, cheese sauce mixes and powdered marinades, bottled yellow and green food colouring, ice creams, pharmaceutical pills and prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines (especially children’s medicines) cake decorations and icings, squashes, and other products with artificial yellow, orange or red colours.
Salt – Just salt
Skyward, burning lance
Crossing the eternal void
Taking Man starward
enshrined in Science
For the last time
Humanity braves Infinity