Archive for the ‘food’ Category

What You Can Measure You Can Improve

March 7, 2009

Measuring to Improve photo

Example #1
I’ve never been a very healthy vegetarian, getting a lot of my daily calories from cheese and pasta. It has always been obvious that I should eat more fruits and vegetables, but somehow I just wasn’t taking the step to really do it with any consistency. Small victories stayed isolated, and my eating habits stayed pretty much the same.

So I decided to challenge myself to eat at least 5 extra portions of fruits and vegetables a day. What I would normally be eating as part of a meal didn’t count; it had to be, for example, an extra bowl of carrots or an apple.

Results: So far in slightly less than 2 weeks I’ve eaten over 65 portions of fruits and vegetables that I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have eaten otherwise. It hasn’t been hard or complicated, but I know that without some metrics and way to stay accountable (see on the photo above), I wouldn’t have gotten this result.

I intend to keep doing that for at least a month to see if I can pick up the habit. If I don’t, I might stick with this system for as long as I need to. I figure that the small hassle is worth the price of an improved health (and possibly lower food bills).

Measuring to Improve photo

Example #2
As I’ve already mentioned on this site, I read a lot. It hasn’t been hard to keep a good rhythm with books because I just love reading. I don’t need any external motivation.


Photos: Making Cookies

December 21, 2008

Homemade cookies photo

Melanie wants to give some homemade cookies to her friends for xmas. Here are the results of our teamwork (pajamas and all).

Homemade cookies photo


Iodine Deficiency is Reducing the World’s I.Q.

December 4, 2008

Salt Shaker photo

Sadly, cost-effectiveness isn’t always a priority when it comes to humanitarian aid. In the same way that in the environmental sector it is common knowledge that cute endangered animals will receive more help than ugly ones, ease of marketing is also a big factor when it comes to helping our fellow humans. But if the people who manage aid funds (either voluntary charitable donations or tax money) looked for the biggest bang for the buck, salt iodization would become a priority and the world would be a better place.

From a Nicholas D. Kristof op-ed:

Almost one-third of the world’s people don’t get enough iodine from food and water. The result in extreme cases is large goiters that swell their necks, or other obvious impairments such as dwarfism or cretinism. But far more common is mental slowness.

When a pregnant woman doesn’t have enough iodine in her body, her child may suffer irreversible brain damage and could have an I.Q. that is 10 to 15 points lower than it would otherwise be. An educated guess is that iodine deficiency results in a needless loss of more than 1 billion I.Q. points around the world.

A campaign to iodize salt would cost about 2-3 cents per person reached per year, and it could probably be less since once awareness has be raised salt makers would add iodine to their products because it would become a competitive advantage that would pay for itself.

There is another New York Times article from 2006 on this subject: In Raising the World’s I.Q., the Secret’s in the Salt.

If you want to help (and not just with iodine, but also with vitamin A, folic acid, iron, and zinc), check out the The MicroNutrient Initiative, a Canadian non-profit “dedicated to ensuring that the world’s most vulnerable-especially women and children in developing countries-get the vitamins and minerals they need to survive and thrive.”

Addendum: Of course here “I.Q.” is used as shorthand for “intelligence” (whatever that means), and whatever happens, I.Q. will still be periodically normalized to average 100. That’s beside the point that making poor people healthier and smarter is a good thing in itself, and would indirectly lead to more good things.

Photo: Chili Overload

July 5, 2008

Here’s another fascinating update about my Chili plant. I first wrote about it last Autumn, then gave you an update about my hand-pollinated winter Chili crop.

I thought that 7 peppers at once was a pretty good harvest. Boy, was I wrong. Above is a photo I just took of the very same plant. It now lives in my parents’ garden and it looks like it’s about to collapse from the sheer weight of all those chili peppers. Incredible.


Photo: Winter Chili

February 14, 2008

Chili Peppers

Last November, I posted some pictures of chili peppers I was growing. Here’s a whole new batch: I pollinated the flowers by hand and 7 of them turned into peppers. Some are still green, so they’re harder to see.

Mark Bittman’s Pasta Sauce

December 8, 2007

After watching this video of New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman, I decided to try his pasta sauce myself. The video isn’t really about the sauce, rather it’s about the concept of changing the pasta/sauce ratio, something that I think makes lots of sense. But the sauce looked really good and easy to do…

Here are the results (high resolution pics here):



It was delicious!

Growing Chili

November 11, 2007




You can see high resolution versions here.

See also: Winter Chili.