Friday, August 28, 2009

French Fry Day

Here at New Voices, we all seem to have an affection for the potatoe-y goodness known as french fries. Luckily (or unluckily?), we aren't alone. The average American eats four portions of french fries per week, which is about 16 pounds a year. So today, we're taking a closer look at one of the most ubiquitous foods in the United States.

The Science of Making the Perfect Fry, by Ilse
French fries of choice: Fresh French Fries from the Minnesota State Fair are far and away the best.

The quality of a French fry depends heavily on chemistry and engineering. “In Search of the Perfect Fry” points out that once you have the basic ingredients (potatoes, oil, and a fryer), everything from the temperature of the potatoes and the oil to the length of time that the potatoes are in the oil affects the way the fries turn out. As fries cook, water is released from the potatoes and replaced by oil, causing the fries to cook from the outside in. A process called heat transfer, which is basically the cycle of bubble release from the fries, occurs at this point.

Much more than ingredients and cooking specifications determine how fries taste. Most people add salt for flavor, but scientists have also developed chemical formulas for the oil fries are cooked in that affects the flavor. The use of alternative ingredients such as rice to make fries or fortifying fries have also been considered as ways of making them slightly healthier.

Why We Can't Get Enough, by Matt
French fries of choice: 1st place- Nando's dipped in a combination of Hot & Garlic Peri-Peri sauce. (If you live near D.C., you have to try Nando's!), 2nd place- Five Guys fries dipped in hot sauce, 3rd place- McDonald's

"Addicted to French Fries?! No, I can stop any time. . . . "

Actually, the science suggests you may not be able to stop. The American Heart Disease Association notes that food cravings and addictions may be caused by low serotonin levels in the brain. The “mind-mood-food” connection could explain why you have to have those french fries now.

Other research has shown that eating carbohydrates “increased arousal” and “demonstrated positive effects” on mood (subscription required). French fries are loaded with carbohydrates. A medium french fries from McDonald’s has 48g of carbs—16% of the recommended daily value. That may explain why eating french fries makes you feel so happy.

Greasy Goodness Economics, by Heather
French fries of choice: Anything with crispy outsides and soft centers served with tarragon vinegar, a bit of salt and ketchup.

Americans spend more than $75 billion on fried foods every year. That's a lot, but not even close to the more than $90 billion spent annually on medical expenditures related to being overweight or obese.

Researchers estimate that a net change of 100 calories per day - equivalent to cutting out about 1/2 of a small serving of french fries - could help adults stop gaining weight. Better yet, if we could cut out even one of our four average servings of fries per week, we could save an average of $104 a year on french fries, reduce our calorie intake by about 400 calories a week, and potentially save up to 37% in annual medical costs.

Source: Investment in research saves lives and money Obesity fact sheet

So now we know that...
  • there is a science to making the perfect french fry - either at the fair, a restaurant, or at home.
  • it's not our fault we can't stop eating them.
  • we could save ourselves some serious money and calories if we could stop.
But, there's no argument that the industry does a lot for our economy, so while we at New Voices would never advocate for anything so blatantly unhealthy, we figure nothing's too bad when eaten in moderation. Speaking of which, it looks like lunch time....

1 comment:

  1. NICE. I AM DOING A PROJECT FROM A ARTICLE FROM SCIENCE NEWS FOR KIDS ON THE PERFECT FRENCH FRY AND THIS ARTICLE YOU HAVE HELPS ME PROVE SOME BEHIND THE SCENES OF RESEARCH FOR HEALTHIER FRENCH FRIES THAT TASTES GOOD AND HAVE SOME NUTRITIONAL VALUE. THANKS FOR TYPING THIS ARTICLE OR ELSE I WOULD NOT KNOW MUCH ABOUT THH ARTICLE FROM SCIENCE NEWS FOR KIDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!