Keep it Safe and Spicy

My sister, the science nerd that she is, enlightened me on a new fact today.

Most of us know that when we purchase milk from the store it’s been pasteurized. It means that the substance has been heated long enough at a specific temperature to reduce the viable bacteria numbers and eliminate the harmful organisms, making milk safe to drink. That process, however, does not mean that the liquid has been sterilized, which would kill all living microorganisms. So, my little sis mulled over the fact that she could get sick from drinking store-bought milk. Although that may be true, pasteurization kills more than 90 percent of harmful bacteria, which should mean that chance of food-borne illness are minimal.

Looking over my sister’s dilemma, I saw a huge debate happening online between the regulatory agencies and all-natural food consumers who advocated drinking raw milk. While I love food as unprocessed as possible, raw milk is just flat out dangerous. As humans we continue living to the age that we do, because we process our food in some ways. In my life, I have grown both fruits and vegetables, taken care of chickens and milked a cow. Through all those processes, my family and I have taken steps to make our food safe. Numerous times have we bought milk “straight from the cow,” but we always boiled it before consumption. Nothing compares to taking the cream out of the milk by yourself but always protect your health.

Keeping up with the subject of food, I learned some cool things about peppers. Apparently, a pharmacist named Wilbur Scoville devised the so-called Scoville Organoleptic Test that measures the hotness of various peppers, now standardized as the Scoville scale. It is based on how many times you dilute a substance concentrate until it stops tasting spicy. The original 1912 test included five human testers trying alcohol extracts of assorted pure ground peppers in sugar syrups. Of course, a downfall to the experiment is the subjective nature of the feeling of heat. To register, three out of the five participants must taste the spice. The common bell pepper registers at 0 on the scale and pure capsaicin stands at 15 million Scoville units. The jalapeño reaches 4500 to 6000 units, the habanero 350,000 and Bangladesh native Naga Jolokia pepper registers at 1 million Scoville units, approximately 400 times spicier than Tabasco. Now that would make some smoke come out of your ears…

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