This Weekend: #WWIM14???? For more tips and tricks, or to find an…

This Weekend: #WWIM14????

For more tips and tricks, or to find an InstaMeet near you, visit

It’s here! Worldwide InstaMeet 14 is happening this weekend. Tens of thousands of people around the world will gather and celebrate our theme — food! — through sunrise breakfasts, cooking classes and other fun feasts. However you decide to take part, share your photos and videos with #WWIM14???? to celebrate the diversity of food and its ability to bring people of all backgrounds together. Take a picture of your picnic, Boomerang your brunch and use Instagram Stories to capture your InstaMeet in real time. Browse #WWIM14???? throughout the weekend to explore communities around the world, and check in on Monday for a look back at some of our favorites.

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The Instagram Account Dedicated to Fruit Stickers To see more…

The Instagram Account Dedicated to Fruit Stickers

To see more fruit stickers from around the world, check out @fruit_stickers on Instagram.

When she travels, Kelly Angood keeps her eyes peeled on the produce section of local grocery stores. Yes, she loves fruit — but she also loves adding to her growing collection of fruit stickers from around the world, which she faithfully documents on @fruit_stickers. “I’m not sure exactly how I got into collecting fruit stickers; for years I’ve just stuck them inside pages in notebooks,” says the 28-year-old London-based designer and entrepreneur. “At the time I wasn’t even doing it consciously, I just liked the way they looked. I’d pretty much do it anytime I ate a piece of fruit.”

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How Big Sugar Paid Harvard Scientists to Influence How We Eat

How Big Sugar Paid Harvard Scientists to Influence How We Eat:

It’s no secret that industry funds such efforts today: An investigation in June, for example, showed how the National Confectioners Association worked with a nutrition professor at Louisiana State University to conclude that kids who eat sugar are thinner than those who don’t.

An article by University of California-San Francisco researchers, published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, shows how far back such efforts go: In 1965, the Sugar Research Foundation, the precursor to today’s Sugar Association, paid Harvard scientists to discredit a link now widely accepted among scientists – that consuming sugar can raise the risk of cardiovascular disease. Instead, the industry and the Harvard scientists pinned the blame squarely, and only, on saturated fat.

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The Forgotten Woman Who Made Microbiology PossibleLab work can…

The Forgotten Woman Who Made Microbiology Possible

Lab work can be a lot like cooking. You have to follow directions to measure, mix, and heat different chemicals to the right temperature to get the desired result. For some experiments, the desired result is actually something that can be eaten by a range of different organisms. In microbiology labs, feeding bacteria is a major preoccupation, and preparing the proper growth medium in a lab’s “kitchen” is often the first step of any experiment. Petri dishes are filled with a sort of savory Jell-O, a nutrient-filled semi-solid matrix that creates a cozy home for bacteria to grow. Without the solid-yet-moist surface of the gel where the bacteria can cling to and reproduce, there’s little hope of separating a bacterial cell from its environment in order to study it.

In the earliest days of microbiology, scientists were stumped about how to isolate bacteria. That is, until the family cook—a woman named Angelina—changed everything by bringing her culinary insight into the lab. Before Angelina, the work of classifying different bacteria seemed hopelessly complex. Unable to differentiate them, Linnaeus classified all bacteria in the order Chaos in 1763. (Today, Chaos is a genus of giant amoebae.) In the 1800s, scientists studying the spots of fungus growing on moldy bread and meat began to realize that each spot was an individual species of microorganism, which could be transferred to a fresh piece of food and grown in isolation. Inspired by these early food-based studies, Robert Kochused thin slices of potatoes as naturally occurring “Petri dishes” when he began his studies of bacterial pathogens.

New techniques to isolate, grow, and study the behavior of individual species of microorganisms were developed in Koch’s lab in the last decades of the 19th century. In a 1939 article, Arthur Hitchens and Morris Leikind described the history of these crucial microbiological techniques and the development of the solid medium still used in labs today. They begin by writing that Robert Koch’s “genius lay in his ability to bring order out of chaos. Starting as it were with a box of miscellaneous beads, varying in size and shape, each bead a scientific fact, he found a thread on which the beads could be strung to form a perfect necklace.” But they continue to highlight not only the genius “bead stringers” but also the numerous and talented “bead collectors” who help to build the tools and collect the data that the bead stringers use. For Koch’s legendary discoveries of the bacteria that cause diseases like tuberculosis and cholera to be possible, he needed new techniques to effectively isolate bacteria beyond carefully sliced potatoes. He needed the tools that were developed by his less-celebrated laboratory assistants, like Julius Richard Petri’s dishes and Walther Hesse’s solid growth medium.

But behind the talented laboratory technicians that supported Robert Koch’s genius was an even more unsung heroine of microbiology. It was Walther Hesse’s wife (who was often an assistant and scientific illustrator for the lab) Angelina Fanny Hesse who made the isolation of bacteria possible. In the early 1880’s, Walther was struggling to find the right sort of gel for Petri’s dishes. He was experimenting with using gelatin to congeal the nutrient broth that the bacteria ate, but bacteria also liked to eat the proteins that congealed the gelatin, chewing through the gel and ruining the experiments. Gelatin also had another major drawback: it would soften and begin to melt at the incubation temperatures required for growing the bacteria.

Angelina, who cooked both the family’s meals and the beef stock that the bacteria ate in her kitchen, suggested that Walther use agar-agar, which is more heat-stable than gelatin and used to make soups, desserts, and jellies, particularly in Asia. (She had learned about it from Dutch friends who had lived in Indonesia, which was a colony of the Netherlands at the time.) Agar is a sugar polymer derived from algae that most bacteria can’t digest. Once it’s boiled and cooled, it forms a tough matrix that stays solid at much higher temperatures than gelatin.

With agar, many of the technical problems hindering Hesse’s—and therefore Koch’s—experimental progress were solved. Koch briefly mentioned the development (though he fails to mention either Walther or Angelina) in his 1882 paper announcing the identification of the bacteria that causes tuberculosis: “The tubercule bacilli can also be cultivated on other media…they grow, for example, on a gelatinous mass which was prepared with agar-agar, which remains solid at blood temperature, and which has received a supplement of meat broth and peptone.”

Angelina Hesse’s creative insight was thus written out of history with the ever-present passive voice of the scientific literature. Even today, the Wikipedia article about Robert Koch masks Angelina’s contribution to microbiological history, simply stating that Koch “began to utilize agar to grow and isolate pure cultures.” In the late 19th century, the use of agar to isolate bacteria was initially referred to as “Koch’s plate technique,” but since the early 1900s only Petri’s name remains in common use. In their article, Hitchens and Leikind suggested (seventy five years ago) that “plain agar” be referred to as “Frau Hesse’s medium” to acknowledge her forgotten “service to science and to humanity.” Perhaps it’s finally time that we remember Frau Hesse and celebrate all the ignored “bead collectors” working in the laboratories and kitchens that make science possible.

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Rex Animal Health is using genomics to keep livestock healthy

Rex Animal Health gives farmers "weather maps" showing illnesses impacting livestock in their area. A startup called Rex Animal Health wants to protect livestock from illnesses that can quickly turn into epidemics, and help farmers breed animals with the healthiest and most attractive traits. Today at Disrupt SF, Rex unveiled technology to help veterinarians provide clinical support at the point on the farm, and predict the genetic causes of problematic traits in their herds, and in the… Read More technology news

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Celebrate #WWIM14???? with Nicola Antonio Espósito Explore…

Celebrate #WWIM14???? with Nicola Antonio Espósito

Explore #WWIM14???? to learn about this year’s Worldwide InstaMeet. Join tens of thousands of people around the world to explore, share and celebrate this WWIM’s theme — food! To find out more or to organize your own, visit

Picture this: You’re eating local Venezuelan cuisine on a farm in Mérida, learning tricks of the photography trade, while spending time with friends, old and new. Sound too good to be true? Think again. #WWIM14???? is happening September 17-18, and photographer Nicola Antonio Espósito (@esposin) has teamed up with @ecowildmerida to host a picnic-style InstaMeet in celebration of this year’s theme (food!) and you’re invited. “We hope that through the pictures we share, the world will learn a bit about the importance of local products in the gastronomic development of Venezuela,” says Nicola, who has convinced many local businesses to participate in his InstaMeet, which will take place on September 17. “Local restaurants will be selling food, I will be teaching people how to take beautiful food photos and there will be a big Instagram logo in the middle of the farm for people to photograph with drones,” he says. “It will be a wonderful opportunity to get to know great people that share the same passion for photography!”

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Natasha Ksenzhuk’s Photos Look Good Enough to Eat To see more…

Natasha Ksenzhuk’s Photos Look Good Enough to Eat

To see more of Natasha’s photography, follow @natali_pauta on Instagram. Discover more stories from the Russian-speaking community on @instagramrussia.

(This interview was conducted in Russian.)

Twenty-eight-year-old Natasha Ksenzhuk (@natali_pauta) dove into her passion for food photography while on maternity leave with her two-year-old son, Sasha. Today, the former furniture designer from Belarus is editor-in-chief of @honestfoodmagazine. “I find inspiration almost everywhere: at seasonal markets among the rows of vegetables and herbs, at flea markets, with beautiful old china plates and kitchen utensils or while walking with a child through the forest, gathering sprigs and clover and daisies,” says Natasha. Her signature photo style comes from shooting on overcast days in Minsk. “Ideally there should be rain on the window — then there will be that special light, enveloping and mysterious.”

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There is now a sixth taste – and it explains why we love carbs

There is now a sixth taste – and it explains why we love carbs:

As any weight-watcher knows, carb cravings can be hard to resist. Now there’s evidence that carbohydrate-rich foods may elicit a unique taste too, suggesting that “starchy” could be a flavour in its own right.

It has long been thought that our tongues register a small number of primary tastes: salty, sweet, sour and bitter. Umami – thesavoury taste often associated with monosodium glutamate – was added to this list seven years ago, but there’s been no change since then.

However, this list misses a major component of our diets, says Juyun Lim at Oregon State University in Corvallis. “Every culture has a major source of complex carbohydrate. The idea that we can’t taste what we’re eating doesn’t make sense,” she says.

Complex carbohydrates such as starch are made of chains of sugar molecules and are an important source of energy in our diets. However, food scientists have tended to ignore the idea that we might be able to specifically taste them, says Lim. Because enzymes in our saliva break starch down into shorter chains and simple sugars, many have assumed we detect starch by tasting these sweet molecules.

Her team tested this by giving a range of different carbohydrate solutions to volunteers – who it turned out were able to detect a starch-like taste in solutions that contained long or shorter carbohydrate chains. “They called the taste ‘starchy’,” says Lim. “Asians would say it was rice-like, while Caucasians described it as bread-like or pasta-like. It’s like eating flour.”

The volunteers could still make out this floury flavour when they were given a compound that blocks the receptors on the tongue for detecting sweet tastes. This suggests we can sense carbohydrates before they have been completely broken down into sugar molecules.

When the volunteers were given a compound to block the salivary enzyme that breaks long chains of carbohydrate into shorter ones, they stopped sensing the taste of starch when given solutions containing only long-chain carbohydrates. This suggests that the floury flavour comes from the shorter chains.

This is the first evidence that we can taste starch as a flavour in its own right, says Lim.

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Hosting a Tasty InstaMeet with Steffi Crivellaro Explore…

Hosting a Tasty InstaMeet with Steffi Crivellaro

Explore #WWIM14???? to learn more about this year’s Worldwide InstaMeet, taking place the weekend of September 17-18. Join tens of thousands of people around the world to explore, share and celebrate this WWIM’s theme — food! To find out more or to organize your own, visit

“We’re looking forward to spending the day with old and new friends, celebrating this community we’ve created around a passion for food and photography,” says Steffi Crivellaro (@steffi_daydreamer), who’s hosting a #WWIM14???? InstaMeet with Rosella Degori (@roselladegori) in London. The two friends launched @welovetobrunch with the goal of bringing people together for photowalks, good company and, of course, delicious food. “When we saw the theme for WWIM14 was food, we thought it would be a perfect fit for what we do with @welovetobrunch,” says Steffi. The pair is organizing an intimate brunch at a London restaurant before going for a walk to explore the King’s Cross neighborhood. (Sounds like a great day to us.)

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Blue Apron’s “Farm Egg” makes me question everything

farm-egg Farm egg. It may seem as simple as just that. An egg. The food that Atkins and Paleo diets made popular once again. The food that draws one of many dividing lines between vegetarians and vegans. But this particular egg is one of the more layered, even scrambled (if you will), symbols of Silicon Valley startup-dom. It’s easy to dismiss the Yos of the tech world as outliers, but much harder… Read More technology news

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