We've started a new collaboration with Hoon Kim who runs Sohn Kitchen - Hoon is an ex-mathemetician turned chef, and he's particularly interested in preservation methods and foraging for new ingredients.
For the Accesslab workshops this week, Hoon has devised a menu with a mix of cultivated and foraged ingredients. The workshop is all about helping people to access peer-reviewed scientific literature to benefit their work and artistic practices. We've spent a bit of time applying the same process to the ingredients that Hoon has chosen for the food he will make for the events - here are some of the interesting pieces of information that we have found:
Gao et al. (2016) Pharmaceutical Biology, vol 56, issue 12
Chrysanthemum improves cardiac hypertrophy in rats (thickening and stiffening of the heart muscles due to high blood pressure).
Ma et al. (1997) Nature, vol 390
Aluminium toxicity is a major problem in agricultural soils. Buckwheat has high resistance to aluminium - it secretes oxalic acid from its roots in response to aluminium stress, which forms an aluminium-oxalate complex. Buckwheat also stores aluminium in its leaves, so could be used to detoxify soils.
Mastropasqua et al. (2016) Postharvest Biology and Technology, Vol 112
Light treatment is often used post-harvest for controlling the shelf-life of crops. Storage in light or dark makes little difference to asparagus, and neither helps to preserve chlorophyll, carotinoids, or vitamin C.
Kaack et al. (2006) European food research and technology, vol 223
Researchers took 89 different genetic types of elderflower, and found that important contributors to the floral and elderflower flavour of the extracts were rose oxides, hotrienol, linalool, linalool derivatives and α-terpineol, whereas the fruitiness and freshness of the extracts were mainly due to non-oxidized monoterpenes, aliphatic aldehydes and alcohols.
Meahre et al. (2015) Journal of Applied Phycology, vol 28
Plant proteins are less accessible to humans than animal proteins. Heat treatment (cooking) has been shown to positively affect the accessibility of plant proteins for nutritional purposes. While this works for some seaweeds, it doesn't make any difference for Kelp.
Dahl et al. (2012) British Journal of Nutrition. Vol 108
Peas contain a variety of phytochemicals once thought of only as antinutritive factors. These include polyphenolics, in coloured seed coat types in particular, which may have antioxidant and anticarcinogenic activity, saponins which may exhibit hypocholesterolaemic and anticarcinogenic activity, and galactose oligosaccharides which may exert beneficial prebiotic effects in the large intestine.
Noonan & Savage (1999) Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vol. 8
Sorrel has very high levels of oxalic acid, when eaten, oxalates bind calcium and other minerals, which can be particularly problematic for vegetarians. Diets low in calcium and high in oxalates are problematic. Tea, rhubarb, spinach and beetroot are also high in oxalates.
Kubiak-Martens (2002) Vegetation History and Archaeobotany. Vol 11
There is good evidence for the use of ramson by Mesolithic people. Charred bulbs of A. ursinum were identified—in the late Mesolithic settlement at Halsskov in Denmark (Kubiak-Martens 2002). It was hypothesized that ramson was one of the plants that contributed to the hunter-gatherer diet.
Yoshida & Takagi (1997) Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. Vol 75
Roasting sesame at temperatures of 250°C decreases levels of triaglycerols and phospholipids (fats that make up sesame oil), and depletes levels of sesamol (antioxidant, antifungal, used to make antidepressant drug Paroxetine). Burning and bitter tastes occur when sesame is heated to over 220°C.
It's quite easy to see how having better access to peer reviewed scientific journals would make for more interesting, nutritious, and environmentally sound decision making around what we eat and how we treat ingredients. In the workshop we'll have a designer, film maker, automaton maker, choreographer, dancers, composer, community artists and an ecological artist - each working directly with a science researcher to find peer-reviewed articles on topics ranging from climate change, injury, cryptocurrencies, human behaviour and mycology. We're excited to see what people find out in the workshop, and how they will use their acquired research skills in their future lives.