What’s The Latest “Food Take?"

The Lempert Report
December 23, 2016

Bomb sniffing dogs are out, plant bomb sniffing is in...

You probably don’t know the answer, and if you are over 25 you may not even know what a Food Take is.

A “food take” is a passionate, emotional and quickly formed opinion shared on social media on a specific food or restaurant. A “food take” can be positive, or negative, and these days may have severe consequences for a brand or restaurant. 

Everyone with a laptop or mobile device seems to have become a food critic these days replacing the palate trained reviewers of a previous generation, that for some kept their identities secret and others offered detailed explanations of just how they rated the foods or establishments, instead of sharing off the cuff or badly researched information. Perhaps it’s time to expose the “fake food news” that proliferates the Internet. 

The problem with fake food news is that the headlines grab us in. “Milk Chocolate Is Better Than Dark, the End” or “Ranch dressing is what’s wrong with America” or what about “Popcorn is revolting and everyone should debate this now”. All articles in major publications and written by experienced writers who should know better. Julia and M. F. K. Fisher are turning over in their graves, or just laughing at us. 

Bomb sniffing dogs are out, plant bomb sniffing is in...

The Washington Post reports that MIT researchers have engineered a bionic plant that can detect explosives and send a warning signal — without wires!   

In a new paper in the journal Nature Materials, the scientists explain how they can turn plants into bomb-sniffing machines with the help of tiny cylinders of carbon that can detect “nitroaromatics” — chemical compounds often used in explosives. As the plant absorbs air and groundwater from the environment around it, the carbon tubes will register any nitroaromatics and begin to emit a fluorescent signal. The signal gets picked up by an infrared camera and relayed to a small computer or smartphone, which then sends an email to the user. 

“This is a novel demonstration of how we have overcome the plant/human communication barrier,” says paper co-author Michael Strano, a chemical engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “plants are very good analytical chemists,” he adds. “They can detect small changes in the properties of soil and water potential. If we tap into those chemical signaling pathways, there is a wealth of information to access.”