January 20th, 2006

note to self

Gaaahhhhhh.... Wish I'd known about this earlier!

Unfortunately, I have a prior commitment this Saturday and can't attend, but for any food-lovers in the area who're free tomorrow...

The Fifth International Conference on Neuroesthetics: Flavors of Experience at UC Berkeley:
How do chocolate, Champagne, and Chanel No. 5 elicit such intense reactions and create long-term memories? Such an understanding can guide scientists in their research of how pleasure centers and the memory system in the brain are connected. Likewise, chefs, vintners and perfumers can learn from scientists how our brains respond to their products. At "Flavors of Experience," the Fifth International Conference on Neuroesthetics, internationally renowned scientists and artists will discuss the brain's responses to such things as gourmet food, fine wine and aromatic perfumes. Speakers include Yale University's Dana M. Small, an expert in how the brain processes flavor, and San Francisco Zen Center's Ed Epse Brown, a priest, cook and author.

The conference, which is sponsored by the Berkeley-based Minerva Foundation and the Institute of Neuroesthetics in London, is free and open to the public. Registration is required to guarantee priority seating; visit the website or call (510) 847-2191.

Note to self: check http://www.berkeley.edu/calendar more often. They have a lot of interesting things going on, often for free.

Looking ahead this time (more fascinating foodie talks)

I wonder if I can manage to get off work early next Wednesday to go to this?

Environment: Michael Pollan on the 'The Cornification of America'
Jan. 25, 4 p.m., 575 McCone Hall
"A Chicken McNugget is corn upon corn upon corn, beginning with corn-fed chicken all the way through the obscure food additives and the corn starch that holds it together," says science writer and food detective Michael Pollan. In fact, all of McDonald's offerings are corn. "The main ingredient in the soda is corn—high-fructose corn syrup. Go down the list. Even the dressing on the new salads at McDonald’s is full of corn."

In this seminar for the Geography department, Pollan will discuss how U.S. subsidies of corn have contributed to its use in everything from sodas to salmon feed to fast-food packaging to construction materials, and what the hidden cost of those subsidies — and uses — are. Pollan is the author of "The Botany of Desire." His investigative look at America's food chain and its ramifications on our environment and health will be coming out this summer.
Both spiritualmonkey and I found The Botany of Desire fascinating. The chapter on apples captivated me thoroughly, and once we get ourselves into a living situation where we can plant trees, I'm hoping to try growing some from seed myself. Who knows? Maybe 30 years from now you'll go to the farmers' market and one of the apple varieties they'll be selling is "Lexica's Oaktown Pippin".