Monthly Archives: December 2011

Plates and weight

Today’s news included a new study citing our ability to serve ourselves more or less food based on the contrast, or lack of contrast of the plate on which we serve ourselves.  The upshot?  The more contrast between the food and the plate the better.  The closer the plate resembles the color of the food, the more we serve ourselves.

Good Morning America did a swell test with this, finding that indeed, the more closely the food color matched the plate color, the more we served ourselves.  We tend to pour on a couple of extra ounces of food, which can quickly add up to additional pounds per year (joy).

This research is nothing new, however.  If you like reading about this sort of thing, check out the wonderful book, Mindless Eating, by Brian Wansink.  Sounds like a diet book but it’s an beautifully written book (now cheap at $8 in mass market paperback!) about experiments showing that we respond with our eyes rather than our tummies a lot more than we think.  Glass size, tub size, plate size — it all makes a huge difference.  The experiments, along with Wansink’s jocular prose make for a surprisingly entertaining read.  The endless soup bowl experiment is hilarious, and the stale popcorn experiment is not to be missed.

Keep your dinner plates smaller than a charger (the huge plate that usually goes under a dinner plate and is more like a platter).  Blue provides the most contrast from food since there’s not a lot of blue food out there.  Or white, provided you get a little color in your eating life.


How long does food keep without electricity in the refrigerator and freezer?

I am not a time capsule!

Not as long as you think! The fridge must be maintained at 40°F  or below, the freezer at  0 °F or below.

Here is a helpful quote from your friends at the USDA:

Safe Refrigerator Temperature
For safety, it is important to verify the temperature of the refrigerator. Refrigerators should be set to maintain a temperature of 40 °F or below. Some refrigerators have built-in thermometers to measure their internal temperature. For those refrigerators without this feature, keep an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator to monitor the temperature. This can be critical in the event of a power outage. When the power goes back on, if the refrigerator is still 40 °F, the food is safe. Foods held at temperatures above 40 °F for more than 2 hours should not be consumed. Appliance thermometers are specifically designed to provide accuracy at cold temperatures. Be sure refrigerator/freezer doors are closed tightly at all times. Don’t open refrigerator/freezer doors more often than necessary and close them as soon as possible.

So while you’re at the hardware store buying a generator, go ahead and buy a fridge thermometer also.

While it’s expensive to throw away a week’s worth of groceries (or more if you load the freezer like a hoarder/Costco shopper/same thing), it’s a serious expense to endure the effects of foodborne illnesses like Salmonella, etc.  You might miss work or require hospitalization, ya see?

So, as the nutritionist saying goes, When In Doubt, Throw It Out.  There is no cute rhyme that recommends looking at the back of the fridge, eyeballing it, and going ahead anyway because you’ve done it in the past and nothing bad ever happened.  For every kid in my classes who has wiped the green fur off that old basket of strawberries or left yogurt in the bus overnight and lived to tell the tale, there’s a (smart!) friend who ate the leftover 5-day-old chicken burrito and developed a close relationship with the inside of their bathroom overnight.

Helpful links:

Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed. (and you can buy dry ice…click link)