Last blog post of “Chemistry of our food”

The class is almost near the end. To be honest i am glad that i choose this class; i learned what i want to learn and i enjoyed it. For me, the most difficult part in this class is the part of chemical compounds and reactions, it is difficult for me to understand how they works and reacts, one reason is because im very lack of the technical words of chemistry; another reason is because my basic chemistry knowledge is also low. But Dr.Haile’s teaching way make me feel less stressful than i expected before.  The most enjoyable part to me is the experiment part and the field trips. The experiments not only improved my skills of cooking food but also make me understand what kind of food is better to eat. The field trips to the bourbon factory really impressed me a lot, i learned more than how chemistry work in alcohol; the history and story in it is good to know. I also learned a lot from the guest speakers. I do have some advises for the future students. First, please pay attention to what the guest speakers says, because they deserved it and what they says are very important. Second, please prepare the presentations carefully, make it fun and deep. Third, please read books everyday, because the quiz really need you well prepared to do.  Generally, i am not regret to choose this class, and i decided to learn more knowledge about chemistry and food in my future study.




The first time i heard bourbon is when i just came to America, and it is very luck that im studying in Kentucky and i choose this class.  The first bourbon  distillery field trip is in Wilderness Trace Distillery. The second one is in Maker’s Mark. Personally, i think Maker’s Mark is more interesting,  not only because it is bigger but also because of how the alcohol making system works even included how it packed and get wax on it.  But Wilderness Trace Distillery seems very delicate, they focus on fermentation and distillation more, and they save the alcohol for more years than Maker’s Mark did.

“Each batch of Maker’s Mark is related to the one before it and the one before that – all the way back to the very first bottle due to the sour mash process the company uses to create Maker’s Mark.”

The Samuels Scotch/Irish heritage shaped their decision to produce bourbon in small, manageable batches of no more than 1,000 gallons each – about 19 barrels which impressed me a lot by it smells and how big they are. One last thing that impressed me is after the bottles are filled, each is hand-dipped into red wax which seems very cool.  Anyway, i hope one day i can visit these places again and become 21 sooner.




The artificial flavor we picked is Diacetyl. Actually i do not know this flavor before we choose this flavor, so i’m glad to know this new flavor. The structure is —Organic compound. It looks yellowish green liquid. It contains —2,3-butanedione(◦(CH₃CO)₂) and is the —simplest diketone. The flavor of diacetyl is mainly butter which attributed to over 120 different compounds, but primarily methyl ketones (diacetyl) and lactones. These are naturally present at concentrations below Flavor Threshold Value (FTV). When heated, the concentration rises above FTV, which creates a “full, rich butter flavor with dairy notes”. Lactones and methyl ketones work together to create the overall flavor. For the production of diacetyl, the first way is fermentation;– yeast produces α-acetolactate, which escapes the cell and decarboxylated into diacetyl. The yeast then absorbs the diacetyl, and reduces to form acetoin and 2,3-butanediol. And another way is Bacterial infection in    unsanitary conditions.  Diacetyle is naturally in alcoholic beverages such as beer. The food that contains dicacetyle combined with acetoin for butter, milk, cheese and added to microwave popcorn for flavoring.  And diacetyle also have many benefits, the first one is for flavoring and the other one is anti-microbial properties. Anyway, i would like to taste this flavor.

Unforgettable GMOs

Since the class started, one thing that i think i will never forget is GMO. As i said in the blog,People never see this phrase Genetically modified organism; it may looks and sounds very high tech and trust-able, so people buy it on purpose and never care about what is really this Genetically modified organism, and i was one of them. But recently, more and more report and experiment about this GMO thing becomes to the main topic of the news. Scientists seem notice the danger and disadvantages of GMO products and negative report of GMO also showed on the news.  So i knew  this GMO thing a long time ago, and back to that time, it already left me a very big impression. After several years, finally, i had a chance to know and understand this in Dr. Haile class. After i know how it works and what is this, i decide to not eat any GMO products and i also warned my family to stay away from it. This is topic is still very fresh to me, so i dont i think i will forget it. Also as i said before,  believe this topic is still controversial , and it need us to take times to understand the real advantages and disadvantages. And i will not eat it before we figure out the advantages and disadvantages.



Wilderness Trace Distillery

Today we visited Wilderness Trace Distillery, and how this whole thing works really impressed me a lot, because i expected the producing progress was not that complicated. The whole pot is made by copper. The alcohol will first vapor and distill. And then the vapor will be separated from the copper area and goes into a column. Then the vapors will be refined many times by passing the four plates. After this step, the alcohol vapors will be condensed in the copper condenser. According to what the instructor said, the whiskey will then be distill again to make it better and put it into the barrel. The bourbon will then be aged in wood barrels for at least 4 or 5 years or may be longer then that like seven years. All the process seems very precise and dedicated,  and i m also impressed by the how the four columns work . But i did not get all how it works, so i hope one day i can go visit there again and taste it by myself.





Goofy kid wants food

Reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, watching Food, Inc., learning about GMO’s and etc, all these things we did or read or learned in class definitely changed my view of food. I used to be a silly goofy kid who was willing to die for delicious food, but now i am turning into a silly goofy kid who is willing to die for healthy delicious food. Start from the french fries, i obviously reduced my time dating with cowen’s french fries after i know what is acrylamide. Then i saved a lot of money after i know the effect of those energy drinks because i used to be a jumbo fan of energy drinks. As for Food, Inc., i would say all my values of food has been destroyed, i feel i like i know too much to live in this world. Because in Asia, the food and ingredients producing  progress suck very hard. So i was hoping food in America might give me some good time. Then after i watched Food, Inc., my heart is broken again. For GMO’s, i just ate them a few times back in Mongolia because i was  feel “nasty” about it at first, and now after i know what it actually is, i do not think i’m gonna touch it anymore. Anyway, i learned a lot from this class so far. At least there is a goofy kid know how to cook and choose food now.





In my opinion, i find the  Agriculture is  most convincing. So my main point is that our agriculture now in the modern world is completely different with the way it was in the old time. As Wendell Berry agreed in the book, the agriculture revolution during 1970s was a “good” revolution.  Our agriculture technology has been improved a lot. I think every single high technology thing can used by agriculture. We grown fast and acquire fast. We control easily and gain easily. “Agriculture is undergoing an epochal revolution. We are evolving from feudal and industrial agriculture to cybernated food production. Computers, remote control cultivators, television monitors, sensors, data banks can now automatically run thousands of acres of cultivated land. A couple of telefarm operators can feed a million people. “(The unsettling of America Culture and agriculture, living in the future: the “modern” agricultural ideal,78) See, even a remote controller can be applied to agriculture. And i believe technological things about energy can also used by growing and cultivating. In this way, our food(grown) might be limitless.  Without agriculture, human can never live this long, and it is always our base of survive and thrive.


Before i take this class, i have no idea about this “GMO” thing, but i do know it in my language. So, back to China and Mongolia, in my memory, “GMO” products are very new to people there 3 years ago. Since it is a new stuff, it starts to get popular, “GMO” products get into the chinese market. People never see this phrase Genetically modified organism; it may looks and sounds very high tech and trust-able, so people buy it on purpose and never care about what is really this Genetically modified organism, and i was one of them. But recently, more and more report and experiment about this GMO thing becomes to the main topic of the news. Scientist s seem notice the danger and disadvantages of GMO products and negative report of GMO also showed on the news. So i think people started to notice the effect of GMO products. And on the recent news in China, there was one news called “hundred professors and scientists wrote letter to ask stop pruchasing and growing GMO products. However,I actually know the real mean of Genetically modified organism is in this class, and i finally understand why the chinese scientists wrote the letter to the government. “Crops not intended for food use are generally not reviewed by authorities responsible for food safety. Food derived from GMOs is not tested in humans before it is marketed as it is not a single chemical, nor is it intended to be ingested in specific doses and times, which makes it difficult to design meaningful clinical studies. Regulators examine the genetic modification, its protein products, and any intended changes that those proteins make to the food. Regulators also check to see whether the food derived from a GMO is “substantially equivalent” to its non-GM-derived counterpart, which provides a way to detect any negative non-intended consequences of the genetic engineering.”( Winter, CK and Gallegos, LK. 2006. University of California Agricultural and Natural Resource Service. ANdublication 8180. Safety of genetically engineered food).  Anyway, i believe this topic is still controversial , and it need us to take times to understand the real advantages and disadvantages.

Thoughts about chemistry and science

To be honest, i think i do not have any talent or skills about any science, but i do love science and i do love to study it. As for chemistry, i have not study it since my junior high school, but i do love food and willing to study the chemistry of food and that is also why im writing this. Since i came to this class, Dr. Haile has made me hope again about chemistry. In class, Dr.Haile made chemistry sounds interesting and not boring, and combine it with food made me think i made the right choice about centre term. But i have to admit i still have a lot problems on the way to science. In here, english is my biggest block standing on my way,  too many technical words confused me; i have to look them up one by one in the dictionary. Generally, chemistry is like whole language to me, but i think if i do my best, that will not be a problem. After these day’s class, i became more carefully about choose the ingredients for my meal and how to arrange how much and what kind of nutrients i should intake. Anyway, i can say this class and teacher changed my view about chemistry and i will do my best to fit in the progress.

Grass made the world

I read the chapter eight of Michael Pollen’s Omnivore’s Dilemma, and what really make me surprise is how important the grass is. To be honest, before i read this book, grass is just some random plant eat by animals in my brain. And recently i learned “You are what you eat’s eat”, so im thinking: I eat beef and sheep; ship and beef eats grass, then i am grass. At first i was a little confused and heisiated about this, then i read the book. A lot of animals eat and digest grass, and we eat these animals. So why grass is important because it make animal grow and make us meat indirectly. “By the end of the season Salatin’s grasses will have been transformed by his animals into some 25,000 pounds of beef, 50,000 pounds of pork, 12,000 broilers, 800 turkeys, 500 rabbits, and 30,000 dozen eggs. This is an astounding  cornucopia of food to draw from a hundred acres of pasture, yet what us perhaps still more astonishing is the fact that this pasture will be in no way diminished by the process——in fact, it will be the better for it, lusher, more fertile, even springier underfoot(this thanks to the increased earthworm traffic).” (Michael Pollen’s Omnivore’s Dilemma,127). Nowadays, i believe nobody can live without meat, which means no body can live without grass. So, i think in some point grass made the world.

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