Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Normal To Them

Yesterday, Harmony made popcorn. By this, I (of course!) do not mean microwave variety. We're talking canola oil in the pot, pure kernels, pure adrenaline. After the kernels finished popping, we drizzled some melted Smart Balance butter over it. I made a comment that this popcorn tasted just as good as the "normal" kind. As the words came out, I got to thinking that this was normal popcorn, and that the other stuff was unnatural.

Microwave popcorn is EXTREMELY horrible for you. If you value your arteries, you should really re-consider buying that box of microwave popcorn. Look at the trans fat count, and also consider that the inside of the bags are lined with Teflon, to prevent sticking (I forward your questions to my wife, who is a Bachelorette of Science in polymer engineering).

Anyways, this all got me thinking about what I want my kids to consider "normal" while they're growing up. The only place I ever saw stovetop popcorn was in one old Calvin and Hobbes comic (something about making it with no cover on the pot). I want my kids to consider the following things "normal," and in most cases, their corresponding counterparts "abnormal."

  • Stovetop popcorn

  • Homemade cookies, from scratch and not from-a-tube (= trans fats)

  • Unsocialized (unsocialistic) homeschooling

  • A teacher to student ratio of 1 to (however many kids we have)

  • Principal kissing the teacher? What's scandalous about that?

  • Never using chemical pesticides in the vegetable garden

  • Using biological or otherwise natural pest control in the vegetable garden

  • Having a mom and dad who don't look like each other, aside from dad being vaguely Homo sapien (this counterpart is not necessarily abnormal)

  • Having a mom and dad who actually seem to enjoy each other's company (this is somewhat uncommon among the previous generation of Korean parents)

  • Hymns in a cappella 4 part harmony

  • Staying in church service with your parents, as far back as you can remember being in church

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8 have poured out their souls in electronic text:

  • Harmony

    On the subject of Teflon in popcorn:
    it's not *actually* Teflon (to my knowledge), but a compound from a similar group of compounds known as perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs. Teflon is a polymer known as polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE. It has been long known that cooking in non-stick pans (pans that have been coated with a PFC class substance) can kill pet birds in the house -- sometimes even if they're several rooms away. It has also been long documented that non-stick pans, heated to the point where they give off vapors (not exactly an agreed-upon temperature; Dupont says about 500F, consumer evidence points to closer to 350F) humans can be stricken with a respiratory illness termed "polymer fume fever," which has similar symptoms to the flu.

    However if you use proper precautions with your non-stick cookware, you can be sure that it never reaches such high temperatures and can be fairly safe that it will not in any severe way harm you. But microwave popcorn is a completely different matter. The best popping temperature for popcorn is between 400F and 460F, although they begin popping around 350F. That's plenty high for the chemical to vaporize, IMO.

    A few years ago there was some concern about Dupont lying about the safety of Teflon, and some of their employees coming out and saying the company had been keeping the dangers of Teflon secret since the early 1980's. They say that 95% of Americans have some form of PTFE in their bloodstream. Google 'teflon dupont coverup' and read about it. Kind of scary stuff...

    This is what I did my senior research project on in college -- needless to say, JM and I did not register for anything nonstick on our wedding registry.

  • JunkMale

    That's my woman talking! Better listen up.

  • Alan

    Not too long ago I read an article about a study that showed a distressing buildup of PFC-related compounds in the human bloodstream. Those scientists began trying to find where all those chemicals were coming from. By far the most efficient delivery vehicle they found was microwave popcorn. They concluded that weekly (if I remember right) consumption of microwave popcorn could elevate blood levels of those chemicals to frightening levels without any other sources being present.

  • La

    I think stovetop popcorn tastes much better than the microwaved kind. Make sure you add salt, though; the popcorn isn't nearly as good without it.

    Also try putting some cayenne pepper in with the oil before you add the kernels; you'll get a nice seasoned popcorn. Just be aware that the spicy version makes you sneeze and cough if you inhale too much of *its* fumes! (But I don't belive that pepper fumes have been blamed for any bird deaths to date!)

  • Birdie

    My stepmom used to always make popcorn on the stove top. She would sometimes lift the lid off the pot and let my brother and I watch the kernals pop. I think that, more than anything either of us ever got out of public school, was the beginning of a love for science in the two of us! My stepmom also used to let us string popcorn at Christmas, but my brother used to eat more than we could string! ;) It certainly made for some grat memories, though.

  • MaddieLynn

    We use a Whirly Pop (stove top popper), and I make popcorn a lot for a snack. I'm pretty sure it counts as a vegetable. We also like to string it at Christmas and have found that the stale kind, left out overnight, works best. It doesn't crumble as much.

    On a side note, I'd like to say that I have been appreciating Mr. Rouse's comments about keeping our tongues from evil on a certain high profile blog. (I don't want to invite a debate on my blog, so I thought I would leave the comment here. I hope that's OK.)

  • Myfriendconnie

    Aaaargh! That was me!

  • JunkMale


    That's fine, about the side note. I must admit that I don't know what you're referring to, though. I think the highest profile blog I read is the Crunchy Con blog, and I don't think he's commented on there about keeping our tongues from evil.