Thursday, December 21, 2006

Mr. Burbank, I'll take a Ranger Russet with that shake

In August I did some yapping about acrylamide, wherein I predicted that those crazy kids over at Simplot would be working hard to reduce acrylamide in its fries. Well, in the November edition of the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry (54 (26), 9882 -9887), those wacky scientists reported that by tweaking the DNA of the Ranger Russet potato they were able to avoid the unsightly black spots and outrageous sweetening problems that plagued the little tuber during storage. As an additional benefit, the french fries produced by these modified Rangers yielded fries containing less acrylamide (which the researchers euphemistically call an "antinutritional compound" while I like to call it a "carcinogen.") As a bonus, they are supposed to taste good.

The russet currently used for most french fries is the Burbank Russet, a 130-or-so-year-old specimen brought to you by Luther Burbank. He lived out in Santa Rosa, CA, however, and I recently found out that Burbank, CA ("the entertainment capital of the world") wasn't named after him but instead a dentist-turned-sheep rancher named David Burbank who would probably be unhappy to find that there's a Luther Burbank Middle School in his city, adding to the confusion. But I digress.

The genetic engineering used to create this rugged Ranger was not the type that makes activists twitch uncontrollably, but one that has been used for centuries, if a little more precisely of late: all native. Which means they didn't insert any fish or tomato or whatever, just messed around with DNA using other potatoes to yield a crop with more desirable traits. No foreign stuff. They aren't stupid over at Simplot. They knew some of us might get wind and start screaming.Link

Now all they have to do is nip this trans-fat problem in the bud (it's intended) and McDonald's will be doing a jig.

...and check this out: Lord of the Fries.

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