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    Tokyo, Japan
  1. I've brought plant products through Narita. The Plant and the Animal Quarantine are at the same desk just before you go through the customs lines. Earlier this month I brought a couple dozen packets of vegetable seeds through, and everything was passed. They opened every package and looked at all the seeds. But while I was waiting a woman brought up a big box of tropical fruit, and they confiscated the whole thing after looking at it. In the case of my seeds, I was considering mail ordering them earlier this year. I called the Japanese Plant Protection Service and they told me I needed to get a "phytosanitary certificate"; the U.S. seed company also said the same thing. In a later call to the PPS, they told me that "in principle" I needed the certificate, but small quanitities imported for non-commercial use could be hand inspected upon entry. As I said, I took a chance, and they let them through. In the past I have also brought in tulip bulbs, garden-collected cilantro seeds, and acorns, and they have passed them. I was told that for seeds, a few types (like watermelon and corn) would not be allowed unless there was an inspection certificate from the field they were produced in. For meat, I would say to just give it a try if you can afford the possiblity of having some or all of it confiscated. Mark
  2. Thanks, Vickie. I found these online--are these what you were referring to when you mentioned the WHO equations? Male 3-9 (22.7 x body weight in kg) + 495 10-17 (17.5 x body weight in kg) + 651 18-29 (15.3 x body weight in kg) + 697 30-60 (11.6 x body weight in kg) + 879 >60 (13.5 x body weight in kg) + 487 Female 3-9 (22.7 x body weight in kg) + 499 10-17 (12.2 x body weight in kg) + 749 18-29 (14.7 x body weight in kg) + 496 30-60 ( 8.7 x body weight in kg) + 829 >60 (10.5 x body weight in kg) + 596 Mark
  3. Is each astronaut's meal especially designed for him or her, caloriewise? Do small women get less food than large men? How do you go about determining the caloric needs of each astronaut?--via standardized charts or is there a more direct measurement of the needs of each person? Mark
  4. I think this is from a series called "Terebi Champion" (TV Champion), which is still running. The topics vary widely: tonight they had a group of pro pachinko players fighting it out. They have also featured competitions among woodworkers, flower arrangers, ice sculptors, elementary school-aged cooks, collectors of plastic toys, and whatnot. Food-related episodes are common. The famous Japanese eating champions appear from time to time scarfing down all kinds of things, not just hot dogs. The episodes like you described, where the contestants have to identify food, can be somewhat unbelievable. I think in the case of the pastry experts, they probably gave them a list of shops that might be featured so they could study up. I used to eat lunch at a restaurant whose proprietor had a son-in-law who had appeared as a challenger on the Iron Chef. This guy told me that they gave his son-in-law a list of three food items, one of which would be chosen for the competition, so he could plan some menus in advance. I suspect Terebi Champion does something similar. Mark
  5. Vickie, I picture your job as a much, much more complicated version of what I had to go through planning for backpacking trips! Is nutritional information (calories, fat, sodium, etc.) for food items consumed by the astronauts publicly available? And is there a place on the NASA web site devoted to information about space food and diet? Mark
  6. Mark Bittman has a recipe for ketchup in "How to Cook Everything." The first time I saw it I thought, What idiot would make ketchup from scratch? Fourteen ingredients, 2 hours cooking. Well ... I made it last week. It's really good ketchup. I'm not sure when I'll make it again, but it was an interesting experience. Mark
  7. Country of origin (or prefecture of origin) is shown for most seafood, meat, and poultry. This may be legally required, but I'm not sure. Australian beef is popular these days, by the way. Fish comes from all over. There is a fishmonger in my neighborhood whose specialty is ultra-cheap tuna from India. And today in the market I saw some fish steaks from Russia and some from Mexico. There was a sale on frozen salmon steaks for 88 yen apiece, very cheap. I assume this was imported and probably farmed (based on the Pantone-spec'ed, dayglo orange color of the flesh). Much of the unagi (eel) these days comes from China since it is so much cheaper. I remember buying some raw, head-on tiger shrimp from the Philippines the other month. A seafood store proprietor I know tells me that outside of Tokyo there is more variety of fish consumed from local catches; in Tokyo the stores tend to sell the same dozen or so standard types of fish, often imported. Mark
  8. However the shrimp is produced, the only important thing is whether the end product contains poisons or toxins in a dangerous level. You'd think they could test for this and are in fact testing for this, here on this end. I wouldn't worry about it based simply on anti-globalization activists' scare stories. Remember, science = (1) hypothesis + (2) experimental verification of hypothesis. You can't stop after step 1. Do the PCBs actually exist in shrimp as delivered to the U.S? Has the level of PCBs been scientifically shown to cause disease to a non-trivial portion of the population that consume them? The media seems to be full of alarmist anti-seafood stories these days: PCBs, mercury, etc. To the extent I've investigated the various stories, they turn out to be somewhat crackpot. If you're not going to eat seafood, you end up with beef (BSE, hormones), vegetables (hepatitis), whatever. In Japan, where I live, everyone eats seafood everyday, and the average lifespan is just fine. I think the key, for food safety as well as nutrition, is to eat a variety of foods, including a variety of seafood. Mark
  9. ... pour an extra ounce or two of waffle batter in the waffle iron "so it won't go to waste." Mark
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