Navigating the World of Water



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"Water is more than just water," says Martin Reise, water sommelier at the Stark Bar at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It might be a difficult food and beverage belief to wrap one’s mind around, but the rising popularity of water — and high-quality, delicious water, at that — is becoming a crucial component to an overall dining experience. Consumers are becoming increasingly more aware of the taste, content, and personality of their water, noted Eric O’Toole, U.S. president of Danone Waters America, which produces both Evian and Badoit, because as humans, water is our essence. "We have a special connection to it, especially because we all drink, or should drink, lots of water every day," he explained. After all, as the food-conscious movement sweeps through the world of wine and coffee, why should water get second-class treatment?

Water experts believe that when deciding what water to drink, it's crucial that a consumer knows where that water comes from. For Acqua Panna, for example, the water originates in the hills of Tuscany on the slopes of Mt. Gazzaro in the Apennines Mountains near Florence, flowing for 15 to 20 years deep into the Earth, and is bottled at the source without any kind of additional treatment. This brief exposure to minerals results in a wonderful lightness and balance of the water. One Acqua Panna executive explained that due to its long process, one can even consider it to be "vintage water."

Just as many fine wines relate to their environment, water is an expression of its terroir, noted Andreas Larsson, the wine director in the PM & Vänner in Växjö, Sweden. "We all love to talk about terroir and that term can be used for many different products and can be applied to water," he explained. For example, Evian is named for its source located in the French Alps, where the spring water was originally discovered in the early 1800s. The water today is filtered through layers of mineral-rich glacial sands for more than 15 years before it is bottled directly at the source, noted O’Toole. Badoit, a sparkling natural mineral water, also has French roots coming from Saint-Galmier, France.

In the case of water, it’s the mineral composition that affects the taste in terms of structure, hardness, softness, and after taste, which has everything to do with where the water was created, added Larsson. "Water smells of freshness and purity but not necessarily aromas," he says. Waters that are higher in acidity are the sparkling mineral waters like Pellegrino or Perrier. Pellegrino, for example, spends roughly 30 years on the ground before bottling and is carbonated with the balance of carbon dioxide. The reason waters taste differently boils down to just a few factors, including mineral composition from the surrounding earth, single source versus multiple sources, pH balance, and natural filtration versus disinfection treatment, said O’Toole.

Now, thirsty diners and drinkers are paying more attention to how their water tastes and how it complements their meal. "Water plays an important role at the dinner table," says Larsson. "Food is 40 percent of the dining experience, but the rest is everything else. Waters plays a role and makes a difference." To that end, restaurants around the world are jumping on the trend of pairing waters with wine and in the case of Reise’s restaurant in Los Angeles, Stark Bar, they are even creating separate water menus akin to a wine list. Reise caught some flak from social media for the 20-plus page water menu, but he stands by his belief that diners want a better-tasting and appropriate water for their food. For example, Larsson says, the brand Perrier is more of a "refresher" water as opposed to a dining water, and he believes that mineral water is great for hangovers for those who have overindulged with alcoholic beverages, as its rich in magnesium.

And because terroir has the same effect on both water and wine, it’s natural to pair water and wine together. (There’s truth to that "glass of water for every drink" tip, after all.) Reise recommends pairing a sauvignon blanc or riesling (wines that are high in acidity) with water that has no gas with less minerality, like an Acqua Panna. Another example would be pairing a dessert wine that can almost be oily with perhaps a water that has more minerals, like a sparkling water. "Water has a huge impact on your food and the experience of what you’re eating," Riese said. All the more reason to drink up.


Fizzy Drink Science

Close your eyes and imagine taking a long sip of your favourite soda. How does it taste? Now imagine drinking a different type of soda – Sprite, or Pepsi, maybe. What taste do the different fizzy drinks have in common? Are they salty? Acidic? Something else?

In this fun Science Buddies lab we discovered how sodas get their fizz, then we experimented to find our personal favourite soda recipes.

Concocting ‘fizz powder’

What You Need

Fizzy drink ingredients

Baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)

Measuring spoons (1/8 tsp, 1/4 tsp, 1/2 tsp, tsp)

Clear plastic cups or glasses

Wooden stirrers or spoons

Chart to record results (optional – click link for printable)

What You Do

1. Mix 1/16 tsp baking soda with 1/4 tsp citric acid in an empty cup.

2. Add 1/4 cup of cold water and quickly stir, then taste. (You’ll probably want to have somewhere to spit out, too, especially for the first few mixtures.) Observe the reaction between the chemicals in the water, and start your timer for 1 minute.

Adding water to our fizz powder

3. Discuss (and, if you wish, record) your observations. How bubbly is the mixture, on a scale of 1-5? How ‘gritty’ is it?

4. Observe and taste again after 1 minute. Has the taste changed? Is the drink more or less bubbly? Discard any remaining liquid.

5. Repeat in a clean cup, increasing the amount of baking soda to 1/8 tsp. (The amount of citric acid stays the same throughout.) Repeat again using 1/4, then 1/2 and finally 1 tsp of baking soda.

6. Make a note of the formula that tasted best. Did everyone like the same?

7. Experiment by adding different amounts of sweetener to your preferred base recipe, beginning with 1/4, 1/2 then 1 tsp.

See Science Buddies for more detailed instructions.

What happens

What do you see?

Nothing happens when you add the two white powders (citric acid and baking soda) together. But when you add water, bubbles are produced. More bubbles are produced when you increase the proportion of baking soda, and the reaction lasts longer.

How does it taste?

Depending on the amounts of baking soda used, our drinks ranged from fairly disgusting to reasonably palatable. J(10) hated every single unsweetened beverage, confirming our suspicion that he has only persuaded himself to endure fizzy drinks because of their ton of added sugar.

Fizzy drink flavourings (if your’e feeling brave)

We also tried adding a few flavourings. J(10) had run away to clean his teeth by this point, but C(11) was keen to try chocolate flavour soda. I suspected that if that combination worked we’d already know about it. I was right.

Vanilla soda wasn’t much better, but lemon juice worked nicely (of course, adding lemon juice also increases the ratio of citric acid to baking soda). Finally, we taste-tested our fizzy drinks against shop-bought lemonade, and decided our formula stood up pretty well against Schweppes.

Edit: All Things Beautiful tried some appealing flavourings when they made their own cola recipes.

Taste testing our fizzy drinks

The scientific explanation

Making fizzy drinks is a great demonstration how an acid and a carbonate react in the presence of water to form carbon dioxide, a salt and water.

Citric acid + Bi carbonate of soda ——> Sodium citrate (a salt )+ Carbon dioxide + Water

If you want to talk ions: acids ionise in water. This means they lose electrons, producing positively charged hydrogen ions. Meanwhile, a carbonate is a mild alkali. Alkalis in water generate negative ions, which combine with the positive ions from the acid in a neutralisation reaction.

The Cartoon Guide to Chemistry

More fizzy fun – Making sherbet

You can also make a batch of ‘fizz powder’ by mixing citric acid, baking soda and icing (powdered) sugar. This time the reaction happens on your tongue!

We followed Science on the Shelves’ recipe. Mix 6 tsp citric acid, 3 tbsp bicarbonate of soda and 2 tbsp icing sugar, then crush with a spoon to make a fine powder.

My husband and I found the fizz powder charmingly reminiscent of the sherbet dib-dabs we’d buy with our pocket money as children, but – as you can see from the photo – our kids weren’t convinced.

Taste testing our fizz powder

More fizzy drink science

Try testing the acidity of your home-made sodas with indicator paper or a home-made indicator.

Remind your kids not to drink too many sodas by showing them the effect on their teeth – see Ticia’s What soda does to teeth.

If you’re mathematically inclined, you could graph your results – see Science Buddies’ experimental procedure.

More fun chemistry for older kids


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On top of being extremely refreshing, watermelon is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. That's because there are science-backed benefits: the University of Kentucky found that this fruit can help lower fat accumulation, and the Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena in Spain showed that watermelon actually helps reduce muscle soreness so you can make your gym session last a little longer.


1. Makes for an excellent antacid

Acid reflux is a condition where there is a backflow of stomach acid in the oesophagus that causes heartburn and a burning sensation in the throat, further leading to acid indigestion. Baking soda water helps neutralise the excessive hydrochloric acid in the stomach, acting as an antacid.(Also Read: 11 Health And Beauty Baking Soda Benefits To Look Out For)

Baking soda water benefits: Acid reflux is a condition where there is a backflow of stomach acid​

Body system works well when there is an optimum pH level balance however, any imbalance in these levels may lead to severe health conditions. Our body needs acid for proper digestion of food. There are times when acid increases in the body that causes the imbalance causing diseases like arthritis, osteoporosis and in some cases cancer. Baking soda water comes as a rescuer in balancing and regulating the acid in the body by alkalising it.

3. May help prevent kidney stones

Iron deficiency, excessive acid and even dehydration in the body can cause the growth of kidney stones. The baking soda water helps alkalise the urine to dissolve the uric acid, which in turn helps to remove kidney stones, further restoring the pH levels of the body.

4. May help save you from UTI

Poor hygiene, pregnancy or even certain medications may result in developing urinary tract infection (UTI). It is the result of bacteria growing easily in the bladder. The antiseptic properties of baking soda help reduce the acid levels in the urine and combat the bacteria.(Also Read: 8 Surprising And Interesting Ways To Use Baking Soda)

Baking soda water benefits: Poor hygiene, pregnancy or even certain medications may result in developing UTI5. A digestive cleanser

Baking soda water provides amazing benefits for cleansing your gut, further balancing your pH levels. For all those dealing with digestive issues can easily try drinking this potion. Make sure you drink baking soda water under strict supervision.

6. Reduces inflammation

Baking soda helps reduce inflammation that further prevents the development of arthritis that affects mostly joints. It is due to the accumulation of uric acid in the joints. Baking soda helps raise the pH levels to alkalise the blood, preventing deposition in joints.(Also Read: Brushing Teeth With Baking Soda, Safe Or Not?)

Baking soda water benefits: baking soda helps reduce inflammation that further prevents the development of arthritis​How to make baking soda water at home?

All you need is half teaspoon of baking soda and a glass of water, which is about 200 millilitres. Mix both the ingredients and drink once in a day or as the doctor suggest. Do not drink it daily or if you must, make sure it is done under supervision. Learn how to make alkaline water here.

When used wisely, baking soda water is definitely a magic potion that comes to your rescue in most ailments. Go ahead and make the most out of it.


Reviews

For the last few days in Austin Texas, this recipe has come in handy. I've been leaving out the salt and then cooling the water to use for things like making coffee, drinking and brushing my teeth. I don't miss the salt at all.

For a more personal touch, collect the tears running down your face as you read the comments! Add them to the water. Stir, taste and adjust as needed!

THIS WAS HORRIBLE IT TASTED LIKE BURNED MAC AND CHEESE!

I didn't like this recipe at all instead of salt and water I used my toilet water and some water from the ocean and added tuna and cheese. it turned out really great. 10/10

Noo. I'm vegan so I sadly cant have it! Great idea though!

I asked the visiting aliens two questions: First, do they encircle around their home planet in an endless orbit while engaged in critically important scientific experiments involving spiders and beans. Secondly, could this be the panacea remedy that we have been searching, the remedy that would resolve sheer lunacy?

I asked the aliens that have come to our planet two questions. The first was if they like to circle around and around and around their home planet in orbit, endlessly, with little science experiments involving beans and spiders. Secondly, if they have a general panacea remedy for prickly thorns.

I use this as Holy Water especially when I pronounce specific prayers upon it. Good for regular and irregular Hauntings. Good for living and non-living Hauntings. Reliable and they never come back again.

I use this as Holy Water especially when I pronounce specific prayers upon it. Good for regular and irregular Hauntings. Good for living and non-living Hauntings. Reliable and they never come back again.

Looks amazing! Haven't made it yet but wanted to be the 100th person to review. Always into trying new things!

Love to make it, but is it gluten free?

This recipe is a keeper. Only change I made was buttering the pot. The water slid right out! No cleanup!

Can I use dehydrated water?

Made this last night and I have to say it came out a little bland. Will try adding more salt next time.

What an amazing recipe. I've been on a minimalist kick recently (inspired by Mark Bittman) and this one puts all those "five ingredients" recipes to shame. I tried further reducing it to one ingredient, but it turned out a wee bit salty for my taste.

Since I am lucky enough to live by the sea, I find it easier to simply use sea water and it gives my salt water a bit of umami. Yummy

After two different surgeries, I was served this recipe at room from a bag connected directly to my arm. I can't attest to the flavor, but it certainly did refresh me and kept me going. I would HIGHLY recommend this, and would be interested in the warmer version offered in the recipe.

I forgot to add. You can get the same dish from your toilet (yes, the standing water). However, the salt will be of a different variety.

Some innovation is always nice - slightly roast the salt with a pinch of hmmmm, i mean, with salt. Once the roasting process is done, go for a walk. Come back and all you have to do is add water. The dish is ready to be served.

Type of water makes a big difference. Make sure to use small batch, free range, cage free, and vegetarian-fed water.

And given the fact that water with salt boils at a lower temperature, make sure to first bring the water all by itself to a boil and then add the salt. This is particularly important for those of us who live with altitude (such as in the Andes or the Rockies).

Really? This needs a recipe?

Anyone have a salt-free, paleo-friendly version of this recipe? We're having some guests over that have a few dietary restrictions.

This recipe was so disappointing! I made a few changes. I added tuna, capers, ancho chili, sweet pickles, heavy cream, bananas, bell peppers, peanut butter cups, and tomato paste, all of which are delicious and it came out disgusting! DO NOT TRY THIS RECIPE.


Navigating the World of Water - Recipes

by Wm. Robert Johnston
last updated 29 December 2005

(See Comments on global warming for a general discussion of the science of global warming.)

"If we keep using cars, the ice caps will melt and we'll all drown!" This is a myth, just as false as fearing the Sun will die as a result of using solar power. However, as often as I hear it--particularly from people who should know better--I thought I would address it here. First, here is a summary of the facts:

  • Despite what you may have been told, it has NOT been proven that human-caused global warming is occurring, and in fact there is substantial reason to reject such claims.
  • The best explanation for the evidence is that whatever global warming trend exists is mostly the result of natural influences like variations in the climate system and variations in solar radiation.
  • The suggestions that human activities will cause significant changes in global temperature and sea level in the next century are flawed predictions which haven't been confirmed by observations.
  • The solutions to this apparently non-existent problem proposed by environmentalists would not have a significant effect on climate, but they would cause a significant amount of human suffering.
  • Based on what we know now, in the next 100 years a rise in sea level of 0.1 meters (4 inches) would not be surprising those predicting changes of 0.5-2 meters (1.5-7 feet) are using flawed models.
  • If all the icecaps in the world were to melt, sea level would rise about 60-75 meters (200-250 feet). This could not result from modern human activities, and from any realistic cause would take thousands of years to occur.

I have discussed the first four points (which are non-trivial and deserve extended discussion) in Global warming, Some scientific data on global climate change, and "Facts disprove warnings about global warming", and the fifth point in Facts and figures on sea level rise. I will mostly address the last point--not just to dispel the notion that we need worry, but also because it is a valid and interesting thing to be curious about.

Currently the Earth has permanent ice in the icecaps of Antarctica and Greenland, plus much smaller permanent glaciers in various mountain regions of the world. This ice is "permanent", however, only over the short timespan of modern human civilization. Additionally there are two large ice sheets floating in seas off Antarctica, plus floating pack ice in the Arctic Ocean and surrounding Antarctica. Geological evidence indicates very clearly that at times in the Earth's past icecaps were much larger in extent--and alternately, at other times icecaps were virtually nonexistent.

Currently there are about 30,000,000 cubic kilometers of ice in the world's icecaps and glaciers. This volume of ice is fairly well measured (within 5-15%) by surveying the top of the icecaps with methods like radar and laser altimetry, locating the bottom of the ice with methods like seismic soundings, and calculating the difference. A breakdown is as follows:

Grounded ice is ice resting on the ground rather than floating. The melting of floating ice will not change sea level: the mass of this ice is equal to that of the water it displaces (watch the water level in a cup of floating ice cubes as they melt). For comparison, globally ice (both grounded and floating) represents about 2% of the world's water, with about 1,350,000,000 km 3 of water in the oceans.

During the last Ice Age the maximum extent of glaciation was around 16,000 B.C. At that time large ice sheets covered all of Canada, much of the American midwest and northeast, all of Scandinavia and some surrounding regions of Eurasia. The total volume of ice then was perhaps 80,000,000 cubic kilometers, or between two and three times as much as today. Correspondingly, world sea level was about 120 meters lower [6,30].

II. Why melting is not a threat

While today's balance between the icecaps and global sea level has been relatively steady since about 1000 B.C., it would be careless to assume that this is the Earth's natural state and that it should always be this way. What could happen to climate naturally in the next few thousand years? If the Earth continued to warm and break from ice age conditions, some of the remaining ice caps could melt. On the other hand, climate might swing back into another ice age. (In fact, some of the environmentalists now worried about global warming were worried about another ice age in the 1960s and 1970s.)

In either case, such a change in climate would take thousands of years to accomplish. Note that it has taken 18,000 years to melt 60% of the ice from the last ice age. The remaining ice is almost entirely at the north and south poles and is isolated from warmer weather. To melt the ice of Greenland and Antarctica would take thousands of years under any realistic change in climate. In the case of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, which accounts for 80% of the Earth's current ice, Sudgen argues that it existed for 14,000,000 years, through wide ranges in global climate. The IPCC 2001 report states "Thresholds for disintegration of the East Antarctic ice sheet by surface melting involve warmings above 20° C. In that case, the ice sheet would decay over a period of at least 10,000 years." [31] The IPCC is the United Nations' scientific committee on climate change its members tend to be the minority that predicts global warming and its statements tend to be exaggerated by administrators before release. Given that the IPCC tends to exaggerate the potential for sea level rise, it is clear that no scientists on either side of the scientific debate on global warming fear the melting of the bulk of Antarctica's ice. Consider also this abstract of an article by Jacobs contrasting scientific and popular understanding:

This statement alludes to the significant point that the Antarctic ice cap appears to currently be growing rather than shrinking. In fact, were the climate to warm significantly in the next few centuries (not a certain future, but supposing it happened), current models suggest that Antarctica would gain ice, with increased snowfall more than offsetting increased melting.

How much concern should we have about the 20% of world ice outside the East Antarctic Ice Sheet? Some sources have recently discussed the "possible collapse" of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS). It is suggested that this sheet (about 10% of Antarctic ice) could melt in the "near term" (a usefully vague phrase) and raise sea level 5 to 6 meters. Current understanding is that the WAIS has been melting for the last 10,000 years, and that its current behavior is a function of past, not current climate. [23] The abstract of an article by Alley and Whillans addresses this:

Similarly, recent stories have periodically appeared concerning the potential receding of the Greenland ice cap. Two points may be made regarding current understanding here. First, there is considerable disagreement as to the current rate of net ice cap loss--or even if there is net loss versus net gain. Second, even with temperature increases far greater than the dubious predictions of the IPCC, models indicate that Greenland's ice cap would take 2,000 to 10,000 years to disappear.

Some discussion of the concerns about near term sea level rise may be found in Facts and figures on sea level rise. The predictions that have been made for ice cap melting in the next century rely mostly on melting of glaciers in mountain regions, not melting of the polar ice caps. Even the pessimistic models cited by the IPCC tend to predict an increase in the volume of the Antarctic ice cap with warmer temperatures due to increased snowfalls. In general temperature changes of a few degrees do not seem to be sufficient to begin to melt the polar ice caps, particularly the Antarctic ice cap.

III. Imagining the world without ice caps

As long as we understand that the polar ice caps are not going to melt in the foreseeable future, we can proceed to imagine what the world would be like if they did melt.

Using the ice volume figures from above it is straightforward to estimate the effect on sea level were all this ice melted. Melting the 29,300,000 km 3 of grounded ice would produce 26,100,000 km 3 of water. Note that melting of floating ice has no effect on sea level. Also, about 2,100,000 km 3 of the grounded ice in Antarctica is below sea level [19] and would be replaced by water. Thus, the net addition to the world's oceans would be about 24,000,000 km 3 of water spread over the 361,000,000 km 2 area of the world's oceans, giving a depth of 67 meters. The new ocean area would be slightly larger, of course, since some areas now land would be covered with water. The final result would be around 66 meters (current estimates range between 63 and 75 meters).

What would the Earth look like as a result? If sea level were 66 meters higher than today, the result would be as illustrated below (for the map I used below see this page):

Obviously some areas are affected more than others. Some larger areas now underwater are the southeastern United States, part of the Amazon River basin, northern Europe, Bangladesh, parts of Siberia along the Arctic Ocean, and portions of mainland China. A large area in Australia would be below sea level, but it is not joined to the ocean and could remain dry.

  • upper left: western Washington state and the Portland, Oregon area
  • upper right: Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and southern New Jersey
  • lower left: central California, near San Francisco bay and
  • lower right: south Texas, from Corpus Christi to Brownsville.

Both Greenland and Antarctica, free of ice, have areas that would be below sea level. However, with the weight of this ice removed, Greenland and Antarctica would rise higher--this phenomena is called isostatic rebound. This rebound lags behind the removal of the ice (by thousands of years). Eventually, most of Greenland would probably be above sea level. However, significant portions of Antarctica would remain underwater. This is shown below in a view of the southern hemisphere:

Today the Earth has 148 million sq. km of land area, of which 16 million sq. km is covered by glaciers. A sea level rise of 66 meters would flood about 13 million sq. km of land outside Antarctica. Without polar ice, Antarctica and Greenland would be ice free, although about half of Antarctica would be under water. Thus, ice-free land would be 128 million sq. km compared to 132 million sq. km today.

As a result, in terms of total habitable land area, the Earth might have more than today. The coastal areas reclaimed by the sea would be mostly offset by now habitable areas of Greenland and Antarctica. Again, remember that such climate change would take thousands of years. Over such time scales vegetation would be restored to newly ice-free regions even without human activity. Also, vast areas which are now desert and tundra would become more fit for human habitation and agriculture.

The illustrations above do not depict any changes in vegetation. In reality, local climates would be very different in ways that are currently difficult to predict. It might be that the warmer climate would lead to generally greater precipitation (this is suggested by comparison to the last ice age, when cooler temperatures caused expansion of the Sahara). Unfortunately, current models are not reliable enough to give a confident answer.

So why wouldn't people drown? Again, a change in the Earth this dramatic would take thousands of years to effect from any realistic cause. Over generations people would migrate as the coasts changed. Consider that virtually all of the settlements in the United States were established only in last 350 years. Of course, many settlements inhabited for thousands of years would have to be abandoned to the ocean--just as many would have to be abandoned if ice age conditions returned and covered vast areas with ice sheets. But people can comfortably adjust where they live over periods of decades, far shorter than the thousands of years needed for these climate changes to naturally take place. Also, that's if they occur, and we have no evidence to indicate what would happen to climate over the next few thousand years.

For those curious as to what the Earth would be like with the ice caps melted, this report has hopefully given an illustration, along with some perspective: this sort of change cannot be affected by modern human activity even given many centuries. It is sad that some youngsters think that burning of hydrocarbons could cause the ice caps to melt and drown cities it is criminal when teachers don't correct this nonsense. And it should tell you much of environmental groups like the Sierra Club when they use such myths to further an extremist political agenda.

  • [1] Raper, S. C. B., and R. J. Braithwaite, 8 March 2005, "The potential for sea level rise: New estimates from glacier and ice cap area and volume distributions," Geophysical Research Letters, 32:L05502.
  • [2] National Snow and Ice Data Center, 14 March 2005, "State of the cryosphere: Is the cryosphere sending signals about climate change?", NSIDC, on line [http://nsidc.org/sotc/glacier_balance.html].
  • [3] Dyurgerov, M., 2002, "Glacier mass balance and regime: Data of measurements and analysis," Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, on line [http://instaar.colorado.edu/other/occ_papers.html].
  • [4] Dyurgerov, M. B., and M. F. Meier, 2005, "Glaciers and the changing earth system: A 2004 snapshot," Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, on line [http://instaar.colorado.edu/other/occ_papers.html].
  • [5] U.S. Geological Survey, 31 Jan. 2000, "Sea level and climate," USGS, on line [http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/fs2-00/].
  • [6] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2001, Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis, section 11.2, on line [http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/].
  • [7] Greve, R., 2000, "On the response of the Greenland Ice Sheet to greenhouse climate change," Climatic Change, 46:289-303 [http://hgxpro1.lowtem.hokudai.ac.jp/

© 2002-2003, 2005 by Wm. Robert Johnston.
Last modified 29 December 2005.
Return to Home. Return to Environmental Topics.


Invention of modern day hydroponics

In the 19 th century, a German botanist at the University of Wurzburg, Julius Sachs , dedicated his career to understanding the essential elements that plants need to survive. By examining differences between plants grown in soil and those grown in water, Sachs found that plants did not need to grow in soil but only needed the nutrients that are derived from microorganisms that live in the soil. In 1860, Sachs published the “nutrient solution” formula for growing plants in water, which set the foundation for modern day hydroponic technology (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Nutrient Solution. Plants obtain 3 nutrients from the air–carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen–and 13 nutrients from supplemented water: nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, iron, manganese, copper, zinc, boron, chlorine, and molybdate.

In 1937, an American scientist, Dr. W.E. Gericke described how this method of growing plants could be used for agricultural purposes to produce large amounts of crops. Gericke and others demonstrated that the fluid dynamics of water changed the architecture of plant roots , which allowed them to uptake nutrients more efficiently than plants grown in soil, causing them to grow larger in a shorter amount of time. Since then, scientists have optimized the nutrient solution, a total of 13 macronutrients and micronutrients , that are added to water for hydroponic farming (Figure 1).

Hydroponic systems today are very sophisticated there are systems that will monitor the level of nutrients pH, and temperature of the water, and even the amount of light the plants are receiving. There are three main types of hydroponic systems: a nutrient film technique, an Ebb and Flow System, and a Wick system (Figure 2). A nutrient film hydroponic technique involves plants being grown in a grow tray that it slightly angled and positioned above a reservoir filled with the water-nutrient mix. This allows a thin stream of water to flow across plant roots, allowing the plants to have sufficient water, nutrients and aeration, and then drained back into the reservoir. The nutrient film technique is the most common hydroponic system used today. Plenty and Bowery , two of the largest hydroponic farms in the US, use nutrient film techniques to grow lettuce, spinach and other leafy greens. The Ebb and Flow technique allows plants to be flooded with the nutrient-rich water, and after the plant roots uptake nutrients, water is actively drained back into a reservoir to be reused. Finally, a hydroponic wick system is the simplest of all, as nutrients are passively given to the plant from a wick or piece of string running up to the plant from the water reservoir. In this system, plants are grown in an inert growing medium such as sand, rock, wool or clay balls that help anchor the plant roots. These different systems are interchangeable, but some systems may be better for growing different types of plants.

Figure 2: The three most common techniques for hydroponic farming. In all approaches, water is fortified with a nutrient solution is stored in a nutrient reservoir. The water is then actively pumped to the grow tray (panels A and B) or it is passively passed to the grow tray (panel C) through a wick. The plant roots grow thicker than those of plants grown in soil, which allow them to uptake nutrients more effectively.

The advantages of using any of these hydroponic systems are manifold. First, since there is no soil, there is no need to worry about having a plot of land, weeds, pathogens living in dirt, or treating the crops with pesticides. Water is also greatly conserved due to the nutrient reservoir because the same water can be reused over and over. Moreover, as most of these hydroponics farms are indoors, food can be produced all year round and even in the middle of a large city, like New York City. Given all of these benefits, we may begin to see more hydroponic farms sprouting up across the US and around the world because this method of farming holds much promise to revolutionize agriculture by using less water and other resources.


4. Is there any such thing as a ‘longevity food’?

Yes and no. There’s no one food that is going to assure you’ll live longer or healthier it’s about the combination. In the blue zone of Costa Rica, we found almost the perfect food combination in corn, beans, and squash — these three provide all the proteins necessary for life. In Okinawa, sweet potatoes — high in beta-carotene — fueled centenarians for nearly half of their lives. And in Sardinia, a sourdough bread, leavened with lactobacillus, actually lowers insulin response to a meal.


Kelsey explains that this technique helps you avoid rubbery whites and underdone yolks, because steam from the water helps the eggs cook evenly, transferring heat all the way through to the tops of the eggs. That means you don&apost need to flip your eggs—or risk breaking those delicate yolks. Just remember that it’s crucial that you keep the heat at medium, which is hot enough to set the whites, but not so hot that you’ll burn the eggs or evaporate the water too quickly.

We like to serve these basted fried eggs on tartines with creamed mustard, a miraculous combination of two kinds of mustard, sour cream, and a dash of lemon juice. Kelsey says if you’re planning on hosting a big brunch, it would be an easy dish to make in a big batch. You can make that creamed mustard up to five days in advance and store it in an airtight container in the fridge the slices of toast can be cooked together in the oven, as opposed to individually in a toaster. Plus, since you’re not dealing with a super-hot, oily pan, you can also cook several eggs at once without the typical drama. The end result is an elegant dish that comes together in just 15 minutes, with less stress for you and impressively tender eggs for your guests.


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