Eat My Brain

In May 2008, thousands of South Koreans took to the streets to protest the impending importation of U.S. beef. In a classic example of the social amplification of risk theory, citizens were apparently convinced that substandard beef was headed for South Korea and they would all develop mad cow disease.

Now, some citizens are fighting back.

JoonAng Daily reports that more than 1,000 Korean-Americans filed a group lawsuit against a Korean broadcaster yesterday, claiming its coverage of the supposed health risks of U.S. beef humiliated them and subjected them to mockery in the United States.

In April last year, Seoul-based MBC broadcast a report on U.S. beef warning that consumption of the meat may lead to the human form of mad cow disease. Following the airing of the “PD Diary” episode, tens of thousands of South Koreans took to the streets to protest a Seoul-Washington agreement that reopened the Korean beef market to U.S. products.

The protests continued for months, rattling the new Lee Myung-bak administration. …

“We demand that MBC and the chief producer of PD Diary pay for the psychological damage and broadcast a correction report and an apology,” said Lee Heon, legal representative of the group. …

Lee said the plaintiffs were insulted by PD Diary as its report insinuated that anyone who eats U.S. beef will contract the human form of mad cow disease. He also argued that because of the report, people living in Korea came to look down on overseas Koreans who have eaten U.S. beef for years.

And every time I hear of some frivolous story about mad cow disease – not the serious stories where innocent people die – I think of this 1995 song by Vancouver band, The Odds.

Squirrel melts for lunch – like tuna melts, but with squirrel

A friend sent along this year-old video of “Huntress” Heidi Wilson, a redneck Rachel Ray with a heavy dose of Martha Stewart-inspired soft lens on the camera.

The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife describes squirrel as "good table fare," offering recipes for squirrel chowder, stew and barbecue.

In Aug., 1997, Joseph Berger, Erick Weisman and Beverly Weisman of the University of Kentucky reported in The Lancet, they may have found a link between the consumption of squirrel brains, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.

The scientists reported on five patients, aged between 56 and 78, who had been diagnosed as having Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. All of them reported that they had eaten squirrel brains.

Weisman told the N.Y. Times  squirrels were a popular food in rural Kentucky, where people eat either the meat or the brains but generally not both.

Families tend to prefer one or the other depending on tradition. Those who eat only squirrel meat chop up the carcass and prepare it with vegetables in a stew called burgoo. Squirrels recently killed on the road are often thrown into the pot.

Families that eat brains follow only certain rituals.

"Someone comes by the house with just the head of a squirrel," said Weisman "and gives it to the matriarch of the family. She shaves the fur off the top of the head and fries the head whole. The skull is cracked open at the dinner table and the brains are sucked out."  It is a gift-giving ritual.

The second most popular way to prepare squirrel brains is to scramble them in white gravy, he said, or to scramble them with eggs. In each case, the walnut-sized skull is cracked open and the brains are scooped out for cooking.

These practices are not related to poverty, Berger was cited as saying. People of all income levels eat squirrel brains in rural Kentucky and in other parts of the South.

Amy says squirrel tastes like chicken — if you add ketchup.

Sex, chocolate and meat best for the brain

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that plenty of sex, dark chocolate and cold meats are the latest keys to boosting your brain power, according to a new book published in Britain

Terry Horne and Simon Wootton, authors of Teach Yourself: Train Your Brain, contend their recommendations are based on various chemical reactions within the body brought on by certain activities, and that those who want to stop their brain deteriorating should avoid watching TV soap operas, smoking cannabis and mixing with moaners.

While sex, dark chocolate and eating cold meats for breakfast top the list for the best ways to keep the brain fit, cuddling babies, cheating at homework, doing a business degree and reading out loud are also recommended.

"Mix with people who make you laugh, have a good sense of humour or who share the same interests as you and avoid people who whinge, whine and complain as people who are negative will make you depressed."

I’ll add in berries and beer.