Samui Wining & Dining
That Figures

We discover some surprising food facts that most people don’t know.

p17It’s a subject that you’ll discuss several times a day and certainly think about every few hours. And everyone has an opinion on it. Food dictates where we’ll be and what we’ll be doing at particular times of the day and it shapes the very person we become. Facts and figures abound about the subject so here’s a selection that might confirm what you thought you knew or perhaps even surprise you.

  • Over an average lifetime, a human will eat about 60,000 pounds of food, that’s the weight of about six elephants!

  • Honey is the only food that won’t spoil.

  • Chop suey does not come from China. It was created by Chinese immigrants in California.

  • The world’s food supply depends on about 150 plant species. Of those 150, just 12 provide three-quarters of the world’s food. More than half of the world’s food energy comes from a limited number of varieties of three ‘mega-crops’ – rice, wheat, and maize.

  • Thailand has a strong tradition of rice production. It has the fifth-largest amount of land under rice cultivation in the world and is the world’s largest rice exporter. 

  • Wheat is the most widely grown cereal grain, occupying 17 percent of the total cultivated land in the world. Wheat is the staple food for 35 percent of the world’s population and provides more calories and protein in the world’s diet than any other crop.

  • Asia plants almost half of the developing world’s maize crop. Three-quarters of the maize consumed in South Asia is consumed directly as food, but in East Asia most maize is used for animal feed.

  • According to the most recent World Health Organization (WHO) data, one out of three adults in the world is overweight and one out of every 10 adults is obese. In the United Kingdom, 24.2% of adults are considered to be obese, whilst 66.9% are consider overweight.

  • The USA tops the ‘fattest people’ list followed by Mexico and the UK. There are no Asian, African or South American countries in the top 20.

  • Every month, approximately nine out of 10 American children visit a McDonald’s restaurant.

  • There are more than 300,000 fast food restaurants in the USA alone.

  • Burger King’s ‘Double Whopper with cheese’ contains 923 calories. A man would need to walk for about nine miles to burn it off. Adding French fries and a large cola brings the total calories to an amazing 1,500 calories.

  • French fries are actually Belgian. ‘French’ is the name attributed to the style or method of cooking.

  • McDonald’s is the largest purchaser of beef, pork and potatoes, and the second largest purchaser of chicken in the world.

  • Today, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo products are sold in every country in the world, except North Korea.

  • Wal-Mart is the world’s biggest employer, with over 2 million employees.

  • Chili peppers originated in the Americas.

  • Capsaicin, which makes chilies ‘hot’ to the human mouth, is best neutralized by casein, the main protein in milk.

  • In 2007, Guinness World Records certified the ‘Bhut Jolokia’ as the world’s hottest chili pepper, 400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce.

  • A single Alaskan king crab can yield over six pounds of meat. They can have more than a six-foot leg span (no pun intended).

  • Scientists at a Bedfordshire university have found what could be the smelliest cheese in the world. Vieux Boulogne, a soft cheese from northern France, even beat Epoisses de Bourgogne, a cheese so smelly that it’s banned from being taken on public transport in its native France.

  • American Airlines saved $40,000 in 1987 by eliminating one olive from each salad in first class meals.

  • Apples, not caffeine, are more efficient at waking you up in the morning.

  • The average chocolate bar has eight insects’ legs in it.

  • Grapes explode when you put them in the microwave. You have been warned!

  • A peanut is not a nut. It’s a legume.

  • Avocados have more protein than any other fruit.

  • Bananas contain a natural chemical which can make a person happy. This same chemical is also found in Prozac.

  • Buttermilk does not contain any butter.

  • Coconuts kill more people in the world than sharks do. Approximately 150 people are killed each year by falling coconuts.

  • There were only six Indian restaurants in Britain in 1950 but by 2004 their number had grown to around 9,000.

  • Ice-cream was brought back by Marco Polo from China in 1295, from a recipe called ‘milk ice’. Europeans substituted cream for the milk to create ice-cream.

  • Corn always has an even number of ears.

  • Butterflies taste with their feet.

  • Instant coffee was invented by a Japanese-American chemist, Satori Kato of Chicago, in 1901.

  • Yelling for eight years, seven months and six days produces enough sound energy to heat one cup of coffee. (I’m not sure how accurate this fact is; in my experience my wife can heat a cup of coffee using this method in about 10 minutes flat).

  • Black-eyed peas are really beans.

  • Black pepper is the most popular spice in the world.

  • Strawberries are the only fruit which has its seeds on its outer skin.

  • Lemons contain more sugar than strawberries.

  • Lettuce is the only vegetable or fruit which is never sold frozen, canned, processed, cooked or in any other form but fresh.

  • Cabbage is 91% water.

  • Eggs contain most of the recognised vitamins, with the exception of vitamin C.

  • Apples are made up of 25% air, which is why they float.

  • Apple seeds contain cyanide.

  • Celery requires more calories to eat and digest than it contains.

  • And let’s end with an apocryphal tale that not everything that drops out of the sky is ‘Manna from Heaven’. In 1876, a woman from Kentucky was in her garden when fresh meat began to shower her in snowflake-like lumps from a cloudless sky. Two nearby men tasted it (why does that not surprise me!) and thought it tasted like mutton. Scientists later tested it to find it was a random selection of lung tissue and muscle fibres. The explanation given was that a flock of buzzards had most likely regurgitated the matter while flying overhead!

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