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Food laurels

(article, Ashley Griffin Gartland)

We love awards. The Oscars. The Pulitzers. The Nobels. The World Food Prize.

What, you've never heard of the World Food Prize? Concocted by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Norman Borlaug in 1986, the $250,000 prize recognizes an individual who has contributed to a field relating to the global food supply. Previous winners have bred hybrid rice varieties, developed and disseminated low-cost freshwater fish-farming techniques, and created a vaccine for the cattle plague rinderpest. 

This year’s prize went to Dr. Philip E. Nelson, who discovered new ways to process, transport, and store large amounts of fruits and vegetables without losing their nutritional value. Nelson’s methods have also been used to help deliver food aid and water during international crises, as well as reduce post-harvest waste and spoilage. 

OK, so that's all very noble, but what about the Ig Nobels? Yup, the mock Nobels are regularly awarded to food-related research efforts. How else would you find out that, to a mosquito, the human foot is just as stinky as limburger cheese? Or that a Japanese scientist had photographed and analyzed every meal he had eaten for the previous 34 years?

And, yes, it's true that when you drop it, buttered toast really does tend to land buttered side down.