The tomato – a vegetable healthier than you think


rosiiNew info about tomato broth, tomato sauce, tomato juice

Tomato broth is a semifluid food, obtained by boiling mashed tomatoes. We are used to peeling and seeding the tomatoes. However, the red skin of the tomato contains the highest amount of lycopene, an antioxidant and anticarcinogenic caretenoid that helps especially to prevent prostate cancer. It is worth noting that by cooking tomatoes lycopene is not inactivated, on the contrary, it becomes more bioavailable, more biologically active.

The fresh tomato contains a lot of minerals, it is rich in potassium, phosphorus, calcium, dieteray minerals, zinc, vitamin C, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, retinol, folic acid, vitamin E; it also has a low caloric density of 18 kcal for 100 grams.

The delicious taste of fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes is due to the glutamic acid, increased by adding salt. Tomatoes also have a laxative and diuretic action. Tomatoes can be boiled (there is no need to peel them) and prepare the tomato broth which is a recommended ingredient used for seasoning foods.

Dried tomatoes preserved in olive oil may be used in any season to prepare more or less sophisticated kinds of food. Dried  tomatoes can also be used for bruschetti,  pizza, pasta etc.

How do tomatoes help us?

Cooked tomatoes – rather than raw tomatoes or tomato juice – have a protective effect against prostate cancer. If you add olive oil, it stimulates the intake of lycopene and increases its chemopreventive activity.

Heart diseases can be prevented by eating as many tomato based dishes as possible; moreover, the calorie intake will be diminished.

It was found that the tomato and the tomato sauce contain substances that help the blood flow, prevent blood clots and thus myocardial infarction and stroke.

Good quality tomato juice that has no additives is also recommended when travelling by plane, when the tendency of blood coagulation and clot formation increases. The flavonoids in the tomato have anti-coagulant effects and protect against strokes.

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What you need to know about organic food


produse ecologice

With the widespread use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, industrial systems for intensive growth of plants and animals, genetically modified organisms, food additives, artificial flavorings and environmental pollution, consumer’s health has become critical.

The current need when it comes to obtaining food is to use fewer chemicals, minimal processing and as many biologically active natural compounds as possible. Because the human body is permanently confronting with aggressions of all kinds, it must be sustained and defended by eating less polluted foods with high nutritious and biological potential.

A food product can be labeled as organic or biological only if it was produced under the strict monitoring of an independent certifier. The certifier will follow the food product throughout the production chain, starting with soil quality, water and air quality, synthetic chemicals are not to be used (fertilizers, pesticides, and hormones); genetically modified organisms and hybrid breeds are also not allowed.

Finally, the organic product will have two labels on the package, namely: the first is OA – organic agriculture that belongs to the Ministry of Agriculture and the second label belongs to the certifier. After we are sure that the food product is organic, we have to take into account that it must obey the nutritional rules to be truly wholesome.

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Do fast food products go bad or not?


No other industry has generated lately so many urban legends as fast food industry; it is increasingly more present in our lives. Everyone has heard truths and exaggerations about how unhealthy fast-food products can be, about how many cows a hamburger contains or about the dubious content of some products. But perhaps the best known information regarding fast food products is the presumption that they do not go bad or they have a very long shelf life. TOTB has tested that belief, but not only traditional fast food products in the U.S., but also our shaorma.
Every April 1st there’s a new hoax that targets fast food companies, particularly giant McDonald’s., for example, announced in April 2010 that the company has given up a global initiative to recycle organic waste after U.S. scientists have confirmed that none of its menu items can be decomposed. The eco-profile publication then said it was a hoax, and McDonald’s representatives wrote on Twitter that the false news amused them and sent to a recycling initiative in the 90s. Another joke announced that due to fast food, corpses in cemeteries are no longer decomposed.

But apart from the many jokes at the expense of emerging companies that feed us with carbohydrate and fat, there were some real experiments. One of them was Super Size Me (2004), in which an American named Morgan Spurlock ate only fast food products from McDonald’s for a month. The protagonist of the experiment also made a documentary film that led to a strong anti fast food wave both in the States and Europe.

Another recent experiment was presented to us this year by artist Sally Davies. It showed that the Happy Meal menu at McDonald’s does not decompose, it does not go bad and, moreover, even after 6 months kept at room temperature, there are no visible signs that it would degrade in any way. She says that ingredients did not smell bad after the experiment; after a few days, not even her dog was pleased with the food.

After so many experiments, we at TOTB try to learn the truth about decomposing of fast food products. Not only because we were skeptical to the experiments done so far, but we wanted to see for ourselves what the truth was. And this time we tried not to limit ourselves to a single company on this market. So we chose one well-known menu at McDonald’s and one at KFC, but we have included something more specific to the Balkan landscape: shaorma.
We initially discussed the expectations each of us had with regards to the experiment and then we went to work. Read the whole story below:

Episode 1: Famous McDonald’s (Ionut Dulamita)

Seven years ago, when I arrived in Bucharest for college, I was a slim man – 76 kg at a height of 1.84 m – and I was used to eating three times a day. But when a provincial of 19 years comes to the capital, consumer capitalism is the first to open the gates of the city and it lures him with its glamorous attractions. Ready to eat food nicely packaged and promoted, that you are served on the spot by overly friendly men in a consumer friendly restaurant taste infinitely better than schnitzel pork with mashed potatoes. So my first tour of Bucharest was garnished with Big Mac sandwiches from McDonald’s and crispy strips from KFC, seasoned necessarily with a large serving of golden fries that I was devouring as seeds or as chocolate. Later on, after I got drunk in the club, I was lured by the garlic sauce and crispy chicken and 5 o’clock in the morning was not too early or too late for me and my shaorma! Soon, eating McDonald’s, KFC and shaorma became part of my daily routine. Three years later, I was 96 kg at the same height of 1.84 m.

At the beginning

It was still fast food that helped me lose weight. One Sunday I ordered lasagna. When I arrived home I had some Chinese food and later on, after 9 pm, a friend of mine visited me armed with five assorted pieces of chicken from KFC, big as a fist, only for me. I was sick for three days and I ate only salads for a while or nothing at all. I have not eaten any fast food in 2 years and I managed to lose 20 kg and, since then, I have managed to maintain a constant weight. Now and then I will have a shaorma or something from McDonald’s,  not because I am be very skeptical of consumerist practices, but simply because they taste really good and spare me the time spent in the kitchen. I started the experiment one month ago; I was sure that the ingredients of Big Mac menu would give rise to a monster; the ingredients are: a beef burger with a slice of cheese, pickled cucumbers, strips of lettuce and mayonnaise and a portion of roasted potatoes. I was also sure that food will have a pungent smell, like that of any other food you just left there to rot.
I was so sure of the outcome. Especially since I left the burger and potatoes on the kitchen table, where it was warm during the first three weeks. Two weeks later, I was surprised to see that there was no bad odor in the kitchen. Fries, meat, bun, the slice of cheese and the pickled cucumber and salad had shrunk, but their appearance was almost unchanged. The mayonnaise was gone. The meat and bun looked exactly like they did when I bought them, whereas fries, cucumbers, lettuce and the slice of cheese were emaciated. Someone who came to visit could gobble them unless I was there to stop them. The meat smelled but in no disturbing way, and I could only feel it if I put my nose in the bread – it smelled like smoked sheep meat. Potatoes became brittle and had an oily smell. Food did not smell as if it had gone bad. Things did not change much over the following two weeks.

One month later

The ingredients were dry and hard and became rock hard. Only cucumbers and lettuce sometimes caught a pronounced greenish tinge, silky locks, and they stuck to the walls roll like some fossilized remains. The rest looks the same, only slightly reduced after the drying process. Meat and potatoes have kept smell mentioned above, perhaps a bit mad, one that is felt only when you approach the nose by those ingredients. I ventured to taste the French fries, which, frankly, are just a taste of the oil without any trace of flavor and break easily between teeth. I tasted meat and I was not turned stomach. But I tried a second time. It has the consistency of oatmeal cookie and a synthetic taste oily, but one that brings the sheep, slightly spicy. It’s a bad taste, but not a classic rotten meat, which I had the opportunity to taste the college. I do not know how many shows this experiment, but I know I left several times chicken in the refrigerator, not on the kitchen table, less than a month and got the mold and smell awful.
I will definetely eat food from McDonald’s again; but I’d feel better if I knew that they give rise to organic monsters just like any other type of food.

Episode 2: The popular KFC (Roxana Piece)

The wings at McDonald’s have always been my guilty pleasure. Whenever I managed to refrain from sweets for a few days, I allowed myself to have something from McDonald’s. So in my case, going to the fast food was associated with a feeling of reward; I had to go to KFC and buy the “Project” – a Crispy Strips menu – which I was to study for a month. That reminded me of other experiments that have shown how such food does not go bad for longer periods of time. Only when I walked into KFC restaurant, on the first day of the experiment, did I really wonder how old the food I was buying was. If we were in a movie, then this would have been the time when you could hear the dramatic music like when a detective finds a blonde hair next to a corpse.

First day

I put the “project” on the microwave oven in one corner of the kitchen. The food smelled so good, and I was really tempted to eat them up and the project could come to an end sooner than planned. Starting with the next day, I did not have to refrain too much, because the repugnant smell of oil ensured the continuation of the experiment. You could not feel it in the room, but if you smelled it up close, the bad odor made you puke. Still, there was no visual change. On the fourth day, crispy strips and fries started to “shrink”. That did not stop my guests to be tempted by a potato or a strip. Only after I gave my word that the menu had been staying there for several days did they decide not to eat up all the food.
The shrinking continued slowly but surely, every day, and I was expecting not to find anything but the paper packaging filled with dry oil. Over the following next two weeks of the experiment, KFC goodies continued to shrink. Food did not look as if it had gone bad and I thought that it must be full of worms on the inside. Much to my surprise, there was nothing but meat.

30 days later

Only in the last week could you see “flowers” of mold on one of the chicken pieces, on the side next to the paper, not on the surface. They extended to cover all the side underneath. Other pieces of chicken are intact. Potatoes are just thinner than in the beginning. Finally, after 30 days, I have a smaller Crispy Strips menu that is hard rock and smells like in the second day of experiment and it has some mold on it.

Episode 3: Is shaorma really so different? (Magor Csibi)

It was not the first time I heard that fast food products do not go bad quickly, but I guess you just have to see it to believe it.

First day

Is shaorma really so different?

We all know that shaorma is a popular product in Bucharest. At the level of prejudice, it seems we have a more positive attitude towards shaorma. Most people who heard about this experiment thought that it would go bad in a few days, others in a few hours. So did I. I thought that in maximum two days all the food will go bad, including the French fries.

The meat in the mixed shaorma I bought was not minced meat and I thought that it was not  treated with various substances or preservatives. Potatoes are just like those from any other fast food, frozen, removed from the bag and cooked in the fryer. I was convinced that ayran (Turkish yogurt) that accompanies shaorma will go bad in a few hours, shaorma in a few days (no more than three), and fries will go bad in a month. I sat the menu on the living room. But I had no idea that surprises were in store for me.
My expectations did not prove to be accurate. I had to wait two days until I saw some change. The paper cup with the ayran could no longer hold the creamy liqueur. So I transferred the ayran to a tea cup. A week later, my friend ate some of the fries, as she had forgotten all about the experiment.
10 days later, the ayran went bad. It smelled awfully. However, the potatoes and shaorma looked and smelled as usual. 16 days later, shaorma started to give out a smell, not precisely of rotten meat, but rather as a wet sock left in a plastic bag. The fries looked as good as in the first day.

The end of month

At the end of the month, shaorma looked just like in the first day. The only difference was that the cabbage and cucumbers looked visibly smaller due to the warm temperature in the living room. The odor was not so bad. When I opened the packaging, I saw some black mold which gave out a bad odor; however, meat had not really gone bad, but the ingredients had shrunk and gone bad.

Over the last month my personal myth was proven wrong.


In an experiment of this kind there’s not too much we can add. We wanted to check if the legends were true and we learned that they partly are.
There are exaggerations and malicious news which say that these products do not decompose or that last for months in the most adverse conditions. We should not fear that we eat a burger or a shaorma after they gone bad. Food may look fresh, but none of the tested products can be confused with its fresh counterpart. They smelled slightly spoiled, and at first touch / taste the difference can be easily seen.
More worrying is the fact that the meat goes bad after a long time; the change takes place slowly and gradually. Since Ionut managed to taste a burger with chips that were a month old, then we can definitely question the quality of products and of chemicals therein.
Another important lesson is that fast food is nothing but… fast food. There are no more noble varieties, like shaorma or schnitzel. It seems that most fast food products go bad at the same extent and are of similar quality.
You should draw your own conclusions. When you stand in the line at McDonald’s or KFC you are just like in a voting booth. You are on your own. The decision is yours. Just think about this old saying: Would you eat something that not even mold eats?


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