SPF – What does this mean?

You’ve heard of SPF for the rating on your sun screen but what exactly is it and how does it work? The Victor crew has covered this before but wanted to bring it up again now that summer will soon be here and there has already been a sad story in the news (see below).

Sunscreen, or suncream or sunblock, is a topical product in the form of lotion, spray, or gel that helps protect your skin from the sun, or rather the sun’s ultraviolet rays from causing sunburn. They are generally rated with an SPF (sunscreen protection factor) number. That number represents the fraction of sunburn producing UV rays that reach the skin. An SPF of 20 means 1/20 of the radiation reaches the skin. You can also estimate the effectiveness of how long it will last from this number. If you usually can develop a burn in 10 minutes, using SPF 20 will protect for 200 minutes.

There is a flaw in reasoning the higher the number the better the protection, though. There is also the problem that many products, when tested, do not meet the expectations for that number.

Recently in the news, a mom in Canada reports that using a kids version of sunscreen rated SPF 50 caused the second-degree burns on her 14 month old baby.


So kiwis are small fruits found almost any time of the year since they can be grown in various locations around the world. The Victor crew wanted to know more about these little fruits. Here is what we found.

They are rich in Vitamin C, folates, and fiber. They also have antioxidants and are a good source of fiber. Even though the peel is edible most people peel it. They can help treat asthma because of the high amount of Vitamin C. They can boost digestion.

So what can you do with kiwis? Why not put them in a smoothie? They can be sliced and mixed into a fruit salad. Slice and put on top of a flan or tart. Slice and add to green salads.

We wondered as well about the name. The full name is Kiwifruit. Another name is Chinese gooseberry. The New Zealanders started calling it the Kiwifruit when they exported them to the United States and has been used since 1966. It was shortened to kiwi since. In New Zealand, however, kiwi is not used to refer to the fruit but rather to the kiwi bird or Kiwi people. It originally came from China and spread to New Zealand in the early 20th century.

Food Safety and Recalls

So, the Victor crew was wondering how to find out about food recalls. Food recalls happen when there are issues with the way a food was packaged or prepared. Sometimes it will be due to something like E. coli found on a food or from something that might have been processed in a facility with a known allergen (such as peanuts) that wasn’t disclosed on the package.

Here are some sites we found that have lists of recalled products for various reasons:

Foodsafety.gov has lists of what is currently on recall.
You can check cdc.gov as well for outbreaks.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration also has lists of current recalls.
Food Safety News has lists of food recalls as well.

If you happen to become ill from a food (food poisoning), you can report it to Foodsafety.gov.

You can find out how the CDC investigates food outbreaks.

Why is organic food so expensive?

The Victor crew was wondering why it costs so much more for organic food than it does for food that costs money for all those pesticides and growth hormones. Here are some things we found out.

According to the Organic Farming Research Foundation, organic foods cost more because it is reflecting the true cost of growing the food where labor substitutes for chemicals. There is also cleanup of polluted water and taking care of pests and cleaning up pesticide contamination.

Organic yields can be lower as most organic farms are smaller than conventional farms. As more and more people demand organic produce there is less available and the old supply and demand pricing comes into play.

Also, since they rely on natural fertilizers, they need compost and animal manure.

There are a lower number of organic farms taking up less amount of land. In 2015, 14,093 organic farms on 3.7 million acres in 10 states. In 2012, there were 3.2 million farmers operating 2.1 million farms on 915 million acres. It is unclear if those numbers include organic farms. 2012 is the latest year listed on the USDA Census of Agriculture site.

In 2015, organic milk and eggs were the top two sellers. Next was broiler chickens. Apples, lettuce, and grapes were top selling crops.


Cocoa vs Cacao

Aren’t cocoa and cacao the same thing? The original beans that both come from are called cacao beans. They are harvested from seed pods of the cacao tree. It was originally believed that cocoa was simply a misspelling of cacao since the pods are from the Theobroma cacao tree.

So from these cacao beans we get cacao nibs. They are the beans – dried, fermented, and chopped into small pieces. They are not very sweet. They have all the nutrients and anti-oxidants in them. You can add them to different recipes as you would chocolate chips. You can also add them to smoothies.

The fatty part is removed to make cacao butter. The rest is used for cacao powder. Some of the benefits are magnesium, fiber, iron, antioxidants, mood enhancement, phenylethylamine, anandamide, theobromine (the ingredient that can harm dogs), and oxalic acid.

So this is from the same cacao beans, however it is heated at higher temperatures to make cocoa powder. Dutch processed cocoa, dark cocoa, is alkalized to be made to taste richer, however it degrades the antioxidants and nutrients. Regular cocoa powder is more acidic so most recipes use baking soda to alkalize it.

Cocoa is cheaper and easier to find in stores. Dark chocolates are better for you (70% or more).

Here are some recipes for cacao nibs.
More about cacao nibs.