Category Archives: Fun

Sun Care for Summer (and the Rest of the Year)

bad-hair-day

It’s getting hot in the Northern hemisphere, and some of the best exercise is outdoors, so why not test your sun-safety IQ?

The American Cancer Society offers regular updates about sun safety and tanning issues and sums up the basics in “Protect Your Skin From the Sun.”

Take good care of your skin — it’s what you keep your body in!

Image by Lim Heng Swee

What Makes a Fruit or Vegetable Good?

ridiculous potato

Produce has a short shelf life, and much of it is wasted because there is no good way to store it (or because it gets to your fridge, but you don’t use it in time). “Shelf appeal” is a major consideration for sellers of produce, pushed partly by consumers, too, and as a result countless tons of fruits and vegetables never make it to supermarkets just because they’re, well, ugly. This is bad for human nutrition, a waste of environmental and farming resources, and tough for the slim-margin grocery business, too. Enter Intermarché:

Intermarché – a big supermarket chain in France – decided it was time to save an endangered species from the rubbish bin; ugly duckling fruit and veg. In the UK a whopping 40% of greens don’t reach our shelves simply for being a bit unfortunate looking and globally we waste $750 billion worth of food each year. Ouch.

Patrice de Villiers took beautiful, glowing pictures of the fruit and veg for the campaign, giving them their moment to shine centre stage. Ad agency Marcel also made a funny jaunty promo video; it’s like The X-Factor of the produce world and we’re all cheering for the ones with the sob story. French shoppers were offered their lumpy cucumbers and mutant carrots 30% cheaper than their perfect siblings, and chose price over prettiness – making the experiment a roaring success. They even had a second chance as soups and juices too. A true tale of the triumph of the underdog. —Great ad campaign encourages customers to buy oddly shaped fruit

Tesco and Waitrose, in the UK, also offer ugly produce at a discount, and there’s a German campaign, as well. European food sellers are finding a good business case for rescuing these ugly ducklings, and consumers are starting to see the appeal. After all, once they go into a soup, salad, or smoothie, who cares how pretty they were?

Image: Intermarché campaign, photo from a series by Patricie de Villiers

UPDATE: A friend in the US writes to say that farmer’s markets sellers sometimes offer ugly or “stew-ready” produce at a discount. It’s worth asking!

A Vacation That Really Rests You

tent

For many families, summer means longer days, a break from school, and family vacations. If everyone’s getting increasingly sleep deprived, that summer vacation can be more than just a getaway — it can actually help the body restore balance to its sleep and waking schedule. And better sleep means everything is better, from your energy level to your mood — and your ability to make good choices.

The researchers then took them on a weeklong camping trip in the mountains of Colorado—separating them from smartphones (gasp), TVs, laptops, and even flashlights. What they discovered was that after one week of light exposure limited to just sunlight and campfires, everyone’s body clock shifted to match the natural light cycle, resulting in earlier bed and wake times. So if you’re struggling to get to bed early and rushing off to work, and you’ve still got a week or two available, do yourself a favor and squeeze in a camping trip before the end of the summer. Your body, and your body clock, will thank you.

If camping isn’t in the cards, the researchers recommend an early morning walk to kick off your day—or try eating breakfast outside in the sunlight. At night turn down the house lights, and dim those smartphones, TVs, and laptops. Sweet dreams!

— Reset Your Body Clock with a Camping Trip

Previously:
Why Athletes Love to Sleep — and So Should You
Tips for Better Sleep
Sleepless in America

Image by me. Even in a really fancy tent, a camping trip can help you reset as long as you go easy on the artificial light sources.

How a Bean Becomes a Fart

You may be trying to improve the “health quotient” of what you eat by adding vegetables and beans, and if you’ve done this abruptly, you’ve probably noticed some effects. Musical-fruit effects, no less.

In this charming animation, Giant Ant studio presents an infographic from Men’s Health: How a Bean Becomes a Fart. Don’t let this scare you away from adding these nutritious, fiber-rich foods to your diet, though. For one thing, it’s normal for us to produce gas over the course of the day. Still, it can be awkward or uncomfortable. Make changes gradually, try to keep an eye out for the effects (some foods may affect you more than others), and, hey, there’s always Beano.

How Many Doctors Kept Away?

apple-q-8-hr

This year, the Journal of the American Medical Association had some fun for April Fool’s with “Association Between Apple Consumption and Physician Visits.”

It turns out that apples don’t keep doctors away, but they do seem to cut down on trips to the pharmacist! This isn’t the first study to suggest that fiber-rich foods promote health — the effect is strong enough to justify some programs where physicians actually write prescriptions for fruits and vegetables.

JAMA is normally published on Tuesday, so its April Fool’s claim is a bit of a stretch, but the British Medical Journal routinely has some fun in its December issue, with lighthearted studies similar to this one, essays from physicians sharing funny personal stories, and some frank parody. BMJ has even addressed the apples issue, comparing them (favorably) to statins in reducing mortality. (Could oranges be next?) Maybe JAMA will keep it up!

Image: Cartoonist B. Kliban had an optimistic view of the efficacy of apples.