Fact of the day: coffee can reduce soil acidity

Posted in Coffee, Facts

Coffee is a good fertilizer, and that’s something I just took for granted. I never asked "why" it was good, or how. Well, pushing into this fun fact series, I decided to look it up.

Cooling the beansToday I learned that coffee is used to reduce soil acidity. Apparently farmers will dilute coffee four times its volume in water, a dilution which is very common to reduce soil acidity when growing tomatoes, chili peppers, blueberries and other plants prone to high acidity.

Spent coffee grounds are a good fertilizer in gardens because of their high nitrogen content. Starbucks, and some other coffee shops, have a specific policy of giving away their used coffee grounds to gardeners. While they tend to be only slightly acidic, they also tend to improve the acidity of garden soil through the same chemical processes which cause sawdust to do the same thing. Coffee grounds raise soil acidity more immediately if they are added fresh, instead of after brewing.

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Fact of the day: Oreo cookies have no cream

Posted in Facts

You know that ‘cream’ layer in an Oreo cookie? It’s not cream.

The Oreo cookie, which has been around since 1912, is created of two chocolate wafers and a white sugar-based filling (not a cream one, despite its name). In fact, they are kosher-dairy – no milk at all.

This post was inspired by tonight’s dessert: Oreo Cookie Ice Cream. Horribly off-diet, but incredibly satisfying.

For more oddball facts about Oreo cookies, check out the Wikipedia entry.

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Fact of the day: there is no Gouda in Gouda

Posted in Facts, Funny

You may be surprised to know that no Gouda is actually made in Gouda. We spent a day visiting Gouda, which is a very pretty little town. Very old. A relative of mine used to be a tour guide in Gouda, so we had a private little tour of the city.

The main plaza in Gouda has at its centre a town hall (see here) surrounded by open areas (this was because two fires made the town wary and thus protective of this central building). Anyway, around the outside you can find this building:

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This is the cheese weighing house, where farmers used to come to weigh their cheese. It was the most ostentatious cheese weighing house in Holland. You see, you don’t need much space to actually weigh the cheese, but they made this building extra fancy. And were quite snooty about it.

So, although many incorrectly assume loads of Gouda was made in Gouda, it was rather weighed there.

And wikipedia has this wrong :)

BTW, if you ever go to Gouda, visit the old church to view some of the best stained glass in Holland/Europe – it’s incredibly vibrant. From the 16th & 17th Centuries.

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Fact of the day: porcupines get goose bumps

Posted in Facts, Science

I felt like looking up why we get goose bumps and in consequence learned that the same response in us which causes goose bumps is what causes a porcupine to raise his quills, and consequently is likely the same response which causes a cat to raise its hair.

So, although in us you only see the goose bumps, furry mammals experience the same result under all their hair.

From Wikipedia:

Goose bumps… the bumps on a person’s skin at the base of body hairs which involuntarily develop when a person is cold or experiences strong emotions like fear. The reflex of producing goose bumps is known as horripilation, piloerection, or the pilomotor reflex…

Goose bumps are created when tiny muscles at the base of each hair, known as arrectores pilorum, contract and pull the hair erect. The reflex is started by the sympathetic nervous system, which is in general responsible for many fight-or-flight responses…

Piloerection as a response to cold or fear is vestigial in humans; as humans retain only very little body hair, the reflex now serves no known purpose.



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