There’s a nationwide Sriracha shortage


Scott Olson/Getty

The company that makes Sriracha, Huy Fong Foods, wrote in an email to customers in late April that it will have to stop making the sauce for the next few months due to “severe weather conditions affecting the quality of chili peppers.”

The spicy sauce has something of a cult following, and so when the news filtered through, some fans took to social media to express their dismay and post about panic buying (with varying degrees of irony.)…

The shortage is due to a failed chili pepper harvest in northern Mexico, where all of the chilies used in Sriracha come from, according to National Autonomous University of Mexico’s Guillermo Murray Tortarolo, who studies climate and ecosystems.

“Sriracha is actually made from a very special type of pepper that only grows in the southern U.S. and northern Mexico,” Murray Tortarolo said. “These red jalapeños are only grown during the first four months of the year, and they need very controlled conditions, particularly constant irrigation.”…

“The already difficult conditions were pushed over the limit by two consecutive La Niña events. And the dry season has not only been intense, but also remarkably long,” Murray Tortarolo said.

As a result, the spring chili harvest was almost nonexistent this year. Murray Tortarolo thinks it’s very likely that climate change is a factor, although it requires further study to confirm.

Meanwhile, folks without a sufficient Sriracha stash better hop to it before everyone is sold out.

As for future seasoning at Lot 4? You better believe we’re ready with a couple of years worth of our favorite hotness,

Turning peas into tasty imitation cheese

Per capita, Danish people are the crème de la crème of Earth’s cheese consumers. According to the International Dairy Federation (IDF), Danes lead consumption globally with 28 kilos (about 61 pounds) of cheese consumed per capita in 2020…

Pea proteins have shown promising results for plant-based cheese production. Peas and other legumes are rich in proteins and its production is sustainable and local, since they can be cultivated in Denmark,” says Carmen Masiá, an industrial PhD researcher at the food science department at the University of Copenhagen…

Masiá has succeeded in creating a “functional base for plant-based cheese” made from pea proteins that creates a foundation for cheese production. Simply put, the researchers have fermented this base and produced a prototype of a plant cheese based on yellow peas, which is a great starting point to further develop flavor on top of it.

OK by me. Ready to try ’em, tomorrow.

Oldest Poop DNA contains Neanderthal microbiome

Biologist Marco Candela and his colleagues recently sequenced ancient microbial DNA from 50,000-year-old Neanderthal feces found at the El Salt archaeological site in Spain. The sequences included DNA from several of the microbes that still call our intestines home, as well as a few that have nearly vanished from today’s urban dwellers. According to Candela and his colleagues, their results suggest that the microscopic population of our guts may have been with us since at least 500,000 years ago, in the era of our species’ last common ancestor with Neanderthals.

Mixed in with the layer of sediment that once formed the floor of a Neanderthal rock shelter in eastern Spain, archaeologists found millimeter-sized coprolites (fossil poop) and chemical signatures of human feces. An earlier study, published in 2014, sifted through the tiny coprolites to look for traces of Neanderthal diets. “These samples therefore represent, to our knowledge, the oldest known positive identification of human fecal matter,” wrote Candela and his colleagues.

They recently returned to El Salt for new samples, which they scoured for fragments of ancient DNA from the bacteria and other microbes that once lived in the intestines of Neanderthals. To weed out possible contamination, Candela and his colleagues sorted out the old, obviously degraded ancient DNA from the more pristine modern sequences. Most of the ancient DNA in the sediments came from bacteria that lived in the soil and water—tiny relics of the Pleistocene environment. But the rest included some familiar companions.

“There are probably more differences between the gut microbiomes from modern traditional (rural, hunter gatherers) populations and the modern industrial urban populations than between Neanderthal and modern traditional populations,” Candela, a biologist at the University of Bologna, told Ars.

That’s reassuring. I think.

Texas Commissioner calls on Abbott to end border inspections


Elias Valverde II
Yes – that’s Sid Miller in the photograph

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller pressed the governor on Tuesday to end a new inspection policy that is snarling traffic at the border and “turning a crisis into a catastrophe.”

In a strongly worded statement, Miller warned Gov. Greg Abbott that commercial vehicles are being forced to wait up to 12 hours to enter Texas from Mexico because of the stepped-up state inspections. As a result, Miller said, produce is rotting in idling trucks and ultimately, prices could spike for consumers.

“This is not solving the border problem, it is increasing the cost of food and adding to supply chain shortages,” said Miller, a two-term Republican who is up for reelection this year. “Such a misguided program is going to quickly lead to $2.00 lemons, $5.00 avocados and worse.”

This may surprise you; but, there is a possibility Texas voters just might lay blame for this mess at the feet of the neo-fascist bigot sitting in the governor’s office.

New Study Finds Even More Microplastics in Your Body

The more experts learn about microplastics and their impact on human bodies, the worse it seems to get. Just this week researchers at the Medical University of Vienna published a new study in the journal Exposure and Health that summarizes all the current knowledge about micro- and nanoplastic particles (MNPs), and how they end up in our gut.

Spoiler alert — it’s almost 100,000 particles per year if you drink from plastic bottles.

MNPs are small, but they aren’t all the same. According to a press blurb about the study published on the school’s website, microplastics are 0.001 to 5 millimeters in size and can sometimes be invisible to the naked eye, while nanoplastics are defined as being less than 0.001 millimeters in size…

Professor and study co-author Lukas Kenner told the university’s press office there’s no shortage of ill effects from consuming microplastics, but that it’s even worse for people who already struggle with chronic disease.

RTFA and the first critical change you’ll learn is bringing a halt to consuming water from plastic bottles. The worst you’ll learn is that science and technology haven’t been charged to keep this stuff out of our systems and we haven’t yet a clear idea how to remove the stuff already in our systems, yet.

I would suggest being more careful and doing your best to keep from polluting your chemistry set in the first place.

How cockroaches survived the asteroid impact that killed off dinosaurs

When the rock now known as the Chicxulub impactor plummeted from outer space and slammed into the Earth 66 million years ago, cockroaches were there. The impact caused a massive earthquake, and scientists think it also triggered volcanic eruptions thousands of miles from the impact site. Three-quarters of plants and animals on Earth died, including all dinosaurs, except for some species that were ancestors of today’s birds.

How could roaches a couple of inches long survive when so many powerful animals went extinct? It turns out that they were nicely equipped to live through a meteoric catastrophe.

If you’ve ever seen a cockroach, you’ve probably noticed that their bodies are very flat. This is not an accident. Flatter insects can squeeze themselves into tighter places. This enables them to hide practically anywhere – and it may have helped them survive the Chicxulub impact.

When the meteor struck, temperatures on Earth’s surface skyrocketed. Many animals had nowhere to flee, but roaches could take shelter in tiny soil crevices, which provide excellent protection from heat.

The meteor’s impact triggered a cascade of effects. It kicked up so much dust that the sky darkened. As the sun dimmed, temperatures plunged and conditions became wintry around the globe. With little sunlight, surviving plants struggled to grow, and many other organisms that relied on those plants went hungry.

Not cockroaches, though. Unlike some insects that prefer to eat one specific plant, cockroaches are omnivorous scavengers. This means they will eat most foods that come from animals or plants as well as cardboard, some kinds of clothing and even poop. Having appetites that aren’t picky has allowed cockroaches to survive lean times since the Chicxulub extinction and other natural disasters.

My native cynicism isn’t the only reason why I agree these critters will probably outlast our species. They have a better track record.