ARTICLE: 8 myths about restaurant food you need to stop believing
The following is an excerpt of an article by reporter Janaki Jitchotvisut on the Insider website detailing the eight myths about GMO crops.
Finding great new places to eat is exhilarating, especially when you have good company to do it with.
The more you know about where — and what — you're eating, the better choices you'll be empowered to make. Whether you're looking at menus or just making casual conversation, knowledge can be the most delicious power of all.
We rounded up some of the biggest myths about restaurant food that you may still be believing.
MYTH: Only sparkling wine made according to a specific process and made in Champagne, France, can legally be called "champagne."
TRUTH: This is true everywhere else in the world — except the US, according to Vine Pair .
The reason dates back to the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I — and some complicated back-and-forth between the US and France about this touchy subject. Due to a massive loophole when the US signed this treaty — but never ratified it in the Senate — the law didn't apply to winemakers in the US .
Since the wine industry here didn't start to pick up postwar steam until the 1970s, it wasn't much of a problem until then. Once production picked up, the European Commission and the US entered trade talks about wine labeling matters in 1983.
Negotiations didn't conclude until 2005 , when the US finally agreed that "champagne" and several other 'semi-generic' wine type names would no longer appear on US winemaker labels — except if a given wine producer had already been selling them under that name. If a winemaker had used certain terms including "champagne" on labels prior to March 10, 2006 — they could continue to do so indefinitely.
MYTH: GMO crops are a relatively recent and inherently unhealthy thing created by mad scientists — and sold with wild abandon.
TRUTH: In 2015, scientists at the International Potato Center in Lima, Peru found genetic evidence that showed sweet potatoes were first genetically modified — by Mother Nature, using bacteria — around 8,000 years ago, according to NPR .
This, in turn, is likely what led farmers to domesticate this cropand turn the many varieties of sweet potato found around the world into the important global food source that they are today. For generations, humans around the world have been eating and gaining nutrition from genetically modified crops with little to no uproar about it.
MYTH: "Kobe beef" and "wagyu beef" are completely interchangeable terms that mean the same thing.
TRUTH: Any rancher in the US can tell you about the different breeds of cattle that are commonly found here. The same is true in Japan — "wagyu" is simply a term that means a very generic "Japanese cow."
There are four Japanese cattle breeds currently recognized as wagyu, according to Food and Wine. Japanese Black is where Kobe beef comes from, but there are also Japanese Shorthorn, Japanese Polled, and Japanese Brown cows. Plenty of other Japanese cattle breeds exist and are delicious — Miyazaki beefwas even ranked higher than Kobe at Japan's most important wagyu judging event.
It gets even more confusing once you get out of Japan. In Japan, "wagyu" refers to purebred Japanese cattle not crossed with, say, US cattle. However, in the US, "wagyu" as defined by the US Department of Agriculture refers to any cattle that is at least 46.875% comprised of a Japanese wagyu breed.
For more information on the subtle differences in your available high-end beef options, read this Food and Wine explainer . If you have additional questions about how to correctly assess the meat you're ordering the next time you're out to eat, check out this guide from food fraud expert Larry Olmsted.
MYTH: MSG makes lots of people seriously ill and no one should ever eat it.
TRUTH: There are several root causes for this persistent myth, but science has proven again and again that this umami booster is perfectly safe for most people to eat. While some people may have sensitivities to it, some people may also have sensitivities to dairy, wheat, corn, or other food products — you get the idea.
Monosodium glutamate breaks down to sodium — yes, the same sodium that's part of that shaker of salt in your kitchen — and glutamic acid. Glutamic acid, also called glutamate, is a naturally occurring amino acid. Also, it's already part of your body right now, since it's a basic building block of protein.
Glutamate also a very natural part of what gives some of your delicious favorites their distinctive flavors, including tomatoes, parmesan cheese, mushrooms, and soy sauce. Outside of its use as a flavor enhancer in Chinese and other Asian cuisines, MSG is also found in tons of packaged foods , but people seem to only complain when it's found in Asian cuisine. It can also be found in perennial snack aisle favorites including some types of Doritos, Cheetos , and Pringles .