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High-Altitude Tastebuds Partly to Blame for Bad Airplane Food

High-Altitude Tastebuds Partly to Blame for Bad Airplane Food

Celebrity chefs, airlines fighting an uphill battle to make food taste good in the air

Wikimedia/Axwell

The terribleness of airplane food is a long-running punch line, and it persists no matter how many celebrity chefs sign on to do special menus for first class. But it turns out the terrible reputation of airplane food might not be entirely the fault of the food, because being stuck in an airplane at high altitudes does crazy things to our tastebuds.

According to NBC, a study by Lufthansa indicated that the dry air and pressure change in an airplane cabin reduce passengers' perceptions of sweet and salty flavors by about 30 percent, making even flavorful foods taste suddenly bland and lifeless.

"If you ate airline food at sea level, you might be surprised by how liberally the chefs have actually spiced it," NBC's Jordan Gaines wrote.

Cabin pressurization also causes passengers' mucus membranes to swell, which dampens one's ability to taste in a way that's similar to the effects of being stuffed up from a cold.

Even the noise of an airplane affects the way passengers perceive the flavors of food. A recent study indicated that passengers eating with background noise rated foods as less sweet and less salty than test subjects eating in silence. The background noise did appear to make people perceive food as more crunchy, though.

Given all the factors affecting the way a person tastes food in flight, airlines are facing an uphill battle to combat the negative reputation of airplane food.

Airplane cocktails, however, are still golden.


Jet Lag

Jet lag, also called desynchronosis and flight fatigue, is a temporary disorder that causes fatigue, insomnia, and other symptoms as a result of air travel across multiple time zones. It is considered a circadian rhythm sleep disorder, which is a disruption of the internal circadian clock.

What are other symptoms and signs of jet lag?

Besides travel fatigue and insomnia, a jet lag sufferer may experience a number of physical and emotional symptoms, including anxiety, constipation, diarrhea, confusion, dehydration, headache, irritability, nausea, indigestion, difficulty concentrating, sweating, coordination problems, dizziness, daytime sleepiness, malaise (a general feeling of being unwell), and even memory loss. Some individuals report additional symptoms, such as heartbeat irregularities and increased susceptibility to illness.

Children and babies can also suffer the same jet lag symptoms as adults.

Generally, people do not need a medical evaluation for a diagnosis of jet lag. If you have traveled across several time zones and feel the symptoms associated with jet lag, you likely have it. If your symptoms of jet lag are severe, do not go away after a few days, or you have any other concerns, see a doctor.

Melatonin Side Effects

Side effects of melatonin are:

  • dizziness,
  • drowsiness,
  • fatigue,
  • stomach discomfort,
  • decreased alertness,
  • headache, and
  • irritability.

How long does it take to recover from jet lag?

Recovering from jet lag depends on the number of time zones crossed while traveling. In general, the body will adjust to the new time zone at the rate of one or two time zones per day. For example, if you crossed six time zones, the body will typically adjust to this time change in three to five days.

Jet lag is temporary, so the prognosis is excellent and most people will recover within a few days.

Complications of jet lag are extremely rare. If a person has a preexisting heart condition, the stress of the disruption in the circadian rhythm, combined with the stress of travel, the high altitude, and immobility during flight may result in a heart attack. If the jet lag results in chronic sleep deprivation, stroke may occur in certain predisposed individuals.

QUESTION

What is a time zone?

The definition of a time zone is a geographical region which has the same time everywhere within it. The world has 24 time zones, one for each hour in the day. Each zone runs from north to south in strips that are approximately 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) wide. (The actual width of each zone varies to accommodate political and geographical boundaries.) As the earth rotates, dawn occurs at a set hour in one time zone, then an hour later in the time zone immediately to the west and so on through the 24-hour cycle. Thus, in the U.S., when it is 6 a.m. in the Eastern Time zone, it is 5 a.m. in the central zone, 4 a.m. in the mountain zone, and 3 a.m. in the Pacific zone.

What causes jet lag?

The cause of jet lag is the inability of the body of a traveler to immediately adjust to the time in a different zone. Thus, when a New Yorker arrives in Paris at midnight Paris time, his or her body continues to operate on New York time. As the body struggles to cope with the new schedule, temporary insomnia, fatigue, irritability, and an impaired ability to concentrate may set in. The changed bathroom schedule may cause constipation or diarrhea, and the brain may become confused and disoriented as it attempts to juggle schedules.

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How does the body keep time?

Our bodies have a sort of internal biological clock that follows a 24-hour cycle, called a circadian rhythm. A tiny part of the brain called the hypothalamus acts like an alarm clock to activate various body functions such as hunger, thirst, and sleep. It also regulates body temperature, blood pressure, and the level of hormones and glucose in the bloodstream. To help the body tell the time of day, fibers in the optic nerve of the eye transmit perceptions of light and darkness to a timekeeping center within the hypothalamus. So, when the eye of an air traveler perceives dawn or dusk many hours earlier or later than usual, the hypothalamus may trigger activities that the rest of the body is not ready for, and jet lag occurs.

SLIDESHOW

Does the direction of travel matter?

Yes. Travelers flying north or south in the same time zone typically experience the fewest problems because the time of day always remains the same as in the place where the flight originated. These travelers may experience discomfort, but this usually results from confinement in an airplane for a long time or from differences in climate, culture, and diet at the new location. Time differences do not play a role.

Travelers flying east, on the other hand, typically experience the most problems because they "lose" time. For example, on an international flight from Washington, D.C., to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, a traveler loses eight hours. Meals, sleep, bowel habits, and other daily routines are all pushed ahead eight hours.

Travelers flying west "gain" time and usually have an easier time adjusting than eastward travelers. However, they too experience symptoms of jet lag after landing because they still must adjust to a different schedule.

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Do the symptoms of jet lag vary in intensity?

Yes. People flying across only one or two time zones may be able to adjust without noticeable effects of the time change. Those flying across three or more time zones will likely develop noticeable symptoms of jet lag. Generally, the intensity of symptoms varies in relation to the number of time zones crossed and the direction of travel. People also vary in their susceptibility to jet lag symptoms and the severity of the symptoms.

What are risk factors for jet lag?

The main cause of jet lag is travel across different time zones. However, there are certain risk factors that may result in symptoms being more severe or longer-lasting.

  • Travel across three or more time zones: Most people can adjust rapidly to a one or two time zone change. Three or more may cause more noticeable symptoms of jet lag.
  • Flying east: As stated previously, travel from west to east causes travelers to "lose" time, and this can be a more difficult adjustment.
  • Age: Older adults may recover from jet lag more slowly.
  • Frequent travel: Pilots, flight attendants, and frequent business travelers who are constantly in different time zones may have difficulty adjusting.
  • Preexisting conditions: Preexisting sleep deprivation, stress, and poor sleep habits prior to travel can exacerbate jet lag symptoms.
  • Flight conditions: The monotony of travel, immobility and cramped seating, airline food, altitude, and cabin pressure can impact jet lag symptoms. use: Overconsumption of alcohol during long flights can also worsen the symptoms of jet lag.
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Are there any remedies for jet lag? Is it possible to prevent jet lag?

There are several home remedies that can help with prevention of jet lag and easier recovery from the symptoms. The following are 12 tips to help travelers to avoid or to minimize the effects of jet lag.

Tip 1: Stay in shape

If you are in good physical condition, stay that way. In other words, long before you embark, continue to exercise, eat right, and get plenty of rest. Your physical stamina and conditioning will enable you to cope better after you land. If you are not physically fit, or have a poor diet, begin shaping up and eating right several weeks before your trip.

Tip 2: Get medical advice

If you have a medical condition that requires monitoring (such as diabetes or heart disease), consult your physician well in advance of your departure to plan a coping strategy that includes medication schedules and doctor's appointments, if necessary, in the destination time zone.

Tip 3: Change your schedule

If your stay in the destination time zone will last more than a few days, begin adjusting your body to the new time zone before you leave. For example, if you are traveling from the U.S. to Europe for a one-month vacation, set your daily routine back an hour or more three to four weeks before departure. Then, set it back another hour the following week and the week after that. Easing into the new schedule gradually in familiar surroundings will save your body the shock of adjusting all at once.

If you are traveling east, try going to sleep earlier and getting up and out into the early morning sun. If traveling west, try to get at least an hour's worth of sunlight as soon as possible after reaching your destination.

There are online jet lag calculators that can help you figure out how much and when to reset your sleep schedule to help you adjust to a time change before you depart.

Tip 4: Avoid alcohol

Do not drink alcoholic beverages the day before your flight, during your flight, or the day after your flight. These beverages can cause dehydration, disrupt sleeping schedules, and trigger nausea and general discomfort.

Tip 5: Avoid caffeine

Likewise, do not drink caffeinated beverages before, during, or just after the flight. Caffeine can also cause dehydration and disrupt sleeping schedules. What's more, caffeine can rattle your nerves and intensify any travel anxiety you may already be feeling.

Tip 6: Drink water

Drink plenty of water, especially during the flight, to counteract the effects of the dry atmosphere inside the plane. Take your own extra water aboard the airplane if allowed.

Tip 7: Move around on the plane

While seated during your flight, exercise your legs from time to time. Move them up and down and back and forth. Bend your knees. Stand up and sit down. Every hour or two, get up and walk around. Do not take sleeping pills, and do not nap for more than an hour at a time.

These measures have a twofold purpose. First, they reduce your risk of developing a blood clot in the legs. Research shows that long periods of sitting can slow blood movement in and to the legs, thereby increasing the risk of a clot. The seat is partly to blame. It presses against the veins in the leg, restricting blood flow. Inactivity also plays a role. It slows the movement of blood through veins. If a clot forms, it sometimes breaks loose and travels to the lungs (known as pulmonary embolism), lodges in an artery, and inhibits blood flow. The victim may experience pain and breathing problems and cough up blood. If the clot is large, the victim could die. Second, remaining active, even in a small way, revitalizes and refreshes your body, wards off stiffness, and promotes mental alertness which can ease the symptoms of jet lag.

Tip 8: Break up your trip

On long flights traveling across eight, 10, or even 12 time zones, break up your trip, if feasible, with a stay in a city about halfway to your destination. For example, if you are traveling from New York to Bombay, India, schedule a stopover of a few days in Dublin or Paris. (At noon in New York, it is 5 p.m. in Dublin, 6 p.m. in Paris, and 10:30 p.m. in Bombay.)

Tip 9: Wear comfortable shoes and clothes

On a long trip, how you feel is more important than how you look. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Avoid items that pinch, restrict, or chafe. When selecting your trip outfit, keep in mind the climate in your destination time zone. Dress for your destination.

Tip 10: Check your accommodations

Upon arrival, if you are staying at a hotel, check to see that beds and bathroom facilities are satisfactory and that cooling and heating systems are in good working order. If the room is unsuitable, ask for another.

Tip 11: Adapt to the local schedule

The sooner you adapt to the local schedule, the quicker your body will adjust. Therefore, if you arrive at noon local time (but 6 a.m. your time), eat lunch, not breakfast. During the day, expose your body to sunlight by taking walks or sitting in outdoor cafés. The sunlight will cue your hypothalamus to reduce the production of sleep-inducing melatonin during the day, thereby initiating the process of resetting your internal clock.

When traveling with children and babies, try to get them on the local schedule as well. When traveling east (you will lose time), try to keep the child awake until the local bedtime. If traveling west when you will gain time, wake your child up at the local time.

Tip 12: Use sleeping medications wisely -- or not at all

Try to establish sleeping patterns without resorting to pills. However, if you have difficulty sleeping on the first two or three nights, it's OK to take a mild sedative if your physician has prescribed one. But wean yourself off the sedative as soon as possible. Otherwise, it could become habit-forming.

Valerian root is an herb that can be used as treatment for insomnia. Do not take valerian with alcohol. It is important to consult your physician before taking these or any other herbal remedy.

Sleep medications are not recommended for children.

What is the treatment for jet lag?

The best way to treat jet lag is to take measures to prevent it. But you may still feel jet lagged when traveling across many time zones, even with some preventive measures. Treatment to cure jet lag involves some of the home remedies discussed.

When you arrive at your destination, try to adapt to the local schedule as soon as possible. For example, if you arrive at 6 p.m. local time (but noon your time), eat dinner, not lunch. If your normal bedtime at home is 11 p.m., go to bed at 11 p.m. local time (even if it's only 5 p.m. at home). Get as much exposure to sunshine during the day as possible to help reset your internal body clock.

Once you arrive at your destination, a small dose of caffeine, such as from your morning coffee, may help jolt you awake for a few hours. Caffeine is best reserved for the early part of the day because it can keep you awake at night if taken too late.

Are there effective medications for jet lag? What is the role of melatonin in jet lag?

There are no specific medications for jet lag, only medications that may help you get to sleep more easily when you reach your destination, or that remedy some symptoms of jet lag.

Melatonin is a hormone that plays a key role in body rhythms and jet lag. After the sun sets, the eyes perceive darkness and alert the hypothalamus to begin releasing melatonin, which promotes sleep. Conversely, when the eyes perceive sunlight, they tell the hypothalamus to withhold melatonin production. However, the hypothalamus cannot readjust its schedule instantly it takes several days.

A dose of melatonin that is between 0.3 mg-5 mg may be taken on the first day you travel at the time you go to sleep at your destination, and for a few days, if needed. Melatonin seems to be most effective when crossing five or more time zones, or traveling east. Melatonin should only be taken by adults. Do not drink alcohol when taking melatonin. Consult a doctor if you plan on taking melatonin.

Prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) sleeping pills may help you reset your body clock to the time at your destination. Try not to use them if possible, but if your doctor has prescribed sleep medication, it may be taken if needed for up to two or three nights. Try not to take it for longer, as these medications can be habit-forming.

Prescription sleep medications include the following:

  • Short-acting sedative-hypnotics (non-benzodiazepines): zolpidem (Ambien, ZolpiMist), zaleplon (Sonata), and eszopiclone (Lunesta)
  • Melatonin receptor agonists: ramelteon (Rozerem)
  • Benzodiazepines (tranquilizers): flurazepam (Dalmane), temazepam (Restoril), and estazolam (ProSom)

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Goldstein, Cathy A. "Jet Lag." UpToDate.com. October 2019. <http://www.uptodate.com/contents/jet-lag>.

"Melatonin and Sleep." National Sleep Foundation. <http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-topics/melatonin-and-sleep>.

"Sleep and Circadian Rhythm Disorders." WebMD.com. Nov. 5, 2019. <https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/circadian-rhythm-disorders-cause>.

Tuttle, Troy, Asif Ali, David Filsoof, and John Higgins. "High Altitude, Air Travel, and Heart Disease." UpToDate.com. October 2019. <http://www.uptodate.com/contents/high-altitude-air-travel-and-heart-disease?source=search_result&search=jet+lag+heart+attack&selectedTitle=1

United States. National Institute of General Medical Sciences. "Circadian Rhythms Fact Sheet." August 2017. <https://www.nigms.nih.gov/education/pages/factsheet_circadianrhythms.aspx>.

Top Jet Lag Related Articles

Fatigue

Fatigue can be described in various ways. Sometimes fatigue is described as feeling a lack of energy and motivation (both mental and physical). The causes of fatigue are generally related to a variety of conditions or diseases, for example, anemia, mono, medications, sleep problems, cancer, anxiety, heart disease, and drug abuse.Treatment of fatigue is generally directed toward the condition or disease that is causing the fatigue.

Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea is an uneasiness of the stomach that often precedes vomiting. Nausea and vomiting are not diseases, but they are symptoms of many conditions. There are numerous cases of nausea and vomiting. Some causes may not require medical treatment, for example, motion sickness, and other causes may require medical treatment by a doctor, for example, heart attack, lung infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia.

Some causes of nausea and vomiting may be life-threatening, for example, heart attack, abdominal obstruction, and cancers.


Panel Links Faulty Wiring To ➘ Crash Of Swiss Jet

Canadian investigators have concluded that the 1998 crash of Swissair Flight 111, in which all 229 people on board were killed, was caused by sparks from faulty wiring that ignited flammable insulation above the cockpit, crippling the aircraft's electrical system.

A report released today by the Transportation Board of Canada stopped short of blaming any single factor for causing the fire that doomed Flight 111 within an hour after the plane, a McDonnell Douglas MD-11, took off for Switzerland from New York's Kennedy International Airport.

But the report strongly suggested that a hastily installed entertainment system that provided games for passengers in first class and business class was probably at least partly to blame for starting the fire, perhaps by overloading the aircraft's inadequate electrical wiring.

The 338-page report is likely to spur international airlines and regulators to improve wiring and maintenance and inspection standards, remove flammable insulation that remains in many aircraft and upgrade fire detection systems in cockpits.

A haunting description of a disastrous but preventable chain of events that began with a spark emerges from the otherwise technical report.

Sparks from chipped or otherwise defective wiring ignited a small creeping flame that gathered strength as it burned through the thermal-acoustic insulation blankets above the cockpit ceiling. No electronic warnings alerted the pilot and crew of the blaze before it burned through flammable foam material at the top of the cockpit's rear wall, causing the fire to gather fatal momentum. The report found no fault with the flight crew.

The aircraft crashed nose first at a steep angle into the chilled waters off Nova Scotia just 20 minutes after the pilot first smelled the fire.

''There was no requirement to have smoke or fire detectors above the cockpit,'' Vic Gerden, the investigator in charge, said at a news conference. ''Such detectors could have provided critical information to the crew.''

Mr. Gerden emphasized that the accident would never have happened if it had not been for the insulation blankets made out of metalized polyethylene terephthalate, or MPET, which he said were ''readily ignitable'' from sparks created by power passing through bad wiring.

''It is important to emphasize here that without the presence of this and other flammable material, this accident would not have happened,'' he said.

Since the Swissair accident, the Federal Aviation Administration ordered that the MPET insulation blankets be removed from all aircraft registered in the United States.

But the Canadian investigators said the aviation industry and regulators must go further to remove flammable materials from aircraft, and their report recommends that international regulators order the airline industry to install fire detection systems in cockpits and stiffen testing for wiring.

The investigation was the most extensive ever in Canada for an air disaster, taking four years and costing $40 million. More than two million pieces of the shattered aircraft were retrieved and 150 miles of electrical wire inspected.

Although the report determined exactly where the fire began -- on the right side of the cockpit, a short distance in front of the rear wall -- it did not conclusively pinpoint what ignited the initial spark.

Wire damage believed to be part of the initial ignition was found on one of the wires that supplied power to the in-flight entertainment system, which included video and gambling games and movies. But Mr. Gerden said that ''it's important to emphasize here that it is unlikely that this entertainment system power supply wire was the only wire involved'' in the ignition.

''We strongly suspect,'' he said, ''that at least one other wire was involved, either an aircraft wire, or another entertainment system wire.''

Swissair, which is now bankrupt, removed the gaming system, created by Interactive Flight Technologies, from all its aircraft after the crash.

Many family members of the victims have said they believe that the entertainment system was at fault for the crash, and that American regulators should never have approved the system.

''There is a lack of individual and corporate responsibility,'' said Mark Fetherolf, of Palm Beach, Fla., whose daughter was on Flight 111. ''There also remains deep concern whether the recommendations of the report are adopted enthusiastically by the industry and regulatory bodies.''


A Sense of Taste: Nurture or Nature?

In striving for a healthy lifestyle, much concern is rightly dedicated to nutrition. Wouldn’t it be simple if we craved healthy food? Why can’t Brussels sprouts be our weakness? For some, maybe they are …

By understanding your preference for certain tastes, it might be easier to eat better. Taste is the most personal of our senses. With other senses, we see the same image, hear the same sound, feel the same texture, smell the same scent. Although, these outcomes may please one person and not another. (Hence, one person’s jamming guitar is another’s headache.)

However, we never can be totally certain how one person perceives a specific flavor. Whether it is too sweet, spicy, or salty is, well, in the taste buds of the beholder. And, how do we know for sure a cookie tastes the same for everyone? Perhaps it is liked or disliked because it actually tastes different to different eaters.

Is your ability to try new foods genetic?

Research has long investigated the origin of taste preferences. It is another debate of nurture versus nature. A recent study published in the journal Obesity indicated genes are a significant factor in a child’s tendency to avoid new foods, called food neophobia. Genes outweighed environment by 72 percent of the four- to seven-year-olds studied. Previous studies already proved this genetic predisposition in older children and adults.

Along with the influence of genetics on the likelihood to try new food, genetics also plays a role in the type of food preferred. For example, a taste for sweet and bitter flavors is considered genetic. New research suggests this taste preference could be linked to metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of health issues that combine to increase risk for serious health conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Therefore, knowing the origin of preference becomes a health factor.

As researchers further understand the influence of genetics on food choices, not just the reluctance to be adventurous with new tastes, better nutrition can be constructed from childhood years. Strategies can be created for healthier mealtimes, which hopefully include a broader variety of foods.

With an average of 9,000 taste buds per adult, it isn’t surprising we love to eat. Sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and savory (umami) all trigger chemicals that react with saliva to produce their taste. This can be realized when taking medicine. A pill on a dry tongue is tasteless until it is washed down with water. Swallow quickly once water begins to dissolve it, or experience the bitter taste.

Age decreases sense of taste. This is usually attributed to the decrease of taste buds. As children, we may have up to 10,000 taste buds. Gradually, age diminishes them. If an individual succumbs to dementia as well, its villainous role desensitizes taste even further.

Lack of taste can have unhealthy consequences. It limits the ability to determine a food’s freshness, increasing the chance of consuming spoiled food. Food quality, such as excess salt, can be difficult to decipher. For individuals suffering dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, being unable to taste can increase danger, as they sometimes cannot distinguish between food versus non-edibles, such as medicine and cleaning products.

On the positive side, a less-discriminating palate may permit a wider variety of food choices. It would be great to downplay the strong taste of certain less-than-appealing foods that happen to be healthy. However, if food loses its appeal by a lack of sensitivity to taste, it can lead to improper eating. Compensation by over-salting food or adding sugar can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and other health issues. Over- or under-eating also can have unhealthy consequences.

A food’s flavor goes beyond the taste buds. The sense of smell is closely linked to food’s flavor or lack of it. For those who report a loss of taste, it often is directly linked to a diminished sense of smell. (Think of a head cold’s effect on your favorite meal. Save the calories for when sinuses are clear to fully appreciate the taste!) The elderly population is more likely to have decreased sensitivity to smell than taste. Hence, the success of senior early-bird specials.

Those with a truly hindered sensation of taste should be examined by a physician. It may signal a health condition or taste disorder, which can be treated the latter, possibly reversed.

Taste is also linked with the sense of touch. Chefs capitalize on this by creating various textures to complement food’s flavor. It may not seem important, yet if you try eating a steak dinner from the blender, you’ll quickly understand the connection. Temperature of the food also affects taste. It influences how quickly its chemicals dissolve on the tongue.

Fun fact: Spicy hot flavors are interpreted by pain receptors, not taste buds.

Somewhat akin to gold and other natural resources, spices have been a large commodity in world history. The laws of supply and demand have been in effect for centuries. Countries raised the cost of flavorful food and fought to control sources of spices native to their lands. America was discovered as a result of Columbus’ search for access to spice-rich south Asia. It seems the quest for a finely flavored meal always has been a worthy endeavor, even prior to reservations at your favorite bistro.

Personal history also plays a role in how and what we eat. Family eating habits are taught at an early age and, good or bad, travel with us through life. Although parents are urged to prepare a variety of foods for their kids, many routinely serve the same dishes, rotating through the days.

A mother with an aversion to vegetables often will raise a child who avoids them. A father with a sweet tooth may introduce his offspring to such taste preferences. This is partly why diabetes is genetically linked. The apple– or the candy, in this case– doesn’t fall far from the tree. Set the example for children and other loved ones. Choose healthful foods and learn to enjoy them.

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, parents who consume a lot of produce raise children who do the same. This was proven to be more effective than encouraging such a diet and not following it themselves. Again, be the example. Eating experiences are memorable– whether you expose food in a positive light or insist your children sit in the long-emptied, darkened kitchen until they finish their peas. Ingrained associations are a challenge to overcome.

Research also has proven a strong association between taste preferences and a mother’s diet during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Infants exposed to carrots while in the womb or breastfeeding accepted this vegetable’s flavor quicker when officially introduced after birth.

Just as you can train your muscles, you can also train (or re-train) your taste buds. Meet with a nutritionist to learn how to eat better. S/he can share ways to prepare healthy dishes that rival your burger-and-fries weakness. You also can learn ways to make unhealthy foods better for you by opting for different ingredients. Recipes can be enhanced by adding veggies and fruit. It may take multiple attempts, but your palate can be molded to crave the kind of food your body deserves.

Variety can soften flavors.

A picky eater’s discerning palate can be explained by a more acute sensitivity to bitterness. Bitterness is a major area of study involved in genetic taste traits. Those with less-intense taste receptors (or less taste buds) tend to eat more cruciferous vegetables. Their sense of flavor is somewhat muted so they fork through broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts more readily. Foods that impart bitterness tend to contain phytochemicals associated with health benefits. Subsequently, health perks follow, which include a reduced risk of chronic diseases.

Although this may be a built-in biological perk, those with a stronger sensitivity to bitter flavors are not destined to an unhealthy diet. A food’s bitterness can be camouflaged through strong spices and sweet vegetables and fruits. It may take time to unlearn distaste for a particular food. However, by making healthy food more palatable and eating it frequently, bad associations can quickly be replaced with delicious memories.

Hint: When re-introducing these previously disliked foods, it helps to be hungry and dine in good company. The latter provides a more pleasant experience, regardless of what you eat. (Think– dinner with your beloved versus dinner with a rude relative.)

Experience What You Eat

Flavor is a combination of many factors: taste, smell, texture, spice, temperature, setting, and memory. To really appreciate food’s flavor, experience it with all the senses. Discover your keenest sensitivity and use it to enhance taste. The simple scent of freshly baked bread may be a large part of your indulgence. And, a calorie-free one!

Experience each forkful by mindfully participating in meals. This method of eating helps accelerate weight loss by increasing your satisfaction with the meal, not simply the intake. It also slows down eating to fully appreciate the experience and recognize when you are full.

All considered, try to find someone who prefers kale over a nice chewy brownie. They don’t call it “devil’s food” for nothing.


High-Altitude Tastebuds Partly to Blame for Bad Airplane Food - Recipes

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The good old days. ( Score: 4, Interesting)

PanAm used to cook four-course meals on their flights. What happened?

Re: ( Score: 3, Insightful)

Re:The good old days. ( Score: 5, Insightful)

they removed the kitchens to cram in more people

Comment removed ( Score: 5, Interesting)

Re:The good old days. ( Score: 4, Interesting)

Re:The good old days. ( Score: 5, Funny)

You got dehydrated in a hour? Who are you, Sponge Bob Squarepants?

Re:The good old days. ( Score: 5, Insightful)

You were doing okay until that last statement. It's a popular myth that drinking a soda will dehydrate but studies have shown that the water loss due to the small amount of caffeine in a typical soda is greatly outweighed the water provided by the soda. So if you drink multiple sodas all day long you won't end up dehydrated due to the caffeine (though you may gain weight from all of the 'empty' calories.)

Re: ( Score: 3)

a person who drinks only sodas all day, everyday, is more dehydrated than someone who drinks the same volume of just plain water everyday

Then they'd still be thirsty, they'd drink more and so make up the difference. So "same volume" is a bad assumption. And "less hydrated than someone else" isn't the same as "insufficiently hydrated" which is what "dehydrated" means.

Personally when I used to drink soda I never found it to quench my thirst very well, so I drank quite a bit more of it than I would water.

And I drink a *lot* of water. Different people have different hydration needs. My throat starts to feel parched after an hour, often less,

Re:The good old days. ( Score: 5, Informative)

Re:The good old days. ( Score: 5, Interesting)

This will be changing soon. The 787 is the first airliner to be pressurized to 6,000 feet and the follow-up projects in the Yellowstone portfolio will have similar environments. It will also have a higher humidity level (up to 15%, around four times higher than other planes) because the carbon fiber will not corrode in the same way as current metal structures. It's still relatively dry air, but it won't be the moisture vacuum that are the current airborne environments.

Re:The good old days. ( Score: 5, Funny)

Re: ( Score: 3)

15 percent humidity!? I'd consider that to be high as my normal humidity ranges between 7 - 12 percent. Anything over 20 percent makes me sweath like a leaky faucet. Of course, I live in the desert and have adjusted quite nicely to the dry air.

Re:The good old days. ( Score: 5, Funny)

Shepherd's pie, or curry, or a burrito, on the other hand, will all come out just fine

Good god man! Can you imagine the horror of being stuck on a plane full of people after they've all eaten curry and burritos? The only thing that food will come out of just fine is the microwave.

Re: ( Score: 2)

Well PanAm aren't around anymore - you have Southwest and Ryanair now:-)

Re:The good old days. ( Score: 4, Informative)

Deregulation. Once airlines were deregulated, airlines were free to give customers what they wanted (low prices) instead of what the government thought they wanted (extremely expensive food).

I have read that serving a meal on an airplane costs the airline about $50. I would rather save $50 on the ticket price and bring a sandwich and an apple in my backpack.

Re:The good old days. ( Score: 5, Funny)

Re:The good old days. ( Score: 5, Funny)

Do they still let people get on planes? What if one of them is a terrorist!?

Re:The good old days. ( Score: 5, Funny)

Re:The good old days. ( Score: 5, Insightful)

Re:The good old days. ( Score: 4, Informative)

Re: ( Score: 3)

Last year I flew into, within, and out of the USA. I had no problem bringing a regular 500 mL bottle of water onto the planes.

I just made sure it was empty when passing through security, then filled it up at a water fountain while waiting to board. Security did see it and didn't care to say or do anything about it.

Re: ( Score: 2)

Re:The good old days. ( Score: 4, Funny)

Re:The good old days. ( Score: 5, Informative)

Serving a meal on a plane costs in the area of $10 (just because YOU read it, don't make it so). Most of the cost is do to deregulation (you need a franchise license from the particular airport, to operate on premise, and airports typically only issue one-- ah, free enterprise!).

Please try again-- on another forum.

Re:The good old days. ( Score: 5, Interesting)

Serving a meal on a plane costs in the area of $10

The airline may pay $10 to the caterer for the meal. But that is only a small part of the cost. There is the cost of the ground crew to transport and load the meal. There is the cost of extra crew to serve the meals. There is the extra expense of running kitchens at 30,000 ft. There is the extra cost of buying planes that have those kitchens. And probably the biggest expense: there is the lost revenue from the passenger seats displaced by the kitchens and storage space for empty trays.

Re: ( Score: 2, Insightful)

The peanut farmers successfully lobbied management.

Then when peanuts were proven to be fatal to those with allergies, and banned after the government was lobbied, the potato chip lobbyists stepped in, and the premade-sandwich-maker's union had a few things to say as well.

In the meantime, the people kept demanding cheaper and cheaper air fares, until the airlines finally gave up on subsidized meals and just started gouging people the same as a sports arena with a game on. Captive audience, extortionate

Re:The good old days. ( Score: 5, Insightful)

Flights that normal people could afford.

Re:The good old days. ( Score: 5, Insightful)

Then normal people got on the airplane and everything went down hill from there.

Seriously. It used to be coat and tie. Now it looks like "People of Walmart".

Re:The good old days. ( Score: 4, Insightful)

Bullshit. You can pay top prices for these flights, and you're still on those same planes. Fact is, unless you rent a private jet, you can't buy your way to a pleasant flight any more.

Re:The good old days. ( Score: 5, Insightful)

In the era of internet searches for flights basically the only thing you compete on is price and times. Everything else only matters to business customers who are contented with champagne and seats which don't jam their knees into their chins.

And safety regulations, which, despite the talking points of some political parties, do exist for a reason.

When the experience of travel matters (say a cruise) you can pitch a more expensive product than the next guy as a different experience that justifies a higher cost. But people view the air travel portion as an inconvenience (which I suppose it is) that must be endured rather than a value added part of the experience. No one likes flying anymore, and if you still do, there are some TSA screeners who will adjust your excitement to approved levels.

Re: ( Score: 2)

Re:The good old days. ( Score: 5, Interesting)

People do not want to pay an inflation adjusted price of $10,000 per ticket. The olden day there was high service people people who flew would pay for the premium price.
Now the price of Fuel is much higher, and more people are demanding to travel. And the price of any luxury adds a lot to the cost of the flight.

Think about it, A full kitchen where you can put 30 more people per flight. Would add about $200 to the price of your ticket, Just due to the space. Then there is hiring people to do the work, store the extra food. It adds up.

As customers we decided that we would prefer cheaper rates and be treated like cattle, then to pay a lot more and treated like a human.

Re: ( Score: 3)

>PanAm used to cook four-course meals on their flights.

Airlines still do. Buy a business class ticket on Newark to Singapore, a 19-hour flight and the world's longest commercial flight, and the equivalent in time of a clipper trek from Newark to San Fran back in "the good old days." You still what you pay for.

Re: ( Score: 3)

FYI, "Clipper" was the nickname for Pam Am's service. My family was United Crew-- we still have a flight map signed by Bob Hope from a quick Newark->Denver->Las Vegas->L.A. tour mounted on the wall, so 19 hours is indeed about the flight time from the prop-plane, in-the-clouds & turbulence era.

And in that era-- the big difference was that you couldn't get above the wind toss, so could wind up being buffetted at pretty much any time-- they darn well did everything they could to make flying

Yeah. except at 35,000ft it's pressurized to 8k ( Score: 5, Informative)

The modern airliner cabin is pressurized to a pressure altitude of 8,000ft.
That means that as you go from airport altitude to your cruising altitude the cabin only increases
in pressure to feel like 8,000ft.

That's below the 10,000ft where the OP claims cotton-mouth, and below the 14,000 where you
can't breath, and well below the 35,000 OP cites as cruising altitude.

The original article is just pure hogwash.

Re:Yeah. except at 35,000ft it's pressurized to ( Score: 5, Funny)

The original article is just pure hogwash.

Indeed, some of the best peanuts I've ever had were on airlines.

Re: ( Score: 2)

Re:Yeah. except at 35,000ft it's pressurized to ( Score: 5, Funny)

Southwest does have some good Honey Roasted Peanuts.

Careful. They were processed in a facility that processes nuts.

Re:Yeah. except at 35,000ft it's pressurized to ( Score: 5, Funny)

If cottonmouth tales away your sense of taste, then why does everything taste so much better after a big doob?

Re: ( Score: 2)

Re:Yeah. except at 35,000ft it's pressurized to ( Score: 4, Insightful)

Re:Yeah. except at 35,000ft it's pressurized to ( Score: 4, Informative)

The cabin is pressurized to 8,000 feet but with very dry air from outside. Humidifying the air would require carrying many extra gallons (hundreds?) of fresh water.

Re: ( Score: 2)

The cabin is pressurized to 8,000 feet but with very dry air from outside. Humidifying the air would require carrying many extra gallons (hundreds?) of fresh water.

Or, cramming in a few hundred mouth breathers who are stoked on either starbucks (intensifying the dehydration) or fiji water (intensifying rehydration and wallet depletion). Then again, the real substantial humidity bump happens after they all start complaining about their lousy in flight meal so i can see where the article has a point.

Re: ( Score: 3)

Humidifying the air would require carrying many extra gallons (hundreds?) of fresh water.

If you use a heat exchanger to warm incoming air with outgoing air, it should be possible to recover and reuse the moisture.

Alternatively, you could just give up and give people military rations.

Re: ( Score: 3)

. just give up and give people military rations.

One MRE should be enough to frighten the entire plane into fasting.

Re: ( Score: 3)

Honestly the new MREs aren't that bad. I've had worse airline meals.

Re:Yeah. except at 35,000ft it's pressurized to ( Score: 5, Interesting)

Between ROTC and 10 years in the Guard I've experienced the last four generations of MRE. The late 80's / early 90's version was worthy of all the disdain ever heaped upon them. They've gotten progressively better though. Other than a residual slight metallic tang to the meat, current generation MRE's are by and large no worse than most fast food (which is not to say that they're good, just not nearly as awful). The vegetarian one's are actually better IMO, the lack of meat completely removes the metallic taste and they always have fruit and granola bars as extras. The fruit is no worse than any canned fruit and the granola bars don't suffer from the heat as much as a lot of snacks.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that you want a regular diet of the things but living on them for a couple of days isn't unpleasant anymore. No worse than a travel day where you're forced to eat more fast food than you'd like.

Re:Yeah. except at 35,000ft it's pressurized to ( Score: 4, Interesting)

Oh, and they come with chemical heater now. Activate the heater with a quarter cup or so of water and no more cold/frozen food. The second and third generation had the heaters as an optional extra item the unit could get along with the MRE but now they're packed inside the bag. There's less chance of a screw-up or sadistic supply sergeant that way.

Re:Yeah. except at 35,000ft it's pressurized to ( Score: 5, Informative)

That would be nice if you could direct the outgoing air through an exchanger. It leaks out through bad door seals and other unintended openings. And it takes the moisture with it.

The vast majority of air "leaks" out through cabin pressurization valves near the back of the plane - it's designed that way since air has to be let out in order to let fresh air in (as well as to not keep the cabin at the same altitude as the departing airport - to climb up to 8000' requires releasing air).

My understanding is that exactly the opposite happens. Because of adiabatic heating, the air being compressed into an aircraft cabin actually needs to be cooled (it's bled off of compressors for the jet engine). At least, that's what I've been told by a few people.

Correct. The pressurized air for the cabin comes from the jet engine's bleed air (located after the compressor section). It's quite warm because of the compression (from -30-50C to +50-60C), so it needs to be cooled down via air conditioners to levels humans would prefer.

It's also one reason (among many) to keep the cabin at 8000' and why air quality has declined - using the bleed air saps power from the engine.


Pantry cooking month: Polenta

Fried polenta with warm tomato sauce. Comfort food that’s a tiny bit fancy.

Two things you may or may not know about me:

  1. When I have money, I tend to buy groceries. Not clothes, not gadgets, not iPads. Food. That’s my luxury spending, my crisis spending, my comfort spending, my impulse spending. Thing is, we’re only two people here, though we often share our food with the three who live next door (mom, uncle, kid). We cannot possibly eat everything in the house before some of it goes bad unless I’m super-good about keeping my shopping to a minimum. Since my debt-elimination project began, though, I’ve been a little indulgent buying groceries, because they’re on the needs list, and therefore okay to buy. Theoretically. I gotta work on that.
  2. I am a supertaster. This means I can taste some flavors strongly even when they’re faint. A tinytiny amount of almond extract makes a dish inedible for me. I can taste minute amounts of artificial sweetener. An eighth of a teaspoon of five-spice powder (which is evil to my tastebuds. Evil!) makes the whole dish horrifying. And I can tell when food has gone rancid wayyyyyy before anyone else in my family notices it.

What I am about to say next will gross out some of you, and I don’t blame you.

So in cooking down the pantry, I’m going to need to use up a LOT of grains. Because there are so many, though, some of them tend to go off before I use them. I tossed the brown rice –whoof! it was clearly rancid. But the cornmeal? It’s only almost off. So, um, don’t hate me. I made some polenta from some of it anyway, because I knew my family wouldn’t even notice, and they like fried polenta.

I can’t believe I’m telling you this.

Anyway, use good, fresh cornmeal for this, not months-old cornmeal that’s about a week away from turning. Unless, you know, you’re into that.

I did throw out the rest of the cornmeal, partly from guilt and partly because I know that the next time I open it up, it won’t be fit to use, not even for regular people with normal tastebuds.

And I promise that even though my mother loved this polenta SO MUCH, I will love my family enough not to serve them food I think is not really fit to eat, ever again.


Is all dog food safe and healthy?

Not all dog food is created equal – there can be a drastic difference between brands and their product lines. Unfortunately, it can be the case that cheaper dog food is riskier, as it may contain cheaper nutritionally-deficient fillers or it may not be compliant with Australian standards. This can happen at any end of the price range though, so it’s important to read the label.

The Australian pet food industry is largely self-regulated. In 2011, industry representatives, the RSPCA and various other relevant stakeholders developed the Australian Standard for the Manufacturing and Marketing of Pet Food (AS 5812-2011) which sets out the basic standards for pet food nutrition, safety and marketing. However, adherence to this standard is voluntary – so check the packaging to see whether or not it states to be compliant with AS 5812-2011. Also, according to the RSPCA, the regulation of ‘pet meat’ products is seriously lacking.

One longstanding issue with pet food safety in Australia is the use of sulphur dioxide, sodium sulphite, and potassium sulphite as food preservatives. These can cause potentially fatal thiamine (Vitamin B1) deficiencies in both cats and dogs. AS 5812 includes a requirement that any pet food product containing any of these preservatives must contain sufficient thiamine, to prevent a deficiency.

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'Hudson Miracle' Gets Closer Look

When federal crash investigators on Tuesday issue their final report about last year's emergency landing of a US Airways jetliner in the Hudson River, Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger will still shine as the calm, decisive hero of "The Miracle on the Hudson."

But tucked inside thousands of pages of testimony and exhibits are hints that, in hindsight, the celebrated pilot could have made it back to La Guardia Airport. Pilots who used simulators to recreate the accident—including suddenly losing both engines after sucking in birds at 2,500 feet—repeatedly managed to safely land their virtual airliners at La Guardia.

The results haven't changed the conclusions of National Transportation Safety Board investigators or outside aviation-safety experts, who unanimously agree that Mr. Sullenberger made the right call to put his crippled jet down in the river. Neither he nor his first officer, Jeffrey Skiles, had any assurance that the Airbus A320—which suddenly turned into a 70-ton glider—would be able to clear Manhattan's skyline had they tried to return to the Queens airport they left minutes before.

"The downside risk of being wrong was catastrophic" considering the potential for fatalities to bystanders, according to safety consultant John Cox, an ex-Airbus pilot at the same airline. Mr. Sullenberger "could have made a different call," said Kitty Higgins, a former safety board member, "but his decision used the best information he had . . . and was based on his experience and instincts."

Through a spokesman, Mr. Sullenberger declined to comment. In his own book, published last year, the captain recalled briefly considering coasting over densely populated areas to turn back toward La Guardia. But "I had to be certain we could make it," he wrote, because "it would rule out every other option" and could kill "who knows how many people on the ground."


Some families blame phone makers for distracted driving deaths

Peggy Riggs looks at photographs of her three sons in her home in Oakdale, Minnesota on Saturday, April 8, 2016. Peggy's youngest son David (left photo) died after being hit by a driver who was texting and driving in 2013. Since then, Peggy and her husband Craig have worked to educate people on the dangers of texting and driving and have pushed for stricter laws against it. Caroline Yang/Caroline Yang / Special to the Chronicle

Peggy Riggs often warned her children, including 20-year-old son David, about the dangers of texting and driving. In turn, David encouraged his friends never to engage in the practice.

But that message did not get through to the driver who killed David Riggs until it was too late. In 2013, David was heading home on his scooter in Minnesota when a teenager in a Honda Civic slammed into him. The teen was distracted by texting on his iPhone, according to a lawsuit filed by Craig Riggs, David&rsquos father.

Craig Riggs holds Apple partly responsible for the tragedy. He sued the company this month, joining several others who have accused the Cupertino company in court of not installing technology that could prevent crashes caused by distracted drivers who lack the self-control to stop toying with their phones when they&rsquore behind the wheel.

&ldquoDon&rsquot put another family through this tragedy,&rdquo Riggs said in an interview. &ldquoWe (wake) up every day missing our son. He&rsquos got two brothers and has a niece now he is never going to see.&rdquo

The teenage driver who hit David Riggs was convicted of a misdemeanor. He did not respond to a request through his counselor for comment.

1 of 2 Peggy Riggs wears a sweatshirt that reads "Keep On Moving," in honor of her son David who was killed by a driver who was texting in 2013. "Keep on Moving" was a phrase David had tattooed on his foot, and has become the motto for his parents' efforts to educate and push for stricter laws against texting and driving. Caroline Yang/Caroline Yang / Special to the Chronicle Show More Show Less

2 of 2 Peggy and Craig Riggs visit a memorial to their son David at a park in Oakdale, Minnesota on Saturday, April 8, 2016. David Riggs died after being hit by a driver who was texting and driving in 2013. Since then, the Riggs have worked to bring awareness to the dangers of texting and driving. "Keep on Moving," a phrase that David had tattooed on his foot, has become the motto of their efforts to educate and push for harsher laws against texting and driving. Caroline Yang/Caroline Yang / Special to the Chronicle Show More Show Less

Analysts say Apple and other smartphone manufacturers could add technology that forcibly shuts off text messaging and other distracting features for drivers.

&ldquoThere is no technical reason for why these things aren&rsquot available at this point,&rdquo said Douglas Schmidt, a computer science professor at Vanderbilt University.

The manufacturers of the world&rsquos top smartphone operating systems &mdash Google and Apple &mdash have features that prevent texting while driving, but it&rsquos all optional. Besides airplane mode, which lets phone users disconnect from the cellular network, those with iPhones can dictate messages with the voice assistant Siri. Google has an app called Android Auto that lets users access maps and music and send messages with their voices. Experts say, however, that switching to voice commands does not solve the basic problem of distraction.

Both Apple and Google also have features that work with car displays, depending on the type of vehicle.

Distracted driving accounted for 10 percent of deaths caused by vehicle crashes in 2015, killing more than 3,000 people, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That year, 391,000 people were injured through incidents involving distracted drivers. About eight percent of the people injured were in incidents that involved distraction by a cell phone, according to the administration.

Apple argues that it shouldn&rsquot be held accountable for such crashes because they were caused by the distracted drivers misusing the technology, not a defect in the iPhone.

&ldquoDrivers also choose to apply makeup, read paper maps, consume food, and engage in a wide variety of distractions while driving, but these actions do not make the product manufacturers or service providers liable,&rdquo Apple said in court documents of a case involving a Texas family that lost a daughter in a car crash because of a distracted driver who was using FaceTime on his iPhone while driving.

Peggy and Craig Riggs visit a memorial to their son David at a park in Oakdale, Minnesota on Saturday, April 8, 2016. David Riggs died after being hit by a driver who was texting and driving in 2013. Since then, the Riggs have worked to bring awareness to the dangers of texting and driving. "Keep on Moving," a phrase that David had tattooed on his foot, has become the motto of their efforts to educate and push for harsher laws against texting and driving. Caroline Yang/Caroline Yang / Special to the Chronicle

On Tuesday, a judge in San Jose tentatively ruled in Apple&rsquos favor, to dismiss the suit. (A tentative ruling is not final but offers a strong indication of the judge&rsquos intention.)

&ldquoThe Court concludes there is not a sufficiently &lsquoclose&rsquo connection between Apple&rsquos conduct and Plaintiffs&rsquo injuries to warrant the imposition of a legal duty,&rdquo wrote Judge Theodore Zayner of the Superior Court of California.

Some families, including Craig Riggs&rsquo, note that Apple has received a patent for developing technology that would lock iPhone functions such as texting when the phone&rsquos owner is driving. Apple would be able to sense the location of the phone within the car based on motion and analyzing the scenery through photo or video data. Apple acknowledged in its patent document the concerns about texting and driving, including the challenge for law enforcement of catching distracted drivers if they are surreptitiously using a phone on their lap.

&ldquoTexting while driving has become so widespread it is doubtful that law enforcement will have any significant effect on stopping the practice,&rdquo Apple wrote in its patent.

Apple did not respond to questions about why it has not installed the technology.

Companies patent technologies for a variety of reasons, and such filings don&rsquot always indicate new products they plan on rolling out.

Other technologies can prevent texting while driving, but it is up the consumer to choose to use them. Some wireless carriers offer apps that reduce distractions from smartphones when driving. For example, AT&T&rsquos DriveMode app &mdash downloaded more than 13 million times since it launched in 2011 &mdash silences incoming phone calls. No major smartphone manufacturer has launched technology that forces users not to text while driving. The companies may fear putting off customers if such safety features were forced upon them, analysts said.

&ldquoPeople are sometimes reluctant to pay for or use safety-related stuff, even though we all think it&rsquos a good idea in the abstract,&rdquo Schmidt said. &ldquoIt&rsquos more about user acceptance and trying to not (upset) your customers. That is probably the bigger factor than if it is something technically feasible, which it clearly is.&rdquo

It is also unclear whether consumers want to be prevented from texting while driving. Scosche Industries of Oxnard (Ventura County) once sold a product called Cellcontrol that could turn off texting and app use while a driver is on the road. But Scosche stopped selling the product &ldquoa number of years back&rdquo because there wasn&rsquot enough demand, according to Chris Cowles, the company&rsquos director of marketing.

&ldquoI guess our company was a bit ahead of the market at the time for such technology,&rdquo he said in an email.


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