Spicing Up Your Holidays

Uncategorized Posted Dec 28, 2007 by metropolis

The Boston Globe reported earlier this week that one finds higher concentrations of vanilla, cinnamon and other baking spices in coastal waters around the holidays.

Could we ask for a more vivid illustration of just how directly human activity affects the environment?

“We see these indications of human activity everywhere we go in the coastal ocean,” said Rick Keil, a geochemist at the University of Washington. “Anywhere people are living near the coasts, you’ll see some sort of remnants from their kitchens getting out into the water. It’s very apparent that our fingerprint is everywhere.”

Keil’s research started in Puget Sound during Fall 2006 to convince his students of the relevance of his oceanography class.

This year, he continued monitoring for spices and other substances and found a marked increase in theobromine (a compound in chocolates) just after Valentine’s Day.