I have been receiving quite a few emails recently inquiring about the progress of this pine nut research, and then I realized that it has indeed been some time since my last post!
Time really flies when it gets busy, and with more people (researchers / reporters / companies / consumers) discovering this blog, communications work is getting rather unmanageable alongside this research (more emails means less time for experimental work!). Hence, I ask for your understanding for slow responses and comments or questions that I miss out! Any new developments will be shared here for all of you, after all that’s my ultimate goal of creating this blog site — for the exchange of information, and for speeding up the process of informing the world about this pine nut mystery. Thank you all for the encouragements and for the great ideas and enthusiastic responses in participating in my surveys and home tests! Let’s take down pine mouth together!!
My Research Goals
(1) Characterize the pine nut syndrome in relation to individual factors so as to establish the pine mouth case definition [to convince the authorities and dealers that these pine nuts have to be taken off the market]
(2) Determine which are the pine nuts causing the problem [to point out the pine nuts that are to be controlled for]
(3) Devise a method for identifying the problem pine nuts [to lay out an easy method for picking out the problem pine nuts and prevent them from getting on our supermarket shelves]
Many people have been pressing me to figure out the causes and taste mechanisms and remedies for pine mouth. I can only say for now that I have some hypotheses that remain to be tested, and that itself would be a huge project by itself. My goals with this thesis is to push for action to remove these pine nuts from consumer reach, and to aid the dealers and retailers in identifying the pine nuts to be removed from the shelves. Removing the bitter-causing products would mean eliminating pine mouth altogether, and the next steps for me would then to apply for a research grant to unravel the workings of this strange phenomenon with a phD project.
Current Thesis Status
SURVEY: Approximately 400 complete responses [collecting data]
SAMPLES: 56 bitter-causing samples [collection closed]
HOME EXPERIMENTS: taste kits have been sent to selected pine mouth victims who have agreed to participate in this experiment [collecting data]
SENSORY EXPERIMENTS: 21 friends have bravely agreed to ingest a fixed dosage of these pine nuts in a controlled experiment. [collecting data]
By the end of the second week of March, I intend to complete my data collection and begin with the analysis of this massive amount of information. It takes time to make sense of it all and present it in a scientific and reliable manner, but I am looking forward to having something to share in approximately 1-2 months.
On a bright note, research on the pine nut syndrome has hit the spotlight with a nice article in a national Dutch newspaper, the NRC handelsblad (12 Feb 2011 issue), with an interview with my professor and I, and of course, a mention of this blog. Another point towards pine mouth awareness! Thank you all for making this research possible with your reports, sample contributions and enthusiastic participation in these experiments!!