MTS employees say they had no idea there was marijuana in those treats
A trio of San Diego bus drivers who may have eaten some marijuana-laced brownies before their shift say that the whole thing was an accident, and they didn’t know the brownies were the "special" kind.
According to Gawker, the drivers stopped their routes and pulled over after getting "dizzy." The brownies were allegedly given to them by a fourth MTS employee, who also denies all knowledge of the brownies’ special mind-altering properties.
That brownie-pusher’s story is that his roommate baked the brownies, and he thought they were the totally normal, pot-free kind. If that story is true, we imagine the alleged roommate is pretty ticked. It’s annoying enough when roomies steal normal food.
According to NBC, replacement drivers were called in, and the three brownie eaters were given drug tests. The MTS says the drivers all responded correctly and followed procedure by pulling over and letting their bosses know that they had to stop driving because they ate a bunch of pot.
If all this talk of brownies has inspired a case of the munchies, try out some of our best brownie recipes.
Bus Drivers Might Have Had Pot Brownies Before Their Shift
Brownies via Shutterstock
Start your day with LAist
Three bus drivers in San Diego called in for replacements last Sunday after they reported feeling "dizzy." A better word for their state of mind, however, might be "totally blazed."That's because an employee of the city's Metropolitan Transit System is alleging that all three drivers ate pot brownies that were given to them by another employee, according to San Diego's 10 News. Those employees have been placed on leave while the transportation agency investigates what happened.
The employee that passed out the allegedly stonerlicious brownies blamed the whole thing on his roommate.
MTS Vice Chairman Ron Roberts didn't find the story funny at all: "This could have been a major disaster. It's not funny. It's not fun and it's irresponsible at the highest level."
On the bright side, the agency was happy to report that all the employees did the right thing by calling in and asking for a replacement when they noticed that they were feeling "dizzy."
Salted Caramel Amish Friendship Bread Bundt Cake
- 2 sticks butter soft (room temperature)
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 3 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup greek yogurt
- 1 cup Amish Friendship Bread Starter
- 3 cups flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 box butterscotch instant pudding
- Caramel Glaze or caramel ice cream topping optional
- pinch of sea salt
>> Have you tried this recipe? Share your best pic with us or leave a comment below and let us know how it worked for you!
Share your thoughts Cancel reply
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
I was given a starter over 20 years ago and made plenty of breads for my children’s teacher’s and bus drivers, my children are now 31 and 35, I wanted to start back and had to hunt for a recipe to make my own starter and I found this website and glad I did. Now I’m baking every 10 days, the one thing I’m not doing is adding the additional sugar and cinnamon topping because that makes it even more sweet but even without it that does not take away from the taste at all, please keep the recipes coming
What size box of instant butterscotch pudding do we use….small or large?
Either size, Trudy — the larger size makes it more moist, but some prefer a single small box so the butterscotch flavor isn’t too overwhelming.
I think this cake would be so nice to gift with my new neighbor who looks a tad tired after her move in, of course saving just a little to share with my sister’s family on Christmas morning with pressed coffee.
I have to make this. I just love sweet and salty.I love Tom’s idea of toffee bits.
As all of us know the internet is a source of ideas which we are intended to apply our own slant to, but I followed this recipe pretty closely and loved the result. The only changes I made were to stir in 3/4 cup of toffee bits and substitute Ginger Sugar (candied ginger ground in the cuisinart) as a dusting instead of the caramel syrup and sea salt.
Half of the cake became my neighbors’ introduction to Amish Friendship Cake, along with their new starter. We’ll see what comes back!
The recipe for my Amish Bread starter says to stir with a wooden spoon each day and when feeding it. Is it okay to use an electric mixer when making the bread or am I supposed to use the wooden spoon? What is the reason for the wooden spoon?
In the “old” days metal (like tin) was uncoated and would react with the starter. As long as your metal is coated, you’re fine, Trudy!
I thought I had butterscotch pudding, but it was coconut cream so we are going to add toasted coconut on top with a powdered sugar glaze
Hi, I'm Darien! What will you make with your 1 cup of Amish Friendship Bread starter? Choose from over 200+ AFB recipes and tutorials. It's great to have you here!
19 Best Foods to Pack Up for a Road Trip
The busiest traveling day of the year may have come and gone, but you still have more car adventures ahead of you this summer. If you’ve ever tried to grab a snack on the go, you know that driving and eating isn’t always easy. We’re here to change that because we believe that you shouldn’t have to lower your food standards just because your traveling. These 19 snacks are the best foods to dive into on your next road trip, or morning commute. Happy dining and driving!
Popcorn is a great choice for the car: You can take a handful and concentrate on the road without much fuss. This recipe with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and aromatic extra-virgin olive oil with freshly ground black pepper is way more delicious than the standard stale bagged version you’ll find at the gas station.
2. MINI ROASTED VEGETABLE BURRITOS
Pack a burrito for the road! Easy to hold with one hand and full of tasty roasted vegetables, this recipe has red and green roasted peppers, cheddar cheese, sour cream, and cumin, for extra flavor. Use small six-inch flour tortillas to make mini burritos that you can easily pack in a Ziploc or some tinfoil.
Photo and recipe from Food Republic
Try out our butternut squash and goat cheese hand pies for a great easy-to-take-on-the-road snack. With cumin, butternut squash, coriander, and goat cheese, they are small, savory, self-contained vehicles of deliciousness.
4. TAMARIND TRAIL MIX
This trail mix is packed with protein and is a lot more interesting than your normal peanuts and raisins mix. Cayenne pepper, cumin, coriander, tamarind paste, and tomato paste add a ton of interesting flavors, and coarsely chopped dried mango is a delightfully unexpected addition.
Recipe and photo from Kitchen Konfidence
5. CHEESE CRACKERS
These homemade cheese crackers are so good you’ll wonder why you ever ate Cheez-Its or Goldfish on the road instead. You can substitute whole grain or spelt flour to make them even more nutritious, and onion powder adds some nice seasoning alongside the grated sharp cheddar.
Photo and recipe from Leite’s Culinaria
You won’t reach for the bag of Rold Gold after you try these amazing soft pretzels (though dipping sauces aren’t recommended while driving). Pretzels are a lot easier to make than most people think and have very few ingredients, things that you probably already have on hand: flour, water, yeast, salt, butter, and sugar. You can make the traditional pretzel shape or get creative and make any shape that suits your fancy.
Photo and recipe from Catch My Party
Our recipe for this seasonal favorite is foolproof, and sometimes you want to snack on something sweet while you’re on the road. These are a lot better for you than any packaged cookies (no preservatives, less salt, no artificial flavorings) so you don’t have to feel guilty if you pack a few and stow them in the glove box.
8. HOMEMADE VEGGIE CHIPS
Homemade veggie chips are a great healthy alternative to potato chips, and if you make a big batch you can keep them around for on-the-go snacking. Use a mandolin to make thin, uniform vegetable slices, and you can try anything from rutabagas to parsnips, carrots, and beets.
Photo and recipe from A Beautiful Mess
9. MINI CALZONES
These mini calzones from Food & Wine are stuffed with pepperoni, pesto, and ricotta. Pizza is one of the most beloved road foods but also the hardest to safely eat while keeping your hands on the wheel. These are the perfect solution to your pizza craving when you’re eating on the run.
Recipe and photo from Food & Wine
10. BANANA CHIPS
Savory spiced banana chips are easy to pack and a lot safer to snack on than trying to peel a banana with one hand while maneuvering through traffic. Try adding different spices and increasing the amount of heat (cayenne, red pepper flakes, curry powder) until you find your perfect blend.
Recipe and photo from Taste Junction
Your favorite childhood snack is perfect to pack for your road trip. You can use any kind of fruit—fresh or frozen—and add lemon or lime juice to adjust the flavors. Make a big batch and cut it into thin strips: It’s like you made your own Fruit by the Foot!
Grapes are not only portable but easy to grab from a container while keeping your eyes on the road, a must when eating while driving.
Photo from HI-Drate H20
What is easy to hold in your hand, stuffed with cherries, and healthy to boot? Homemade granola bars! Check out this highly customizable recipe from Chowhound, and try adding dark chocolate chunks to make it even more delicious.
Want to eat your favorite sandwich in the car without looking like you got into a fight with a salad bar? Put your favorite sandwich filling in a tortilla wrap! Chowhound can get you started with this wrap stuffed with lentil hummus, squash, and pomegranate molasses.
Muffins are great road food for their minimal messiness and portability. These delicious spiced zucchini muffins from Chowhound provide a little bit of sweet and a little bit of healthy.
16. CHEESE STICKS
Cheese sticks are small, easy to eat, and can be made from just about any variety of semihard cheese you can buy, be it mozzarella, Colby, or pepper jack. Buy them prewrapped from the store, or slice and wrap them at the beginning of the week so you can grab and go before hitting the road.
Photo from The Todd & Erin Favorite Five
Crackers are great to eat on the road, adding a nice crunch to your daily drive. Try these crispy rye crakers from Chowhound for the perfect on-the-go snack.
Munching on potato chips while driving is a no-brainer. Kick up your road-meal game a notch by making your own. Chowhound has a great sweet potato crisp recipe that uses smoky paprika to play off of the potatoes’ sweetness.
You can’t go wrong snacking on this classic mix of nuts, dried fruits and raisin. Get our Nutty Trail Mix recipe.
Related Video: Road Trip Snacks That Won’t Make a Mess in Your Car
Header image from Gigabiting / All other images by Chris Rochelle/Chowhound unless otherwise noted.
CBD Has Another Demographic: Animals
Ask a Stoner: What's Different Between My CBD Oil and My Dog's?
Ask a Stoner: Does CBD Treat Dogs and Humans the Same?
Keep edibles stored in high places
The rule &ldquoKeep out of reach of children&rdquo is often applied to dogs, too. Edibles placed at the back of the kitchen counter or in the middle of the dining table might keep edibles at bay from smaller dogs, but likely won't be far away enough for bigger, hungry dogs.
&ldquoAn upper cabinet makes it easier to keep your edibles stored,&rdquo Gaynor says. &ldquoNeither a small or large dog would be able to get into it and try to ingest them.&rdquo
It's also important to remember to put away any leftover edibles right after eating them, and before the effects kick in &mdash because we all know how much stoned people like to clean up.
If your dog eats an edible
If you notice right away that your dog ate an edible, call your veterinarian to determine the best way to help the dog vomit and avoid further problems. Hydrogen peroxide is one way to induce vomiting for your dog just be sure to calculate how much you need based on your dog&rsquos weight.
If it's too late, and your dog is showing signs of marijuana ingestion &mdash exhaustion, wobbly legs or urinary incontinence &mdash contact a veterinarian so they can provide supportive care. There&rsquos no reversal for THC in the dog&rsquos system, but a veterinarian can make sure that dogs ride out the effects with the proper medical attention they need.
Caring for a high dog
Once dogs have ingested marijuana, their body functions could be affected for over a day. Monitor them as they walk, especially if your house has stairs or they like to jump on furniture it's best to keep them in a safe place until your veterinarian appointment. Closing off certain areas is useful to keep them from injuring themselves, but the best way to make sure they&rsquore safe is constant supervision. You'll also want to monitor and possibly assist them in going to the bathroom, and making sure they don't go inside the house.
&ldquoDirect supervision is the best way to make sure they&rsquore safe,&rdquo says Gaynor. &ldquoYou never know what your dog can get into in the two minutes you&rsquore gone to get a glass of water.&rdquo
Keeping dogs in smaller, confined areas where they can&rsquot hurt themselves, like a laundry room, makes it easier to ensure they won&rsquot hurt themselves, Gaynor adds.
Keep Westword Free. Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.
Bus Drivers Accidentally Ate 'Special' Brownies - Recipes
Technology is a fickle thing refrigerators are no exception. Sometimes when trying to keep all the food in the fridge chilled, the temperature doesn't get dispersed evenly and then you might be in for trouble.
More than once, my fridge has managed to freeze foods that I hadn't intended to freeze, leading me to shake my head in disbelief at all the potentially ruined good. Once foods have been frozen, they will rarely be the same again.
The Science Behind Freezer Ruined Foods
I'm not big into writing science on my blog, because, from what I see, people are less interested in the hows and the whys of things than in the fact that their expensive food just got ruined, but in this case, a little biology and chemistry will help you understand that that food doesn't need to go into the garbage.
When water freezes, because of its unique molecular structure, it expands. All living things are made up of cells, each consisting of a cellular wall and cytoplasm, among other things. Cytoplasm is water based, so when things comprised of cells get frozen, the cytoplasm expands and ruptures the cell walls, much like what happens when you put a glass bottle of water in the freezer- it bursts.
Since vegetables and fruit are built up of cells, when they've been frozen and their cell membranes rupture, they end up with a distinctly different texture. In essence, they loose their crispness and wilt.
When raw vegetables get frozen, either accidentally or on purpose, they will never be as they originally were. Cucumbers will become soggy, lettuce will become wilty, and carrots will become soft.
Salvaging Accidentally Frozen Foods
- Green beans
Basically he consistency of a frozen raw vegetable will usually be similar to that of a cooked vegetable.
What Not to Take On a Charter Bus Trip
When you take a charter bus trip, you want all the comforts of home, right? And you don’t want to get a few hundred miles from home and discover that you’ve forgotten something you really need (for a checklist of things that will make your trip a good one, see our blog on the top ten things to bring on a charter bus trip).
But there a certain things that you’ll want to leave at home, that will either make your vacation more of a challenge, make you unpopular with your bus-mates, or put you and others at risk. Here’s a list of things that should just stay off the bus—
- Barbeque grills or cookers—Believe it or not, this actually happened…some folks thought they’d cook up some chicken and ribs on the back of the Not only is it a significant fire hazard, but an open flame consumes oxygen and produces carbon monoxide, so it’s a great way to make your fellow passengers sick or even risk carbon monoxide poisoning. Even if you’re on a party bus that has room for a grill, the bus is on the move and you’d never be able to stabilize it. Cook the food in advance and bring it on the bus piping hot. Or let us take you to a barbeque restaurant!
- Fireworks and flammable materials—Actually, this could be just about anything with an open flame or that has combustible materials: candles, incense, flares, lighter fluid and gasoline can also dangerous in an enclosed space.
- Controlled substances—Illegal drugs are always a bad idea on a bus, even (or maybe especially) when they are disguised. A small group on a party bus heading to a concert had a pan of special brownies with an unusual green hue. When they weren’t looking, someone passed the pan around the bus…it took hours to track everyone down after the concert.
- Most types of pets— It’s hard to imagine much of anything worse than a loose snake on a moving bus—but it’s happened!! It may have been the only time in history when a bus went down the road with everyone standing—on their seats! A service dog is generally fine, provided there’s room for the pooch to be out of everyone’s way. Most other types of domesticated animals—cats, birds, hamsters, pot-bellied pigs, etc.—won’t enjoy the ride and will likely get you the stink-eye from everyone else on the bus.
- Anything that’s going to stink up the bus—A tuna fish sandwich may not be the best choice for lunch on a crowded bus. Don’t bring stinky cheese on a bus, either—limburger, gorgonzola and other pungent varieties will hover in the air for miles. Do your friends and family a favor and have the aromatic foods when you get to your destination. This also goes for colognes and perfumes. You’ll be in an enclosed space. If you apply too much fragrance, those around you will likely be annoyed.
- Items of personal sentimental value or extreme financial value—While a charter bus is one of the most secure ways to travel, it’s not really a good idea to bring things that are irreplaceable or that have substantial material value. When you’re traveling with a large group of friends, it’s not uncommon to misplace items or have something accidentally damaged. Don’t bring the $10,000 Martin or the string of pearls, and leave the silver tea set at home.
A Charter Bus—The Best Way to Travel!
When you’re looking at the options for group travel, there’s nothing that compares to a charter bus. Here are just some of the advantages of a coach from BusRental.com:
- A safe and secure trip—We have the most skilled and highly trained drivers in the business. In addition, because there’s limited access to your bus, you and your personal items will be safe and secure.
- Reliability and flexibility–Delays or cancellations are virtually nonexistent with a charter bus. And you won’t be stuck on a prepackaged trip. You tell us where you want to go and we’ll get you there!
- Cost effectiveness—Bus travel is without a doubt the most affordable way to travel. With the money you save, you can bring home some cherished souvenirs from your trip.
- Room to breathe!—You won’t be crammed into a tiny seat on a charter bus. Instead, you’ll enjoy plush seats and spacious aisles. And you can get up any time you want to!
- A vehicle uniquely suited to your needs—Large or small, your group will find the perfect coach for your trip, one that has all the options you need.
How Chris McCandless Died
Twenty-one years ago this month, on September 6, 1992, the decomposed body of Christopher McCandless was discovered by moose hunters just outside the northern boundary of Denali National Park. He had died inside a rusting bus that served as a makeshift shelter for trappers, dog mushers, and other backcountry visitors. Taped to the door was a note scrawled on a page torn from a novel by Nikolai Gogol:
ATTENTION POSSIBLE VISITORS.
I NEED YOUR HELP. I AM INJURED, NEAR DEATH, AND TOO WEAK TO HIKE OUT OF HERE. I AM ALL ALONE, THIS IS NO JOKE. IN THE NAME OF GOD, PLEASE REMAIN TO SAVE ME. I AM OUT COLLECTING BERRIES CLOSE BY AND SHALL RETURN THIS EVENING. THANK YOU,
From a cryptic diary found among his possessions, it appeared that McCandless had been dead for nineteen days. A driver’s license issued eight months before he perished indicated that he was twenty-four years old and weighed a hundred and forty pounds. After his body was flown out of the wilderness, an autopsy determined that it weighed sixty-seven pounds and lacked discernible subcutaneous fat. The probable cause of death, according to the coroner’s report, was starvation.
In “Into the Wild,” the book I wrote about McCandless’s brief, confounding life, I came to a different conclusion. I speculated that he had inadvertently poisoned himself by eating seeds from a plant commonly called wild potato, known to botanists as Hedysarum alpinum. According to my hypothesis, a toxic alkaloid in the seeds weakened McCandless to such a degree that it became impossible for him to hike out to the highway or hunt effectively, leading to starvation. Because Hedysarum alpinum is described as a nontoxic species in both the scientific literature and in popular books about edible plants, my conjecture was met with no small amount of derision, especially in Alaska.
I’ve received thousands of letters from people who admire McCandless for his rejection of conformity and materialism in order to discover what was authentic and what was not, to test himself, to experience the raw throb of life without a safety net. But I’ve also received plenty of mail from people who think he was an idiot who came to grief because he was arrogant, woefully unprepared, mentally unbalanced, and possibly suicidal. Most of these detractors believe my book glorifies a senseless death. As the columnist Craig Medred wrote in the Anchorage Daily News in 2007,
“Into the Wild” is a misrepresentation, a sham, a fraud. There, I’ve finally said what somebody has needed to say for a long time …. Krakauer took a poor misfortunate prone to paranoia, someone who left a note talking about his desire to kill the “false being within,” someone who managed to starve to death in a deserted bus not far off the George Parks Highway, and made the guy into a celebrity. Why the author did that should be obvious. He wanted to write a story that would sell.
The debate over why McCandless perished, and the related question of whether he is worthy of admiration, has been smoldering, and occasionally flaring, for more than two decades now. But last December, a writer named Ronald Hamilton posted a paper on the Internet that brings fascinating new facts to the discussion. Hamilton, it turns out, has discovered hitherto unknown evidence that appears to close the book on the cause of McCandless’s death.
To appreciate the brilliance of Hamilton’s investigative work, some backstory is helpful. The diary and photographs recovered with McCandless’s body indicated that, beginning on June 24, 1992, the roots of the Hedysarum alpinum plant became a staple of his daily diet. On July 14th, he started harvesting and eating Hedysarum alpinum seeds as well. One of his photos depicts a one-gallon Ziploc bag stuffed with these seeds. When I visited the bus in July, 1993, wild-potato plants were growing everywhere I looked in the surrounding taiga. I filled a one-gallon bag with more than a pound of seeds in less than thirty minutes.
On July 30th, McCandless wrote in his journal, “EXTREMELY WEAK. FAULT OF POT[ATO] SEED. MUCH TROUBLE JUST TO STAND UP. STARVING. GREAT JEOPARDY.” Before this entry, there was nothing in the journal to suggest that he was in dire straits, although his photos show he’d grown alarmingly gaunt. After subsisting for three months on a marginal diet of squirrels, porcupines, small birds, mushrooms, roots, and berries, he’d run up a huge caloric deficit and was teetering on the brink. By adding potato seeds to the menu, he apparently made the mistake that took him down. After July 30th, his physical condition went to hell, and three weeks later he was dead.
When McCandless’s body was found in the Alaskan bush, Outside magazine asked me to write about the puzzling circumstances of his demise. Working on a tight deadline, I researched and wrote an eighty-four-hundred-word piece, published in January, 1993. Because the wild potato was universally believed to be safe to eat, in this article I speculated that McCandless had mistakenly consumed the seeds of the wild sweet pea, Hedysarum mackenzii—a plant thought to be toxic, and which is hard to distinguish from Hedysarum alpinum. I attributed his death to this blunder.
As I began expanding my article into a book and had more time to ponder the evidence, however, it struck me as extremely unlikely that he’d failed to tell the two species apart. He wrote his diary on blank pages in the back of an exhaustively researched field guide to the region’s edible plants, “Tanaina Plantlore / Dena’ina K’et’una: An Ethnobotany of the Dena’ina Indians of Southcentral Alaska,” by Priscilla Russell Kari. In the book, Kari explicitly warns that because wild sweet pea closely resembles wild potato, and “is reported to be poisonous, care should be taken to identify them accurately before attempting to use the wild potato as food.” And then she explains precisely how to distinguish the two plants from one another.
It seemed more plausible that McCandless had indeed eaten the roots and seeds of the purportedly nontoxic wild potato rather than the wild sweet pea. So I sent some Hedysarum alpinum seeds I’d collected near the bus to Dr. Thomas Clausen, a professor in the biochemistry department at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, for analysis.
Shortly before my book was published, Clausen and one of his graduate students, Edward Treadwell, conducted a preliminary test that indicated the seeds contained an unidentified alkaloid. Making a rash intuitive leap, in the first edition of “Into the Wild,” published in January, 1996, I wrote that this alkaloid was perhaps swainsonine, a toxic agent known to inhibit glycoprotein metabolism in animals, leading to starvation. When Clausen and Treadwell completed their analysis of wild-potato seeds, though, they found no trace of swainsonine or any other alkaloids. “I tore that plant apart,” Dr. Clausen explained to Men’s Journal in 2007, after also testing the seeds for non-alkaloid compounds. “There were no toxins. No alkaloids. I’d eat it myself.”
I was perplexed. Clausen was an esteemed organic chemist, and the results of his analysis seemed irrefutable. But McCandless’s July 30th journal entry couldn’t have been more explicit: “EXTREMELY WEAK. FAULT OF POT[ATO] SEED.” His certainty about the cause of his failing health gnawed at me. I began sifting through the scientific literature, searching for information that would allow me to reconcile McCandless’s adamantly unambiguous statement with Clausen’s equally unambiguous test results.
Fast forward to a couple of months ago, when I stumbled upon Ronald Hamilton’s paper “The Silent Fire: ODAP and the Death of Christopher McCandless,” which Hamilton had posted on a Web site that publishes essays and papers about McCandless. Hamilton’s essay offered persuasive new evidence that the wild-potato plant is highly toxic in and of itself, contrary to the assurances of Thomas Clausen and every other expert who has ever weighed in on the subject. The toxic agent in Hedysarum alpinum turns out not to be an alkaloid but, rather, an amino acid, and according to Hamilton it was the chief cause of McCandless’s death. His theory validates my conviction that McCandless wasn’t as clueless and incompetent as his detractors have made him out to be.
Hamilton is neither a botanist nor a chemist he’s a writer who until recently worked as a bookbinder at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania library. As Hamilton explains it, he became acquainted with the McCandless story in 2002, when he happened upon a copy of “Into the Wild,” flipped through its pages, and suddenly thought to himself, I know why this guy died. His hunch derived from his knowledge of Vapniarca, a little-known Second World War concentration camp in what was then German-occupied Ukraine.
“I first learned about Vapniarca through a book whose title I’ve long forgotten,” Hamilton told me. “Only the barest account of Vapniarca appeared in one of its chapters …. But after reading ‘Into the Wild,’ I was able to track down a manuscript about Vapniarca that has been published online.” Later, in Romania, he located the son of a man who served as an administrative official at the camp, who sent Hamilton a trove of documents.
In 1942, as a macabre experiment, an officer at Vapniarca started feeding the Jewish inmates bread made from seeds of the grass pea, Lathyrus sativus, a common legume that has been known since the time of Hippocrates to be toxic. “Very quickly,” Hamilton writes in “The Silent Fire,”
a Jewish doctor and inmate at the camp, Dr. Arthur Kessler, understood what this implied, particularly when within months, hundreds of the young male inmates of the camp began limping, and had begun to use sticks as crutches to propel themselves about. In some cases inmates had been rapidly reduced to crawling on their backsides to make their ways through the compound …. Once the inmates had ingested enough of the culprit plant, it was as if a silent fire had been lit within their bodies. There was no turning back from this fire—once kindled, it would burn until the person who had eaten the grasspea would ultimately be crippled …. The more they’d eaten, the worse the consequences—but in any case, once the effects had begun, there was simply no way to reverse them …. The disease is called, simply, neurolathyrism, or more commonly, “lathyrism.”…
Kessler, who … initially recognized the sinister experiment that had been undertaken at Vapniarca, was one of those who escaped death during those terrible times. He retired to Israel once the war had ended and there established a clinic to care for, study, and attempt to treat the numerous victims of lathyrism from Vapniarca, many of whom had also relocated in Israel.
It’s been estimated that, in the twentieth century, more than a hundred thousand people worldwide were permanently paralyzed from eating grass pea. The injurious substance in the plant turned out to be a neurotoxin, beta-N-oxalyl-L-alpha-beta diaminoproprionic acid, a compound commonly referred to as beta-ODAP or, more often, just ODAP. Curiously, Hamilton reports, ODAP
affects different people, different sexes, and even different age groups in different ways. It even affects people within those age groups differently …. The one constant about ODAP poisoning, however, very simply put, is this: those who will be hit the hardest are always young men between the ages of 15 and 25 and who are essentially starving or ingesting very limited calories, who have been engaged in heavy physical activity, and who suffer trace-element shortages from meager, unvaried diets.
ODAP was identified in 1964. It brings about paralysis by over-stimulating nerve receptors, causing them to die. As Hamilton explains,
It isn’t clear why, but the most vulnerable neurons to this catastrophic breakdown are the ones that regulate leg movement…. And when sufficient neurons die, paralysis sets in…. [The condition] never gets better it always gets worse. The signals get weaker and weaker until they simply cease altogether. The victim experiences “much trouble just to stand up.” Many become rapidly too weak to walk. The only thing left for them to do at that point is to crawl….
After Hamilton read “Into the Wild” and became convinced that ODAP was responsible for McCandless’s sad end, he approached Dr. Jonathan Southard, the assistant chair of the chemistry department at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and persuaded Southard to have one of his students, Wendy Gruber, test the seeds of both Hedysarum alpinum and Hedysarum mackenzii for ODAP. Upon completion of her tests, in 2004, Gruber determined that ODAP appeared to be present in both species of Hedysarum, but her results were less than conclusive. “To be able to say that ODAP is definitely present in the seeds,” she reported, “we would need to use another dimension of analysis, probably by H.P.L.C.-M.S.”—high-pressure liquid chromatography. But Gruber possessed neither the expertise nor the resources to analyze the seeds with H.P.L.C., so Hamilton’s hypothesis remained unproven.
To establish once and for all whether Hedysarum alpinum is toxic, last month I sent a hundred and fifty grams of freshly collected wild-potato seeds to Avomeen Analytical Services, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for H.P.L.C. analysis. Dr. Craig Larner, the chemist who conducted the test, determined that the seeds contained .394 per cent beta-ODAP by weight, a concentration well within the levels known to cause lathyrism in humans.
According to Dr. Fernand Lambein, a Belgian scientist who coördinates the Cassava Cyanide Diseases and Neurolathyrism Network, occasional consumption of foodstuffs containing ODAP “as one component of an otherwise balanced diet, bears not any risk of toxicity.” Lambein and other experts warn, however, that individuals suffering from malnutrition, stress, and acute hunger are especially sensitive to ODAP, and are thus highly susceptible to the incapacitating effects of lathyrism after ingesting the neurotoxin.
Considering that potentially crippling levels of ODAP are found in wild-potato seeds, and given the symptoms McCandless described and attributed to the wild-potato seeds he ate, there is ample reason to believe that McCandless contracted lathyrism from eating those seeds. As Ronald Hamilton observed, McCandless exactly matched the profile of those most susceptible to ODAP poisoning:
He was a young, thin man in his early 20s, experiencing an extremely meager diet who was hunting, hiking, climbing, leading life at its physical extremes, and who had begun to eat massive amounts of seeds containing a toxic [amino acid]. A toxin that targets persons exhibiting and experiencing precisely those characteristics and conditions ….
It might be said that Christopher McCandless did indeed starve to death in the Alaskan wild, but this only because he’d been poisoned, and the poison had rendered him too weak to move about, to hunt or forage, and, toward the end, “extremely weak,” “too weak to walk out,” and, having “much trouble just to stand up.” He wasn’t truly starving in the most technical sense of that condition. He’d simply become slowly paralyzed. And it wasn’t arrogance that had killed him, it was ignorance. Also, it was ignorance which must be forgiven, for the facts underlying his death were to remain unrecognized to all, scientists and lay people alike, literally for decades.
Hamilton’s discovery that McCandless perished because he ate toxic seeds is unlikely to persuade many Alaskans to regard McCandless in a more sympathetic light, but it may prevent other backcountry foragers from accidentally poisoning themselves. Had McCandless’s guidebook to edible plants warned that Hedysarum alpinum seeds contain a neurotoxin that can cause paralysis, he probably would have walked out of the wild in late August with no more difficulty than when he walked into the wild in April, and would still be alive today. If that were the case, Chris McCandless would now be forty-five years old.
Jon Krakauer’s most recent books are “Three Cups of Deceit,” “Where Men Win Glory,” and “Under the Banner of Heaven.”
Above: Chris McCandless’s final photo, a self-portrait holding his farewell note. Photographs courtesy the family of Chris McCandless.
Martha made Snoop drink
Snoop and Stewart might not be sharing spliffs, and they might not be sharing any plates of special brownies together, but that doesn't mean the two aren't celebrating their success — and come happy hour, Stewart is all about wetting her whistle. "[S]he forces me to drink alcohol everyday on the show with her," Snoop said in an interview with Jimmy Kimmel.
The rapper doesn't seem to be fudging the truth either. So far, fans have seen the pair enjoy drinks on the show ranging from beer to champagne to bloody marys.
The late night host asked if Snoop wasn't a big drinker and while the rapper admitted he's mostly given up the stuff, he obliges when he's offered a beverage from his co-host. "With her, I have to drink," said Snoop. "So Martha will get you a bit drunk, but it doesn't go the other way?" Kimmel asked, before Snoop quipped back, "We're working on that."
The Ohio legislature has designated the first Monday in May as School Bus Driver Appreciation Day. The day gives Ohioans an opportunity to reflect on the outstanding job performance of more than 15,000 school bus drivers who transport students to and from school and school-related events throughout the year. http://education.ohio.gov
Please take a moment to thank the men and women working in your transportation department for the work they do to keep Ohio&rsquos children safe each day.
Waynesville High School Student Council, along with the entire staff and student body, would like to recognize ALL of the Support Staff for our schools.
The Bus Driver DepartmentThe Cafeteria StaffThe Maintenance/Janitorial Staff
These groups are especially important to the whole of our business, and today, we give them special thanks. and pans of DOUBLE CHOCOLATE BROWNIES. --- THANK YOU !!
Can I Freeze These Brownies?
Back to the beginning of this post, when I was telling you how our freezer is filling up with baked goods…
Yes. These gingerbread brownies freeze extremely well.
The only thing I would suggest, if you are planning to freeze them, is to hold off on the powdered sugar sprinkle until after they thaw from the freezer. Otherwise you risk smudging the dusting of powdered sugar during freezer storage.
Just cut the cooled brownies and place in a single layer in an airtight container. Separate any layers with wax paper or parchment paper. They’ll keep well for up to two months.