Good Questions: Chip Bags, Mushrooms & Cutting Onions

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — James from Apple Valley asked: Why are potato chip bags so full of air?

Frito-Lay, the largest of the chip makers, says the following:

“Our chips are packaged by weight depending on bag size. Prior to sealing, we add air to the bags to cushion the chips and help prevent breakage.”

The Fair Packaging and Labeling Act is supposed to prevent “slack fill,” which is the empty space inside the bag.

When Consumer Reports investigated, the magazine found companies delivered the weights they had promised.

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Bobbi from Minneapolis wanted to know: Why are there so many mushrooms in my neighborhood, and are they dangerous to my puppy?

Sam Bauer, a turf grass expert with the University of Minnesota Extension, says there aren’t too many mushrooms out there this time of year, but some of the recent rains have caused them to pop up.

He says mushrooms are the fruiting body of fungi that feed on organic matter, like old stumps, in our lawns.

Until that matter has completely degraded, the mushrooms will exist.

As for whether they can hurt dogs, veterinarians say some mushrooms are toxic — but it’s rare.

Less than 100 out of several thousand wild mushrooms are toxic to dogs. But it’s difficult to distinguish between different kinds of mushrooms, making any poison hard to diagnose.

Veterinarians say it’s better to be safe than sorry, and people should discourage their dogs from eating any plants in the yard.

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Eleven-year-old Michael from Brainerd wanted to know: Why does cutting onions make you cry?

When you damage an onion, it releases a sulfuric compound that irritates our eyes and stimulates the tear glands.

But, if you want to turn off the water works, the folks at the National Onion Association say chill the onion for half an hour, then cut off the top and peel the outer layers.

Don’t touch the root end, though — that’s where you have most of the sulfuric compounds.

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