By Brian Tracey Business Editor
msnbc.com
updated 2/17/2006 7:36:22 PM ET 2006-02-18T00:36:22
COMMENTARY

The medical community has been warning us about the possibility of a pandemic involving the bird flu virus, but other than stocking up on the drug Tamiflu, there's not much else being offered as preventative measures.

But now South Korean firm LG Electronics is poised to start marketing an air conditioner with a filter made from the pungent national dish kimchi that is aimed at protecting against the bird flu virus.

Kimchi, typically made from pickled radish or cabbage packed with garlic, ginger and hot peppers, is renowned for its supposed health benefits — as well as its powerful odor and taste that has prompted much mouth-fanning and even profuse sweating among those who've tried the spicy slaw.

"We developed the filter with the aim of protecting people against bird flu," said LG spokeswoman Park Se-won, citing four studies from domestic and overseas institutions that she said showed the filter eliminated the deadly H5N1 virus associated with bird flu.

Over the years, kimchi has frequently been billed, particularly in Korean culture, as a miracle food with an amazing array of health benefits. During the SARS crisis in 2003, many Koreans believed eating kimchi helped ward off the disease.

Researchers in South Korea have been testing whether an extract from kimchi can be used as an additive to chicken feed to prevent bird flu, although there has been little scientific evidence to support the claim.

LG, which is the world's largest manufacturer of air conditioners, intends to start marketing the kimchi-infused air conditioners in China and Southeast Asia soon.

But the LG spokesperson was quick to note the appliances would not transmit the unmistakable kimchi smell through rooms. "Since the filters are made with only the enzyme extracted from kimchi, the smell doesn't follow."

Too bad. We were hoping for a whole line of hot-food air conditioners like Tex-Mex Chilly and Ragin' Cajun Cooling.

Not-so-bad ideas

  • If you have been feeling like you are not a "regular" American anymore, you're not alone. According to recent survey, about 26 million of us have reported experiencing constipation at least once in the last three months.

Food firm Dannon hopes to unclog this digestive dilemma with the introduction of Activia, the first and only "probiotic" yogurt "that is clinically proven to help naturally regulate your digestive system in two weeks," the company claims.

DANNON ACTIVIA YOGURT
The Dannon Company
Dannon's Activia is aimed at reducing the "transit time" between injesting and eliminating, and that's the straight poop.
What is a probiotic yogurt you ask? Dannon's sponsored link on Google says Activia contains a "friendly bacteria," specifically a designer strain of a microscopic bug aptly named Bifidus Regularis that "is particularly effective in healthy individuals with a slow transit time," said Miguel Freitas, scientific affairs manager at Dannon. "The beneficial effect of Activia with Bifidus Regularis on transit time can help lead to better, daily well-being and a natural regulation of the digestive system."

We're relieved. And not to put function over flavor, Activia comes in strawberry, vanilla, blueberry, peach, mixed berry and ... prune. The latter must be for those who've just finished a bran muffin-eating contest.

  • Those of us who enjoy (or endure) the rite of puttering around our lawns pushing our trusty/rusty lawnmowers probably have a ratty pair of sneakers stored in our closets for such endeavors. But now an entrepreneur wants us to dump the fetid footwear in favor of LawnGrips, "the only shoes developed specifically to meet the needs of landscape . . . professionals and hobbyists."

LAWNGRIPS SHOES FOR LANDSCAPE AND GARDEN PROFESSIONALS
LawnGrips, LLC
LawnGrips not only are said to provide good traction on wet turf and uneven surfaces, but they also appear to show that you are no slacker about landscaping.
LawnGrips features a "patented sole [that] provides good traction on wet turf and uneven surfaces and is engineered to release debris." They also feature a steel toe to protect us klutzes working with power equipment.

LawnGrips founder Russ Stark says his innovation offers a safer and more comfortable alternative to sneakers or work boots. Gardeners "deserved a performance shoe," he said.

Note to the International Olympic Committee: Competitive landscaping is coming your way.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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