Grapes don’t contain calories

Isn’t this basic elementary school science?  Didn’t we learn that a calorie is a measurement of heat? Shouldn’t a person writing for know that a calorie is not an ingredient of food? So, how would you explain this?

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2 Responses to “Grapes don’t contain calories”

  1. lectorconstans Says:

    That’s a tricky one. In physics, a calorie is indeed a measurement of heat energy: More precisely, a measurement of energy (how much energy it takes to heat a little bit of water 1 degree C (which tells almost everybody almost nothing). Energy is the capacity to do work (“work” has its own definition in the land of physics). Eating is the main way we get energy into our bodies (which we then have to work off (not the physicist’s “work”) using various medieval instruments of torture (euphemistically called “exercise machines”).

    The physicist’s calorie is way too small to measure food energy, so some bright committee of greybeards decided that in talking about food, they’d let one food calorie be equal to 1000 regular calories. (I suppose a food calorie of energy could heat a little bit of water 1000 degrees C.)

    Energy is the ability to do work, (A car battery has a lot of energy, but doesn’t do much until you let it start a car engine. A 5-year-old has a lot of energy, too – most of it kinetic (but that’s another story).) To be precise, a calorie is a measure of the amount of energy that can be converted into heat.

    So food has energy, which we convert through digestion &c., and which we measure in calories (big ones). For instance, from a typical food site:

    “If you dish one cup of grapes, you will consume about 100 calories of a nutritious, healthy snack.”

    • Laura Says:

      True, but that does not mean that a calorie is an ingredient of grapes, which is what the writer implies when referring to “another ingredient.”

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