Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Cockroach milk

Posted: July 28, 2016 in food
Tags: , , ,

The sight of cockroaches may evoke disgust but they can be a boon for human health, said a team of scientists who have shown that milk protein crystals found in roaches can serve as a “fantastic” protein supplement.

The team of scientists, including those from the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (inStem) in Bengaluru, has recently unravelled the structure of milk proteins crystals in the guts of a roach species called Diploptera punctata, the only known viviparous cockroach (which gives birth to live young).

A single crystal is estimated to contain more than three times the energy of an equivalent mass of dairy (buffalo) milk, according to the study by inStem’s Ramaswamy group.

“The crystals are like a complete food — they have proteins, fats and sugars. If you look into the protein sequences, they have all the essential amino acids,” said Sanchari Banerjee, one of the main authors of the paper published in July in the journal from the International Union of Crystallography.

Now, armed with the gene sequences for these milk proteins, Ramaswamy and colleagues plan to use a yeast system to produce these crystals en masse.

“They’re very stable. They can be a fantastic protein supplement,” said Ramaswamy.

Furthermore, their crystalline nature offers a unique advantage. As the protein in the solution is used up, by being digested, the crystal releases protein at an equivalent rate.

“It’s time-released food,” explained Ramaswamy, adding “if you need food that is calorifically high, that is time released and food that is complete. This is it”.

Besides their utility as supplemental food, the scaffolding in the protein crystals exhibit characteristics that could be used to design nanoparticles for drug delivery.

The other scientists involved are affiliated to National Centre for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health in the US, Structural Biology Research Centre, High Energy Accelerator Research Organisation in Japan, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP) in India, Department of Cell and Systems Biology, University of Toronto in Canada, University of Iowa in the US and Experimental Division, Synchrotron SOLEIL in France.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/Roach-milk-proteins-fantastic-food-supplement/articleshow/53268325.cms

Advertisements

By Kelsey Gee in Chicago and Julie Wernau in New York

America has built up a glut of cheese so big that every person in the country would need to eat an extra 3 pounds this year to work it off.

And it isn’t just cheese. The growing stacks of cheddar, which can be kept frozen for years, and other cheeses such as feta, which can be stored for only a couple of months, are just the tip of a surplus of U.S. agricultural products that is swamping markets for grains, meat and milk.

Supplies of cheese, meat and poultry started building as farmers decided to expand their herds and flocks two years ago when prices were high and export markets were hot. Abundant stockpiles of grain made it less risky by pushing down feed costs. But the steady climb in the dollar has deterred major foreign buyers, causing supplies to back up in the U.S. just as production is surging to records. That is sending prices for many goods to their lowest levels in years.

“Farmers have had every reason to expand because of strong global demand,” said Shayle Shagam, livestock analyst with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “But now we have a lot of products looking for a home in a smaller number of places.”

The USDA said last week that stockpiles of soybeans could fall by almost a quarter this year as export demand picks up. Its outlook for other commodity markets wasn’t as bright. Stockpiles of wheat and corn are expected to grow further. Output of red meat and poultry are forecast to climb 3.1% from last year to 97.6 billion pounds, as farmers continue to expand their operations and grow animals to heavier weights, thanks to the cheap grain prices.

The glut of cheese starts with farmers such as Carla Wardin, a 38-year-old who owns the Evergreen Dairy in St. John, Mich., with her husband, Kris. They expanded from 250 to 400 cows and bought a new barn in 2014 when milk prices were soaring. Nobody is making any money now, she said, but producers respond the same way whether prices are low or high.

“You do the exact same thing,” she said. “You milk more cows.”

America’s dairy farmers are expected to produce 212.4 billion pounds of milk this year, the most in history. Much of it is being sold to cheesemakers who are socking away their output, waiting for demand and prices to rise.

The drop in dairy prices this year poses a new test for the industry, which since the 2012 Farm Bill hasn’t had the cushion of U.S. government stockpiling products to support prices.

Commercial cold-storage freezers held a record-breaking 1.19 billion pounds of cheese at the end of March, the latest month for which data is available, up 11% from the same time last year.

Americans eat an average of 36 pounds of cheese a year apiece, but it isn’t enough to keep up. Prices for block cheddar cheese fell to a six-year low of $1.27 a pound Thursday at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange; they have since risen one cent in the spot market.

Scott Meister, a third-generation cheesemaker who owns Meister Cheese Company LLC in Muscoda, Wis., said his company invested millions of dollars to expand its cheese plant in 2014, when prices were above $2 a pound and the company couldn’t keep up with demand. He had planned to dedicate the extra capacity for the production of specialty cheeses such as habanero jack, but is now using that space to boost output of standard cheddar in a bid to soften the blow of lower prices by selling more.

The glut of cheese and other products marks a dramatic turnaround for the animal agricultural sector, which just a few years ago was battling drought and disease that pinched supplies and sent prices at grocery stores to record highs.

Commodities markets frequently swing from boom to bust because of the long lead time for ramping up new supply. Decisions to expand herds of beef and dairy cattle have to be made far in advance, reflecting a cow’s nine-month pregnancy and the year or more it takes for a calf to mature.

“In all commodities, the pendulum swings hard in both directions,” said Justin Reiter, who operates a farm with his dad and brother in Bernard, Iowa, where they grow corn and feed cattle. His family invested $800,000 in a new barn for cattle in 2013, when supplies were tight and the market was starting to pick up steam.

“Now that the chickens have come home to roost, prices have gotten pretty bad,” he said.

C.J. Morton, who handles business development for Iowa-based Des Moines Cold Storage, said the company is preparing by investing $16 million in a new warehouse in the region to store commodities such as pig feet, beef and other proteins.

“If we were more full, it would be impossible to move around” the existing storage space, he said.

The excess supply should mean relief for shoppers. Retail prices for cheese were down 4.3% in April from a year earlier, according to market-research firm IRI. USDA projects consumer beef prices will fall as much as 2% this year, while pork prices could decline by 0.5%.

The industry needs consumers to take advantage of that.

“Someone is going to eat all of this meat and dairy,” said Mr. Shagam, with the USDA. “How much room do you have in your stomach?”

http://www.wsj.com/articles/a-cheese-glut-is-overtaking-america-1463477403

robot farm

The Japanese lettuce production company Spread believes the farmers of the future will be robots.

So much so that Spread is creating the world’s first farm manned entirely by robots. Instead of relying on human farmers, the indoor Vegetable Factory will employ robots that can harvest 30,000 heads of lettuce every day.

Don’t expect a bunch of humanoid robots to roam the halls, however; the robots look more like conveyor belts with arms. They’ll plant seeds, water plants, and trim lettuce heads after harvest in the Kyoto, Japan farm.

“The use of machines and technology has been improving agriculture in this way throughout human history,” J.J. Price, a spokesperson at Spread, tells Tech Insider. “With the introduction of plant factories and their controlled environment, we are now able to provide the ideal environment for the crops.”

The Vegetable Factory follows the growing agricultural trend of vertical farming, where farmers grow crops indoors without natural sunlight. Instead, they rely on LED light and grow crops on racks that stack on top of each other.

In addition to increasing production and reducing waste, indoor vertical farming also eliminates runoff from pesticides and herbicides — chemicals used in traditional outdoor farming that can be harmful to the environment.

The new farm, set to open in 2017, will be an upgrade to Spread’s existing indoor farm, the Kameoka Plant. That farm currently produces about 21,000 heads of lettuce per day with help from a small staff of humans. Spread’s new automation technology will not only produce more lettuce, it will also reduce labor costs by 50%, cut energy use by 30%, and recycle 98% of water needed to grow the crops.

The resulting increase in revenue and resources could cut costs for consumers, Price says.

“Our mission is to help create a sustainable society where future generations will not have to worry about food security and food safety,” Price says. “This means that we will have to make it affordable for everyone and begin to grow staple crops and plant protein to make a real difference.”

http://www.techinsider.io/spreads-robot-farm-will-open-soon-2016-1

Thanks to Kebmodee for bringing this to the It’s Interesting community.

By MASSIMO BOTTURA

WHEN I THINK ABOUT THE FUTURE of restaurants—what chefs will be cooking in the years to come—the first thing that comes to mind is garbage: day-old bread, potato peels, fish bones, wilted vegetables. We currently produce enough food to feed the world’s 7.3 billion people, and yet 795 million are hungry, according to the United Nations. The reason is waste: a 2013 U.N. report reveals that 550 million tons of food are discarded by distributors, supermarkets and consumers every year. The U.S. and EU have pledged to reduce food waste in the next 10 to 15 years. This is where chefs come in.

This year the 20th anniversary of my restaurant, Osteria Francescana, coincided with the Expo Milano 2015. In an effort to address the expo’s ambitious theme—“Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”—Francescana collaborated with the Catholic charity Caritas Ambrosiana and the culture maven Davide Rampello to turn a renovated theater in the Greco quarter into a think tank and experimental soup kitchen. This collaboration was baptized Refettorio Ambrosiano after Sant’Ambrogio, Milan’s patron saint. The word Refettorio has roots in the Latin word refice, to restore, and Refettorio Ambrosiano runs on salvaged waste and volunteer labor, including stints from the best chefs in the world.

In May, Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park made a sweet pudding from day-old, discarded bread. In June, René Redzepi of Noma turned black bananas into mouth-watering banana bread. In July, Daniel Patterson of Coi produced the quintessential minestrone from a crate of dismal-looking vegetables. Osteria Francescana made weekly broths from vegetable scraps and peelings. The guests were not fine-dining regulars, but a selection of Milan’s homeless community. What surprised us all was just how fabulous salvaged food can become.

Every Refettorio Ambrosiano recipe is an ode to imperfection with revolutionary potential; these dishes could change the way we feed the world, because they can be cooked by anyone, anywhere, on any budget. For families in need, it’s a way to bring dignity back to the table—dignity based not on the quality of ingredients, but on the quality of ideas.

Chefs have greater social responsibility than ever before. Celebrity status has allowed some of us to become ambassadors of culture and advocates for artisans, ethics and change. But have we spent enough time and energy considering the waste that results from our work? Imagine a school where young chefs are taught to be as resourceful with ingredients as they are with ideas. Imagine chefs embracing imperfect, discarded food and treating it with the same reverence they would a rack of lamb or ripe tomato. Imagine changing the perceptions about what is beautiful, nutritious and worthy of being shared.

Cooking is a call to act. At its best it can unite, revive and restore. As populations grow and food supplies are threatened, we are called to educate and spread ideas that will be the motivational force behind the evolution of our kitchens, our communities and our future. Let us begin by turning our waste—in our homes and our restaurants—into food that’s ethical and delicious. Because something salvaged is something gained.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/chef-massimo-bottura-on-why-the-future-of-food-is-in-our-trash-1449506020

Every Tuesday night, Joan Cheever hits the streets of San Antonio to feed the homeless. In a decade, she’s rarely missed a night. But on a recent, windy Tuesday, something new happens.

The police show up.

“He says we have to have a permit,” Cheever says. “We have a permit. We are a licensed nonprofit food truck.”

Cheever runs a nonprofit called the Chow Train. Her food truck is licensed by the city. On this night, she has loaded the back of a pickup with catering equipment and hot meals and driven to San Antonio’s Maverick Park, near a noisy downtown highway.

Officer Mike Marrota asks to see her permit.

Documents are produced, but there’s a problem: The permit is for the food truck, not her pickup. Cheever argues that the food truck, where she cooks the meals, is too big to drive down the alleyways she often navigates in search of the homeless.

“I tell you guys and the mayor, that we have a legal right to do this,” Cheever says to Marrota.

Marrota asks, “Legal right based on what?”

The Freedom of Religion Restoration Act, Cheever tells him, or RFRA, a federal law which protects free exercise of religion.

The officer isn’t buying it. He writes her a ticket, with a fine of up to $2,000, making clear that San Antonio tickets even good Samaritans if they don’t comply with the letter of the law.

The National Coalition for the Homeless says upwards of 30 cities have some kind of ban on distributing free food for the homeless. Many, including San Antonio, want to consolidate services for the homeless in one location — often, away from tourists.

Does invoking RFRA give Cheever and other good Samaritans license to ignore the law?

“That is not, actually, an easy question to answer,” says Michael Ariens, law professor at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. “RFRA applies when the government of any type substantially burdens an individual’s free exercise of religion.”

The key phrase is “substantially burdens,” Ariens says.

“RFRA doesn’t allow any do-gooder to simply to do whatever they wish — to make a law onto themselves without interference from local or state government,” he says.

Cheever complains that San Antonio has joined other cities in turning feeding the homeless into a crime.

On the next Tuesday night, Cheever is back in Maverick Park, risking another ticket. She could even be arrested.

But this time there are no police. Cheever and her Chow Train volunteers are greeted by dozens of supporters and homeless people.

“It warms my heart, but it doesn’t surprise me, because the community is behind me and they are behind every other nonprofit that does what I do,” she says.

In late June, Cheever says, she will challenge the ticket in court.

http://www.npr.org/2015/06/13/413988634/when-feeding-the-homeless-runs-afoul-of-the-law