mfioretti: nutrition*

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  1. Plastic is polluting our oceans, killing wildlife, and damaging our health, and there are widespread calls to get rid of it. But it isn’t as simple as wishing the pervasive material away.

    If we were to get rid of plastic today, the loss of the primary form of food packaging would make hundreds of thousands of people sick. Millions would be starving or dead within the year. Instead of just focusing on ridding the world of plastic, we need to address the underlying systems that churns it out: a global food production system with deeply skewed priorities driven by consumer demands.

    The way we’re going, a great deal, if not most, of that plastic will end up on landfills, in turtles’ stomachs, or in our bodies.

    to envision a world without plastic would require us to first change the basic fabric of how our societies function.

    A major reason that plastic exists today is because people want affordable and conveniently sourced food on their table. In order to meet this desire, we have developed centralized food supply chains that criss-cross our countries and the oceans. These supply chains are also driven by monoculture crop production, which allows companies economies of scale.

    Beyond serving our own taste buds, plastic is huge part of the battle against malnutrition in the developing world. People in developing countries are less likely to eat enough fruit and vegetables, and according to the World Health Organisation, about 1.7-million deaths worldwide (almost 3% of all deaths) are attributable to low fruit and vegetable consumption. If plastic was not so pervasive for food preservation, more communities could suffer from malnutrition.

    If we want to get rid of plastic—and there are many compelling reasons why we should—we need to change the way food production and transportation works, as well as check our desires to have cheap, convenient foods whenever we want them.

    As long as we have centralized food production, we will have plastic.
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  2. Average land use area needed to produce one unit of protein by food type, measured in metres squared (m²) per gram of protein over a crop's annual cycle or theaverage animal's lifetime. Average values are based on a meta-analysis of studies across 742 agricultural systems and over 90 unique foods.
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  3. The implications of this study are important. Only 2% of Americans do not eat any animal products. (This number has not changed appreciably for 20 years). Further, the fact that five out of six vegetarians go back to eating meat suggests that an all-veggie diet is very hard for most people to maintain over the long haul. Hence, the authors of the report argue that animal protectionists would be better off concentrating their efforts to persuade “the many” to reduce their consumption of flesh than trying to convince “the few” to take the absolutist route and give up meat completely. Sounds right to me.
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  4. some investors were surprised to discover a much cheaper alternative: You can squeeze the Juicero bags with your bare hands. Two backers said the final device was bulkier than what was originally pitched and that they were puzzled to find that customers could achieve similar results without it. Bloomberg performed its own press test, pitting a Juicero machine against a reporter’s grip. The experiment found that squeezing the bag yields nearly the same amount of juice just as quickly—and in some cases, faster—than using the device.

    Juicero declined to comment. A person close to the company said Juicero is aware the packs can be squeezed by hand but that most people would prefer to use the machine because the process is more consistent and less messy. The device also reads a QR code printed on the back of each produce pack and checks the source against an online database to ensure the contents haven’t expired or been recalled, the person said. The expiration date is also printed on the pack.
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  5. the whole Juicero phenomenon is really symptomatic of how misguided and removed nutrition is becoming, and it’s all based on the presumption that eating well and eating right somehow takes a lot of time and effort. The Soylent hype is based on this. But this approach simply removes people further and further away from the reality of the food they eat. It comes in a closed, pristine package, the contents of which aren’t even visible. It erases the fact that food grows in the soil and feeds on the soil, it’s part of our ecosystem and part of our culture. I think this concept of food as an abstraction, not tied to the reality of the earth or the labour that goes into it, is what promotes conspicuous consumption and a disregard for our common environment. For me, it’s actually the opposite of mindful nutrition.
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  6. America grows 10 percent of the world’s wheat supply, but the resulting flavorless toast is, well, pretty milquetoast. Plus, unless you’re a big farm, it’s hard to make a living on commodity wheat’s low prices.

    That’s where the Bread Lab comes in. The plant breeders there work with farmers and bakers to develop new lines of wheat. They test the strains with high-tech machines and good ol’ fashioned bakers. The resulting breads can run the gamut from surprisingly chocolatey loaves to delightfully buttery baguettes. Grand Central Bakery, with stores in Seattle and Portland, uses some flour that has gone through the Bread Lab. Head baker Mel Darbyshire says that particular strain has a “bright, fresh” flavor. This isn’t your chalky, flavorless bin flour.

    By growing a specialty wheat, and cutting out a bunch of middlemen, the farmer can get a better price for her wheat.
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  7. Scan the fine print on almost any processed food in the grocery store and you’re likely to find emulsifiers: Ingredients such as polysorbate 80, lecithin, carrageenan, polyglycerols, and xanthan and other “gums,” all of which keep ingredients—often oils and fats—from separating. They are also used to improve the texture and shelf-life of many foods found in supermarkets, from ice cream and baked goods, to salad dressings, veggie burgers, non-dairy milks, and hamburger patties.

    Now, a new study released today in the journal Nature suggests these ingredients may also be contributing to the rising incidence of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease by interfering with microbes in the gastrointestinal tract, known as “gut microbio.”

    This news may surprise consumers, given the fact that emulsifiers are approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and appear in many foods otherwise considered “healthy,” including some in which their presence helps to reduce transfats and gluten, and many labeled organic and non-GMO.

    “What we’ve been attempting to understand for the past several years is the increase in metabolic syndrome and inflammatory bowel diseases” that affect digestion
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  8. it was not a sensationalist piece of writing done with the sole aim to piss off all my fellow Jamie fans. What angered me is that the tag line for his show was “You Can Eat Like A King Whatever Your Budget.” My budget, Jamie, is £45 a week to feed a family of five. I eat healthy and I eat well, but it sure ain’t like a king.

    Now, Jamie, what upset me…really upset me to the point of nearly crying, was when you, on your programme, Money Saving Meals, tried to tell me, with my £45 a week food budget, that I could save money by buying a £22 shoulder of lamb. I am certain Jack Monroe was likewise appalled at the blasé presumption that this richly priced joint of meat could ever be seen as affordable by a large portion of the people you purport to be helping.

    Sell your computer. Get rid of your TV. You have luxury items.

    No, no and…no.

    This is indicative of how well we are socially conditioned to believe those left wanting can heal their situation simply by getting rid of parts of their lives deemed superfluous. My children, the three at home, are all at school. Their homework requires the internet. A lot does. My son’s college course is entirely computer based (it is a computer course, so this makes sense).

    To tell me to lose the web and to sell my PC (A GIFT FROM A FRIEND) is to tell my children they cannot do their coursework, studies, homework and research to the absolute best standard available to them in this country. It is to tell me I do not have the right to work as an author. Work. I do not, as has been said, lounge around writing blogs for my entertainment. I am a selling author and have been for 7 months. I have no intention and no reason to sell the TV. It is the only one in the house, and the kids enjoy it. Why shouldn’t they? Giving up the TV will not make the hard times better.

    You should not have bred. You shouldn’t have had children. You’re not fit to parent. You should have got Critical Illness Cover. Kill yourself, they’ll be better off. Just go die somewhere and stop moaning. You should have insurance. You should have saved.

    This is simply ignorance at its best, isn’t it?

    Because I am poor, I should not have children? I work and work hard. So does my husband. We did not know what was coming and we were young enough to feel immortal. Why would I have thought of critical illness cover? I have life insurance–when this illness kills me, which it will one day, my husband and children will be shooting out of this poverty trap. I have to die to fix this. I will not cancel an insurance I had the foresight to take out aged 22. Not to save pennies. It’s a good policy and I got it before my condition. It will leave my family comfortable. I myself will be going off to medical science when I do die. Rest assured, it won’t be because I have taken the above advice though–that would void my insurance.
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  9. What I will say about this whole business of making insects the new goji berries — or coconut oil or kale or whatever — is that in the U.S. they really seem to be taking off in the energy bar sector. In part this is because eating insects is expensive. A pound of cricket flour costs about $40 retail, because raising crickets for this purpose hasn’t been industrialized. But it’s also because, in American health food culture, people will literally eat anything – and pay a huge premium to do so — if you tell them that it will make them healthy. Food trends-wise, health nuts are at the vanguard of nearly everything.
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  10. A piece of farmed salmon today may contain as little as half the amount of omega-3s than it did a decade ago.

    This is according to the International Fishmeal and Fish Oil Organization (IFFO), a trade group that represents stakeholders in the marine ingredient industry. The group is sounding the alarm over declining levels of omega-3s in farmed salmon.

    “A 2008 paper showed that for every 3.5 ounces of farmed salmon you ate, you would get about 2-2.5 grams of EPA eicosapentaenoic acid » and DHA docosahexaenoic acid » , and that was down from 3 grams three years earlier. Since 2008, it has come down further,” says Andrew Jackson, technical director at IFFO. “You’re probably only going to get 1.5 grams per serving now.”

    It’s a problem the industry has been aware of for several years.

    “As the producers of fish oil, we thought it would be a good idea to inform everybody. Some retailers put it on the package. Some don’t,” says Jackson. “We’re pushing for informed decision making.”

    Steady pressure on the farmed salmon industry from environmentalists has pushed producers to become more eco-friendly, including efforts to reduce the quantity of forage fish like anchovy, sardines, or menhaden in their feed. These small wild fish are ground up and made into fish oil and fishmeal–a critical part of the farmed salmon’s diet. And while they are the very source of the omega-3s consumers seek, most choose larger fish like salmon and tuna, rather than eating sardines themselves.

    Worldwide, forage fish stocks continue to shoulder enormous pressure, and environmental groups have been calling for better management of these tiny but important fish. Dwindling numbers have also led the price of fishmeal to rise by more than doubled in recent years.

    In October, Peru, the largest producer of fishmeal, shut down its anchovy fishery because the stocks simply weren’t there. Weeks later, traders saw prices soar as high as a dizzying $2,370 a metric ton–66 percent higher than prices at the year’s start.

    It’s understandable that salmon farmers are racing to find a replacement for forage fish. Soy, algae, barley protein, insects, trimmings from seafood processing, and even mixed nut meal from California’s pistachio and almond industry are all appearing in feed.
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2014-12-09)
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