Tag: Food

he Craziest Foods You’ll Eat In The Future

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With rising global temperatures and a rising population, the way we produce and consume food is going to have to undergo a fundamental change around the world. Here are some of the technologies and innovations that could find their way to our dinner plates in the future.

The United States faced a crisis in the Great Depression, not just of economic issues, but ecological as well. The Dust Bowl turned some of the most fertile land in the country into a desert due to overproduction of crops.

Today we face similar, even more intractable issues with population rise and climate change, and our current methods of production and consumption are going to have to change for things to be sustainable in the future. So here are some of the most promising techniques and technologies that could make their way to our dinner plates in the future.

Edible insects are a thing in many cultures around the world, and due to their high protein content and feed consumption ratio, we may find ourselves following suit.

Companies like Impossible and Beyond Foods have created meat from plants, with blood and everything. The science behind it is remarkable and could transform how we eat.

Nebraska is not known for growing warm-weather foods like oranges and citrus, but Russ Finch has created simple and effective geothermal greenhouses that make it possible for people to grow their own food in extreme environments.

As we approach 9 billion people on Earth, the need for leafy greens will go up, and we don’t have much more space to plant them. Luckily plantscrapers and vertical farms make it possible for a lot of food to be grown in a small space.

And a potential replacement to the plastic bottle could be found in water balls, made of digestible and biodegradable seaweed extract.

You’ve Just Thrown Away The Healthiest Part Of Your Avocado

If you’re like the rest of the avocado-eaters of the world, you approach your avocado like so: Cut around the avocado length-wise with a knife, then twist the two halves to separate them.

In a slightly unsafe fashion, you aim your sharp knife for the seed, hacking away until you get a firm grip, twist again to dislodge the seed. And then, you throw the seed away.

Well, according to Scientists of the American Chemical Society, you’ve just thrown away the healthiest part of your Avocado On Toast breakfast. Here’s a hint: It’s in the seed.




Scientists gathered 200 dried avocados and pulverized the seeds down to a powder.

After close examination, they discovered the avocado seed husk carries a “gold mine of medicinal compounds” capable of treating “a whole host of debilitating diseases.”

Dr. Debasish Bandyopadhyay from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, explains “it could very well be that avocado seed husks, which most people consider as the waste of wastes, are actually the gem of gems because the medicinal compounds within them could eventually be used to treat cancer, heart disease and other conditions.

Researchers found dodecanoic acid in the husk powder, said to increase high density lipoprotein (known as HDL), which in turn, can reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.

Docosanol, a crucial component in antiviral medications and treatment to cold sores and blisters, was also found in the husks. Dr. Bandyopadhyay and his colleagues hope to modify these compounds to develop medications with fewer side effects.

Diving for treasure” really takes on a whole new meaning with this discovery. The discarded avocado seeds from breakfast is not trash, it’s a nutrient-packed, heart-protecting gold mine.

But, you need not dip your hands into the trash to fetch this valuable stone seed. At least, not yet. In light of the research findings, experts believe this could one day lead to a new wave of supplements containing the healthy compounds contained in avocado husks.

For now, the jury is still out on the safety of consuming raw avocado husk powder.

Just to be clear: you cannot eat the pit or the husk. Repeat: DO NOT EAT AN AVOCADO PIT.

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This Wild Fruit Could Be The Next Strawberry

Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and … groundcherries? A little-known fruit about the size of a marble could become agriculture’s next big berry crop.

To prepare the groundcherry (Physalis pruinosa) for mainstream farming, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator Zachary Lippman, Joyce Van Eck at the Boyce Thompson Institute, and colleagues combined genomics and gene editing to rapidly improve traits such as fruit size, plant shape, and flower production.

Their results show that it’s possible to take a plant that’s practically wild and bring it close to domestication in a matter of years.

The team describes their work, a shortcut around traditional breeding techniques, October 1, 2018, in the journal Nature Plants.

I firmly believe that with the right approach, the groundcherry could become a major berry crop,” says Lippman, a plant scientist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Some scientists might consider the idea a reach, he adds. “But I think we’re now at a place where the technology allows us to reach.”




New tastes

For growers, new crops mean a chance to diversify and offer more options to consumers. The next major berry has eluded food producers for years, Lippman says.

Groundcherries are appealing candidates because they are drought tolerant and have an enticing flavor.

You have to taste the fruit to fully grasp its complexity, says Lippman, who describes it as tropical yet sour, sometimes with hints of vanilla.

Groundcherries (also called “husk cherries” and “strawberry tomatoes”) are native to Central and South America and belong to a group of plants known as orphan crops.

They’re grown as small-scale crops, regionally, or for subsistence. Orphan crops rarely make it into mainstream agriculture because of limitations such as poor shelf life or low productivity.

Improving these plants for large-scale production through breeding is a huge investment of time and money, Lippman says.

It can take anywhere from a decade to thousands of years to domesticate a crop from the wild. Researchers and growers need to figure out the plant’s genetics, adaptations, and how to cultivate it.

That’s why few orphan crops become household names.

Quinoa, the fluffy, high-protein grain that’s now standard in supermarkets, has risen through the agricultural ranks, but other orphan crops like groundnut, teff, and cowpea remain relatively unheard of outside their home regions.

Some consumers may be already be familiar with the groundcherry — like its relative, the tomatillo, the orange fruits are covered in thin, papery husks. They occasionally show up in U.S. farmers markets where “they sell like hotcakes,” Lippman says.

But groundcherries are not easy to grow. Now, Lippman thinks that the traits he and Van Eck have introduced may position the fruit for large-scale production.

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Can Eating Too Much Make Your Stomach Burst?

I ate so much I’m about to burst!

Someone at your Thanksgiving table likely said this, after you’ve all stuffed your faces with turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and the rest.

But how much would you have to eat in order for your stomach to actually burst? Is that even possible?

Interestingly enough, you can rupture your stomach if you eat too much,” says Dr. Rachel Vreeman, co-author of “Don’t Cross Your Eyes … They’ll Get Stuck That Way!” and assistant professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine.

It is possible, but it’s very, very rare.

A handful of reports over the years document the tales of people who literally ate themselves to death, or at least came dangerously close.

Japanese doctors wrote in a 2003 case report that they believed it was a 49-year-old man’s “excessive over-eating” that caused his stomach to rupture, killing him.




And this 1991 case report describes a similar “spontaneous rupture” in an adult’s stomach “after overindulgence in food and drink.

Normally, your stomach can hold about one or one-and-a-half liters, Vreeman says — this is the point you may reach if you overdo it tomorrow, when you feel full to the point of nausea.

Pathologists’ reports seem to suggest the stomach is able to do OK handling up to about three liters, but most cases of rupture seem to occur when a person has attempted to stuff their stomach with about five liters of food or fluid.

It takes a certain amount of misguided determination to manage to override your natural gag reflex and continue to eat.

Which is, not surprisingly, reports of ruptured stomachs caused by overeating are most common in people with some sort of disordered eating, or limited mental capacity, Vreeman says.

Speaking of strong stomachs, you’d best have one in order to read this next paragraph. If vomiting isn’t happening, all that food and fluid still has to go somewhere.

The increasing volume of stuff in the gut puts pressure on the stomach’s walls, so much so that the tissue weakens and tears, sending the stomach contents into the body and causing infection and pain, Vreeman says.

Surgical intervention is necessary to repair a ruptured stomach and save the patient’s life.

In particular, she says, anorexics or bulimics may be at risk. In fact, Cedars-Sinai, the non-profit hospital in Los Angeles, actually lists this as a “symptom” of bulimia.

In rare cases, a person may eat so much during a binge that the stomach bursts or the esophagus tears. This can be life-threatening.

Other reported cases of spontaneous stomach rupture happen in individuals with Prader-Willi syndrome, a congenital disease that is characterized by, among other things, a kind of disordered eating.

An “intense craving for food,” resulting in “uncontrollable weight gain and morbid obesity.” according to the National Institutes of Health.

In a 2007 study examining the deaths of 152 individuals with the condition, 3 percent of those deaths were the result of gastric rupture and necrosis.

The takeaway here: This really happens, sometimes! Also: This is probably not going to happen to you.

Even if you’re starting to feel a bit sick or tired and overwhelmed from eating so much at Thanksgiving, you’re still far, far away from the scenario where you’re going to make your stomach actually explode,” Vreeman assures.

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Research Finds That Climate Change Making Food Crops Less Nutritious

wheat

Rising carbon dioxide emissions are set to make the world’s staple food crops less nutritious, according to new scientific research, worsening the serious ill health already suffered by billions of malnourished people.

The surprise consequence of fossil fuel burning is linked directly to the rise in CO2 levels which, unlike some of the predicted impacts of climate change, are undisputed.




The field trials of wheat, rice, maize and soybeans showed that higher CO2 levels significantly reduced the levels of the essential nutrients iron and zinc, as well as cutting protein levels.

“We found rising levels of CO2 are affecting human nutrition by reducing levels of very important nutrients in very important food crops.

From a health viewpoint, iron and zinc are hugely important,” said Prof Samuel Myers, an environmental health expert at Harvard University, Boston, and lead author of the study.

crop

Myers said 2 billion people already suffer iron and zinc deficiencies around the world. This causes serious harm, in particular to developing babies and pregnant women, and currently causes the loss of 63m years of life annually.

Fundamentally the concern is that there is already an enormous public health problem and rising CO2 in the atmosphere will exacerbate that problem further.

While wheat, rice, maize and soybeans are relatively low in iron and zinc, in poorer societies where meat is rarely eaten they are a major source of the nutrients.

About 2.4bn people currently get at least 60% of their zinc and iron from these staples and it is over 75% in Bangladesh, Iraq and Algeria.

crop

Wheat grown in high CO2 levels had 9% less zinc and 5% less iron, as well as 6% less protein, while rice had 3% less iron, 5% less iron and 8% less protein.

Maize saw similar falls while soybeans lost similar levels of zinc and iron but, being a legume not a grass, did not see lower protein.

The precise biological mechanism that causes nutrient levels to fall is not well understood as yet.

But Professor Brian Thomas, a plant develoment expert at the University of Warwick and not involved in the research said: “The work is convincing and consistent with what we do know about the plant physiology.

crop

The impact on human health resulting from the drop in the level of protein is less clear than for the zinc and iron loss.

Myers said the resulting increase in carbohydrate in the crops could increase the rate of metabolic syndrome, the diabetes, heart disease and stroke that currently afflicts many in developed countries due to high levels of obesity.

But Myers said obesity is not necessary for the risk of metabolic syndrome to rise. “It is something to do with the switch of foods itself.

crop

Myers said simply eating more staple foods to meet zinc and iron requirements was not realistic when food production already must double by 2050 to meet the demand of rising populations.

Some of the varieties used in the research performed better than others, raising the prospect of breeding strains that are less vulnerable to rising CO2.

But the researchers noted: “Such breeding programmes will not be a panacea for many reasons including the affordability of improved seeds and the numerous criteria used by farmers in making planting decisions that include taste, tradition, marketability, growing requirements and yield.

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Study Reveals The Cheese Triggers The Same Part Of The Brain As Drugs

There’s a good reason why you just can’t resist reaching for another slice of Stilton.

Scientists claim that cheese is as addictive as drugs because of a chemical called casein.

This is found in dairy products and can trigger the brain’s opioid receptors, which are responsible for addiction.

The study, by the University of Michigan, took a look at which items act as the “drugs of the food world“.

The researchers discovered pizza was one of the world’s most addictive foods, largely because of its cheesy topping.

Fat seemed to be equally predictive of problematic eating for everyone, regardless of whether they experience symptoms of ‘food addiction,” Erica Schulte, one of the study’s authors, told Mic.




Dr. Neal Barnard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine said that casein ‘breaks apart during digestion to release a whole host of opiates called casomorphins.’

Some scientists believe the influence of cheese is so potent that they refer to it as “dairy crack“.

A number of studies have revealed that casomorphins lock with opioid receptors, which are linked with the control of pain, reward and addiction in the brain.

[Casomorphins] really play with the dopamine receptors and trigger that addictive element,” registered dietitian Cameron Wells told Mic .

Milk contains a tiny amount of casein in milk, but producing a pound of cheese requires about 10 pounds of milk, so the chemical is ingested in high amounts.

According to the University of Illinois Extension Program, caseins makes up 80 per cent of the proteins in cow milk.

The average person is estimated to eat around 35 pounds of cheese – suggesting that it really as addictive as research claims.

The problem is particularly bad when it comes to highly-processed cheese such as ‘plastic cheese’.

Studies in animals have found that highly processed foods, or foods with added fat or refined carbohydrates, may be capable of triggering addictive eating behaviour.

And people with symptoms of food addiction or with higher body mass indexes have reported greater problems with highly processed foods.

This suggests some may be particularly sensitive to the possible “rewarding” properties of these foods, said Erica Schulte, a U-M psychology doctoral student and the study’s lead author.

If properties of some foods are associated with addictive eating for some people, this may impact nutrition guidelines, as well as public policy initiatives such as marketing these foods to children,” Schulte said.

Nicole Avena, assistant professor of pharmacology and systems therapeutics at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, and a co-author on the study, explained the significance of the findings.

This is a first step towards identifying specific foods, and properties of foods, which can trigger this addictive response,” she said.

This could help change the way we approach obesity treatment. It may not be a simple matter of ‘cutting back’ on certain foods, but rather, adopting methods used to curtail smoking, drinking and drug use.”

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Impacts Of Genetically Modified Animals On The Ecosystem And Human Activities

The genetic modification of animals to obtain transgenic animals started in 1980. The first transgenic animals were mice, which are still the most frequently used transgenic species.

About 20 transgenic species have been obtained and they are more or less currently used. Various methods are being implemented to transfer foreign genes to the different species.

Transgenic animals are mostly used for basic research to study gene and biological functions. Transgenics may also be the source of organs and cells for humans as well as of medicaments.

The impact of transgenesis to improve animals for food and feed production is still non-existent but is expected to become a reality in the coming months.

Humans domesticated some animal species to obtain food, acquire strength for various activities and as companions.




Breeding likely contributed to revealing to humans the mechanisms of reproduction, including their own.

Long ago, humans probably made a distinction between themselves and animals, while recognizing their resemblance to animals.

More recently, humans have considered combining the biological properties of some animals with their own. They imagined the creation of chimeras from human and bull or goat.

They described and represented these chimeric organisms but could not produce them.

Genetic selection has thus become more efficient but is still totally dependent on natural and spontaneous random mutations.

In order to enlarge the choice of plants and animals for selection, humans started to use mutagenic chemical compounds.

The mutagens were applied to micro-organisms, then to plants and animals. The mutations were then much more frequent, but still totally random and unknown.

A selection makes the emergence of new lines of interest possible. More than 3000 plant varieties have thus been obtained and validated and are being used as food.

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GMO Food To Get Labels Beginning 2020

New guidelines for labeling foods with genetically modified organisms have now been submitted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which essentially would require all foodmakers to use labels that indicate their products contain GMO.

A great number of Americans still debate over the safety of GMO food regardless of scientific studies that say they aren’t health hazards.

Many companies, along with a handful of different establishments including restaurants and coffee shops, now place “non-GMO” labels on their products.

For the uninitiated, GMO refers to plants and animals created via gene alteration in ways that natural breeding can’t achieve. It also refers to products that contain GMO ingredients.

Scientists perform this to make some plants resistant to ill elements and ultimately make agriculture more efficient. For example, one type of papaya contains a gene modification that makes it resistant to a certain virus.

Only a handful of crops like this, according to The New York Times, are grown globally.




What Are GMOs?

The most significant belief among the anti-GMO groups is that GMO foods elevate risk of certain diseases.

A report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in 2016 found “no differences that would implicate a higher risk to human health” from GMO crops.

It found no evidence that GMO foods in North America have contributed to higher risks incidence of cancer, obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, autism, celiac disease, or food allergies.

Several other organizations have also expressed that GMOs are safe for consumption.

Department Of Agriculture’s New Guidelines

Even still, the new guidelines will require foodmakers and manufacturers to put GMO labels on their products by 2020, but they’re given more freedom beyond a plain, nondescript “GMO” sticker.

Instead, the guidelines propose labels such as “bioengineered” — or “BE,” for short.

Foodmakers would also be able to choose among three options: say the product contains GMO flat-out, use a standard icon or logo, or place a QR code that will take users to a website containing more information.

However, the labels may not appear on all products that contain GMO.

For example, some crops that undergo genetic engineering might not be required to get such labels because even though their genes are altered, such alterations can still occur via conventional breeding methods.

Another example are foods whose main ingredient is non-GMO meat but otherwise contain GMO ingredients. Both of these don’t have to be labeled.

It’s important to note that the Department of Agriculture’s guidelines are still pending. The public has until July 3 to comment on the proposal.

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Behind The Hype Of ‘Lab-Grown’ Meat

Some folks have big plans for your future. They want you—a burger-eatin’, chicken-finger-dippin’ American—to buy their burgers and nuggets grown from stem cells.

One day, meat eaters and vegans might even share their hypothetical burger. That burger will be delicious, environmentally friendly, and be indistinguishable from a regular burger.

And they assure you the meat will be real meat, just not ground from slaughtered animals.

That future is on the minds of a cadre of Silicon Valley startup founders and at least one nonprofit in the world of cultured meat.

Some are sure it will heal the environmental woes caused by American agriculture while protecting the welfare of farm animals.




But these future foods’ promises are hypothetical, with many claims based on a futurist optimism in line with Silicon Valley’s startup culture.

Cultured meat is still in its research and development phase and must overcome massive hurdles before hitting market.

A consumer-ready product does not yet exist and its progress is heavily shrouded by intellectual property claims and sensationalist press. Today, cultured meat is a lot of hype and no consumer product.

The truth is that only a few successful prototypes have yet been shown to the public, including a NASA-funded goldfish-based protein in the early 2000s, and a steak grown from frog cells in 2003 for an art exhibit.

More have come recently: Mark Post unveiled a $330,000 cultured burger in 2013, startup Memphis Meats has produced cultured meatballs and poultry last and this year, and Hampton Creek plans to have a product reveal dinner by the end of the year.

Because many in the cultured meat industry see this meat as cruelty-free, animal rights groups have become more vocal about cultured meat in its recent past.

For now, we know that the meat is made by growing animal-derived cells in the lab and harvesting the meat after a month or so.

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Cosmic Crisp – A New Apple To Get Your Teeth Into

How do you like them apples? Lead scientist Dr Kate Evans at Washington State University’s Tree Fruit Research & Extension Center. Photograph: Ted S. Warren/AP

Nearly 30 years ago, Dr Bruce Barritt was jeered when he branded the apple industry in Washington state a dinosaur for growing obsolete varieties such as red and golden delicious.

Now, farmers in the state, where 70% of US apples are grown, are ripping up millions of trees and replacing them with a new variety, the cosmic crisp, which Barritt, a horticulturalist, has created in the decades since.

With 12m trees to be planted by 2020, and the first harvest of apples due in the shops in 2019, it is the biggest ever launch of a new apple.

Around 10m 40lb boxes are expected to be produced in the next four years, compared with the usual 3-5m for a new variety. It’s a gamble for growers: replanting costs up to $50,000 per acre, so the cosmic crisp needs to fetch top dollar to make their investment worthwhile.

Barritt began his quest for the perfect apple in the 1980s, after being hired by Washington State University (WSU).




I had two projects,” he says. “The orchards being grown were inefficient – big trees that required ladders, poor fruit quality because of shade in the trees… That was a problem I could tackle.

“But I thought the most important problem was that, at the time in Washington, 90% of the crop was red delicious and golden delicious – they’re not crisp, juicy or flavourful.

“I was giving a talk to 2,000 industry people and I told them these were obsolete. It didn’t go down well. If I asked them why they were still growing these varieties, they’d say ‘Because we grow them better than anybody else.’ That wasn’t good enough, because the consumer wasn’t happy.

Barritt was convinced better varieties had to be developed, and made available to every farmer in the state (new varieties such as jazz and ambrosia are often only licensed to small clubs of growers).

He spent six years lobbying the industry in Washington and the university for money to fund a breeding programme, which began in 1994.

Barritt created thousands of seedlings by cross-pollinating the blossoms of parent trees.

‘Sweet but not too sweet’: proof is in the tasting for the cosmic crisp. Photograph: Ted S Warren/AP

When they come into bearing, we walk the long rows and bite, chew and spit, because you can’t eat a lot of apples at once – your taste buds lose their sensitivity.

“The majority you bite into are terrible, but eventually you come up with ones that are good.”

The cosmic crisp, so named because of its yellow star-like flecks on a burgundy skin, is a cross between the honeycrisp and the enterprise.

Honeycrisp’s claim to fame is its crispness; it also has good sugar and acid and texture. Enterprise is large, full-coloured, stores well and is firm. It’s got good acidity and flavour in general.

Enterprise is also known for its resistance to fire blight.

Around this time, Barritt retired. Dr Kate Evans, a British horticulturalist who had been leading breeding programmes for East Malling Research in Kent, took over.

Testing of the apple continued and it was patented in 2014, with Barritt named as the “inventor”. For the next 10 years, it will only be available to US farmers in Washington, because they helped fund the breeding programme.

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