The latest new buzzword in food tech? Fermentation. And we’re not talking about the kimchi or kombucha kind. Rather, it’s a process increasingly used by food companies to answer a ballooning demand for natural ingredients that are hard to come by. Instead of sourcing these ingredients from nature, food scientists are creating them through an industrial method that they describe as similar to brewing beer. Here’s how it works: Scientists identify the desired genes in a plant or animal and insert them into a host such as yeast. The yeast is fed sugars and nutrients to stimulate fermentation. Then the yeast and its genes are filtered off, and the desired ingredient is purified out of the remaining broth.
The national cheese spotlight this week turns to Wisconsin — where else? — as judges get ready to sniff, taste and touch thousands of samples in the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest. The national contest alternates each year with the world cheese-off. Judging is Tuesday and Wednesday at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, with winners announced Thursday. Entries for the national competition are up 22 percent, to a record 2,303, as cheesemakers recognize the marketing value of winning big competitions.
It’s a silent killer lurking in common foods. A carcinogenic toxin made by mould kills thousands around the world and forces millions of tonnes of infected crops to be discarded each year. But a new approach could turn off production of the poison even when mould does grow on the crops.Maize plants have been genetically modified to deliver strands of so-called interfering RNA that silence toxin-producing genes in a fungus that commonly grows on the crop.This GM corn can police the Aspergillus fungus on its own cobs and stop it producing poisonous aflatoxin that causes liver disease and cancer. The maize was engineered to express the gene-silencing RNA molecules by Monica Schmidt at the University of Arizona and colleagues. Her team then exposed this GM maize, along with a non-GM variety, to the fungal spores as they grew for a month. The fungus grew on both, but while high levels of toxin were found on the non-GM maize, the toxins were undetectable on the GM plants.
A recent bout of listeria infection potentially caused by cheese has reignited the fierce debate around raw milk. On March 9, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that two people had died in Vermont and Connecticut and four others had fallen ill after eating soft, raw-milk cheese from Vulto Creamery, an artisanal cheesemaker based in upstate New York. All six people had been infected with listeria. Vulto has recalled all of their raw-milk cheeses and—while the investigation into the outbreak is ongoing—the creamery is now being sued by the widow of one of the men who died.While raw-milk cheese has long been common in Europe, the sale and legality of such products varies state by state in the United States. While advocates of raw-milk products say that the process of pasteurizing milk kills some of the flavor of cheese, the US Food and Drug Administration says “raw milk can harbor dangerous microorganisms that can pose serious health risks to you and your family.” However, the deaths have caused concern amongst some stores that stock artisanal raw-milk cheese. Since the recall there have been discussions of the issue amongst storeowners. Since the recall, some stores have made a point of announcing that they do not carry any Vulto Creamery cheeses, while others have defended raw-milk cheese.
San Francisco-based food technology company Memphis Meats announced today what it is calling “the world’s first clean poultry” — food products created by replicating chicken and duck cells. The announcement comes a year after the company created its first product made from beef cells in the form of a meatball.“We aim to produce meat in a better way, so that it is delicious, affordable and sustainable,” said Uma Valeti, M.D., co-founder and CEO of Memphis Meats. “It is thrilling to introduce the first chicken and duck that didn’t require raising animals.”
Many of these programs have yielded promising results, such as improved science test scores (Klemmer, Waliczek, and Zajicek, 2005; Rahm, 2002). Evaluations of farm-to-school programs have shown improvements in child and teacher eating behaviors, food service at the school level, farmer involvement, and parent attitudes and/or behaviors toward healthy foods (Joshi, Azuma, and Feenstra, 2008). Children who received garden education combined with nutrition education wished to eat more fruits/vegetables than those who received only the nutrition education, or those in control groups (Parmer et al., 2009). These children also had an increased ability to identify fruits and vegetables and higher confidence in preparation (Somerset and Markwell, 2009). In addition, these types of programs appear to have a greater effect among inner-city students, especially in nutrition and food knowledge (Beckman and Smith, 2008; Somerset and Markwell, 2009). Our study was designed to assess the impact of a school gardening curriculum on children’s knowledge of and intent to eat fresh vegetables. - See more at: http://www.choicesmagazine.org/choices-magazine/theme-articles/transform...
While there are arguments for and against vertical farming, whether consumers are even willing to buy vertically farmed produce—an important consideration in the cost-benefit discussion—is rarely discussed. Recent agricultural technologies—such as genetically modified (GM) crops, food irradiation, and nanotechnology—have often been met with consumer skepticism (Frewer et al., 2011; Dannenberg, 2009; Siegrist et al., 2007; Ragaert et al., 2004), so it is unclear how vertical farming will fare with consumers. The overall purpose of our research is to investigate consumers’ perceptions of and willingness to pay (WTP) for produce—specifically, lettuce—grown in a vertical farm production system. Results from this study should provide insight on the potential for consumer acceptance of vertical farming as a new production technology relative to greenhouse and field production systems. This study will also examine the impact of information on perceptions of and WTP for vertically farmed lettuce. - See more at: http://www.choicesmagazine.org/choices-magazine/theme-articles/transform...
The widow of a Vermont man who died from a listeria-related stroke has named a New York-based raw milk creamery in a wrongful death lawsuit. Veronica Friedman, whose late husband, Richard Friedman, died on Nov. 2, said her family purchased the contaminated cheese manufactured by Vulto Creamery in early October. Hitchcock is one of two fatal cases in a multi-state listeria outbreak that has been traced to a soft raw milk cheese made by Vulto Creamery. The Walton, New York-based company issued a recall on March 7 for all lots of Ouleout, Mirand, Heinennellie and Willowemec soft wash-rind raw milk cheeses after two samples tested positive for listeria.
Three new varieties of genetically-engineered potatoes have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, meaning this latest round of GMO potatoes could hit store shelves as soon as this fall. The final federal stamps of approval acknowledging that these potatoes are safe to eat and safe for the environment will allow Idaho’s J.R. Simplot Company to begin planting the new varieties – dubbed Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet and Atlantic – this spring. Simplot states that these scientifically altered spuds offer up plenty of advantages over traditional taters. First, they use genes from an Argentine variety that makes them resistant to late blight, the infamous pathogen behind the Irish potato famine. And since this disease is often fought with fungicides, Simplot suggests these new varieties could also cut use of fungicides in half. But the new potatoes have other advantages as well. The varieties are less likely to bruise or have black spots and also have an extended storage life. Plus, they have lower levels of acrylamide – a naturally-occurring chemical that’s gotten a lot of press recently as health groups have warned that high levels of the compound, which increases when potatoes are browned, may cause cancer. Of course, some health groups aren’t too keen on GMOs either, but Simplot – who is clearly believes GMO produce can be safe – is also putting a positive spin on the way its potatoes were developed. The company says that even though genes have been modified, all the DNA contained in these new products comes exclusively from potatoes and not any sort of unrelated organism.
Everyone’s heard of the scary chemicals used by agribusiness to keep your apples worm-free—it’s what generates the fear that makes organic produce lucrative. In exchange for more money, consumers are told they can have pesticide-free peace of mind. On Wednesday, the Environmental Working Group (which calls itself a nonpartisan organization aimed at protecting human health and the environment) released its annual ranking of the best (“Clean Fifteen”) and the worst (“Dirty Dozen”) produce when it comes to pesticide content. The list is meant to be a tool for the consumer: If your favorite fruit is among the Dirty Dozen, the thinking goes, you’d be safer buying organic. Strawberries and spinach hold the top two spots in this year’s Dirty Dozen—more than 98 percent of samples tested positive for pesticide residue. One sample of strawberries, the report states, came with 20 different pesticides, while spinach samples had on average double the amount of pesticide residue by weight as any of the other crops reviewed. But experts in pesticides and toxicology say this annual list, seen as helpful for sales of organic produce, oversimplifies a complicated issue. Just because pesticides are on an apple doesn’t mean the apple is dangerous. Meanwhile, critics say, the EWG survey muddies what is a much more important message for American consumers: Eat more fruits and vegetables. Period. In fact, organic marketing that emphasizes the perceived threat of pesticide residue could be dissuading some consumers from buying fruits and vegetables at all. And that’s really not healthy.