Friday, October 24, 2014

Food news for Food Day 2014

A happy Food Day to all of my readers!  To celebrate the day,* I present a linkspam of food news, beginning with Discovery News asking Are Healthy Foods REALLY More Expensive?

Healthy foods: Are they more expensive than foods that are bad for you? Tara takes a look at some recent research that might confirm this theory.
That's a video I should show my class, especially after they've seen 'Food, Inc.'

Now for something a little less serious from Discovery News, The Surprising Benefit Of Reheating Pasta!

There's nothing better than leftover pasta, and now science has a reason to love it even more! Tara reveals some surprising evidence that cold pasta might be good for your diet!
Cool, but I'm not showing this one to my students.

Follow over the jump for food news from the past two months of Overnight News Digest on Daily Kos.

The next set of stories qualify under good news/bad news.  The good news is that I have lots of first-rate food news from the University of Massachusetts.  The bad news is why.  As I wrote in Health news from the University of Massachusetts:
There may be more news in the future from one of my adopted home states, depending on whether the Governor's contest is competitive.  If Martha Coakley, who won the Democratic primary manages to walk away with the election, I'll focus my attention elsewhere.
As I feared, the contest is competitive.  I'm not surprised, as "the last time I saw Martha Coakley's name mentioned in connection with an election, she lost to Scott Brown for U.S. Senate."  Sigh, she's returning to form.  Consequently, expect more from UMass during the next three weeks.

In the meantime, enjoy the food and health contributions of the Minutemen.

University of Massachusetts Medical School: Even motivated dieters need close access to healthy food
UMMS and DPH findings challenge previous conclusions about healthy eating and neighborhood environment
By Sandra Gray
UMass Medical School Communications
October 07, 2014
You’re obese, at risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and so motivated to improve your diet that you’ve enrolled in an intensive behavioral program. But if you need to travel more than a short distance to a store that offers a good selection of healthy food, your success may be limited.

A new study from UMass Medical School and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health finds that not having close access to healthy foods can deter even the most motivated dieters from improving their diet, suggesting that easy access to healthy food is as important as personal motivation and professional guidance from health care providers.

“Community health programs should be evidence based, but many studies have showed conflicting associations between the distance to grocery stores and lower or higher prevalence of obesity and diabetes,” said principal investigator Wenjun Li, PhD, associate professor of medicine and director of the Health Statistics and Geography Lab in the Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine at UMMS and senior author of the study.
University of Massachusetts Medical School: Food addiction: The missing piece in the obesity epidemic
Two events at UMass Medical School Oct. 21 and 22 explore diagnosis and treatment
By Sandra Gray
UMass Medical School Communications
October 16, 2014
Mounting evidence indicates that food addiction is a major underlying contributor to the obesity epidemic, and that misdiagnosis and under-treatment of food addiction is a major obstacle to overcoming obesity.

“The scientific consensus is that food addiction is real,” said addiction psychiatrist Douglas Ziedonis, MD, MPH. “Food addiction is a major part of and cause of the current obesity epidemic and a serious public health threat.”

But many patients and health care providers lack the knowledge and skills to confront the problem.
I finish the section about food research from UMass with this item about improving food in space.

University of Massachusetts: Assuring Good Nutrition for Astronauts
UMass Amherst food scientists partner with NASA to improve spaceflight foods
October 8, 2014
AMHERST, Mass. - Maintaining the nutritional value of astronauts' food in space over long periods without refrigeration is a challenge, particularly for the essential vitamins. Now University of Massachusetts Amherst food scientists Hang Xiao and colleagues have received a three-year, $982,685 grant from NASA to investigate the degradation of essential vitamins over time in spaceflight foods, and develop strategies to minimize loss.

Xiao and UMass Amherst colleagues Micha Peleg, Eric Decker, D. Julian McClements, Lili He and Anna Liu, with graduate students, will monitor the degradation mechanisms and kinetics in different types of foods given to astronauts during food processing and two years of storage. It's currently unknown how certain essential vitamins such as B1 (thiamine) and K in different foods respond to the conditions of spaceflight, Xiao points out.

"We'll use the same foods that the flight crews receive at the International Space Station," Xiao says. His team will determine the influence of the preparation and preservation conditions, the vitamins interactions with the food matrix, storage conditions and other factors on the degradation kinetics, that is the rate of potency loss.
Now, the rest of the news from diverse sources, beginning with Colorado State University.  Take it away, Rams!

Colorado State University: Fargreen wins 200,000 euro in Green Challenge
September 12, 2014
Fargreen, a startup founded as part of the College of Business’s Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise MBA program, took home €200,000 (more than $250,000 USD) in the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge 2014 on Sept. 11.

CEO Trang Tran accepted the prize after pitching her company against four other finalists, selected from more than 300 entrants from 57 countries, in a weeklong competition in Amsterdam.  Fargreen works with local rice farmers in Tran’s home country of Vietnam to divert leftover rice straw from burning to a growing medium for edible gourmet mushrooms. This process not only reduces air pollution and stops the release of greenhouse gases, it also gives farmers an additional crop to increase their income by 50 percent.

Tran expects Fargreen mushrooms to be available in Vietnamese grocery stores by the end of the year, where they will be the first branded mushrooms on the market and sell for a premium. The Green Challenge prize will help the company expand operations and eventually enter other countries, such as India, facing similar environmental challenges.
Colorado State University: Researcher: Analysis of GMO labeling initiative unbiased
by Jeff Dodge
15 Oct, 2014
A research team led by a Colorado State University faculty member has found that a new citizens’ review of the initiative to require labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) was largely fair and unbiased.

Proposition 105, which will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot in Colorado, would require, with several exceptions, “food that has been genetically modified or treated with genetically modified material to be labeled ‘Produced With Genetic Engineering’ starting on July 1, 2016.”
On the subject of GMOs, here's a relevant diary from Daily Kos: The Money Behind GMO Science, Part 1 by edg.  My comment on this diary is that I include all the science diaries in Overnight News Digest, even the bad ones.  This is a bad one.

Contributions from campuses on the campaign trail continue with Iowa State University: 2014 World Food Prize Laureate will present ISU’s Borlaug Lecture Oct. 13, Posted Oct 6, 2014 11:50 am.
AMES, Iowa — Plant scientist Sanjaya Rajaram, named the 2014 World Food Prize Laureate for developing high-yielding wheat varieties grown on more than 58 million hectares worldwide, will present the Norman Borlaug Lecture at Iowa State University.

“In the Footsteps of Norman Borlaug: The Golden Years of Wheat Production” will be at 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 13, in the Memorial Union Great Hall. A reception and student poster display will precede the lecture at 7 p.m. in the South Ballroom. Undergraduate and graduate students will present posters on their research on world food issues. The Norman Borlaug Lecture is part of the World Affairs Series at Iowa State. It is free and open to the public.

As the most widely grown cereal crop in the world, wheat is a primary source of calories and protein for 4.5 billion people in more than 100 countries. Rajaram’s plant breeding research built upon the successes of the Green Revolution and resulted in a remarkable increase in world wheat production. By crossing winter and spring wheat varieties — which were distinct gene pools that had been isolated from one another for hundreds of years — he created wheat varieties that are disease- and stress-resistant and adaptable to diverse geographical regions and climates. In 2007, Norman Borlaug called Rajaram “the greatest present-day wheat scientist in the world.”
The last item from campuses on the campaign trail comes from
North Carolina State University: Engineering A Better Food Bank By Matt Shipman, on September 24, 2014.
For the past few years, a team of engineers has spent long hours poring over data files and complex computer models. They weren’t designing nuclear reactors or high-tech cars – they were using their technology and expertise to improve programs that feed the hungry.

Food banks are enormous enterprises, serving as the linchpin for hunger relief efforts across the United States. But they are as complex as the nation’s food system itself, collecting food from sources ranging from local farmers to charitable donations and distributing it to myriad agencies that then share it with people in need. Their goal is to do this as fairly and efficiently as possible. But, like many complicated systems, this is easier said than done. That’s where engineering comes in.

Julie Ivy is an industrial and systems engineer at NC State. Industrial and systems engineering (ISE) focuses on understanding processes (like those at a food bank) and using computational models to find ways to improve them.

In 2009, an ISE researcher at North Carolina A&T State University named Lauren Davis contacted Ivy with an idea. One of Davis’s students was volunteering at an area food bank and had noticed inefficiencies in the system. What did Ivy think about working with food banks to make them run more smoothly?
The rest of today's food news comes from commercial sources, just like the opening video.

The Guardian: How to make tea correctly (according to science): milk first
Posted by Dean Burnett
Whether you put milk in your cup before or after the hot water is a constant argument among British people. Science may say milk first, but many would strongly disagree

Tea is better than coffee. Let’s just get that out of the way before we start.  Many   Most  ALL British people think this. Even those who say the exact opposite agree really, they’re just trying to be provocative and confrontational due to consuming too much caffeine. Yes, it may look like pretty much every other building you come across these days is a Starbucks, but tea is still more popular. Tea doesn’t need a global empire shoving it in people’s faces. Not after the last one, anyway.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Pacific settlers developed gardens to survive
Anna Salleh
Monday, 22 September 2014
Analysis of ancient human bones supports the idea that the first inhabitants of Vanuatu developed horticulture as they ran out of wild resources.

Around 2500 years ago there was a shift in the Lapita people towards a greater reliance on cultivated plants such as yam, taro and banana, according to an isotopic analysis of bones reported in a recent issue of PLOS ONE.

"It contributes to a debate that's been going on for generations," says co-author Dr Stuart Bedford, an archaeologist from the Australian National University.
CBS Philadelphia: Penn Museum Walking Tour Will Spotlight Food Down Through The Ages
By Hadas Kuznits
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A new self-guided tour celebrating food in various cultures is coming to the Penn Museum (the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology), in West Philadelphia, from September through December.
Once again, happy Food Day!

*It's also my wife's and my fifth anniversary.  You can wish us a happy anniversary in the comments. :-)

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