Reducing Waste in Food Courts

fries

Poor waste management presents more than just food waste in food courts located in mass or offices. The waste of time, money, and energy plague most of these food operations. In yet another example of how being more efficient with waste saves more than the planet, the CBC took a look at how some food courts in Canada are dealing with waste. There are easy solutions like better signage and reducing what restaurants need to hand out with every meal and there are more complex solutions like dehydrating the food waste. Of course, the best way to reduce waste in food courts is to bring your own lunch from home.

The food court at Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto used to generate 120 bags of garbage a day. Now it produces just three — despite the fact that it serves noodles, fried chicken, burgers and other fast foods to 24,000 customers a day.

The good news is that far more food court waste is recyclable than you might think. Cromie and his team went through a load of garbage collected at a local food court by CBC News and found 86 per cent of the items in the “garbage” stream could actually have been recycled.

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Eating Yogurt Helps Reduce Inflammation

happiness

Eat more yogurt to help reduce inflammation inside your body. Yummy yogurt is also good for your tummy. Some recent research has concluded that yogurt can help reduce inflammation while also helping those with obesity. Be careful though and check the sugar content of popular yogurt brands since the sugar content can eliminate the other health gains.

If yogurt isn’t your thing you can ingest the following bacteria strains Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, and Lactobacillus acidophilus.

But now, a pair of new studies suggest there might be something about yogurt after all. In the female subjects, at least, it appears to help with markers of inflammation—and that, in turn, can keep other types of diseases at bay.

Inflammation, the body’s immune response to invaders, can be a good thing—it’s how our wounds heal, for example. But a steady, low-level simmer of inflammation in the body is associated with diseases like asthma and arthritis, as well as obesity, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease.

“People who are obese have chronic inflammation, which is why there are diseases associated with obesity, like cardiac disease,” says Caroline Childs, a lecturer in nutrition at the University of Southampton. “So if you can reduce the inflammation, you might have less associated diseases.”

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EU Bans Bee Bashing Pesticides

bee

Neonicotinoids kill bees, specifically their hives, and the EU just expanded their ban on neonicotinoids to help protect the world’s dying bee populations. Back in 2013 the EU banned pesticides with neonicotinoids in them when spraying pesticides on plants and flowers that attracted bees. That meant that the deadly chemicals could still get into the ecosystem and kill hives of bees, and researchers found that the best solution to protecting bees would be an outright ban on neonicotinoids. By this end of this year the total ban will be put in place.

Vytenis Andriukaitis, European commissioner for Health and Food Safety, welcomed Friday’s vote: “The commission had proposed these measures months ago, on the basis of the scientific advice from Efsa. Bee health remains of paramount importance for me since it concerns biodiversity, food production and the environment.”

The EU decision could have global ramifications, according to Prof Nigel Raine, at the University of Guelph in Canada: “Policy makers in other jurisdictions will be paying close attention to these decisions. We rely on both farmers and pollinators for the food we eat. Pesticide regulation is a balancing act between unintended consequences of their use for non-target organisms, including pollinators, and giving farmers the tools they need to control crop pests.”

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Don’t Give up on Desalination

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How we manage local water sources drastically alters how we grow crops and get drinking water. Cape Town is currently experience a water crisis that was in the making for decades because of poor water use policies. Desalination plants can help coastal cities provide water to their populace by separating salt from seawater. Wired has a good article on how one company is improving desalination techniques for growing crops, which, they predict can help bring plant life to arid regions.

The structure’s double-layered fibreglass roof transmitted sunlight but captured heat, diverting it through ducts into a compartment at the building’s rear. There, the heat was used to distill freshwater out of seawater for irrigation. The rest was vaporised and sucked through the growing space by fans to cool and humidify the plants, reducing transpiration. Paton calculated that a square metre of crops adjacent to the greenhouse would have required eight litres of water per day to offset what they lost in transpiration. “But inside we were using closer to one litre per square metre per day, and we were growing a better crop.”

Paton is also interested in the long term restorative benefits of his invention. Davies’ model predicted that the greenhouse’s cooling and humidifying effect would seep into the surrounding environment: “You can see there would be a plume of cool air coming off the greenhouse,” he says. And since the region hasn’t always been barren, Paton thinks greenhouses could return parts of it to the naturally vegetated state it was in before overgrazing and drought took hold. “I believe that when you get to, say, 20 years, you’d have enough vegetation to do the job of the greenhouses because they’re creating shade and shared humidity – changing the climate.” Because vegetation sequesters carbon, that also has broader ramifications for mitigating the effects of climate change.

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How Vertical Farms can Help During Disasters

fruit store

Supporters of vertical farms envision a future that has skyscraper farms beside work places and residences in urban centres. Their thinking is that by growing food where people are will help alleviate pressure on our soil and land use – and they’re right. Indeed, a recent realized spinoff benefit of vertical (or just indoor) farming is after a natural disaster these insulated farming systems can feed people in the impacted area.

In a way, Harvey was a test for Moonflower Farms. Founded by Marques in December 2015, it was one of the state’s very first indoor “vertical” farms—where plants are stacked in trays on shelves, instead of laid out horizontally across larger plots of land. In these high-tech structures, plants don’t rely on sunlight or soil, rainwater or pesticides, but LED lights and minerals instead. The goal of vertical farms isn’t just to save space; it’s also to find a more economical way of producing food for the growing population—and to reduce the costs and consequences of getting that food to where people actually live.

“We are kind of at the beginning of a revolution,” Per Pinstrup-Andersen, a graduate-school professor at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology, told me. “We’re at the beginning of a very rapid development in the use of indoor controlled facilities for producing vegetables and some fruits,” he said. “No matter what happens with climate change, you still have your controlled environment.”

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