How Cities are Turning Food Waste Into…Food

fruit store
Cities have a problem with food: they waste a lot of it. The current food distribution setup encourages bulk deliveries via trucks which means that when that large amount of food goes bad – a lot of it does all at the same time. Governments have looked into this problem and are addressing it at the city level by finding novel ways to use the nearly-expired food. Some places are using food that can’t be sold in grocery stores for charity while others use it for entirely other reasons. It’s great to see food waste decrease a little more each year!

And giving food to hungry people—surprise surprise—makes society a lot better. One of the best examples is in the English former industrial town of Leeds, where food that would be thrown away from supermarkets goes to a big state school in a poor neighborhood. The school gets enough to feed all 600 pupils a nutritious breakfast and lunch for no extra cost to itself or to parents. Because the pupils aren’t hungry or coming down off sugar rushes, there’s less truancy, they behave better, and their exam scores have gone up.

But food banks and charities also end up with leftovers, so there’s been an explosion in organizations, like Les Confitures de Dominique in Bordeaux, that turn unwanted fruit and veg into jams, smoothies, chutneys, and soups. In fact, there’s a whole new industry of turning food waste into other food, like Toast Ale in London, which takes the unwanted bread ends that can’t be used for prepackaged sandwiches and turns them into beer.

Read more.
Thanks to Delaney!

You Can Now Eat Climate Data

Ice cream
Ice cream is delicious and now you can eat a brand new flavour of it made of climate data. Well, it’s more like existing flavours put together to symbolize data about our climate and how it’s changing. Jonathon Keats is the brain behind the project and he’s mixing the ice cream together to raise awareness and to see if we can better understand the anthropocene if we use multiple senses.

The dessert will be served in Berlin during the STATE Festival for Open Science, Art & Society. If you’re in the area and looking for something sweet let us know if it tastes any good!

In his ice-cream model of the climate, Keats started with a detailed diagram of feedback loops made by University of Toronto computer scientist Steve Easterbrook. The model shows how each part of the system interrelates; as rising temperatures make ice melt, for example, the ground reflects less sunlight, which leads to even more warming.

In the sorbet, each part of the system is represented by a different ingredient that activates a different receptor in the gut. Sugar, which activates a receptor called TRPM-5, represents greenhouse gases; citric acids represent aerosols. Cinnamon is radiative balance, the relationship between the amount of energy reaching and leaving the Earth. In total, there are 12 ingredients

Read more.

Using Seawater to Farm in the Desert

The future of farming in much of the world could look like something out of science fiction. Sundrop farms in Australia has a farm up and running that produces food using seawater pumped into a desert location where they use the power of the sun to power the entire process. Solar energy desalinates the water while purifying the environment (so no pesticides) of the greenhouse – the entire process is form renewable sources!

Seawater is piped 2 kilometres from the Spencer Gulf to Sundrop Farm – the 20-hectare site in the arid Port Augusta region. A solar-powered desalination plant removes the salt, creating enough fresh water to irrigate 180,000 tomato plants inside the greenhouse.

Scorching summer temperatures and dry conditions make the region unsuitable for conventional farming, but the greenhouse is lined with seawater-soaked cardboard to keep the plants cool enough to stay healthy. In winter, solar heating keeps the greenhouse warm.

There is no need for pesticides as seawater cleans and sterilises the air, and plants grow in coconut husks instead of soil.

The farm’s solar power is generated by 23,000 mirrors that reflect sunlight towards a 115-metre high receiver tower. On a sunny day, up to 39 megawatts of energy can be produced – enough to power the desalination plant and supply the greenhouse’s electricity needs.

Read more.

Be a Rebel by Eating Healthy

food

Teenagers question assumptions and tend to rebel against societal norms, so why not get them to question the normal industrial food supply we have? If we do subtly guide teens to think that standard capitalist food practices should be questioned they end up rebelling by eating healthy! It turns out all one has to do to encourage healthy eating is to get teens to think about where their food comes from more than what does for our bodies.

“If the normal way of seeing healthy eating is that it is lame, then you don’t want to be the kind of person who is a healthy eater,” said David Yeager, co-author of the research from the University of Texas at Austin.

“But if we make healthy eating seem like the rebellious thing that you do, you make your own choices, you fight back against injustice, then it could be seen as high status.”

Read more.

Efficient Beans to Beat Drought Conditions


Beans are delicious, so delicious that earlier this year the UN declared 2016 to be year of the pulse. Around the world beans are cultivated for their protein and their ability to grow in many places. Some beans are better at growing in wet areas while others in drought conditions. This has led botanists to look into why some beans are better than others in terms of the drought resistance. They figured it out thanks to crossbreeding the beans!

What the researchers have now found is that the plants have developed two distinct strategies, depending on the soil in which they were planted and the length of the dry periods they had to endure.

One group has developed deeper roots so they can reach the available moisture in soil that retained water even when there was no rain.

The second group has smaller leaves and closes down their operations to wait for better times. Some varieties use what little resources they have left to grow as many beans as possible, to ensure the survival of the next generation.

Read more.
Thanks to Delaney!