Save the Grocery Store, Save the Town

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When markets fail people, then the people need to replace the market. Ir, to put it more directly: when a profitable grocery store isn’t profitable enough for a company then small towns need to buy that grocery store and turn it into a publicly owned asset which keeps the community alive. That’s what small towns in the USA are starting to do. By saving their local, downtown, grocery stores they keep people employed, returning to the town, and overall make life easier for everyone. The future of America might be the small box store.

The city hadn’t had a full-scale grocery store since 1985, and Giefer decided to change that. In 2008, he used city funding to get a new store, St. Paul Supermarket, off the ground. In 2013, when the couple who ran the store was staring down retirement, Giefer convinced the city to buy it outright.

In 2019, Schoenhofer drove to St. Paul to meet with that city’s clerk, who gave her some tips. The experiment, Schoenhofer found, had been a success. The St. Paul grocery employs ~15 people, and it turns a profit of 3%, slightly better than the average for rural grocery stores.

It has also kept people — and spending money — in town. Similarly, in Erie, residents show up to Erie Market for fresh lunches, like a BBQ pulled-pork sandwich or a taco on Taco Tuesday.

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Plastic-Free Cucumbers Hit the Shelves in Canada

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Canadians love putting food in petroleum products so much that we ship cucumbers and milk in plastic (yes, you can buy milk in plastic sacks). Thankfully, Canadians are starting to understand that plastic wrapping is wasteful and really bad for the environment. An agricultural company in Ontario has created a way to replace the plastic wrap put on cucumbers with a plant-based alternative.

These plastic-free cucumbers hit shelves the same week the federal government announced new details about its plan to ban some single-use plastics over the next 18 months, including straws, takeout containers, grocery bags and cutlery.

A 2019 Deloitte study found less than one-tenth of the plastic waste Canadians produce is recycled, equating to 3.3 million tonnes of plastic being thrown out annually, almost half of it is plastic packaging.

“Everybody wants to do their share when they’re talking about being [a] good environmental steward,” said DiLaudo.

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Save Forests by Removing Just One Item From Your Diet

We are what we eat, and right now many of us need to change who we are. Changing one’s diet can be one of the biggest things one does for the environment since we must eat everyday. Researchers have yet again shown that just removing red meat from your diet can make a big difference for the environment.

If removing meat from your diet is too much of a challenge then just reduce your consumption of it. Fighting climate change requires big groups of people making tiny changes so even doing a little can add up to a lot.

The team used a mathematical model that considered increases in population growth, income and livestock demand between 2020 and 2050. Under a business-as-usual scenario, the global increase in beef consumption would require the expansion of pasture areas for grazing and of cropland for feed production, which would double the annual rate of deforestation globally. Methane emissions and agricultural water use would also increase.

Replacing 20% of the world’s per-capita beef consumption with mycoprotein by 2050 would reduce methane emissions by 11% and halve the annual deforestation and associated emissions, compared with the business-as-usual scenario (see ‘Meat substitution’). The mitigating effects on deforestation are so great because, under this scenario, global demand for beef does not increase, so there is no need to expand pasture areas or cropland for feeding cattle, Humpenöder says.

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Better Beer by Biological Betterment

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Barley, like many other plants, faces worse growing conditions thanks to the ongoing climate crisis. Also like other plants, researchers are looking into ways to help the plant survive unpredictable weather changes. Biologists in Japan have modified the barley plant to survive early flooding which will help farmers get a good price for their crop while also ensuring we have a reliable source of a key ingredient for beer.?

The researchers are ecstatic to have hit gold in their plant biotechnology endeavor. Dr. Hisano exclaims, “We could successfully produce mutant barley that was resistant to pre-harvest sprouting, using the CRISPR/Cas9 technology. Also, our study has not only clarified the roles of qsd1 and qsd2 in grain germination or dormancy, but has also established that qsd2 plays a more significant role.”

Overall, this study serves as a milestone for present and future crop improvement research, using efficient gene manipulation like that offered by CRISPR/Cas9. The researchers are hopeful that they may be able to solve the food and environmental problems that human beings are currently facing worldwide, using their enhanced biotechnology techniques.

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Growing Coffee Sustainably in Finland

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Climate change changes everything and coffee is no exception. Traditional growing locales are suffering from unpredictable weather and more incidences of extreme weather making it difficult for the coffee plants to survive. A Finnish company has been researching how to grow coffee in a a lab so that coffee plants and their delicious beans can continue despite the pressures of climate change. They are using sustainable energy to grow and cultivate coffee so perhaps your next cup of coffee will come from a lab in Finland.

The work was started by initiating coffee cell cultures, establishing respective cell lines in the laboratory and transferring them to bioreactors to begin producing biomass. After analyses of the biomass, a roasting process was developed, and the new coffee was finally evaluated by VTT’s trained sensory panel.

The whole procedure required input from several disciplines and experts in the fields of plant biotechnology, chemistry, and food science.
“In terms of smell and taste, our trained sensory panel and analytical examination found the profile of the brew to bear similarity to ordinary coffee. However, coffee making is an art and involves iterative optimization under the supervision of specialists with dedicated equipment. Our work marks the basis for such work,” says Rischer.

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