Farm Can Grow Vegetables In Freezing Temperatures

As a trend, home gardening is explosive. TerraFarms are a space-efficient choice that use no pesticides and 97% less water. The Ogarden system is completely hassle-free and can grow up to 100 herbs and vegetables a month. However, home gardening isn’t practical everywhere — especially in colder countries. Engineers at the German Aerospace Center are now helping snowed-in communities garden, with an Antarctic farm that can grow veggies below zero.

Called the Eden-ISS, the farm exists inside a climate-controlled shipping container. The greenhouse relies on  a technique called vertical farming, in which food grows on trays or hanging modules under LEDs instead of natural sunlight.

The farm is only 135 square feet and can grow vegetables in huge amounts. Amazing, considering the only means of transportation for produce deliveries is by ship or plane. Researchers plan to grow some 30 to 50 different plant species. In short, the new technology is beating the odds.

Over the past 100 years, Arctic temperatures have increased at nearly twice the global average, making it possible to grow crops in once-desolate places like Yellowknife in Canada and Greenland.

On a more impressive note, temperatures in the area can plunge as low as -100 degrees Fahrenheit. I didn’t even know it was humanly possible to exist under such conditions. Lesson learned: never underestimate the power of innovation.

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Mediterranean Diet Prevents Heart and Brain Aging

Many people have different concepts of the best diet habits and what the best diet consists of. Here at our blog, I have written before about my personal stakes in maintaining a healthy diet and a co-worker has also said her piece on vegetarianism. Now, I consider myself far from a diet skeptic as I truly believe in having an eating regimen, but some fads just seem quite absurd, like surviving only on lemonade or grapefruit or baby food for weeks. A growing body of research agrees with me.

Scientists continue to affirm that this certain type of meal plan seems to be best: high consumption of vegetables, protein, and healthy fats; then low consumption of processed foods and refined carbs like white bread. This comes in various versions and labels as some people are completely vegetarian, while others choose to include eggs and dairy, or meat and fish, or all of the above, in their meals. But the base principle remains the same.

This Mediterranean diet or “plant-based” diet (or another label that you prefer) seems to be the healthiest.

In the latest issue of the Journal of Gerontology, scientists outline six recent studies of one version of the diet – the Mediterranean meal plan – and suggest that the eating regimen is closely linked to healthy aging, better mobility, a lower risk of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease, and improved cognitive function.

One study says that a “plant-based” diet may help slow cognitive decline among people who’ve had a stroke, and provide protection of the brain against neurodegeneration (seen in diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s). As for the more physical benefits, this Mediterranean diet provides protein for the muscles, fiber for the digestive system, and vitamins for tissues and bones.

This balance is also key to keeping you full after a meal and energized throughout the day so you don’t feel the need to overeat, Nichola Whitehead, a registered dietician in the UK, previously told Business Insider. “You need to have a balanced meal — things like whole grains, fibre, and vegetables — in order to sustain your blood sugar. Empty calories [like white bread or white rice] give a temporary fix,” she said.

Her use of the word temporary echoes with me as I think about other dieting plans. A “crash diet” doesn’t sound as good when you focus on the word crash, doesn’t it? For me, dieting is best when planned well and executed mindfully. Science can attest to that.

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Free Shopping Market Sells Surplus Food

The best things in life are free, or so they say. People like Katryna Robinson are making the most of hotel freebies by donating them to the needy. Now, a free shopping market in New Zealand is cutting food waste (and hunger) by selling surplus food.

The Free Store is a nonprofit organization that redistributes surplus food from local businesses… to those in need. It was inspired by a two-week art project… where artist Kim Paton filled a shop with surplus food items from bakeries and supermarkets. Anyone visiting the shop could take what they wanted free of charge.

In New Zealand, the amount of food that goes to waste is staggering at over 120,000 tons. Just like a similar shop in Norway, The Free Store redistributes expired food still fit for a perfectly good meal. At present, they are selling about 250,000 food items per annum.

“We saw the potential in an untapped food supply. You had food that was perfectly good to eat, and then you had people that were hungry. We could facilitate a connection between the two,”

Initiatives such as this one are becoming increasingly popular around the world. While I’m all for consuming anything “spoiled but scrumptious”, I am more enthusiastic about how things are looking up for those in need.

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Yellow Peas Are The New Milk

In the food industry, nothing is what it seems. At Ava Winery, wine is grape-less. Popular distillery Misadventure and Co. is producing vodka made with food waste. Ripple is not far behind, introducing an entire line of dairy products made with yellow peas.

“The food system represents 20 percent of the world’s carbon emissions, and dairy is one-quarter of that,” said [co-founder Neil] Renninger… “The impact is massive. More than beef, more than chicken, dairy is actually the largest contributor to emissions by volume. That challenge scratched my sustainability itch.”

Since its launch, Ripple has sold a healthy 2.5 million bottles of plant-based products. Renninger and partner Adam Lowry admitted that most plant food “sucks” because the industry doesn’t spend enough time doing research to create better food items. To be honest, I couldn’t agree more.

“Their idea of innovation is a brand extension . . . We saw huge potential for impact—a lot of white space in the world of food innovation through technology.”

Yellow peas, Ripple’s ingredient of choice, isn’t strongly flavored and is relatively inexpensive to grow. It also provides a sufficient amount of protein, significantly more than almond milk does. Eliminating 3.5 pounds of carbon emissions per 48-ounce bottle, Ripple has a lot to brag about.

“It’s not that we have the only pea milk on the market; what makes us unique is that, thanks to technology, we have the purest plant protein in the world,” says Renninger.

And with its pea milk currently coming in five different flavors, I can’t imagine Ripple is going out of business anytime soon.

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London Opens First Waste-Free Shop

In the past few months alone, the zero-waste community has grown exponentially. Environmental enthusiasts are ever going as far as hosting sustainable wedding receptions. Waste-free shops are manifesting across all seven continents, including this charming boutique in London.

“I created a shop that I wish existed. I wanted to cut packaging, I wanted to cut my footprint, and found it very difficult as supermarkets pack everything.” [said shop owner Ingrid Caldironi]

The shop, dubbed Bulk Market, boasts a wide range of organic products. Home essentials, including fresh produce, chocolates, and hair products, rest comfortably on its shelves. Caldironi’s ultimate goal is to prevent excessive buying and packaging waste.

“Why can’t we shop with smaller exact portions – 1-2 carrots, 1-2 eggs; why big packets with the environmental waste that goes with it?”

As an avid lover of omelettes, I’m not entirely sure 2 eggs would get the job done. However, the initiative is more than commendable, especially for environmental aficionados on a budget.

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Permaculture Farm Is Feeding Families In Australia

At present, some 795 million people don’t get the proper nourishment they need. While the number is staggering, only a few farms and soup kitchens are taking action. This Australian family is playing its part, feeding dozens of families with produce from its 1-acre permaculture farm.

At Limestone Permaculture Farm, they grow organic produce, raise sheep goats and chickens, keep bees, and even build with recycled materials. Much of the farm is powered by energy from wood, water, and the sun.

In essence, permaculture pays homage to natural ecosystems and how they function. Instead of growing a single crop in large-scale, permaculture integrates symbiosis so different plants may flourish. Owners of Limestone, Nici and Brett Cooper, believe that permaculture is the future of food.

“We feel there has been an awakening across our beautiful country, self-reliance is on the rise again; urban and rural homesteading has people taking their food and energy supply back into their own hands.”

To encourage the unique farming technique, the Coopers offer workshops, internships, and permaculture design programs to tourists. As it seems, permaculture is opening doors for rural communities and, in turn, also helping out the needy.

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Startups Are Growing Kelp Farms To Make Biofuel

Challenging regular sources of energy such as solar, wind, and hydropower are some unusual contenders. Thanks to the growing innovativeness of professionals and amateurs alike, it’s possible to harvest energy from walking and even sweating. Now, scientists are harvesting biofuel from kelp forests growing in the Pacific Ocean.

Kelp is transformed into biofuel by a process called thermochemical liquefaction. The kelp is dried out, and the salt is washed away. Then it’s turned into bio-oil through a high-temperature, high-pressure conversion process.

Biofuels are sustainable and non-polluting, making them great contenders against fossil fuels. Extracting the product from kelp is low-maintenance and unbelievably fast. Asian countries, in particular, are well-versed in the kelp industry, growing it primarily as a food source. However, this is where American startups may be biting off more than they can chew.

“They already have a pre-existing infrastructure that’s pretty sophisticated for growing and harvesting. It’s harvesting for food and other products… And that’s a much better starting point than small companies in the U.S. that try to go from ground zero to a transportation fuel.”

Nonetheless, open-ocean farming is very much a possibility in terms of biofuel production. With 71% of the planet’s surface water-covered, utilizing oceans for the benefit of the environment isn’t such a bad idea.

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Amsterdam Supermarket Boasts Plastic-Free Options

Despite a growing abundance of zero-waste shopping options, other alternatives have yet to hit mainstream stores. In a supermarket first, Amsterdam’s Ekoplaza is making over 700 plastic-free products available to the public.

“We know that our customers are sick to death of products laden in layer after layer of thick plastic packaging,” Ekoplaza chief executive Erik Does said.

“Plastic-free aisles are a really innovative way of testing the compostable biomaterials that offer a more environmentally friendly alternative to plastic packaging.”

With limited choices for items in non-plastic wrapping, bringing them to the masses makes a big statement. As an added bonus, manufacturing biodegradable containers won’t cost anything upwards from regular plastic materials. Ekoplaza will carry eco-friendly rice, sauces, snacks, and more packed in metal, glass, and cardboard.

“There is absolutely no logic in wrapping something as fleeting as food in something as indestructible as plastic,” [A Plastic Planet co-founder Sian] Sutherland said. “Plastic food and drink packaging remains useful for a matter of days yet remains a destructive presence on the Earth for centuries afterwards.”

As the greatest contributor to plastic waste in department stores, grocery aisles have long deserved eco-alternatives. Hopefully, they’re here to stay.

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McDonald’s To Ax Plastic Foam Cups

We’re three months into the year and McDonald’s is showing up every fast food chain on the planet. From its impromptu discovery of an anti-balding agent in its fries, Mickey D’s is up to something even bigger. To get with the times, the Supersize Me star is phasing out all foam products by the end of 2018.

It’s the first time the fast-food giant has openly committed to a deadline to completely stop using polystyrene drink containers, which are eco-unfriendly and nearly impossible to recycle. The containers for its large cold drinks represent a mere 2 percent of its packaging, which still comes out to millions of dollars and cups annually.

The restaurant overlord last made a large gesture towards sustainability 27 years ago. The company then replaced styrofoam “clamshells” with eco-friendly paper packaging. Still, it’s a much-needed push en route to a greener Earth.

McDonald’s is expected to announce a packaging and recycling initiative [soon], said Conrad MacKerron, a senior vice president of As You Sow. “We do appreciate what McDonald’s has done,” he said. “It’s taken a long time, but better late than never.”

I guess slow and steady wins the race!

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Meat Alternatives Are Booming In Europe

Being vegan isn’t simply a fashion statement, but a lifestyle and occasional healthy pick. If you haven’t caught on to the trend, it’s taking over schools and even TGI Fridays. In light of the recent “legume boom” studies have shown an increase in meat substitutes by 451% in just four years.

“The most active region was the United Kingdom, with a share of 19 % of total new legume-inclusive product launches in Europe, followed by France (14%) and Germany (13%),”

Where quantity rose, diversity followed, with markets boasting over 27,000 new products. To be perfectly honest, I can hardly name a dozen vegetables — quite the bummer for a vegetarian such as myself. But why legumes, in particular?

Legumes are more filling than meat, better for your waist and the planet. Consuming legumes is associated with a lower risk of diabetes and heart disease, while being cheaper and requiring far less energy and water than meat.

Sure, vegetarianism is healthy, but it’s also environmentally responsible. If you can’t slash bacon from your daily menu, have a carrot. It won’t kill you.

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