Friday, 28 October 2016

Why You Should Buy Local Food: 10 Reasons

The following article is a kind contribution to this blog, by Joe Thomas

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1) Food grown locally tastes far better than imported produce. Yes, some vegetables might look wonky but the flavour they are bursting with surely make up for that. Locally grown food is likely to arrive on your dinner table within a few hours of being picked. The same cannot be said for those strawberries we import from Spain.

2) Not only does it taste better, local food also provides more nutrients. Farmers harvest crops at their peak making sure we get the ripest highest quality food. There is also no need to treat vegetables and fruit with chemicals or wrap them in plastic for days of transportation. Not only would you contribute to a healthier lifestyle, but you would also help the environment whilst at it.

3) Now, locally produced food comes in all shapes and sizes. This is because farmers use different varieties of crops to increase the length of harvesting cycle. These crops are not genetically modified unlike the ones being mass produced for larger retailers. This variety preserves biodiversity and ensures that species do not go extinct. Nowadays, out of thousands of apple cultivars available in the world only a few varieties make it to the big stores. Smaller farms take pride in the crops they grow and some special varieties are passed down as a family secret through generations.  That is the kind of authenticity that you would never find in a supermarket.

4) Locally grown crops are safer to eat. Cattle is reared freely on luscious green pastures while crops are fertilized by the manure those animals produce. There is no waste of resources on local farms. So why not go down to a local butcher for a nutrient-packed tender steak rather than a questionable looking chicken breast full of antibiotics and growth hormones from a supermarket?

5) Local farmers and independent businesses are working hard to make it in the world where competition is so fierce. By supporting them we preserve the authenticity and quality of the services they provide. Each one of them adds a personal touch to their produce which is only characteristic of small local businesses.

6) Invest in the community you live in. Local food is produced by your neighbours living nearby trying their best to provide best quality food all year around. It is a much more pleasant experience buying from a farmer’s market or a shop while engaging in conversation and playing an active part in your local community.

7) Local food preserves open space. If you enjoy the picturesque landscapes of the countryside, think about buying local produce to save it. By keeping local farmers in business, you ensure that our beautiful land is being used for agriculture and not sold for yet another development project.

8) Buying locally helps ecosystems in your area because carefully managed farms peacefully coexist with and preserve wildlife. Hedges, ponds and meadows that farmers look after provide natural habitats for a variety of local species. The food takes less miles to reach your plate, which reduces food miles, which in turn is much better for the environment.

9) As a rule of thumb, local farms require less of your tax to operate as they provide more in tax than they take in services. They also use less resources and manage them more effectively than larger scale operations. Think about that next time you go to a supermarket.

10) Buying locally today provides for a better tomorrow. By making this small choice you are having a positive impact on so many different aspects and ensuring that there is fresh, diverse, flavoursome food available for future generations.

Joe Thomas

talking to 12 year old children about food

This week, I was invited to talk to the 6th form students at the school that my boys attend to.
The talk was about "How to Eat Well"....

How can you make such a talk interesting and appealing?

I decided to try to create a "story", i.e. present Science as a Story!

So, I presented a story to the children: A story starting with Ancel Keys in the 50's in US and leading to the 7 countries study and finishing with Hippocrates and his famous saying about food and medicine.

In between, we all enjoyed lots of interactive questions and answers.
I was amazed by the high standard of the children. They could assess the nutritional value of most foods and they could spot most of the differences between a juice and a soft drink!
At the end of my talk, their teacher, Feargal, presented a very moving picture in words: he asked them next time they go to SM to try to spot two trolleys, one with lots of fruits and vegetables and one with processed food and soft drinks.

Then, he asked the children to have a look at the persons wheeling these troleys and ask themselves: in 20years to which one do I want to look like?

It was an amazing opportunity to speak to 12 y old students! This age is always a challenge! How to present Science in a practical way but at the same time to be ready to raise the level when a couple of boys asked me at the end about food for swimmers and for rugby players!

This day brought to my mind the phrase of Kathleen Lonsdale that features in the ground floor at Lonsdale building, here at UL,
"never miss an opportunity to speak to school children".

Special thanks are due to their teachers, Feargal and John, for giving me this chance.

Yannis Zabetakis

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Invested interests and Public Health

What is more important : Invested Interests or Public Health?
Do not rush your answer...
Read this story first...
and now... if you think that Public Health is more precious...please sign this petition.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Is teaching mentoring or coaching?

"While mentoring comes from the experience of the mentor, leadership coaching does the opposite -- it comes from the experience of those being coached. Mentors share their experiences, but coaches prompt leaders to reflect on their experience and draw their own conclusions"

'Mentoring' and 'Leadership Coaching' Are Not the Same. Do You Know the Difference? 

At Unis, do we mentor or do we coach? or both? 

Monday, 24 October 2016

experimental design

today, at the lecture theater, we were discussing the issues of functional foods against specific diseases and how we design experiments to produce data to support claims.

Here is what we need to bear in mind
"Do It Right the First Time"

Which of the 6 words is the most important?

Monday, 17 October 2016

Crisis management in food industry : the bute scandal

The above picture was a focal point at the lecture theater today, when we discussed the "bute scandal"...

How many mistakes can you spot at the words chosen to be presented at the picture above?
Is this a passive press release?
As a customer, would you be happy to read "we are changing"?
Changing to what?

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

BPA and politics

Today at the lecture theater, we were talking about BPA and BPA-free food packaging materials.

Here are some related news

lycopene and health claims

A carotenoid-rich tomato extract (CRTE) has been found to inhibit a key process that leads to the thickening of the artery wall, which is typical of heart disease.

Monday, 10 October 2016

GM crops: the urgent need to map our meals

Here you can read my latest article in "International Aquafeed"

GM crops: the urgent need to map our meals 
We are what we eat. Also, our food (either of animal or sea origin) is what it eats. Therefore, it is of vital importance to keep improving the nutritional value of animal and fish feeds. With these in mind, I really enjoyed the interview of Prof Brett Glencross of the University of Stirling as it appeared in “International Aquafeed” in the May/June 2016 issue. His views on the genetically modified atlantic salmon that has been approved in US are of particular interest. I do agree with Prof Glencross that “this is a good piece of science” but I have to disagree though with his statement that “humans have been consuming genetically modified crops for over two decades now”. This phrase may be true for other parts of the world but not for Europe.
In EU, the import of GM food and the use of GM feeds is well monitored and there is still a pan-European ban on GM feeds. Therefore, let’s rest assured that in EU, we have not been consuming GM crops. However, regardless the place we live of this planet, let’s have a look on how we can map our meals, so we know if we actually consume GM genes or not.
 Your Meal - EYD2015, is a Europe Aid funded project, and as the name suggests, its primary goal is to enable consumers to trace the origins of their food through the usage of a mobile phone application, by scanning the barcode of a product; an action which will in turn bring consumers vitally closer to the production process, and an understanding of the conditions and standards producers work.
It’s a new mobile phone app, with tremendous potential for the consumers but also for teachers and parents on how to communicate to our students and children the concept of food chain and how trace-ability can increase our awareness about our diet. 
Through this project, the vast extent of global interdependencies, on a personal, national and international level (i.e. consumer – producer) are highlighted. The project has been crafted to raise awareness about sustainability, equity, global justice and global interdependencies, in young people, youth workers/trainers, community educators, and the general public. However, the project goes further; it aspires to generate a strong and active coalition of citizens promoting human rights, equity, and sustainable ways of living. Additionally, the quality of lives of farmers, producers and their families will be benefited on a significant level.
More specifically, the project aims, based on a comprehensive smartphone application and accompanying interactive learning materials exploring the origins of our food, their individual components, and the socio-economic and environmental impact of these, to increase young people’s awareness about global interdependencies and injustices, as well as about the need for more sustainable food systems.
Today, the issues of food cost and sustainability are of paramount importance. In the case of GM foods, GM crops have not been shown, up to now, to have the capacity to feed the world at an affordable price contrary to the advocations of leading GM companies. In fact, GM crops bring a huge burden to farmers; this is shown vividly at the film “Bitter Seeds”: every 30 minutes a farmer in India kills himself in despair. The film is based on the true story in a village at the centre of the suicide epidemic: a farmer and his family struggle to keep his land. “Bitter Seeds” raises questions about the human cost of genetically-modified agriculture and the future of how we grow things.

Related links
·         Map your meal
·         “Bitter seeds”

Ioannis Zabetakis
Lecturer on Food Lipids,
University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Livestock-associated MRSA found in UK pork

this news is rather alarming...
High farm antibiotic use is associated with the spread of livestock-associated MRSA. A 2015 Dutch study found that pig farms with higher levels of antibiotic use have higher levels of MRSA on the pigs and on the humans on the farm. The association they found is particularly strong for the cephalosporin antibiotics

more on MRSA:
MRSA infection - Treatment

MRSA: Causes, Symptoms, Prevention and Treatments

Product recalls

at one of the modules I am teaching this semester (FT4447 - FOOD QUALITY), we talk about food safety, HACCP, hazards and traceability.

This is a real life product recall related to these topics.
 Recall of Hilltop Honey Raw British Creamed Honey Due to Presence of Small Metal Pieces

It's useful to see how batch number is related to final products and which hazards have been identified. Based on these data, corrective actions need to updated.

Monday, 3 October 2016

2-5 coffees a day keep the doctor away

Here are some good news for the coffee lovers:

Coffee's antioxidant properties can reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD) rates, a report has suggested.