Check out my two clips from the AYURVEDA Veria Living TV Show!!
Check out my two clips from the AYURVEDA Veria Living TV Show!!
By Alok Jha, AlterNet
World’s first synthetic hamburger gets high marks for “mouth feel.”
All it took was a little butter and sunflower oil and, in less than 10 minutes, the world’s most expensive burger, grown from muscle stem cells in a lab, was ready to eat.
“I was expecting the texture to be more soft,” said Hanni Rützler of the Future Food Studio, who researches food trends and was the first to get a taste of the synthetic beef hamburger at a lavish event in London on Monday that bore more resemblance to a TV set than a scientific press conference.
The lack of fat was noticeable, she added, which meant a lack of juiciness in the centre of the burger. If she had closed her eyes, however, she would have thought the cultured beef was definitely meat rather than a vegetable-based substitute.
The fibres had been grown in the lab and bound together, coloured with beetroot juice and shot through with saffron to complete the burger that, from a distance at least, looked perfectly ordinary. The chef tasked with cooking it was Richard McGeown of Couch’s Great House Restaurant in Polperro, Cornwall, who said it was slightly more pale than the beefburgers he was accustomed to but that it cooked like any other burger, was suitably aromatic and looked inviting.
American food writer and author of the book Taste of Tomorrow, Josh Schonwald, was next up to take a piece of the precious burger. He said he had never been pleased by meat substitutes but, after chewing a bit, gave it full marks for its “mouth feel”, saying it was just like meat and that the bite felt like a conventional hamburger.
But he also noted, several times, the absence of fat or seasoning. “I can’t remember the last time I ate a burger without ketchup,” he said, when trying to explain whether or not it compared well to a real hamburger. Later in the tasting he described the texture as “like an animal protein cake”.
Mark Post, the scientist behind the burger, which took three months to make, said the ambition was to improve the efficiency of the cell-growing process and also to improve flavour by adding fat cells. He wants to create thicker “cuts” of meat such as steaks, though his would require more tissue engineering expertise, namely the ability to grow channels – a bit like blood vessels – that can feed the centre of the growing steak with nutrients and water. Similar technology had already been shown to work for medical applications, said Post.
The €250,000 cost of making the burger was paid by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who said he got into the idea for animal welfare reasons. In a film to mark the taste test of the burger, he said that people had an erroneous image of modern meat production, imagining “pristine farms” with just a few animals in them. “When you see how these cows are treated, it’s certainly something I’m not comfortable with.”
Dr Post’s team at Maastricht University used the money to grow 20,000 muscle fibres from cow stem cells over the course of three months. These fibres were extracted from individual culture wells and then painstakingly pressed together to form the hamburger that was eaten on Monday. The objective is to create meat that is biologically identical to beef but grown in a lab rather than in a field as part of a cow.
This article was written by Alok Jha and published at AlterNet.
Two weeks ago, the USDA’s Office of the Inspector General released a report that, once again, proves that our food system is broken: First, FSIS doesn’t meaningfully attempt to stop repeat violations of food safety laws. Second, it has allowed a 15-year-old pilot program with faster slaughter and fewer inspectors to proceed without review. Third, it all but ignores its humane slaughter mandate. Remarkably, unless you read Food Safety News or the agricultural media, you will have missed this extremely damning report.
First, FSIS’ food safety oversight system in pig slaughterhouses is completely broken. Out of 44,128 identified violations of food safety laws at 616 slaughterhouses over four years, there were just 28 plant suspensions, all brief. Over these same four years, FSIS didn’t reach enforcement stage 5 or 6 even once. OIG offers some stomach-turning examples of illegal activity that warranted but did not receive suspension, including:
Second, fifteen years ago USDA approved a “pilot program” to speed slaughter lines and reduce inspector numbers in some plants, but it never bothered to see how the program is working. Remarkably, the slaughterhouse with the most violations was such a plant, “with nearly 50 percent more [violations] than the plant with the next highest number.” One of these plants doesn’t even require manual inspection of viscera, a requirement at the other 615 pig slaughter plants, because “some signs of disease and contamination can be detected only through a manual inspection. Examples include … parasites within the intestine, and inflamed or degenerated organs that are unusually sticky to the touch or excessively firm.”
Third, even top FSIS personnel don’t understand what the Humane Slaughter Act requires of them. Decisions are “inconsistent, lenient, and endorsed by district officials.” OIG officials visited just 30 plants, each for no more than 30 minutes, and yet they still witnessed multiple instances of animals regaining consciousness after “stunning,” for which the inspector-in-charge chose not to issue a report (as was legally required). “If this occurred when our audit team and FSIS officials were present, we are concerned that this might be more prevalent when the plants and inspectors are not being observed.” The OIG also reviewed violation reports for these 30 plants and found that of the 158 violations, there were 10 egregious violations that did not result in suspension, as is legally required. As just two examples:
Additionally, OIG interviewed 39 inspectors at the 30 plants they visited; one-third said they would not even issue a noncompliance report if they witnessed a conscious animal on the bleed rail (which legally requires suspension). OIG noted that similar inspector confusion regarding their basic legal obligations was clear in reports from GAO and OIG in 2010 and 2008, yet nothing has been done to rectify the situation.Every year according to the CDC, there are tens of millions of cases of food poisoning, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and thousands of deaths. The agency charged with reducing these numbers is doing, according to its Office of the Inspector General, a pathetically bad job.
Every year, roughly 150 million cattle and pigs are slaughtered in our nation’s slaughterhouses, and the one measly law that attempts to ensure some small decrease in their abuse is all-but-ignored by the agency charged with enforcing it. Even their top personnel don’t understand what it says.
Want to stop eating contaminated food and take a stand for compassion at the same time? Please consider eliminating meat from your diet.
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If you buy organic or cage-free eggs for a healthier, more ethically-produced product, take a second look at where your eggs are coming from. Ordinary US farm standards allow huge flocks of hens in impossibly small cages, while organic standards require uncaged hens fed an organic diet and given access to the outdoors. Unfortunately, many corporate-influenced large organic farms meet organic standards in a merely perfunctory way. 80% of US organic egg production is done in a manner that gives chickens little or no real access to the outdoors.
Should you care about this whether or not you have a deep concern for animal welfare? Yes. Chickens allowed to pursue their natural behaviors outdoors produce eggs that are much more nutritious in ways that ought to interest anyone trying to follow an anti-inflammatory diet.
While organic standards call for hens to have access to the outdoors, on large farms this is often done with tiny exits that discourage birds from going out and very small outdoor yards that serve only a tiny percentage of the birds. Check out Mother Earth News’ in-depth articles on egg production or this video from The Cornocupia Institute:
But what if the eggs are labeled free range? Most of the labels other than organic that you might find on eggs don’t have legal teeth behind them or don’t truly ensure humane farming. This article from the Humane Society gives details on each kind of labeling you might find.
A hen that forages outdoors for its natural diet of green plants, insects, worms, and seeds produces eggs that are visually different from eggs from warehoused hens and that test higher for many nutrients. The yolk is firmer, stands up better, and is a darker shade of yellow-orange. The important carotenoid nutrients found in eggs are yellow pigments, so the color is important.
According to this study funded by Mother Earth News and using independent laboratory testing, pastured eggs have 1/3 less cholesterol, 1/4 less saturated fat, 2/3 more Vitamin A, 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids, 3 times more Vitamin E, and 7 times more beta carotene than eggs from warehoused birds.
Along with the extra beta carotene in pastured eggs, there may also be increased quantities of other carotenoids beneficial for eye health. One study cited ‘ecological eggs’ as having more of these carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin) while another found increased carotenoids in organic eggs versus non-organic but not in ‘free range’ compared with non-free range (possibly the not-very-free-range quality of many free-range eggs may have confused things).
So where can you find these nutritious and more humane eggs? If you’re lucky, from your own backyard or a neighbor who has chickens. Failing that, your local food-coop or farmer’s market are good places to look. When buying eggs from the store, use the ratings on this scorecard from The Cornucupia Institute for organic producers.
Many brands of organic eggs, such as Trader Joe’s, Kirkland Signature, and Eggland’s Best, received the lowest possible one-egg rating on the Cornucupia Scorecard. Eggs from highly rated producers with better conditions may be a little more expensive. If the ‘one-egg rated’ organic eggs are the only ones that fit your budget for now, don’t give up. Organic standards, even when followed imperfectly, still give birds a better life with no cages and an organic diet without routine antibiotics or questionable additives.
Notes for those whose eyes have not yet glazed over: conventional egg farmers may add the carotenoids citranaxanthin or canthaxanthin to the diet of their indoor chickens to give the yolks of their eggs a yellow color. The latter chemical is also used on fish farms to make farmed salmon pink, and was used in tanning pills before adverse effects on the eyes were found (to be fair, to get the dose in a tanning pill you’d have to eat about 50 eggs).
Have you had pastured eggs from a local farmer? Can you see or taste the difference?