Chew On This: Farmers Are Using Food Waste To Make Electricity

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)

 

Chew On This: Farmers Are Using Food Waste To Make Electricity

Peter Melnik, a fourth-generation dairy farmer, owns Bar-Way Farm, Inc. in Deerfield, Mass. He has an anaerobic digester on his farm that converts food waste into renewable energy.

Allison Aubrey/NPR

This story was produced as part of a collaboration with the PBS NewsHour

As the season of big holiday meals kicks off, it’s as good a time as any to reflect on just how much food goes to waste.

If you piled up all the food that’s not eaten over the course of a year in the U.S., it would be enough to fill a skyscraper in Chicago about 44 times, according to an estimate from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

And, when all this food rots in a landfill, it emits methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. In fact, a recent report from the United Nations from a panel of climate experts estimates that up to 10 percent of all human-made greenhouse gas emissions are linked to food waste.

So, here’s one solution to the problem: Dairy farmers in Massachusetts are using food waste to create electricity. They feed waste into anaerobic digesters, built and operated by Vanguard Renewables, which capture the methane emissions and make renewable energy.

The process begins by gathering wasted food from around the state, including from many Whole Foods locations. We visited the chain’s store in Shrewsbury, Mass., which has installed a Grind2Energy system. It’s an industrial-strength grinder that gobbles up all the scraps of food the store can’t sell, explains Karen Franczyk, who is the sustainability program manager for Whole Foods’ North Atlantic region.

The machine will grind up all kinds of food waste — “everything from bones, we put whole fish in here, to vegetables to dry items like rice or grains,” Franczyk says as the grinder is loaded. It also takes frying fats and greases.

Watch a video on farms turning food waste into renewable energy, in collaboration with PBS NewsHour.

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While Whole Foods donates a lot of surplus food to food banks, there’s a lot waste left over. Much of it is generated from prepping prepared foods. Just as when you cook in your own kitchen, there are lots of bits that remain, such as onion or carrot peel, rinds, stalks or meat scraps. The grinder turns all these bits into a slurry. “It really becomes kind of a liquefied food waste,” Franczyk says.

From here, the waste is loaded into a truck and sent to an anaerobic digester. “There’s no question it’s better than putting it in the trash,” Franczyk says. She says the chain is committed to diverting as much waste as possible and aims for zero waste. In addition to food donations, Whole Foods composts; this waste-to-energy system is yet another way to meet its goal. “We really do like the system,” she says.

We visited Bar-Way Farm, Inc. in Deerfield, Mass. Owner Peter Melnik, a fourth-generation dairy farmer, showed us how his anaerobic digester, which is installed next to his dairy barn, works.

“We presently take in about a 100 tons [of waste], which is about three tractor-trailer loads, every day,” Melnik says.

In addition to all the food waste from Whole Foods, he gets whey from a Cabot Creamery in the area, as well as waste from a local brewery and a juice plant.

In the digester on his farm, Melnik combines food waste from Whole Foods and other local sources with manure from his cows. The mixture cooks at about 105 degrees Fahrenheit. As the methane is released, it rises to the top of a large red tank with a black bubble-shaped dome.

Allison Aubrey/NPR

In the digester, he combines all of this waste with manure from his cows. The mixture cooks at about 105 degrees Fahrenheit. As the methane is released, it rises to the top of a large red tank with a black bubble-shaped dome.

“We capture the gas in that bubble. Then we suck it into a big motor,” Melnik explains. Unlike other engines that run on diesel or gasoline, this engine runs on methane.

“This turns a big generator, which is creating one megawatt of electricity” continuously, Melnik says — enough to power more than just his farm. “We only use about 10 percent of what we make, and the rest is fed onto the [electricity] grid,” Melnik explains. It’s enough to power about 1,500 homes.

He says times are tough for dairy farmers, so this gives him a new stream of revenue. Vanguard pays him rental fees for having the anaerobic digester on his farm. In addition, he’s able to use the liquids left over from the process as fertilizer on his fields.

A large motor (housed inside here) runs on the methane gas captured in the digester. This motor powers a generator, which creates electricity — enough to power about 1,500 homes.

Allison Aubrey/NPR

“The digester has been a home run for us,” Melnik says. “It’s made us more sustainable — environmentally [and] also economically.”

Vanguard Renewables hopes to expand its operations in the state and elsewhere. “There’s more than enough food waste in Massachusetts to feed all of our five digesters, plus many more,” says CEO John Hanselman.

Massachusetts has a state law that prohibits the disposal of commercial organic waste — including food — by businesses and institutions that generate at least one ton of this waste per week. This has created an incentive for food businesses to participate in the waste-to-energy initiative.

Hanselman points to Europe, where there are thousands of digesters in operation. His hope is that the concept will spread here. “The food waste recycling through anaerobic digestion could be done in every part of the country,” Hanselman says.

The company is currently building an anaerobic digester on a farm in Vermont. The gas produced there will be piped to Middlebury College, which will help the college reduce its carbon footprint.

Lack of Food Pushes S.Sudan Opposition Troops to Desert Training Camps

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

Lack of Food Pushes S.Sudan Opposition Troops to Desert Training Camps

Sunday, 20 October, 2019 – 09:15
A South Sudanese SPLA soldier is pictured in Pageri in Eastern Equator state on August 20, 2015. (Getty Images)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Hundreds of South Sudan opposition fighters are leaving cantonment sites set up to register and train them under a deal to end the country’s war, claiming lack of food and medical supplies, authorities say.

The process of gathering fighters into military camps with a view to forming an 83,000-strong unified army is a cornerstone of a September 2018 peace deal.

But the operation has been riddled with delays and lack of funding, hampering the readiness of the force.

The problem is one of the major stumbling blocks as a deadline looms on November 12 for President Salva Kiir, his longtime rival Riek Machar and other rebel groups, to form a power-sharing government.

At one of the largest opposition cantonment sites in the village of Pantit near the northern town of Aweil, hundreds of soldiers sleep under trees and are forced to shelter with locals in their mud huts, known as “tukuls,” when it rains.

Lieutenant General Nicodemus Deng Deng, who is in charge of the cantonment site, told AFP that it had been over two months since they had received any food.

“The food got finished and now we are left with no food on the ground,” said Deng, adding that about 700 registered troops had since left the camp due to the conditions.

“We do survive on community food, we go to cultivate with them, go and collect groundnuts from their farms as a way of survival,” said Deng.

The peace agreement required that at least half of the 83,000 forces be barracked, trained and deployed by September 2019.

Last week the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) which is tasked with overseeing the implementation of the peace agreement, said that of 25 designated opposition cantonment sites, 24 were operational and of 10 barracks for government forces, six were operational.

However, registration was still ongoing and training had yet to begin.

‘Desperate, angry’

William Gallagher, head of the ceasefire monitoring entity CTSAMM, told AFP during a visit to Pantit that it was positive the forces there had been registered.

“However, unfortunately, many of those soldiers that have been registered have since deserted because of unacceptable living conditions,” he said.

“It is a very, very, severe problem that thousands and thousands of soldiers and their family members are facing right now across South Sudan at the cantonment sites, without food, mostly without water, and all of them without medicine of some kind and they are desperate, they are angry and they see no solution to the problem.”

Japan and China have donated money for water and rice at the cantonment sites, but western donors have been loath to fund the process, with diplomats fearing it could be used as a recruitment exercise, and citing a lack of fiscal transparency from Juba.

Meanwhile, the situation at the barracks has heaped pressure on local communities, themselves struggling to survive.

“We have (soldiers) who come to us here and they have no water for drinking and they also don’t have jerry cans for collecting water, but we the hosts are also suffering, when… our children fall sick with malaria we don’t always get medicine,” said 50-year-old Pantit resident, Ajok.

South Sudan’s war, which broke out two years after achieving independence in 2011, after a falling out between Kiir and Machar, has left nearly 400,000 dead and displaced nearly four million people.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said last week that while food security has improved, more than half of the population was still going hungry and millions depend on food aid.

Machar arrived in Juba Saturday for another round of talks with Kiir in a bid to salvage the peace deal and resolve the security issue and the thorny question of determining the number of states and their boundaries.

‘Not One Drop Of Blood’: Cattle Mysteriously Mutilated In Oregon

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)

 

‘Not One Drop Of Blood’: Cattle Mysteriously Mutilated In Oregon

Audio will be available later today.

The crumpled carcass of a bull lies on Forest Service ground. It was among several killed and mutilated this summer in eastern Oregon.

Anna King/Northwest News Network

In early morning light, dust from hooves creates a fog at Silvies Valley Ranch in remote eastern Oregon. Cowboys whistle and talk low to their eager herding dogs. They’re moving the cattle from one vast, sage-studded range to another.

Five young purebred bulls mysteriously showed up dead on the ranch this past summer, drained of blood and with body parts precisely removed.

The ranch’s vice president, Colby Marshall, drives his truck down a U.S. Forest Service road.

“Then we’ll get out and take a little walk to where one of the bulls was found. And the carcass is still there,” Marshall says.

Coming upon one of the dead bulls is an eerie scene. The forest is hot and still, apart from a raven’s repeating caw. The bull looks like a giant, deflated plush toy. It smells. Weirdly, there are no signs of buzzards, coyotes or other scavengers. His red coat is as shiny as if he were going to the fair, but it’s bloodless and its tongue and genitals have been surgically cut out.

Marshall says these young livestock were just reaching their top value as breeding bulls. The animals are worth around $6,000 each. And since these are breeding bulls, hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of future calves are lost too.

Finding these young Herefords in this remote country can sometimes take the ranch’s experienced cowboys days. Ranch staff members are now required to ride in pairs and are encouraged to carry arms.

“It’s rugged,” Marshall says. “I mean this is the frontier. If some person, or persons, has the ability to take down a 2,000-pound range bull, you know, it’s not inconceivable that they wouldn’t have a lot of problems dealing with a 180-pound cowboy.”

Theories abound

Harney County Sheriff’s Deputy Dan Jenkins has been working the cattle cases and has gotten dozens of calls from all over offering tips and suggestions.

“A lot of people lean toward the aliens,” Jenkins says. “One caller had told us to look for basically a depression under the carcass. ‘Cause he said that the alien ships will kinda beam the cow up and do whatever they are going to do with it. Then they just drop them from a great height.”

Dan Jenkins, with the Harney County Sheriff’s Office, has been investigating the killings of several cattle on Silvies Valley Ranch.

Anna King/Northwest News Network

Jenkins says the cases have been tough, with little evidence and no credible leads.

On his whiteboard, he has a running list scrawled in green marker with the top theories. What’s clear: Is it isn’t bears, wolves, cougars or poisonous plants. Nor were the animals shot.

The FBI won’t confirm or deny that it’s looking into the multiple slaughters.

Two years ago and 200 miles south, near Princeton, Ore., one of Andie Davies’ cows was also found cut up and bloodless.

She and her husband drove concentric circles around the corpse, but they never found any tracks.

And in this dusty country, “everything you do leaves tracks,” Davies says.

Back in the 1980s, one of Terry Anderson’s mother cows was mysteriously killed overnight. Standing on his ranch near Pendleton, Ore., Anderson points to the exact spot where he found her on top of a mountain.

He remembers his cow lying dead, her udder removed with something razor sharp.

“And not one drop of blood anywhere,” Anderson says.

He has never gotten over it.

“It’s just left a really strange feeling with me since that day. You can’t explain it,” Anderson says. “And, you know, no one else has been able to explain it.”

The Harney County Sheriff’s Office continues to field calls on the killings. And Silvies Valley Ranch has put up a $25,000 reward for information that could solve the case.

Taco Bell Failed In Mexico — Here’s Why

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

Taco Bell Failed In Mexico — Here’s Why

Taco Bell, the Mexican-inspired restaurant chain, is often mentioned alongside fast food heavyweights such as Burger King and McDonald’s, and it’s what some Americans imagine when they think of Mexican food. Drive through or live in any small town or large city in the United States, and you’re bound to know where the nearest of Taco Bell’s 7,072 restaurants can be found.

But you won’t find a Taco Bell in Mexico.

Taco Bell has tried and failed to bring the eatery to the Mexican market twice since first opening its doors.

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Taco Bell Voted Best Mexican Restaurant in U.S.

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To understand why Taco Bell failed in Mexico it’s best to realize just how loved Taco Bell is in the United States. The fast food chain first found its footing in California in the early 1960s, and since then it has become the nation’s number one taco joint.

According to a survey conducted by The Harris Poll, Taco Bell was voted America’s favorite Mexican restaurant in 2018, beating out competitors like Chipotle and Moe’s Southwest Grill.

It’s only natural for a fast food chain that serves billions of customers to want to bring their food and success to other countries.

Taco Bell Enters the Mexican Market

Credit: Joshua Resnick/ Shutterstock

The people of Mexico weren’t as keen on the Taco Bell brand as their neighbors to the north. Tacos are famously Mexican food. What we call tacos today likely got their name from 18th century silver mines in Mexico when miners used to excavate ore “tacos.” Granted, tortillas filled with ingredients were probably eaten before that time, but, still, tacos are inherently an “authentic” Mexican dish.

With that in mind, it seemed almost sacrilegious for a company like Taco Bell — which was started by an American who first ran hot dog and hamburger stands — to try and bring its Americanized tacos to the country. But that’s exactly what happened in 1992.

The First Taco Bell Attempt in Mexico

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The first Taco Bell in Mexico opened as a food cart in Mexico City in 1992, and the chain had plans to open at another location in the city as well as in Tijuana soon after. Unfortunately, customers were quickly confused when the names of menu items didn’t jive with authentic Mexican counterparts. Taco Bell’s crunchy taco had to be renamed the “Tacostada” because it more closely resembled the Mexican tostada.

The market was so unkind to the fast food brand, and the people so averse to the pseudo-Mexican food, that Taco Bell left the country only two years later.

The Second Taco Bell Attempt in Mexico

Credit: David Tonelson/ Shutterstock

Taco Bell took another stab at opening in Mexico in 2007, but the same stumbling blocks stood in the way. Locals felt like Taco Bell tacos were inauthentic, even though the company rebranded with a clear message that Taco Bell wasn’t trying to be authentic Mexican food. The fast food chain went as far as to include fries and soft-serve ice cream on the menu to sell its Americanized image.

According to the Seattle Times and pop culture historian Carlos Monsiváis, bringing Taco Bell to Mexico was a lot like bringing ice to the Arctic. It just wasn’t necessary.

By 2010, Taco Bell once again closed all of its restaurants in Mexico due to low patronage.

Taco Bell May Never Find a Home in Mexico

Credit: www.eddie-hernandez.com / Shutterstock

It’s easy to see why people in the country aren’t quick to flock to a quick-service chain that’s doesn’t stand up to local standards.

It’s likely that the fast food restaurant will always have trouble finding a home in Mexico, especially when Mexican customers who try the food decry Taco Bell’s folded tostadas (crunchy tacos) as not tacos and ugly.

While Yum! Brands — the company that owns Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC — isn’t suffering, it does see a decrease in sales year-over-year. Yum! went from making five billion dollars in 2012 to making only two billion in 2018. Chances are the company is always looking for new markets. Mexico, however, doesn’t seem like a market that will work.

China Is Breeding Giant Pigs the Size of Polar Bears

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BLOOMBERG NEWS)

 

China Is Breeding Giant Pigs the Size of Polar Bears

A visitor rides on the 750-kilogram pig at a farm in Zhengzhou city, Henan province.
A visitor rides on the 750-kilogram pig at a farm in Zhengzhou city, Henan province.Source: Imagine china via AP Photo

In a farm deep in the southern region of China lives a very big pig that’s as heavy as a polar bear.

The 500 kilogram, or 1,102 pound, animal is part of a herd that’s being bred to become giant swine. At slaughter, some of the pigs can sell for more than 10,000 yuan ($1,399), over three times higher than the average monthly disposable income in Nanning, the capital of Guangxi province where Pang Cong, the farm’s owner, lives.

While Pang’s pigs may be an extreme example of the lengths farmers are going to fill China’s swelling pork shortage problem, the idea that bigger is better has been spreading across the country, home to the world’s most voracious consumers of the meat.

READ: The Deadly Virus That’s Killing Off Millions of Pigs: QuickTake

High pork prices in the northeastern province of Jilin is prompting farmers to raise pigs to reach an average weight of 175 kilograms to 200 kilograms, higher than the normal weight of 125 kilograms. They want to raise them “as big as possible,”said Zhao Hailin, a hog farmer in the region.

The trend isn’t limited to small farms either. Major protein producers in China, including Wens Foodstuffs Group Co, the country’s top pig breeder, Cofco Meat Holdings Ltd. and Beijing Dabeinong Technology Group Co. say they are trying to increase the average weight of their pigs. Big farms are focusing on boosting the heft by at least 14%, said Lin Guofa, a senior analyst with consulting firm Bric Agriculture Group.

The average weight of pigs at slaughter at some large-scale farms has climbed to as much as 140 kilograms, compared with about 110 kilograms normally, Lin said. That could boost profits by more than 30%, he said.

The large swine are being bred during a desperate time for China. With African swine fever decimating the nation’s hog herd — in half, by some estimates — prices of pork have soared to record levels, leading the government to urge farmers to boost production to temper inflation.

Go Big

Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua warned that the supply situation will be “extremely severe” through to the first half of 2020. China will face a pork shortage of 10 million tons this year, more than what’s available in global trade, meaning it needs to increase production domestically, he said.

During a recent visit to major livestock provinces of Shandong, Hebei and Henan, Hu urged local governments to resume pig production as soon possible, with a target of returning to normal levels next year.

Still, many farmers are wary about restocking swine after being hurt by an earlier outbreak. Also, piglet and breeding sow prices have surged, making it more expensive for backyard farms to afford rebuilding their herds. Increasing the size of pigs they already own may be the next best step.

— With assistance by Shuping Niu, Jeff Black, and Alfred Cang

6 Countries That Have Banned McDonald’s

(THIS  ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

6 Countries That Have Banned McDonald’s

As one of the biggest restaurant chains in the world, with over 37,000 locations worldwide, McDonald’s is pretty easy to find just about anywhere on the globe. However, it is absent in several countries, and that absence hasn’t always been a choice left up to McDonald’s. Here are six countries that have banned the fast-food mega chain.

Bermuda

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This island paradise has had a ban on foreign fast-food restaurants since the 1970s. Despite this ban, however, there was a McDonald’s built in Bermuda in 1985 – on the U.S. Naval Air Station located on the island. When the base closed in 1995, the McDonald’s left with it.

Despite this setback, McDonald’s made another attempt to plant the golden arches in Bermuda in 1999. This time, however, the fast food ban was upheld, and the McDonald’s was never built.

Iran

Credit: silverjohn / iStock

Iran was home to a McDonald’s at one point, but the country began to distance itself from Western culture following the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Tense relations in the decades since make the prospect for a new location unlikely.

Should McDonald’s ever regain a foothold in Iran, however, they may find fierce competition. In their absence, an imitator chain known as Mash Donald’s has been selling burgers for years.

Bolivia

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Bolivia is the only country in Latin America besides Cuba without a McDonald’s. While there is no outright ban on McDonald’s in Bolivia, the Bolivian people and government have not welcomed the burger franchise. In fact, there was a location in La Paz until 2002, but poor sales and pushback from locals, who expressed a desire to buy their burgers from locations not owned by an international business, forced the franchise to close.

After the location had closed, the former president of Bolivia stated that corporations like McDonald’s are “not interested in the health of human beings, only in earnings and corporate profits.”

North Korea

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One of the least surprising countries to appear on this list, North Korea’s aversion to foreign interests has kept the country culturally insulated since the end of the Korean War.

While North Korea may have zero McDonald’s franchises, South Korea has over 850. This led to a famous incident in 2011 when North Korean elites used the national airline to smuggle McDonald’s burgers across the border.

Iceland

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There were three McDonald’s locations in Iceland’s capital of Reykjavik until 2009. Unfortunately, the currency of Iceland, the krona, collapsed when the economy faltered, and all three closed their doors in rapid succession.

Iceland is one of the healthiest countries in the world, and the government has been wary of the consequences of allowing the fast food giant to re-establish itself. An Icelandic fast food chain has popped up in McDonald’s absence, serving locally-sourced meat and produce.

Montenegro

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Government concerns about the impact of a McDonald’s franchise on the health of the population caused the closure of a small McDonald’s in the capital city of Podgorica. The local media supported the departure of the country’s only McDonald’s location, favoring the opportunity for local restaurants to serve the community.

However, the public relations department of the government of Montenegro refuted that claim. Stating that “no company, not even McDonald’s, is ‘forbidden’ to do business in Montenegro.” Despite that lukewarm welcome, however, there are still no McDonald’s location in Montenegro.

These are not the only countries without a single McDonald’s, however. There are dozens of countries without McDonald’s, primarily because the corporation has deemed the local economy or political environment too unstable to support a successful franchise. In fact, many economists consider the arrival of a McDonald’s franchise in a developing world an indicator of economic stability.

Brazil: Government again makes fun of the people’s poverty

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BRAZIL’S NEWS AGENCY 247)

 

Government again makes fun of people: people may be unemployed, but have something to eat

Minister Osmar Terra repeated Bolsonaro’s speech and defended that “people may be unemployed but have something to eat”, omitting data on the return of poverty that plagues the country after the 2016 coup, intensified by the current government.

(Photo: PR | Reuters)

247 – Citizenship Minister Osmar Terra repeated on Thursday (22) Bolsonaro’s speech that “people may be unemployed but have something to eat “. 

“The poverty reduction speech, which is insistent in the left speech, has no factual evidence, nor the speech that hunger has returned in the Bolsonaro government. People may be unemployed, in a difficult situation, but have something to eat,” said the minister, in a statement to the Estado de S.Paulo newspaper. 

However, some facts were omitted in Terra’s speech. In the period in which former President Lula was at the head of the country – eight years ending December 2010 – there was a 50.64% drop in poverty in the country. 

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in 2013 Brazil managed to reduce extreme poverty – ranked by the number of people living on less than $ 1 a day – by 75% between 2001 and 2012. . 

The current scenario is devastating. In just one year, Brazil had almost 2 million more people living in poverty. Extreme poverty has also grown at a similar level. This is what the Synthesis of Social Indicators (SIS) shows, released by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE).

4 Ancient Cooking Devices Still Used Today

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

4 Ancient Cooking Devices Still Used Today

In our world of pressure cookers, smart coffee mugs, and air fryers, it’s clear that cooking technology has come a long way over the years. But then, you take a look back at how ancient civilizations cooked and you realize that, despite our modern technology, we’re still using many of the same strategies and tools that were used back in the day. In particular, these four ancient cooking devices have stood the test of time in our modern era.

Clay Cooking Pots

Credit: Hagi / iStock

This one’s more of a modern take on an old idea.

In ancient Greece, a common cooking method was to place prepared meats and vegetables in tightly-sealed ceramic pots, which were often buried in the ground underneath hot coals. The concoction would be left to cook for several hours before being served—a “low and slow” method that bears a striking similarity to one of the modern era’s favorite cooking methods: slow cooking.

It’s not hard to see the resemblance. Many slow cookers have inserts made from ceramic, porcelain, or stone, and they’re fitted with snug lids that keep the heat locked in. And rather than heating over the fire, the use of coals allowed the ingredients to cook slowly and simmer over time until they reached tender, tangy perfection—just as modern slow cookers do. And while we’ve adapted the ancient device to fit our modern sensibilities, the fundamental concept is the same.

Mortar and Pestle

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The mortar and pestle has to be one of the oldest cooking tools in recorded history, with ancient specimens found as far back as 35,000 B.C. It’s a simple device usually made from stone, bronze, ceramic, or wood, with only two components: a small bowl and a club-like tool with a rounded edge.

Most of us are familiar with how it works. The mortar and pestle was (and still is) used for grinding up spices, herbs, and seasonings, though it also saw plenty of use in medical settings. In fact, the mortar and pestle may be one of the few ancient cooking tools that modern-day chefs use exactly as it was intended. The grinding action is perfect for preparing raw herbs and hard spices in ways that knives and other cooking tools can’t manage, and given that we’re still using it thousands of years after its invention, it’s clear that it still has value in the modern era.

Colander

Credit: Dragan Smiljkovic / iStock

Best known as our go-to tool for straining cooked noodles, sauces, and vegetables, the humble colander has a long history on the world stage. Colanders from ancient Rome and ancient Egypt sit in museums as historical artifacts, and historians believe that the straining device had a rich history of use across these cultures.

Modern colanders tend to be made from wire, plastic, or steel, but in the olden days, colanders were often cast from bronze—meaning they were reserved for the wealthy. More evidence of this comes from reports suggesting that colanders may have been used to strain and prepare wine, a luxury typically afforded to the rich.

Deep Fryer

Credit: Stefano Barzellotti / Shutterstock.com

Yes, although fried foods have become inexorably tied to American culture, deep frying as a practice has been around for thousands of years. The practice of frying foods in oil dates back to ancient Greece and Rome, though other countries — such as Egypt and Japan — also have a substantial history of frying. Of course, they didn’t have the fryer technology we take for granted today, which is probably a good thing. Fried foods can’t be considered healthy by any stretch of the imagination, and while ancient cultures used to enjoy fried options in (relative) moderation, our modern society goes all out, frying anything and everything we can find.

Time-Tested Cooking Classics

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New cooking technology is great, but as this list shows, you just can’t beat the classics. Many of the basic cooking tools we use every day—knives, pots, ovens, skillets—have all been used for years by cultures around the world. And while our air poppers and pressure cookers have their uses, ancient cultures seemed to do just fine without them.

The World’s Food Supply Relies On This Remote Arctic Island

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

The World’s Food Supply Relies On This Remote Arctic Island

Miles away, in a remote archipelago deep in the Arctic, there’s a treasure vault of seeds that might just save the world one day.

No, that’s not the introduction to a sci-fi novel. Located in the far reaches of the Arctic, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a very real thing. It houses hundreds of thousands of seeds from all around the world, including seeds for many of the world’s most important food crops.

Created by conservationists, this incredible vault was established to preserve plant seeds in the event of a global crisis. Want to learn more? Read on to learn all you need to know about this incredible project.

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What Is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault?

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The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a secure seed bank located on a Norwegian island in the Arctic named Spitsbergen. It sits about halfway between Norway and the North Pole.

The seed vault is home to a huge variety of plant seeds that are duplicates of seeds from gene banks around the world. It represents the largest collection of crop diversity on the entire planet.

Why Does It Exist?

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The idea behind the vault: If other seeds were lost during a global crisis or even because of a mistake in a lab, there would be a spare copy held in the vault. In short, the vault is like a massive backup plan, helping to protect plant diversity and food crops around the world.

A Brief History

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Who dreamed up a vault in the middle of nowhere filled with the world’s most important seeds?

It began with the Nordic Gene Bank (also known as the NGB or NordGen), which began packing up plant seeds as early as 1984 in Svalbard.

However, it wasn’t until 2008 when a three-part agreement between NordGen, the Norwegian hovernment, and the Global Crop Diversity Trust resulted in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault as we know it today.

Acting in collaboration with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, Cary Fowler, an American agriculturalist and former director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, worked hard to make this project a reality.

Interest in the project was high from the beginning. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault began receiving seeds before it even officially opened, and now it contains seeds from about one-third of the world’s most vital food crops. At the time of this writing, the seed bank has received over a million samples.

After withdrawals, the vault currently contains close to 1 million samples and has the capacity to house as many as 4.5 million samples. Currently, the collection of samples represents over 13,000 years of agriculture.

Who Is Responsible For It?

Credit: RelaxedPace / iStock

The Norwegian Ministry for Agriculture and Food, the Global Crop Diversity Trust, and NordGen are responsible for the Vault. Funding for the Global Crop Diversity Trust is supplied from governments and foundations around the world, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

How Does It Work?

Credit: ginger_polina_bublik / Shutterstock.com

The seeds are secured in an official way. First, they’re sealed into three-ply foil parcels then put in plastic totes and shelved in temperature-controlled storage rooms that preserve their viability and life span.

Who has access to the seeds? Not just anyone: For regular requests, researchers and breeders are to go to the original gene banks, not the seed vault. The vault is like a “break in case of emergency” reserve.

While the facility is owned by Norway, it operates like a bank with safety deposit boxes. Each donating gene bank owns its donated seeds and retains ownership of them. Donors are documented through a detailed database.

The World’s Food Safety Net

Credit: Rawf8 / iStock

The Global Seed Vault is an important part of our global push for food safety and sustainability. We owe a lot to these researchers and their hard work, and over time, it’s likely that we’ll end up relying on this system to produce many of the foods we take for granted today.

China stops buying US farm products

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

China stops buying US farm products

Shine

China’s Commerce Ministry said on Tuesday that Chinese companies have stopped buying US agricultural products, and that China will not rule out imposing import tariffs on US farm products that were bought after August 3.

“Related Chinese companies have suspended purchases of US agricultural products,” the ministry said in an online statement posted shortly after midnight in Beijing on Tuesday.

The statement said China hoped the United States would keep its promises and create the “necessary conditions” for bilateral cooperation.

US President Donald Trump said last Thursday that China had not fulfilled a promise to buy large volumes of US farm products and vowed to impose new tariffs on around US$300 billion of Chinese goods, abruptly ending the China-US trade truce.

In response to the US accusations, an official with the China’s top economic planning agency said “such accusations are groundless.”

Cong Liang, secretary-general of the National Development and Reform Commission, said from the conclusion of the Osaka meeting to the end of July, a total of 2.27 million tons of US soybeans were newly shipped to China, and another 2 million tons of soybeans are expected to be loaded in August.

Since July 19, Chinese companies have made inquiries about purchasing US soybeans, sorghum, wheat, corn, cotton, dairy products, hay, ethyl alcohol, soybean oil, wine, beer, fresh and processed fruits and other agricultural products.

By the evening of August 2, a number of deals had been concluded, including 130,000 tons of soybeans, 120,000 tons of sorghum, 60,000 tons of wheat and 40,000 tons of pork and pork products, Cong said.

“China and the United States are highly complementary in the agricultural sector and the trade of agricultural products is in line with the mutual interests of both sides,” said Cong.

Cong said the reason that some US products, including ethyl alcohol and corn, failed to clinch a deal in the Chinese market is because their prices are less competitive.

“We hope the United States will do more to clear obstacles and create conditions for China’s purchase of US agricultural products,” said Cong.

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