Changing Cities’ Food Systems to Help Reduce Carbon Emissions

Many U.S. cities and states are looking for ways to slash greenhouse gas emissions, including cap-and-trade programs, building-efficiency regulations, and boosting public transit and renewable energy sources. Now scientists report in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology additional measures cities could take to further cut their carbon footprint: by tackling emissions related to food consumption and waste.

According to previous studies, feeding urban populations — from producing food to transporting it, to refrigeration and cooking meals, and finally to tossing leftovers — accounts for 20 to 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. This large contribution makes the food system a prime target when researchers and policymakers are looking for ways to reduce cities’ carbon footprints. Conversations around this idea have focused primarily on the agricultural production side of the equation. But Eugene Mohareb and colleagues wanted to see what would happen if they reframed the issue from the urban consumption standpoint.

Building off of a review of diet-related emissions conducted by one of the members of the team, the researchers pooled data from a variety of sources to estimate emissions related to different components of the U.S. food system, including transportation, processing and waste disposal methods. They then estimated how changes in specific urban consumption practices could reduce these emissions. Interestingly, they found that increasing urban agriculture to occupy half of the vacant land in cities would reduce food-related emissions by only 1 percent. But switching from fossil fuel-based electricity to carbon-free energy sources would slash food-related emissions by at least 18 percent; reducing retail and consumer food waste by half would decrease emissions by 11 percent; and replacing a quarter of total beef consumption with chicken would drop emissions by 6 percent.

Source: American Chemical Society

Polish-style Potato Perogies with Bacon and Old Cheddar Cheese

Ingredients

2 eggs
1-1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature, cubed
3 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered (750 g)
3 strips bacon, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1-1/2 cups coarsely grated old cheddar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh-ground black pepper

Method

  1. Stir 4 cups flour with salt in a large bowl. Whisk eggs with 1 cup sour cream in a medium bowl, then stir into flour mixture along with butter until dough comes together.
  2. Knead dough on a lightly floured counter, dusting with more flour, until it is smooth and not sticky.
  3. Divide dough into 2 portions, pat into 2 discs and wrap each with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (Dough can be refrigerated up to 2 days.)
  4. Boil potatoes in a large pot of water until soft, about 20 minutes.
  5. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain on paper-towel-lined plate. Do not clean pan. Reserve 1/4 cup green onions for garnish. Add remaining green onions to bacon fat. Cook until soft, I to 2 min. Transfer to plate with bacon.
  6. Drain cooked potatoes, then return to the pot. Mash potatoes with bacon, cooked onions, cheese, salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  7. Dust counter with remaining cup flour.
  8. Roll out 1 disc of dough until 1/8 in. thick. Cut out 2-1/2-inch-wide circles with a cookie cutter (or drinking glass). Keep dough covered with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out.
  9. Scoop a heaping tsp of filling onto each round and fold the dough over, forming a half moon. Pinch edges tightly to seal. If dough won’t seal, dab edges with water.
  10. Gather scraps of dough, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Repeat with remaining disc of dough. Gather up scraps, combine with dough from refridgerator, re-roll and cut out more circles.
  11. Fill same large pot with water and bring to a boil.
  12. Slip about 12 perogies into boiling water and cook 5 to 6 minutes.
  13. Once perogies float to the top, remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a platter. Repeat with remaining perogies. Pat dry and serve topped with remaining 1/2 cup sour cream and reserved green onions.
  14. Or melt butter in a frying pan and fry perogies in batches, adding more butter if needed, until crispy, 2 minutes per side. Top with sour cream and green onions.

Makes 65 perogies.

Source: Chatelaine magazine

Video: 3D Coffee Art

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World Health Organization Plan to Eliminate Industrially-produced Trans-fatty Acids from Global Food Supply

WHO today released REPLACE, a step-by-step guide for the elimination of industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from the global food supply.

Eliminating trans fats is key to protecting health and saving lives: WHO estimates that every year, trans fat intake leads to more than 500,000 deaths of people from cardiovascular disease.

Industrially-produced trans fats are contained in hardened vegetable fats, such as margarine and ghee, and are often present in snack food, baked foods, and fried foods. Manufacturers often use them as they have a longer shelf life than other fats. But healthier alternatives can be used that would not affect taste or cost of food.

“WHO calls on governments to use the REPLACE action package to eliminate industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from the food supply,”said WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Implementing the six strategic actions in the REPLACE package will help achieve the elimination of trans fat, and represent a major victory in the global fight against cardiovascular disease.”

REPLACE provides six strategic actions to ensure the prompt, complete, and sustained elimination of industrially-produced trans fats from the food supply:

REview dietary sources of industrially-produced trans fats and the landscape for required policy change.

Promote the replacement of industrially-produced trans fats with healthier fats and oils.

Legislate or enact regulatory actions to eliminate industrially-produced trans fats.

Assess and monitor trans fats content in the food supply and changes in trans fat consumption in the population.

Create awareness of the negative health impact of trans fats among policy makers, producers, suppliers, and the public.

Enforce compliance of policies and regulations.

Several high-income countries have virtually eliminated industrially-produced trans fats through legally imposed limits on the amount that can be contained in packaged food. Some governments have implemented nationwide bans on partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of industrially-produced trans fats.

In Denmark, the first country to mandate restrictions on industrially-produced trans fats, the trans fat content of food products declined dramatically and cardiovascular disease deaths declined more quickly than in comparable OECD countries.

“New York City eliminated industrially-produced trans fat a decade ago, following Denmark’s lead,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies. “Trans fat is an unnecessary toxic chemical that kills, and there’s no reason people around the world should continue to be exposed.”

Action is needed in low- and middle-income countries, where controls of use of industrially-produced trans fats are often weaker, to ensure that the benefits are felt equally around the world.

WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases, Michael R. Bloomberg, a three-term mayor of New York city and the founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies, said: “Banning trans fats in New York City helped reduce the number of heart attacks without changing the taste or cost of food, and eliminating their use around the world can save millions of lives. A comprehensive approach to tobacco control allowed us to make more progress globally over the last decade than almost anyone thought possible – now, a similar approach to trans fat can help us make that kind of progress against cardiovascular disease, another of the world’s leading causes of preventable death.”

Elimination of industrially-produced trans fats from the global food supply has been identified as one of the priority targets of WHO’s strategic plan, the draft 13th General Programme of Work (GPW13) which will guide the work of WHO in 2019 – 2023. GPW13 is on the agenda of the 71st World Health Assembly that will be held in Geneva on 21 – 26 May 2018. As part of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals, the global community has committed to reducing premature death from noncommunicable diseases by one-third by 2030. Global elimination of industrially-produced trans fats can help achieve this goal.

“Why should our children have such an unsafe ingredient in their foods?” asks Dr Tedros. “The world is now embarking on the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition, using it as a driver for improved access to healthy food and nutrition. WHO is also using this milestone to work with governments, the food industry, academia and civil society to make food systems healthier for future generations, including by eliminating industrially-produced trans fats.”


Notes

There are two main sources for trans fats: natural sources (in the dairy products and meat of ruminants such as cows and sheep) and industrially-produced sources (partially hydrogenated oils).

Partially hydrogenated oils were first introduced into the food supply in the early 20th century as a replacement for butter, and became more popular in the 1950s through 1970s with the discovery of the negative health impacts of saturated fatty acids. Partially hydrogenated oils are primarily used for deep frying and as an ingredient in baked goods; they can be replaced in both.

WHO recommends that the total trans fat intake be limited to less than 1% of total energy intake, which translates to less than 2.2 g/day with a 2,000-calorie diet. Trans fats increases levels of LDL-cholesterol, a well-accepted biomarker for cardiovascular disease risk, and decreases levels of HDL-cholesterol, which carry away cholesterol from arteries and transport it to the liver, that secretes it into the bile. Diets high in trans fat increase heart disease risk by 21% and deaths by 28%. Replacing trans fats with unsaturated fatty acids decreases the risk of heart disease, in part, by ameliorating the negative effects of trans fats on blood lipids. In addition, there are indications that trans fat may increase inflammation and endothelial dysfunction.

From 4 May-1 June 2018, WHO is running an online public consultation to review updated draft guidelines on the intake of trans-fatty acids saturated fatty acids for adult and children.

Source: Whole Health Organization


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Healthy Diet May Lower Risk of Hearing Loss in Women

Hearing loss affects approximately 48 million Americans. Some evidence suggests that diet may influence risk of hearing loss. Previous studies have looked at how specific nutrients affect risk, but the relation of overall diet and risk of developing hearing loss was unclear. In a new study, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital examined the relation between three different diets and risk of developing hearing loss: The Alternate Mediterranean diet (AMED), Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), and the Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 (AHEI-2010) in 70,966 women in the Nurses’ Health Study II who were followed for 22 years, and found that eating a healthy diet is associated with a lower risk of acquired hearing loss in women. Results are published in the Journal of Nutrition on May 11.

“Interestingly, we observed that those following an overall healthy diet had a lower risk of moderate or worse hearing loss,” said Sharon Curhan, MD, an epidemiologist in the Channing Division of Network Medicine at BWH, and first author of the study. “Eating well contributes to overall good health, and it may also be helpful in reducing the risk of hearing loss.”

In this longitudinal study, researchers collected detailed information on dietary intake every four years and found that women whose diets most closely resembled the AMED or DASH dietary patterns had an approximately 30 percent lower risk of moderate or worse hearing loss, compared with women whose diets resembled these dietary patterns the least. Moreover, findings in a sub-cohort of over 33,000 women for whom detailed hearing-related information had been collected suggest that the magnitude of the reduced risk may be even greater than 30 percent, and may also pertain to the AHEI-2010. The AMED diet includes extra virgin olive oil, grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish and moderate intake of alcohol. The DASH diet is high in fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy, and low in sodium. The AHEI-2010 diet has common components with AMED and DASH.

Assessment of hearing loss was based on self-report. Researchers say further research in additional populations is warranted.

Source: Brigham and Women’s Hospital


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