New York’s First Zero-Waste Restaurant

Jennifer Marston wrote . . . . . . . . .

It’s no secret that eating out produces a ton of waste. The restaurant industry loses around $162 billion annually in food waste costs, and that’s just for the edible stuff. Add onto that containers the food comes in, packaging for delivery orders, and paper for receipts, and there’s a whole lot of trash being generated every day by millions of restaurants around the country.

We’ve seen various efforts put towards fighting this growing mountain of trash — bans on plastic straws and disposable cutlery, for example — but one New York restaurant is taking the battle to a new extreme. Mettā, in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood, is reopening in the fall as New York’s first zero-waste restaurant, and it could provide an important road map for restaurants in the future.

Grubstreet profiled the restaurant earlier this week and found that zero waste in this context applies to everything about the business. The restaurant, which was already carbon-neutral, sources ingredients that come in compostable or reusable packaging, uses electrolyzed water that “eliminates” the need for dish soap, and composts any food scraps left on customers’ plates. Even the cheese rinds are upcycled.

Mettā is one of a handful of restaurants around the world pushing the zero-waste, trash-free business model. Silo, in the UK, is another notable example. Meanwhile, in Sweden, a project called Restauranglabbet is using a combination of tech, science, academic research, and design to create a waste-free restaurant of the future. Other establishments here and abroad are experimenting with ways to do zero-waste cooking, using all parts of the plant and sourcing ingredients locally.

If it all sounds terribly expensive, it is. For example, Mettā works with a New Jersey-based company called TerraCycle, who does curbside pickup for hard-to-recycle items like cooking oil and batteries. According to the Grubstreet article, Mettā will have two boxes for TerraCycle — each at $800 a pop.

It’s also terribly necessary that restaurants like these exist. While the concept might today be unattainable for most businesses, this wildly expensive and rather inconvenient model for a restaurant could actually pave the way for more affordable solutions in the future — ones that other restaurants could incorporate into their own operations.

It’s not unlike Tesla. The company’s high-performance, all-electric cars have historically come with a price tag that’s out of the question for most buyers, due in part to the vehicles’ high-tech design and expensive components like batteries. But by getting those who could afford the cars to cough up the cash, Tesla created a demand for this sort of vehicle that’s having a ripple effect on the auto industry. Automakers once reluctant to dabble in the world of all-electric vehicles are now coming to market with their own offerings. Meanwhile, the demand Tesla created eventually enabled the company make a more affordable (albeit still expensive) model whose components could be easier cheaper for other carmakers to iterate on.

When it comes to restaurants, your average mom-and-pop joint will probably not be able to pay $800 to recycle its cooking oil, but the mere fact that such an option exists for restaurants could lead to some company eventually coming to market with a cheaper solution. In the meantime, Mettā, Silo, and others also have more-affordable components of their operations that could be implemented by others now, like digital receipts and compostable packaging.

We’re not going to see restaurants like Mettā opening en masse any time soon. But the hope is that we’ll see some of the elements they introduce make their way into other restaurants and help move the industry towards a more sustainable way of doing business.

Source: The Spoon

Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwiches With Miso Butter

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1⁄8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon rice vinegar, preferably unseasoned
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (may substitute vegan butter, such as Earth Balance), divided
2 teaspoons white or dark miso paste
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
4 slices good-quality sandwich bread
4 ounces grated Gruyere cheese (1 cup; may substitute vegan shredded cheese, such as Violife or Daiya)
Cornichons (a.k.a. gherkins), for serving (optional)

Method

  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and salt and cook, stirring often, until the onions start to soften and brown, five to six minutes.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are deeply browned and sticky, 30 to 45 minutes.
  3. Stir in the vinegar. Transfer the onions to a small bowl.
  4. In a small bowl, mix one tablespoon butter with the miso paste and mustard. Spread one side of each bread slice with the miso butter.
  5. Spread the other sides with the remaining two tablespoons butter.
  6. Return the skillet to medium-low heat. Place two of the bread slices, plain-buttered-side down, in the skillet. Divide the cheese and onions evenly between them and top with the other bread slices, plain-buttered-side up. (You want the miso butter on the inside of the sandwiches.) Cook until the bread is golden brown, five to seven minutes. (Resist the urge to press the sandwich with a spatula.)
  7. Flip the sandwiches over and cook on the other side until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is melted, five to seven minutes.
  8. Transfer to plates and serve with pickles, if desired.

Makes 2 servings.

Source: Winnipeg Free Press

In Pictures: Home-cooked Breakfasts

Bathroom Scale Could Monitor Millions with Heart Failure

“Good morning. Bill. Please. Step onto the scale. Touch the metal pads.” The device records an electrocardiogram from Bill’s fingers and – more importantly – circulation pulsing that makes his body subtly bob up and down on the scale. Machine learning tools compute that Bill’s heart failure symptoms have worsened.

This is how researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology envision their experimental device reaching patients someday, and in a new study, they reported proof-of-concept success in recording and processing data from 43 patients with heart failure. A future marketable version of the medical monitoring scale would ideally notify a doctor, who would call Bill to adjust his medication at home, hopefully sparing him a long hospital stay and needless suffering.

The pulsing and bobbing signal is called a ballistocardiogram (BCG), a measurement researchers took more commonly about 100 years ago but gave up on as imaging technology far surpassed it. The researchers are making it useful again with modern computation.

“Our work is the first time that BCGs have been used to classify the status of heart failure patients,” said Omer Inan, the study’s principal investigator and an associate professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Healthcare crisis

Heart failure affects 6.5 million Americans and is a slow-progressing disease, in which the heart works less and less effectively. Many people know it as congestive heart failure because a major symptom is fluid buildup, which can overwhelm the lungs, impeding breathing and possibly causing death.

Patients endure repeat hospitalizations to adjust medications when their condition dips, or “decompensates,” making heart failure a major driver of hospital admissions and healthcare costs. Home monitoring reduces hospitalizations but currently requires an invasive procedure.

Georgia Tech research was behind the launch of such an implantable heart failure home monitoring device in 2011. But this new solution would potentially dispense with the procedure, cost much less, and be much simpler to use – lowering patients’ resistance to home monitoring.

Given its early stage, the study’s BCG-EKG scale performed well in hospital tests but also in in-home tests, which was promising, since the solution principally targets eventual home use.

The research team, which included collaborators from the University of California, San Francisco, and Northwestern University, published their results in the journal IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering. The research was funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health.

Ballisto scribble

The EKG part of the experimental scale is not new nor its great diagnostic information, but it alone does not say enough about heart failure. The BCG part is mostly new, and it appears valuable to heart failure monitoring but also challenging to record and interpret.

“The ECG (EKG) has characteristic waves that clinicians have understood for 100 years, and now, computers read it a lot of the time,” Inan said. “Elements of the BCG signal aren’t really known well yet, and they haven’t been measured in patients with heart failure very much at all.”

The EKG is electrical; the body conducts its signals well, and the recordings are clear.

The BCG is a mechanical signal; body fat dampens it, and it faces a lot of interference in the body like tissue variations and muscle movement. BCGs are also noisier in people with cardiovascular disease.

Patients with heart failure tend to be feebler, and initially, the researchers worried they would wobble on scales during home tests, adding even more noise to the BCGs. But the recordings were very productive.

Though a BCG read-out is scribble compared to an EKG’s near-uniform etchings, BCGs have some patterns that parallel an EKG’s. For example, the big upward spike in an EKG is followed by the BCG’s big “J-wave.”

Inconsistent throbbing

The researchers processed BCGs with three machine learning algorithms, revealing patterns that differ when a patient’s heart failure is compensated, that is, healthier, from when it is decompensated.

“In someone with decompensated heart failure, the cardiovascular system can no longer compensate for the reduced heart function, and then the flow of blood through the arteries is more disorderly, and we see it in the mechanical signal of the BCG,” Inan said. “That difference does not show up in the ECG because it’s an electrical signal.”

“The most important characteristic was the degree to which the BCG is variable, which would mean inconsistent blood flow. If you chop up the recording into 20-second intervals and the individual segments differ from each other a lot, that’s a good marker of decompensation,” Inan said.

Source: Georgia Institute of Technology

Study: Young and Middle-aged Aults with Low Vitamin D levels May Live Shorter Lives

Amy Norton wrote . . . . . . . . .

The findings come from a 20-year follow-up of more than 78,000 Austrian adults. Researchers found that those with low vitamin D levels in their blood were nearly three times more likely to die during the study period than those with adequate levels.

When it came to the cause of death, vitamin D levels were most clearly linked to deaths from diabetes complications.

The findings were to be presented Friday at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, in Barcelona — and are considered preliminary. Experts said they do not prove that low vitamin D levels, per se, cut people’s lives short.

But the results add to a large body of evidence tying inadequate vitamin D to various health effects — beyond the long-recognized consequence of thinner, weaker bones. Studies have also pointed to higher risks of conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, certain cancers, and autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

“The role of vitamin D in the body appears to be more than simply assisting calcium absorption and bone health,” said Connie Diekman, a registered dietitian who was not involved in the study.

However, the research is “still evolving,” noted Diekman, who has served as president of the nonprofit Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. That means it’s still unclear whether boosting your vitamin D intake — through food or pills — will prevent various diseases or lengthen your life.

In fact, a recent study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, yielded disappointing results: Researchers found that vitamin D supplements did not help prevent type 2 diabetes in people at high risk of the disease.

But that may be in part because supplements later in life might not be enough to prevent a disease, according to Dr. Rodrig Marculescu, the lead researcher on the current study.

Many health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, get their start earlier in life, said Marculescu, of the Medical University of Vienna in Austria.

On the other hand, he said, vitamin D supplements might have more of an impact on the odds of dying from a disease.

His team found a clear relationship between blood vitamin D levels and the risk of early death — especially among people who were younger than 60: Those with levels of 10 nmol/L (nanomoles per liter) or less had almost a three-times higher risk of dying during the study, versus those with adequate levels (50 nmol/L).

In contrast, middle-aged and younger people with vitamin D levels at or above 90 nmol/L had a lower death risk than those at the 50 mark.

In general, vitamin D concentrations of 50 nmol/L or higher are considered to be high enough for overall health, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

When the researchers zeroed in on causes of death, it turned out that vitamin D levels showed only weak connections to heart disease and cancer. Instead, people with low levels (below 50) had a more than fourfold higher risk of dying from diabetes complications, versus those with adequate levels.

It’s not clear why. But, Marculescu said, there are plausible reasons that vitamin D levels would be particularly linked to diabetes: The vitamin, which acts as a hormone in the body, helps regulate the immune system. That’s relevant to type 1 diabetes, Marculescu noted, because it is an autoimmune disease.

Vitamin D is also important to the cells that produce the hormone insulin — which regulates blood sugar — and to the body’s sensitivity to insulin. That’s relevant to type 2 diabetes, Marculescu pointed out.

For now, he said, the findings “further strengthen the already very strong rationale for intensifying vitamin D supplementation, especially during childhood and at younger ages.”

Specifically, he pointed to recommendations from the Endocrine Society. They suggest that adults get 1,500 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day, while children and teenagers get 600 to 1,000 IU.

The body naturally synthesizes vitamin D when sunlight hits the skin, but cold climates — and concerns about sun exposure — can limit that source.

Diekman suggested that people have their blood vitamin D level checked. If it’s low, she said, talk to your doctor about how to boost it — whether through supplements or foods such as vitamin D-fortified dairy products, juice or cereal.

Source: HealthDay


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