Casual Restaurant Chain in the U.S. Rolls Out Truly Compostable Takeout Containers

Catherine Lamb wrote . . . . . . . . .

If you’ve grabbed lunch at a Sweetgreen before, you likely felt pretty virtuous as you tossed your takeout container, knowing that it’s “100 percent compostable.”

But the truth about those takeaway bowls is a lot less pleasant. According to The Counter (formerly The New Food Economy), all molded fiber bowls contain PFAS; a nasty class of chemicals that do not naturally biodegrade. That means that the compostable food containers you’ve been throwing out are not, in fact, compostable. In fact, they contain hazardous, unhealthy components that never break down.

However, Sweetgreen just took a big step to get rid of PFAS and make their to-go containers truly compostable. The fast-casual chain partnered with Footprint, a company fighting single-use plastic packaging, to develop a new line of biodegradable bowls that are completely devoid of PFAS. Sweetgreen launched the bowls first in San Francisco earlier this year, since new legislation requires that as of January 1, 2020, all single-use food service ware (containers, cups, etc) in SF must be PFAS-free.

The containers are made of fibers from bagasse, an agricultural waste product, which is blended, heated, and covered with a natural coating so it won’t leak. The lids for Sweetgreen’s to-go containers are currently plastic, but the company plans to start selling lids made of the same compostable material soon. Sweetgreen has plans to roll out the compostable bowls at all of its stores nationwide in 2020.

Sweetgreen is one of several restaurant chains with high numbers of to-go orders that is increasing its sustainability efforts. Its competitor, Just Salad, recently announced plans to send zero waste to landfills by 2022. Coffee chain Blue Bottle aims to divert at least 90 percent of its waste from landfills by the end of this year.

On the fast food side, Taco Bell aims to implement PFAS-free sustainable consumer-facing packaging by 2025. Starbucks will switch to reusable packaging by 2030 in a bid to cut its landfill waste by half. And McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, Subway, and Burger King have all made their own pledges to reduce single-use and plastic.

In a time when worry over COVID-19 could be making restaurants more hesitant to accept consumer’s reusable containers — Starbucks, for example, has stopped letting customers use their own drinking vessels — better to-go packaging is more needed than ever before. But implementing truly recyclable or compostable packaging is much easier said than done, even as more cities mandate PFAS-free to-go containers.

With its new biodegradable bowls, Sweetgreen shows that it’s taking sustainability seriously. The move should put some pressure on fast-casual competitors like Chipotle, Panera, Chopt, and more, to follow suit and step up their to-go container game.

Source: The Spoon

Hong Kong-style Lobster in Cheese Sauce

Ingredients

1 lobster, about 600 g
1/2 medium onion
4 shallots
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup chicken stock
1-1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
cornstarch, oil and butter as needed

Cheese Sauce

1/2 cup fresh milk
50 g cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chicken broth mix
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp white wine

Method

  1. Clean lobster, cut into two halves and then pieces. Mix loster with salt and pepper. Set aside for 15 minutes. Coat lobster with cornstarch.
  2. Heat wok with 1 cup oil at high temperature. Fry lobsters till golden brown. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.
  3. Pour away oil with 2 tbsp remaining, saute onion, shallots and garlic, add flour and cheese sauce ingredients. Cook and stir till thickened.
  4. Add lobster and chicken stock, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Mix in butter, toss to combine. Remove to serving plate and serve hot.

Source: Enjoy the Pleasure of Cooking

Wary of Coronavirus, U.S. Shoppers Skip the Fresh Produce Aisle

Richa Naidu and Melissa Fares wrote . . . . . . . . .

Fearful of coronavirus and potential quarantine, U.S. shoppers are avoiding touching fresh fruits and vegetables in grocery stores and stocking their pantries with pretzels, powered milk, canned meat and other packaged food.

“People are getting supplies for a bomb shelter almost,” said Victor Colello, who heads the meat and fish department at New York-based Morton Williams, which operates 16 stores. “When people buy produce, they touch it. So a lot of people are thinking twice about doing that.”

Sales of celery, asparagus, chili peppers, apples and mandarins slowed in the last two weeks of February, while purchases of easily stored products that are not handled by humans – like dried beans and canned meat – grew at a faster pace.

Powdered milk sales jumped about 84% in the week ended Feb. 29, racing ahead of a 5% increase the week earlier, according to data firm Nielsen. Similarly sales of papayas fell 15.6% year-on-year, declining at a much faster rate than the week prior when sales were down only 1.4%.

At Fairway market in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, shelves normally filled with prewashed lettuce sold in plastic containers were bare on Sunday morning. By contrast, there was plenty of loose lettuce for purchase.

In a conversation on Twitter, user @rexthetvterrier wrote: “Nothing like seeing someone cough into their hand and then start picking through produce.”

“I won’t buy produce,” Twitter user @Tbevellrice replied. “We are doing canned or frozen veggies, canned soups, bagged rice, etc.”

About 3,800 people have died so far and more than 110,000 people have been infected in the outbreak, which originated in Wuhan, China late last year and has spread to at least 105 countries and territories.

Over the past month, U.S. consumers have stocked up on food, bottled water, hand sanitizer and cleaning products as fears about the novel coronavirus outbreak mounted. In some states, health officials have urged consumers to stock up on products in case they are required to isolate themselves at home.

“Shopping trends are mimicking what we see leading up to a weather event. Customers are stocking up on paper products and a variety of food items, particularly those with a longer shelf life,” Wegmans director of public relations Deana Percassi said. More people are shopping for their groceries online as well, and that demand is expected to continue, Percassi said.

People are not just preparing for the uncertainty of the virus, they are also trying to get ahead of other shoppers doing the same, Nielsen Global Intelligence Leader Scott McKenzie said. Fruit snacks, for instance, have flavors similar to fresh fruit but their processing gives them longer shelf life with less direct human contact, McKenzie said.

Health-conscious consumers have for several years turned away from products like pretzels and dried beans, gutting sales at companies like SPAM maker Hormel Foods and Coffee Mate-owner Nestle. But they are now selling well.

Bernstein analyst Alexia Howard said, however, that this growth may not last for long, and that she did not yet expect this to materially impact full-year sales.

Source: Reuters

Intense Exercise Can Trigger Heart Trouble in the Unprepared

For most people, aerobic exercise is great. However, high-intensity exercise like running in marathons and triathlons can pose heart risks for those who have inadequate training.

Sudden cardiac arrest, atrial fibrillation and heart attacks are among these risks, according to a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA).

“Exercise is medicine, and there is no question that moderate to vigorous physical activity is beneficial to overall cardiovascular health,” said Barry Franklin, chair of the writing committee for the new scientific statement.

“However, like medicine, it is possible to underdose and overdose on exercise — more is not always better and can lead to cardiac events, particularly when performed by inactive, unfit individuals with known or undiagnosed heart disease,” said Franklin, director of preventive cardiology and cardiac rehabilitation at Beaumont Health in Royal Oak, Mich.

“More people are running marathons, participating in triathlons and doing high-intensity interval training. The purpose of this statement is to put the benefits and risks of these vigorous exercise programs in perspective,” he said in an AHA news release.

The committee reviewed more than 300 studies and concluded that improving physical fitness is beneficial for most. People who exercise have up to a 50% lower risk of heart attack and cardiac death.

However, while the risk of sudden cardiac death or heart attack is low among people engaging in high-intensity exercise, it is still possible. Nearly 40% of cardiac events in triathlons occur in first-time participants, suggesting that poor training or underlying conditions may be the culprit.

Before embarking on an intense training program, the AHA encourages people to start a light exercise program and slowly build up. But if you have symptoms such as chest pain, chest pressure or severe shortness of breath while exercising, check with a doctor before starting any program.

“It is important to start exercising — but go slow, even if you were an athlete in high school,” Franklin said.

The scientific statement was published in the AHA journal Circulation.

Source: HealthDay

Researchers Announce Progress in Developing an Accurate, Noninvasive Urine Test For Prostate Cancer

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have made significant progress toward development of a simple, noninvasive liquid biopsy test that detects prostate cancer from RNA and other specific metabolic chemicals in the urine.

A description of their findings appears in the Feb. 28 issue of the journal Scientific Reports.

The investigators emphasize that this is a proof-of-principle study for the urine test, and it must be validated in additional, larger studies before it is ready for clinical use.

The researchers used RNA deep-sequencing and mass spectrometry to identify a previously unknown profile of RNAs and dietary byproducts, known as metabolites, among 126 patients and healthy, normal people. The cohort included 64 patients with prostate cancer, 31 with benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostatitis diseases, and 31 healthy people with none of these conditions. RNA alone was not sufficient to positively identify the cancer, but addition of a group of disease-specific metabolites provided separation of cancer from other diseases and healthy people.

“A simple and noninvasive urine test for prostate cancer would be a significant step forward in diagnosis. Tissue biopsies are invasive and notoriously difficult because they often miss cancer cells, and existing tests, such as PSA (prostate-specific antigen) elevation, are not very helpful in identifying cancer,” says Ranjan Perera, Ph.D., the study’s senior author. Perera is also the director of the Center for RNA Biology at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, a senior scientist at the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Cancer & Blood Disorders Institute and the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Institute for Fundamental Biomedical Research, and an associate professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center member.

“We discovered cancer-specific changes in urinary RNAs and metabolites that — if confirmed in a larger, separate group of patients — will allow us to develop a urinary test for prostate cancer in the future,” says Bongyong Lee, Ph.D., the study’s first author and a senior scientist at the Cancer & Blood Disorders Institute.

Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine


Today’s Comic