USDA Hands Out Funding for National Institute for Cellular Agriculture

The US Department of Agriculture will award Tufts University $10 million over five years to establish the National Institute for Cellular Agriculture: a flagship American cultivated protein research centre of excellence.

USDA awarded the grant as a part of a $146 million investment in sustainable agricultural research projects announced by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack on 6 October. This investment is being made by USDA-NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative’s (AFRI) Sustainable Agricultural Systems program — the nation’s largest competitive grants program for agricultural sciences.

Tufts University Professor David Kaplan, a cultivated meat expert, will lead the initiative and will be joined by investigators from Virginia Tech, Virginia State, University of California-Davis, MIT, and University of Massachusetts-Boston. The new institute will “develop outreach, extension, and education for the next generation of professionals” in cellular agriculture and lead research that will help to expand the menu of climate-friendly protein options and improve food system resilience.

“USDA’s historic funding for a National Institute for Cellular Agriculture is an important advancement for cultivated meat research and science. I am pleased that USDA’s leadership continues to recognise the important role these technologies can play in combating climate change and adding much needed resiliency to our food system,” said Appropriations Committee Chair Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT).

Cultivated meat production is emerging as a feasible solution to help address the growing global demand for meat. By developing sustainable agri-food systems to meet this growing demand, the Good Food Institute says this investment in cultivated meat will support critical research necessary to rapidly scale cultivated meat production, expand menu options, and contribute to a robust, resilient, climate-smart food and agricultural system.

“This is a major step forward in our work to tackle climate change, infuse resiliency into our food systems, and build a stronger, more sustainable future. I am thrilled that this historic grant will be housed in the 5th District at Tufts University, a true leader in cultivated meat research, and am eager to see this transformative research brought to life,” said Rep. Katherine Clark, whose district includes the Tufts School of Engineering, where this research will primarily take place.

Source: New Food Magazine

French Chocolate Giant Valrhona Released a Vegan Milk Chocolate

Anna Starostinetskaya wrote . . . . . . . . .

French chocolate giant Valrhona recently launched Amatika 46 percent, its first vegan milk chocolate. Certified vegan by The Vegetarian Association Of France, the new chocolate is made from single-origin Madagascar cocoa and features primary notes of cocoa, secondary notes of creamy grains, and finishing notes of roasted almonds. “The creamy texture of Amatika gives way to notes of cocoa, toasted almonds, and a hint of tanginess, reminiscent of a picnic in the peaceful ambiance of a garden in Madagascar,” Valrhona said in a sales brochure for the new chocolate.

Valrhona created the chocolate for culinary professionals to use in plant-based pâtisserie and gathered several vegan recipes to showcase Amatika in the brochure, including essentials such as vegan mousse, crémeux, and ganache; as well as a complex vegan chocolate tart developed by Valrhona Pastry Chef and Creative Director Frédéric Bau.

“Our new vegan milk chocolate Amatika 46 percent gives artisans a new source of inspiration for vegan pastry-making and a way to stand out from the crowd,” the company posted to social media. “The flavor and texture are unlike anything else, meeting the demands and creativity of pastry chefs around the world. ⁠A unique chocolate, sweet and creamy like a milk chocolate couverture, but powerful like a single origin.”

Vegan milk chocolate is a thing

While several dark chocolate varieties, including many of those made by Valrhona, are vegan, milk chocolate is traditionally made with dairy milk. However, the proliferation of vegan milks—now made from a variety of plants such as oats, hazelnuts, pistachios, potatoes, and more—has created suitable substitutes for dairy in milk chocolate bars. Big brands are starting to venture outside of the dark chocolate realm to explore the possibilities of vegan milk chocolate.

In the United Kingdom, nearly every chocolate giant has launched vegan milk chocolate in recent years. After six months in development, Mars debuted its first vegan milk chocolate Galaxy line in 2019. The bars are made with hazelnut paste and rice syrup instead of dairy milk and come in Smooth Orange, Caramel & Sea Salt, and Caramelized Hazelnut flavors.

Swiss chocolate giant Lindt got into the vegan milk chocolate game with its own three-flavor launch—Cookie, Salted Caramel, and Hazelnut—last year under its HELLO collection. From vegan KitKats to Cadbury’s new almond paste-based bars in Smooth Chocolate and Salted Caramel flavors (which were under development for more than two years), vegan milk chocolate is not in short supply abroad.

Stateside, Hershey’s has been quietly testing a vegan milk chocolate bar made with oat milk instead of dairy. The Oat Made bars come in Classic Dark and Extra Creamy Almond & Sea Salt flavors and are available at a select number of retailers, including Target, as part of a real-time marketing test Hershey’s is conducting until June 2022.

At popular grocery chain Trader Joe’s, taste-makers developed a vegan chocolate bar made with the store’s existing Trader Joe’s Almond Beverage (code for almond milk). After several months in development, The Organic Almond Beverage Chocolate Bar launched last fall to advance Trader Joe’s commitment to add new vegan products to every department in the store.

Source: Veg News

Broken Heart Syndrome Is on the Rise, Especially Among Older Women

Thor Christensen wrote . . . . . . . . .

Broken heart syndrome, a life-threatening condition whose symptoms mimic a heart attack, is on the upswing, according to new research that shows the sharpest increases among women 50 and older.

Published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the study examined 135,463 cases of broken heart syndrome in U.S. hospitals from 2006 to 2017. It found a steady annual increase among both women and men, with women making up 88.3% of the cases.

The overall increase wasn’t unexpected as the condition has become increasingly recognized among medical professionals, said Dr. Susan Cheng, the study’s senior author. But researchers were taken aback to find the rate of the condition was at least six to 12 times higher in women ages 50 to 74 than it was in men or in younger women.

“These skyrocketing rates are both intriguing and concerning,” said Cheng, director of the Institute for Research on Healthy Aging in the department of cardiology at the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles.

The condition, also known as Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, has been studied for decades in Japan and elsewhere. But it wasn’t well known internationally until 2005, when the New England Journal of Medicine published research on it.

Triggered by physical or emotional stress, broken heart syndrome causes the heart’s main pumping chamber to temporarily enlarge and pump poorly. Patients experience chest pain and shortness of breath, symptoms similar to those of a heart attack.

If they survive the initial phase of the disease, people often can recover in days or weeks. However, the longer-term effects are still being studied. Despite apparent recovery of heart muscle function, some studies show people who have had broken heart syndrome are at heightened risk for future cardiovascular events.

Cheng said more research is needed to understand the risks and reasons why broken heart syndrome seems to disproportionately affect middle-aged to older women.

The end of menopause may play a role, she said, but so might an uptick in overall stress.

“As we advance in age and take on more life and work responsibilities, we experience higher stress levels,” she said. “And with increasing digitization around every aspect of our lives, environmental stressors have also intensified.”

The study arrives at a time when public health organizations have been delving deeper into the mind-heart-body connection. In January, the American Heart Association published a scientific statement on the connection, saying there were “clear associations” between psychological health and cardiovascular disease risk.

While the study was done before the rise of COVID-19, Cheng said the stress of the pandemic has likely led to a rise in the number of recent cases of broken heart syndrome, many of them undiagnosed.

“We know there have been profound effects on the heart-brain connection during the pandemic. We are at the tip of the iceberg in terms of measuring what those are,” she said.

Dr. Erin Michos, who helped write the AHA’s scientific statement but was not involved in the new research, said the findings underscore how important it is for doctors to screen patients for mental health conditions.

She also called for more research to understand a disease about which little is known.

“We should all be worried about why its incidence is on the rise,” said Michos, an associate professor of medicine and director of Women’s Cardiovascular Health at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore.

The study, she said, serves as a potent reminder that everyone needs be proactive about their mental health, especially those with cardiovascular risks.

“We can’t avoid all stress in life, but it is important for patients to develop healthy coping mechanisms. Some strategies include mindfulness meditation, yoga, exercise, eating healthy, getting adequate sleep and cultivating social relationships for support systems,” Michos said. “For patients with significant psychological stress, a referral to a clinical psychologist or other clinician with expertise in mental health is recommended.”

Source: American Heart Association

Okra Curry

Ingredients

1 lb okra
1/4 lb tamarind
1/4 lb onions
1/2 cup oil
1/2 fresh coconut, or 1/2 cup grated coconut
3 tsp poppy seeds
3 tsp almonds
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp white cumin seeds
4-6 whole green chilies
1/4 bunch fresh mint leaves
1/4 bunch fresh coriander leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger

Method

  1. Wash okra and slit length-wise about 2″ in the middle, leaving tops and tips intact.
  2. Grind all seeds, almonds and coconut together to a fine paste and mix with ginger. Stuff okra with the paste.
  3. Heat oil, add sliced onions and fry until light brown. Add the okra and fry slowly and gently until cooked, about 5-10 minutes, taking care not to mash or break the okra.
  4. Add 1/2 cup water to the tamarind and strain to remove seeds and pulp. Add the tamarind water and salt to the okra, cover and cook gently until a nice gravy forms. This should not be too dry.
  5. Garnish with chopped chilies, mint and coriander leaves.

Makes 12 servings.

Source: Mughal Cuisine


Today’s Comic