Doctors in U.K. Say We should Eat More Offal to Save the Planet

Health experts claim tucking into kidneys, liver and oxtail is healthier than veganism and helps the environment.

And the Public Health Collaboration (PHC) charity has launched a rival campaign to Veganuary called Organuary.

It is promoting organ meat to fight obesity and diabetes with the slogan: “Minimise waste, maximise nutrition.”

PHC trustee Dr Joanne McCormack said: “People these days believe being vegan is best.

“But you have to have a lot of supplements to be healthy on a vegan diet. Organ meat, however, is very cheap and very nutritious. Eating just a little packs a lot of punch nutritionally.”

Top chef Giancarlo Caldesi claims offal helped reverse his type 2 diabetes. He said: “Offal has so much goodness. I’m not anti-vegan, but our bodies intended us to be omnivore.”

Offal used to be popular in the last century, but has almost disappeared from Britain’s dinner table. It is made from any meat that isn’t attached to a carcass and also includes tripe, tongue and brain.

More than 300,000 people have signed up to Veganuary this month.

And Veganuary spokeswoman Toni Vernelli said: “We don’t see Organuary as being in competition to us.

“They will probably have a tough job selling their message as a lot of people are squeamish about offal.”

Source: Daily Star

Scientists Declared Chinese Paddlefish Extinct

Alice Yan wrote . . . . . . . . .

The Chinese paddlefish, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species and a native of the Yangtze River system, has been declared extinct.

Also known as the Chinese swordfish, the species grows up to 7 metres long and is believed to have vanished between 2005 and 2010. Chinese scientists made the announcement in a research paper published in Science of the Total Environment last week.

Wei Qiwei, one of the authors, said the conclusion was based on an evaluation by a panel of experts arranged by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in Shanghai in September.

“We respect the evaluation model and experts from the IUCN, although we accept this result with a heavy heart,” Wei, from the Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences in Wuhan, told Chutian Metropolis Daily on Friday.

The last confirmed sighting of the giant fish – known in China as the “king of freshwater fish” – was in 2003. It had been on the IUCN’s critically endangered list since 1996 as its population declined due to overfishing and environmental degradation in its Yangtze habitat. The IUCN experts said there had been no imaging evidence of the species since 2009.

“The Chinese paddlefish, Psephurus gladius, was one of only two extant members of a relict lineage that was most diverse and widespread 34-75 million years ago,” the research paper said.

According to the paper, the species had likely been “functionally extinct” – meaning it lacked sufficient breeding pairs to survive – since 1993.

It is the latest blow for the 6,300km (3,915-mile) Yangtze ecosystem. Two other species native to Asia’s longest river have been declared functionally extinct – the reeves shad, a type of fish, in 2015 and the baiji, or Yangtze River dolphin, in 2006. The finless porpoise and the Chinese sturgeon are on the critically endangered list.

The struggling river system has more than 4,000 aquatic species, but dam-building, overfishing, busy water traffic and pollution have taken a toll, with fish stocks dwindling and biodiversity in rapid decline.

Yu Zhenkang, vice-minister of agriculture and rural affairs, told Xinhua this week there had been an “across-the-board decline” in populations of rare species.

Beijing is now taking tougher action to protect the river’s aquatic life, with a 10-year commercial fishing ban on the Yangtze taking effect from Wednesday. The moratorium aimed to “curb the decline of the river’s ecosystem and any further drop in biodiversity”, Yu said.

It covers 332 conservation sites along the Yangtze, and will be extended to include the main river course and key tributaries by January 1 next year.

Research paper author Wei said a team from the fishery sciences academy had made the last known sighting of a Chinese paddlefish back in 2003.

After attaching an ultrasonic tracker to the fish, they released it back into the Nanxi River, a tributary of the Yangtze in Sichuan province. But they lost the signal after the tracking boat ran into rocks in the fast-flowing river, Wei told Chutian Metropolis Daily.

He said he saw a Chinese paddlefish for the first time, albeit a dead one, in 1984, near the huge Gezhouba dam project on the Yangtze in Hubei province. Over the next nine years, he managed to rescue four of the giant fish that had become trapped, but only one survived and was later released.

“Paddlefish are huge,” he said. “It’s very difficult to raise them [in captivity].”

Source: SCMP

Air New Zealand Is Testing Edible Coffee Cups on Board

Lilit Marcus wrote . . . . . . . . .

What’s better than a nice, warm cup of coffee? If you ask Air New Zealand, the answer is following the java up with the sweet taste of … cup.

Yes, that’s right — New Zealand’s national carrier is experimenting with a new edible coffee cup that will further reduce waste produced on board.

Although the airline had already made the big switch to biodegradable cups both on planes and in their branded lounges, they began looking into even more eco-friendly options.

To do this, the airline collaborated with New Zealand-based company Twiice, a family-run business dedicated to making edible plant-based cups that taste as good as being good to the earth feels.

The cups now being rolled out on Air New Zealand flights are vanilla-flavored and can withstand the heat of coffee without melting.

Air New Zealand customer experience manager Niki Chave tells CNN in a statement that the airline serves 8 million cups of coffee on board its planes annually. And so far, the customers who have tested out the Twiice cups have given the taste a thumbs-up, she adds.

This isn’t the only move Air New Zealand has made to go greener in the skies. In July 2019 the airline announced that condiments like salad dressing and soy sauce would be served in small reusable bowls instead of individual plastic packets.

While the Twiice cups are currently a one-off partnership between the two companies, there may be additional opportunities for them to work together in the future.

Jamie Cashmore, a co-founder of Twiice, says that the firm is working on a new, expanded line of edible plates and dishes, which could also work for Air New Zealand once they can be produced at scale.

Addressing the world’s plastic crisis has become a major issue in all sectors of the travel business, not just airlines.

The state of California banned trial-size shampoos and other toiletries from hotels, while some conglomerates like Hyatt and IHG (which owns brands like Holiday Inn and Hotel Indigo) have also vowed to do the same across all of their properties.

Source: CNN

How To Reduce Food Waste

Allison Aubrey wrote . . . . . . . . .

Food waste is a huge problem in the United States. The good news: Each of us can help solve it.

Consider this: A typical household of four tosses out about $1,600 worth of food annually. Up to 40% of the food that’s produced never makes it to our mouths, and all this waste is enough to fill the highest skyscraper in Chicago 44 times a year, according to an estimate by the Department of Agriculture. Meanwhile, 1 in 8 Americans struggle with food scarcity.

Our discarded food often ends up in landfills, where it rots and then starts to emit methane — a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide. A recent report from the United Nations panel on climate change estimates food waste accounts for as much as 10% of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions.

While many environmentally friendly practices — say, buying an electric car or installing solar panels — require an upfront investment, you can start saving immediately once you put in place these tips to reduce food waste.

Here are five simple ways to start reducing your food waste at home today.

1. Make a plan

Before you shop for groceries, think about exactly what you need for the week, make a list — and then stick to it.

Because let’s be honest, many of us are “aspirational shoppers” — we throw things in the cart that sound good or look novel, and then we let them sit in the back of the fridge for a few weeks.

When food does go bad, take stock: What are you already buying too much of? What are you always throwing away?

Just the act of adding up what you let go to waste can help change the way you think about your food. Then you can use that information to be a more conscious consumer during your next trip to the grocery store.

2. Get creative with repurposing food

Before walking straight to the trash with your soggy spinach or old carrots, ask yourself: Can I make this into something new?

According to chef and restaurant owner Tiffany Derry, the answer is probably yes. Derry says, you don’t need to follow any complicated recipes to turn older produce into a fresh new dish. (But if you want to try one, here’s a sweet recipe for your overripe avocados).

Here are some of her favorite hacks for wilted greens:

  • Saute them with some of your favorite spices — she suggests a little bit of onion and garlic.
  • Throw them in for some flavor in a soup or a sauce.
  • Putting mildly wilted greens in ice water may help perk them up.

Derry also says don’t toss out those excess leaves and stems. Stalks and stems (like from broccoli) often hold just as much nutrition and flavor as the rest of the food you eat. Roast them as a side or shave them for a salad. Also, leaves (like carrot tops) make for great pesto.

3. Your freezer is your friend

If you realize that you won’t be able to use food before it’s too late, turn to the trusty freezer.

“No one would throw away anything that had a two hundred dollar value to it,” says Katherine Miller, vice president of impact at the James Beard Foundation. “I mean, think about all the things, all the time that we spend trying to find lost things because they have value to us.”

Did you know you can freeze almost anything? Your bread, your grains, your fruits, your veggies — even your milk!

Freezing food helps lock in its flavor and nutrients, so the next time you find those perfect strawberries for your summer picnic, don’t toss the leftovers. Bag it, date it and put in the freezer for when that craving hits.

The same thing goes for those cooking scraps that don’t make it to the dinner table — freeze them and they can make a great base for broth.

If you want to know how long something lasts once you freeze it, this app and online database from the USDA are both good resources.

4. Don’t be fooled by that “sell by” date

For the most part, these labels are a best guess by manufacturers as to when their products will be freshest. They’re not hard-and-fast rules about when that cheese has to go straight to the trash.

And yet, that’s exactly what many of us do. It’s estimated that about 20% of the food waste in the U.S. can be attributed to “sell by” labels. In fact, this has become such a big issue that the Food and Drug Administration is urging the food industry to change its packaging language to help consumers understand that these labels are about quality, not about food safety.

The next time you do a sweep of your pantry, remember that these dates are guidelines, not mandates. When in doubt, do a smell test. If it doesn’t pass, it’s time to move on to our next tip.

5. Compost, compost, compost

Composting is simple. Think of it as a way of recycling your food scraps. Instead of tossing your food waste into landfills and contributing to the greenhouse gas problem, your decomposing food helps to create nutrient-rich soils and prevent the release of methane.

Your compost-ready food scraps can be contained in your freezer, and then you can discard them at a compost collection site. Some cities have designated areas; others will come and collect from the curb; others might have collection areas at farmers’ markets.

For more on getting started with your own composting, you can read the Environmental Protection Agency’s guide to composting at home and for business.

Source: npr

Air Pollution Linked to Higher Glaucoma Risk

People in neighbourhoods with higher amounts of fine particulate matter pollution were at least 6% more likely to report having glaucoma than those in the least-polluted areas, according to the findings published in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science.

“We have found yet another reason why air pollution should be addressed as a public health priority, and that avoiding sources of air pollution could be worthwhile for eye health alongside other health concerns,” said the study’s lead author, Professor Paul Foster (UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Hospital).

“While we cannot confirm yet that the association is causal, we hope to continue our research to determine whether air pollution does indeed cause glaucoma, and to find out if there are any avoidance strategies that could help people reduce their exposure to air pollution to mitigate the health risks.”

Glaucoma is the leading global cause of irreversible blindness and affects over 60 million people worldwide. It most commonly results from a build-up of pressure from fluid in the eye, causing damage to the optic nerve that connects the eye to the brain. Glaucoma is a neurodegenerative disease.

“Most risk factors for glaucoma are out of our control, such as older age or genetics. It’s promising that we may have now identified a second risk factor for glaucoma, after eye pressure, that can be modified by lifestyle, treatment or policy changes,” added Professor Foster.

The findings were based on 111,370 participants of the UK Biobank study cohort, who underwent eye tests from 2006 to 2010 at sites across Britain. The participants were asked whether they had glaucoma, and they underwent ocular testing to measure intraocular pressure, and spectral-domain optical coherence tomography imaging (a laser scan of the retina) to measure thickness of their eye’s macula (central area of the retina).

The participants’ data was linked to air pollution measures for their home addresses, from the Small Area Health Statistics Unit, with the researchers focusing on fine particulate matter (equal or less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter, or PM2.5).

The research team found that people in the most-polluted 25% of areas were 18% more likely to report having glaucoma than those in the least-polluted quartile, and they were also significantly more likely to have a thinner retina, one of the changes typical of glaucoma progression. Eye pressure was not associated with air pollution, which the researchers say suggests that air pollution may affect glaucoma risk through a different mechanism.

“Air pollution may be contributing to glaucoma due to the constriction of blood vessels, which ties into air pollution’s links to an increased risk of heart problems. Another possibility is that particulates may have a direct toxic effect damaging the nervous system and contributing to inflammation,” said the study’s first author, Dr Sharon Chua (UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Hospital).

Air pollution has been implicated in elevated risk of pulmonary and cardiovascular disease as well as brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and stroke. Particulate matter exposure is one of the strongest predictors of mortality among air pollutants.

This study adds to previous evidence that people in urban areas are 50% more likely to have glaucoma than those in rural areas, suggesting now that air pollution may be a key contributor to that pattern.

“We found a striking correlation between particulate matter exposure and glaucoma. Given that this was in the UK, which has relatively low particulate matter pollution on the global scale, glaucoma may be even more strongly impacted by air pollution elsewhere in the world. And as we did not include indoor air pollution and workplace exposure in our analysis, the real effect may be even greater,” said Professor Foster.

Co-principal investigator of the study, Mr Praveen Patel (NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust & UCL Institute of Ophthalmology), added: “Our study shows the potential of new retinal imaging techniques, to identify disease and to understand how diseases develop so that we can improve health care and find new ways to prevent blindness.”

Source: University College London