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Links 1 through 10 of 44 by Charlie Schick tagged food

"The story of a group of University of Massachusetts students who set out to initiate the construction of the school’s first permaculture garden a year ago is a remarkable one, but it’s only the beginning of a worldwide movement."

This is really interesting. Small-scale farming was killed by industrial farming to feed huge masses. But could it be that small-scale farming, like it used to be, to feed a local group, say a family or a cafeteria, is making a comeback? That would be cool.

Question: does technology and science help make us better "micro-farmers"?

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"During the upcoming holidays, many events will involve traditional foods, such as turkey at Thanksgiving and Christmas. That microorganisms can spoil any of these foods, and thereby the entire party, is well known, but perhaps less obvious is the fact that microbiological processes are involved in the production of nearly all types of food. ... As made clear by the recent Position statement on food security and safety ... microbiologists can have a pivotal role in this important field. The position statement outlines nine research themes through which microbiologists can participate in food safety and security, including the investigation of microorganisms that cause food poisoning or kill crops and livestock, as well as research into the ways in which microorganisms can improve food production."

Interesting overview of the impact of microorganisms in food production and safety.

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"Prebiotics are selectively fermented ingredients that allow specific changes in the gastrointestinal microbiota that confer health benefits to the host. However, the effects of prebiotics on the human gut microbiota are incomplete as most studies have relied on methods that fail to cover the breadth of the bacterial community. The goal of this research was to use high throughput multiplex community sequencing of 16S rDNA tags to gain a community wide perspective of the impact of prebiotic galactooligosaccharide (GOS) on the fecal microbiota of healthy human subjects."

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"Senator Scott Brown yesterday condemned a rule change at the state’s Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission that beer makers say could harm 25 craft brewers in Massachusetts, and even put some smaller companies out of business. The ABCC issued the revised rule, which has yet to be finalized, earlier this week. It would require the roughly two dozen local brewers operating under a so-called farmer-brewery license to grow at least half of the hops or grains they use to make beer, or get them from a domestic source."

I think the ABCC has their heart in the right place - support local grain growers. But I'm not sure how this will impact brewers, as I don't think Massachusetts is a big grain paradise, say, like some mid-west state.

One thought might be to create a "Mostly Mass" sort of label identifying brews that use mostly local ingredients. I think that's more in line with how folks have been promoting local farmers than some blanket un-competitive license change.

What do you think?

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"Where others see barroom taps crowded with beer options, Chris Lohring sees opportunity brewing."

A nice article on the state of breweries in the region, the business, and the entrepreneurs. Quite exciting.

As for me, I'll stick to small time 5-gal brewing.

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"A Brookline home brewer cleared a major hurdle this week on the way to opening a brewery of “farmhouse”-style beer in Fort Point. “It’s not a come-and-have-pints-all-night type place, it’s a come-and-have-a-sampler type place,” said Trillium Brewing Co. owner Jean-Claude Tetrault, 34. Trillium, which will have a storefront with a small tasting bar, scored a zoning variance Tuesday that allows for the manufacturing of beer on the site. Tetrault will apply for state and federal licensing in the next few weeks."

This is indeed a nice story. Looking forward to having a few of their beers.

[via @IDBoston]

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"A model community of 10 sequenced human gut bacteria was introduced into gnotobiotic mice, and changes in species abundance and microbial gene expression were measured in response to randomized perturbations of four defined ingredients in the host diet. From the responses, we developed a statistical model that predicted over 60% of the variation in species abundance evoked by diet perturbations, and we were able to identify which factors in the diet best explained changes seen for each community member. The approach is generally applicable, as shown by a follow-up study involving diets containing various mixtures of pureed human baby foods."

Another great report I can't read at the moment (no subscription). This sounds like a nice analysis of something everyone has been seeing. Looking to see effect of other diets, beyond the baby food tested.

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"The nature of the day was participatory, so instead of doing a presentation on stage (as I did at Interesting 2007), this time I attempted to get all 200ish people in the room trying, making and tasting things. By-the-by, this is also one of the hardest things I’ve done in years – scaling to 200 people took an awful amount of thinking and prep. Apologies if I’ve seemed scatty in the last few weeks."

Always something fun and interesting from this guy. He's a practical microbiologist too!

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"Nori is, by far, the most likely source of bacteria with porphyran-digesting genes. It’s the only food that humans eat that contains any porphyrans and until recently, Japanese chefs didn’t cook nori before eating it. Any bacteria that lingered on the green fronds weren’t killed before they could mingle with gut bacteria like B.plebius. Ruth Ley, who works on microbiomes, says, “People have been saying that gut microbes can pick up genes from environmental microbes but it’s never been demonstrated as beautifully as in this paper.”"

Japanese gut bacteria picking up genes from marine bacteria that live on seaweed. This blew my mind, but I am not surprised. We do know that there can be rapid gene changes in humans (ADH, lactase), why shouldn't there be rapid changes in our fellow microbiomes? Very interesting implications with respect to therapy and diets.

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"Overuse of nitrogen fertilizer costs the European Union €70 billion – €320 billion per year, according to a landmark assessment of nitrogen flows across Europe, released today (11 April) at a workshop on nitrogen and global change in Edinburgh, UK."

I can't help but think there's a practical microbial answer to this. The whole use of chemicals in farming is twisted. I think with all our science, we could do better.

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