Summer officially begins Friday, but the Garden State has been turning greener and more lush for weeks. Fields boast robust-looking rows of corn plants that seem to grow several inches every day, our favorite farmers markets are filling the bins with early lettuce and the first of the state’s namesake tomatoes, and some of us dream of the big South Jersey blueberries that are just around the corner.
In these days of bounty and the promise of much more to come, it’s sometimes hard to remember that not everyone can enjoy these gifts from nature and almost nobody gets them year-round. That’s why it can be inspiring to read about all the innovative urban gardening projects taking root around the globe.
In August, we brought you the story of William Sears and Vertifresh, a startup that’s growing lettuce, basil and other greens hydroponically, in retrofitted shipping containers in the heart of Denver’s industrial district. (read more…)
Antimicrobial food coatings have been around for decades and synthetic antimicrobials — such as sorbates, nitrates and sulfites applied directly to foods to keep them safe from bacteria — have become commercially popular in the past five years.
The next big step forward is developing food coatings made from natural edible substances, such as polysaccharides, essential oils, enzymes, proteins and lipids.
“Consumers don’t like to see things on ingredient labels they can barely pronounce,” said Carmen Gomes, assistant professor in the biological and agricultural engineering department at Texas A&M University.
Studies are ongoing, but there are manufacturing process challenges to solve before natural edible coatings can hit the market. Because food safety is such a concern to public health and safety, synthetic coatings will remain the industry standard until research and development is further along, said research analyst Aarthi Janakiraman, who recently authored an industry report on the science for Frost & Sullivan. (read more…)
Organic devotees might be getting fewer chemical fertilizers and pesticides, but are they also better protected from foodborne illness than those who buy conventional produce?
Science largely is still out on whether organic food is more nutritious, but it’s widely assumed that organic produce is at least safer, especially when it comes to fruit such as berries, which tend to soak up pesticides.
However, chemicals aren’t the only danger, as illustrated by a recall of a frozen berry mix from Oregon’s Townsend Farms. At least 30 people have been hospitalized, and nearly 80 cases of hepatitis A in eight states have been tied to the product, Food Safety News reported. The berry mix, sold at Costco Wholesale and Harris Teeter, contained certified-organic pomegranate seeds from Turkey. The seeds are thought to be the culprit, causing an outbreak of a hepatitis A strain that is rarely found in North America but is seen more often in the Middle East, according to The Associated Press. (read more…)
Consumers might be downing fewer sugary drinks overall than they were a decade ago, but you wouldn’t know it looking at fast-food chains, where specialty-beverage sales are on the rise. American adults cut their consumption of sugary drinks by 45 calories per day between 1999 and 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and youths cut 68 calories per day, Food Consumer reported.
Many are also changing where and when they drink beverages. At Sonic, half-price beverages for afternoon happy hour have made it cool to hit the drive-in for after-school snacking, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. The chain, which says it offers more than 1 million specialty-beverage permutations, has seen sales between 2 and 5 p.m. increase to 23% of revenue, and beverages are seen as a separate and increasingly popular snack category. “It’s almost like specialty beverages are replacing some standard food items,” NPD Group restaurant analyst Bonnie Riggs said. (read more…)