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Food News

Blue Apron buys Niman’s BN Ranch

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on March 23, 2017

Meal kit maker Blue Apron has bought Bill Niman’s BN Ranch, a provider of sustainable, responsibly raised beef, lamb, and poultry in the United States, the company said in a news release. Niman will join the Blue April executive team as president and founder of BN Ranch.

Deep South freeze means fewer blueberries and peaches

ABC News | Posted on March 22, 2017

Last week's deep freeze in the Southeast appears to have nearly wiped out Georgia's blueberries and South Carolina's peaches and seriously damaged a number of other crops like strawberries and apples. In South Carolina, 85 percent of the state's peach crop is gone while the small pink blooms remain on the trees, according to the South Carolina Department of Agriculture.Up to 80 percent of south Georgia's blueberry crop is gone, Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black said after touring the state late last week.Between the two states, crop losses from the freeze could approach $1 billion, officials said.

How can you get a millennial to change their mind?

Watt Ag Net | Posted on March 22, 2017

You have likely heard a statement like, “Millennials care where their food comes from.” I have always been skeptical of broad statements like this. I actually think it is more accurate to say, “Millennials think they are supposed to care where there food comes from.” I think this is an important distinction, because the first statement implies a firmly held value and the latter implies just following the herd. I asked Richard Kottmeyer, vice president of agriculture and food at Luxoft, who is an expert in analyzing big data to predict trends, about millennials and their interest in how food is raised and prepared. He said it is possible to come up with general statements that typify what the typical millennial consumer might have regarding food. But, he said something else that I found a lot more interesting. Kottmeyer said that from studying how the typical millennial consumer gets their information from various sources -- which for this generation is primarily online -- he has figured out how millennials change their mind on a topic. He even offered to demonstrate the process for getting a millennial to change their mind: He said that all we have to do is give him the topic about which we want to change the millennials’ mind.

The Future of Food Production Will Look A Lot Like Brewing Beer

Fortune | Posted on March 22, 2017

The latest new buzzword in food tech? Fermentation. And we’re not talking about the kimchi or kombucha kind.  Rather, it’s a process increasingly used by food companies to answer a ballooning demand for natural ingredients that are hard to come by. Instead of sourcing these ingredients from nature, food scientists are creating them through an industrial method that they describe as similar to brewing beer. Here’s how it works: Scientists identify the desired genes in a plant or animal and insert them into a host such as yeast. The yeast is fed sugars and nutrients to stimulate fermentation. Then the yeast and its genes are filtered off, and the desired ingredient is purified out of the remaining broth.

Nation’s best cheesemakers compete in Wisconsin

Capital Press | Posted on March 21, 2017

The national cheese spotlight this week turns to Wisconsin — where else? — as judges get ready to sniff, taste and touch thousands of samples in the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest.  The national contest alternates each year with the world cheese-off. Judging is Tuesday and Wednesday at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, with winners announced Thursday. Entries for the national competition are up 22 percent, to a record 2,303, as cheesemakers recognize the marketing value of winning big competitions.

Maize engineered to silence deadly toxins in poisonous mold

New Scientist | Posted on March 21, 2017

It’s a silent killer lurking in common foods. A carcinogenic toxin made by mould kills thousands around the world and forces millions of tonnes of infected crops to be discarded each year.  But a new approach could turn off production of the poison even when mould does grow on the crops.Maize plants have been genetically modified to deliver strands of so-called interfering RNA that silence toxin-producing genes in a fungus that commonly grows on the crop.This GM corn can police the Aspergillus fungus on its own cobs and stop it producing poisonous aflatoxin that causes liver disease and cancer. The maize was engineered to express the gene-silencing RNA molecules by Monica Schmidt at the University of Arizona and colleagues. Her team then exposed this GM maize, along with a non-GM variety, to the fungal spores as they grew for a month. The fungus grew on both, but while high levels of toxin were found on the non-GM maize, the toxins were undetectable on the GM plants.

With people dying from eating cheese, the US raw-milk movement faces a serious setback

Quartz | Posted on March 19, 2017

A recent bout of listeria infection potentially caused by cheese has reignited the fierce debate around raw milk.  On March 9, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that two people had died in Vermont and Connecticut and four others had fallen ill after eating soft, raw-milk cheese from Vulto Creamery, an artisanal cheesemaker based in upstate New York. All six people had been infected with listeria. Vulto has recalled all of their raw-milk cheeses and—while the investigation into the outbreak is ongoing—the creamery is now being sued by the widow of one of the men who died.While raw-milk cheese has long been common in Europe, the sale and legality of such products varies state by state in the United States. While advocates of raw-milk products say that the process of pasteurizing milk kills some of the flavor of cheese, the US Food and Drug Administration says “raw milk can harbor dangerous microorganisms that can pose serious health risks to you and your family.” However, the deaths have caused concern amongst some stores that stock artisanal raw-milk cheese. Since the recall there have been discussions of the issue amongst storeowners. Since the recall, some stores have made a point of announcing that they do not carry any Vulto Creamery cheeses, while others have defended raw-milk cheese.

Company claims first product made from cultured chicken cells

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on March 19, 2017

San Francisco-based food technology company Memphis Meats announced today what it is calling “the world’s first clean poultry” — food products created by replicating chicken and duck cells. The announcement comes a year after the company created its first product made from beef cells in the form of a meatball.“We aim to produce meat in a better way, so that it is delicious, affordable and sustainable,” said Uma Valeti, M.D., co-founder and CEO of Memphis Meats. “It is thrilling to introduce the first chicken and duck that didn’t require raising animals.”

School Gardens May Combat Childhood Obesity

Choices magazine | Posted on March 19, 2017

Many of these programs have yielded promising results, such as improved science test scores (Klemmer, Waliczek, and Zajicek, 2005; Rahm, 2002). Evaluations of farm-to-school programs have shown improvements in child and teacher eating behaviors, food service at the school level, farmer involvement, and parent attitudes and/or behaviors toward healthy foods (Joshi, Azuma, and Feenstra, 2008). Children who received garden education combined with nutrition education wished to eat more fruits/vegetables than those who received only the nutrition education, or those in control groups (Parmer et al., 2009). These children also had an increased ability to identify fruits and vegetables and higher confidence in preparation (Somerset and Markwell, 2009). In addition, these types of programs appear to have a greater effect among inner-city students, especially in nutrition and food knowledge (Beckman and Smith, 2008; Somerset and Markwell, 2009). Our study was designed to assess the impact of a school gardening curriculum on children’s knowledge of and intent to eat fresh vegetables. - See more at:

Will Consumers Find Vertically Farmed Produce "Out of Reach"?

Choices magazine | Posted on March 19, 2017

While there are arguments for and against vertical farming, whether consumers are even willing to buy vertically farmed produce—an important consideration in the cost-benefit discussion—is rarely discussed. Recent agricultural technologies—such as genetically modified (GM) crops, food irradiation, and nanotechnology—have often been met with consumer skepticism (Frewer et al., 2011; Dannenberg, 2009; Siegrist et al., 2007; Ragaert et al., 2004), so it is unclear how vertical farming will fare with consumers. The overall purpose of our research is to investigate consumers’ perceptions of and willingness to pay (WTP) for produce—specifically, lettuce—grown in a vertical farm production system. Results from this study should provide insight on the potential for consumer acceptance of vertical farming as a new production technology relative to greenhouse and field production systems. This study will also examine the impact of information on perceptions of and WTP for vertically farmed lettuce. - See more at: