The head chef of one of Melbourne’s best-known restaurants has called on consumers to boycott establishments that don’t commit to being GM-free.

“I know it sounds scary … but unless a massive amount of people go against (GM), nothing is going to be done to stop it,” Geraud Fabre, head chef of the famous France-Soir restaurant, says.

“I don’t say it to get more customers, but I reckon … if people close their restaurants because there are no customers … it would make the Government realise they shouldn’t (allow genetically modified crops in Australia).”

Fabre is one of a number of top chefs nationally who have signed an anti-GM chefs’ charter designed to pressure state and federal governments to prevent the introduction of genetically engineered crops into Australia.

The GM-Free Chefs’ Charter, calls for strict labelling of GM foods. The chefs who sign up to it believe GM foods pose a risk to their clientele and the nation as a whole, it says. Read the rest of this entry »

Imagine a grocery store in Wisconsin that doesn’t get its produce from warmer states hundreds of miles away. Instead, fruits and vegetables are grown right on the supermarket’s rooftop, making the produce as fresh as possible for consumers. This is the idea behind Sky Vegetables, a business venture being created by UW-Madison senior Keith Agoada and MBA student Troy Vosseller. Their concept won first place and a $10,000 prize in the G. Steven Burrill Business Plan Competition at the UW-Madison School of Business in April.

For the past year, Agoada worked as a manager’s assistant in the UW-Madison botany greenhouses. His rooftop idea came to him after watching a program about community gardens in Chicago, where people can rent inexpensive garden plots and grow their own vegetables. Agoada realized this practice could be expanded to other urban areas as well, and he did research on rooftop agriculture as part of an independent study project. “Rooftops made sense to me,” Agoada said, adding that supermarket rooftops were ideal because they eliminate the cost of delivery. Read the rest of this entry »

Struggling with soaring food costs and cash-strapped customers, restaurants across the country are swapping expensive ingredients for cheaper fare and adding new dishes that won’t break their bottom line.

Call it a menu makeover: Steakhouses are adding buffalo meat alongside filet mignon, pizza joints are trying new cheese products and seafood spots are replacing pricier entrees with humbler dishes like catfish.

The changes come as record oil prices and surging global demand for staples like rice, fish, poultry and wheat have pushed wholesale food prices up almost 8 percent in the last year, the biggest hike in three decades, according to the National Restaurant Association. Read the rest of this entry »

The current industrial farm animal production (IFAP) system often poses unacceptable risks to public health, the environment and the welfare of the animals themselves, according to an extensive 2½-year examination conducted by the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production (PCIFAP), in a study released yesterday.

Commissioners have determined that the negative effects of the IFAP system are too great and the scientific evidence is too strong to ignore. Significant changes must be implemented and must start now. And while some areas of animal agriculture have recognized these threats and have taken action, it is clear that the industry has a long way to go.

Public Health

Over the past five decades, the number of farms producing animals for food has fallen dramatically, yet the number of food animals produced has remained roughly constant. It is the concentration of farm animals in larger and larger numbers in close proximity to one another, along with the potential of IFAP facilities to affect people, that give rise to many of the public health concerns that are attributed to IFAP. Animals in such close confinement, along with some of the feed and animal management methods employed in the system, increase pathogen risks and magnify opportunities for transmission from animals to humans. This increased risk is due to at least three factors: prolonged worker contact with animals, increased pathogen transmission within a herd or flock, and the increased opportunities for the generation of antimicrobial resistant bacteria (due to imprudent antimicrobial use) or new strains of viruses. Stresses induced by confinement may also increase the likelihood of infection and illness in animal populations. Read the rest of this entry »

Scientists around the world are researching or seeking the funds to research ways to produce meat in the laboratory—without killing any animals. In vitro meat production would use animal stem cells that would be placed in a medium to grow and reproduce. The result would mimic flesh and could be cooked and eaten.

PETA is now offering a $1 million reward to the first scientist to produce and bring to market in vitro meat.

Why is PETA supporting this new technology? More than 40 billion chickens, fish, pigs, and cows are killed every year for food in the United States in horrific ways. Chickens are drugged to grow so large they often become crippled, mother pigs are confined to metal cages so small they can’t move, and fish are hacked apart while still conscious—all to feed America’s meat addiction. In vitro meat would spare animals from this suffering. In addition, in vitro meat would dramatically reduce the devastating effects the meat industry has on the environment. Read the rest of this entry »

Green tea can help beat superbugs according to Egyptian scientists speaking yesterday at the Society for General Microbiology, Edinburgh.

The pharmacy researchers have shown that drinking green tea helps the action of important antibiotics in their fight against resistant superbugs, making them up to three times more effective.

Green tea is a very common beverage in Egypt, and it is quite likely that patients will drink green tea while taking antibiotics. The medical researchers wanted to find out if green tea would interfere with the action of the antibiotics, have no effect, or increase the medicines’ effects.

“We tested green tea in combination with antibiotics against 28 disease causing micro-organisms belonging to two different classes,” says Dr Mervat Kassem from the Faculty of Pharmacy at Alexandria University in Egypt. “In every single case green tea enhanced the bacteria-killing activity of the antibiotics. For example the killing effect of chloramphenicol was 99.99% better when taken with green tea than when taken on its own in some circumstances.” Read the rest of this entry »

Got Eco milk?

March 21, 2008

In the UK, supermarket customers could soon be running out for a bag of milk instead of the traditional glass or plastic bottles or containers.  The environmentally friendly plastic sacs, called Eco Paks, were tested last year and the response was positive. The bags use 75 per cent less plastic than bottles. Customers can also buy a reusable jug to pour the milk into.

Experts believe that the milk bags could make a significant impact on recycling rates. At present, most supermarket milk comes in cartons or bottles made of high-density polyethylene, a type of plastic that can be recycled, although mainly in China. Recent figures showed only seven per cent are recycled.

In the US, it is estimated that 134.1 billion beverage containers were not recycled in 2005–43.6 billion PET bottles, 6.8 billion HDPE bottles, 55.0 billion aluminum cans, and 28.8 billion glass bottles wasted.  That’s an increase of nearly 4 billion from 2004’s total of 130.3 billion.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing recommendations to the regions affected by severe weather and flooding in the Central United States. USDA is hopeful that this information will help minimize the potential for foodborne illnesses due to food spoilage from power outages and other problems that are often associated with severe weather events.

“Power outages can occur at any time of the year and it often takes from a few hours to several days for electricity to be restored to residential areas,” said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Richard Raymond. “Without electricity or a cold source, foods stored in refrigerators and freezers can become unsafe. Bacteria in food grow rapidly at temperatures between 40 and 140 °F, and if these foods are consumed, people can become very sick.” Read the rest of this entry »

“Kitchen sinks are dirtier than most bathrooms,” says Kelly Reynolds, PhD, an environmental microbiologist at the University of Arizona. There are typically more than 500,000 bacteria per sqaure inch in the drain. In fact, in a recent study, half of the top 10 germiest spots in the home were in the kitchen. That sponge you use to clean the counter? Crawling with bacteria, as are the sink’s basin and faucet handles.

Reduce the risk:

“Clean your kitchen counters and sink with an antibacterial product after preparing or rinsing food, especially anything raw, which can carry lots of lots of potential pathogens like salmonella, campylobactor, and Ecoli,” says Tom Tierno, PhD, author of The Secret Life of Germs and director of clinical microbiology at New York University Medical Center. Read the rest of this entry »

Looking for a couple of fun, uplifting, worthwhile things to do?

Rent the movie, “Across the Universe.” It’s brilliantly written, has a great cast, and the soundtrack incorporates 34 compositions written by the Beatles and masterfully done by a variety of talented unknown artists. We all LOVED it!

Speaking of the Beatles, can you guess who said the following, “I’m not really a career person. I’m a gardener, basically.” It was George Harrison!

And now is the time to start thinking about your own garden.

There is no act more gratifying, more basic, more liberating, than to coax food from the earth. The smell of dirt, the crunch of a freshly picked cucumber, the juiciness of a homegrown tomato, it just doesn’t get any better. And it’s not as complicated as you might think. If you have access to a deck, a roof, a patch of ground no larger than a flower bed, or far more space, you can grow your own.

Never done it before? Don’t know where to begin? Not a problem. Read the rest of this entry »


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