December 2015 issue


We kill whales, so what?

Whale hunting is banned worldwide, except for scientific purposes. And when Japan declared the intention of hunting 333 minke whales, that was exactly the reason, or at least that’s what they hey claimed.

No one is so gullible as to believe that of course, so why are they really doing it? The reasons seem to have less to do with money and more to do with proving a point.

The food we eat

Less sugar, none the thinner

The truth about nutrition research? Scientists don’t have a clue. Take this for example: over the past few years, people (especially Americans) have been told to stop obsessing about fats, and that carbs, especially added sugars, are one of the main causes of obesity.

And people listened:

In spite of all that however, the US obesity rate is going up. Sure, it’s just a 3% increase among adults, while the rate for young people under nineteen is stable. But still: why is it not going down?

Dozens of nutrition researchers are looking at the figures in quiet frustration. Although there’s no doubt that soda and junk food will make you fat, the opposite is not always true: you may drink only water and stay away from McDonald’s most of the times, and still be overweight or obese.

In the end, the explanation may be quite simple: in spite of all the dietary changes, general calorie intake is still very high.

Where food is going

Meat bloody fake meat

If food can be political, there’s no food more polarising than red meat. It’s being accused of causing cancer and contributing to global warming more than cars, but the party of those who refuse the idea to live on a vegan planet is also quite vociferous.

One company is trying to settle the issue for good and make money in the process, by producing fake meat from peas and soy. Not the highly-processed vegetarian “meat” you find in supermarkets, but one that promises to be so close to the real thing you can see it bleeding.


DIY gas

When you leave your brown bin full of food waste out on the street to be collected, it will most likely go to a biogas plant that transforms it into energy, which is then sent back to your household.

The process sounds smart and efficient enough, but an Israeli start-up decided to cut out the middleman and create a home-sized biogas unit you can keep in your backyard. Feed it with your own organic waste, let the anaerobic ingestion process do its job, and it will give you back enough gas for cooking.

A warm climate is advisable, human pooh is not.

Food waste

Know your label

Do you really know the difference between the “best before” and the “use by” dates you see in prepackaged food? If you’re not really sure, here’s a guide and a quick recap.

Use by means the food is not safe to eat after the date. It’s used for fresh food that goes bad quickly, like meat, fish and milk.

Best before is about quality, not safety: it means the food may not be as tasty after the date has passed, but it’s still safe to eat.

Now, with those foods that never really expire, like pasta, rice, or olive oil, the best before date is considered to be a bit of a problem in the EU. Many consumers tend to think the label is about safety, and the result is that a lot of food may be discarded or simply go unsold, only because it’s approaching the best before date.

In the current global war against food waste, there is a proposal sitting in the European Parliament to change the law and remove the best before label from certain foods.

As you would expect however, not everyone agrees that the best before date is really the problem, or that removing it would be the solution.

While the lawmaker decides what to do, you can print out this infographic and stick it on your fridge.

Image credit