November 2015 issue

The food we eat

Meat is cancer

Gone are the days when meat was simply murder, now it’s cancer too.

In case you’ve been living under a hamburger-shaped rock, here is a quick recap: the WHO declared processed red meat “definitely carcinogenic” like smoking, while red meat is “probably carcinogenic.”

Knee-jerk reactions ranged from “that’s a catastrophe” (meat industry), to “we told you so” (vegans and vegetarians), to “screw the WHO, pass me that sausage” (hardcore meat eaters).

And because scientists can be incredibly bad at communicating their findings to common people, there was a very useful explanation attached: what red meat has in common with smoking is not how much cancer it gives, but how sure we are of the link between an excessive consumption and certain types of cancer.

But the story has a finer print: although scientists are sure that red meat can give cancer, they still don’t know exactly how that happens.

And of course, there’s no shortage of skeptical views about the validity of the evidence.  


Coming soon: The Hunger Games 

It’s 2026 and a the perfect food storm is about to happen: a poor monsoon season, frost and drought in different parts of the world create serious shortages in food supply. In some countries, bread and rice are hard to find, and international political tensions are high.

Just an hypothetical worst-case scenario? Absolutely, but based on real data.

It was the result of a role-play simulated by representatives of the food world at different levels. Check this video and see how it worked, this is fascinating stuff.

Where food is going

McDonald’s dilemma

The demand for “fast food” is still strong, but it’s becoming more sophisticated.

We now want our food to also be natural and healthy (whatever that may mean to us), and possibly organic, seasonal and local. There is a deep shift going on in how people eat, and a new type of fast food chains is tapping into this fast and casual dining trend.

What about McDonald’s? They’re losing customers and revenue, and they’re not sure if they should jump on the healthy bandwagon or stick to their greasy guns.

This article in the New Yorker explains it all (long but worth it), including why we should care about McDonald’s choices, even if we never eat their food.


Connected cows

Ever heard of the Internet of Things? Its the exchange of data between physical objects. When applied to farming, it can produce better lettuce and make cows healthier.

Food waste

Where pumpkins go to die

If you want to see a Halloween massacre there’s no need to watch a horror movie from they 90s. You can just take a look at all those carved pumpkins.

Especially if you are in the UK, their perfectly edible squash probably ended up in the brown bin. Unlike Americans, who carve their Halloween pumpkins and eat the pulp, in the UK it seems like people stop at the first part. The result is 18,000 tons of uneaten pumpkin squash. And although it’s not very clear how the amount was calculated, even half of it would still be a lot of wasted food.

If you like to carve pumpkins for Halloween, there’s still one year to go to figure out what to do with the pulp, but in the meantime, you can practice the art of reducing food waste starting from here.

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