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Study: There’s huge potential for increased food production on existing land

The recent wheat crisis in Russia is a warning sign for potential large-scale global warming impacts. PHOTO COURTESY THE WIKIMEIDA COMMONS.

The recent wheat crisis in Russia is a warning sign for potential large-scale global warming impacts. PHOTO COURTESY THE WIKIMEIDA COMMONS.

Tweaking farm practices could also reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with agriculture

FRISCO — A systematic University of Minnesota study of global agricultural resources suggest that improving food systems in a few specific regions could make it possible to both meet the basic needs of 3 billion more people and decrease agriculture’s environmental footprint.

The report, published in Science, focuses on 17 key crops that produce 86 percent of the world’s crop calories and account for most irrigation and fertilizer consumption on a global scale. It proposes a set of key actions in three broad areas that that have the greatest potential for reducing the adverse environmental impacts of agriculture and boosting our ability meet global food needs. Continue reading

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Study: CO2 buildup could affect food quality

Wheat field in Upper Austria

A wheat field in Upper Austria ripens under a summer sun. bberwyn photo.

Protein levels in key grains could decline by 3 percent

Staff Report

FRISCO — Along with cutting yields of some key crops, increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide is also expected to affect the nutritional quality of food crops. Field tests by UC Davis scientists show that elevated levels of carbon dioxide make it harder for some plants to convert nitrogen into proteins.

“Food quality is declining under the rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide that we are experiencing,” said lead author Arnold Bloom, a professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis. “Several explanations for this decline have been put forward, but this is the first study to demonstrate that elevated carbon dioxide inhibits the conversion of nitrate into protein in a field-grown crop,” Bloom said. Continue reading

Environment: Colorado Supreme Court OKs GMO food labeling ballot initiative

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Decision clears way for statewide petition drive

Staff Report

FRISCO — Coloradans will likely have a chance to vote on new labeling requirements for genetically modified foods in November, after the Colorado Supreme Court this week rejected a challenge to the proposed ballot initiative.

The court’s decision will enable backers to start gathering the signatures needed to add the measure to the ballot.

“We are pleased that the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of the GMO labeling ballot title, and we look forward to bringing a GMO labeling initiative before the voters of Colorado this fall,” said Right to Know Colorado organizer Larry Cooper. Continue reading

Health: Building a better pizza

A made-from-scratch Napoli-style pizza, with anchovies and black olives.

A made-from-scratch Napoli-style pizza, with anchovies and black olives.

Scottish researchers go back to pizza’s roots to find a healthy recipe

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — It turns out the secret to a better pizza might not be a double-stuffed cheese crust — all it takes is a little bit of seaweed and some whole grain flour, according to nutritionists with the School of Medicine at the University of Glasgow.

“Traditional pizza should be a low-fat meal containing at least one portion of vegetables, so mainly made from ingredients associated with better cardiovascular health,” said Professor Mike Lean.

“However, to enhance shelf-life, commercial pizza recipes today include much more fat and salt than desirable. Until now, nobody has stopped to notice that many essential vitamins and minerals are very low or even completely absent. From a nutrition and health perspective, they are hazardous junk,” Lean said. “Pizzas are widely consumed and regarded as meals in themselves, and yet their impact on human nutrition does not seem to have been studied,” he added.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Historically, pizzas were made from a few humble ingredients: Bread, tomatoes and a little cheese, combined to form a traditional, healthy meal. Continue reading

Morning photo: Markets

Yummy food, people watching … what more could you want?

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Sorting apples at the market in Brignoles, France.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO —Some people seek out museums and statues when they travel, and that’s fine. I’ve been known to visit a museum or three. But if it ever came down to a choice between a museum or wandering through a farmers market, the market would always win out. It’s not just because I love food. Markets are just great places to pick up the vibe of a town and to watch locals go about their business. It’s fun to see who’s going home with asparagus stalks hanging out their handbag, and to watch people sniff stinky cheese, or poke melons to find the ripe one. It’s also good to connect with the people who grow the food you eat. Finally, there’s no better place to stock up with a few good snacks for the next leg of your trip. Today’s photo set is themed for the popular #FriFotos Twitter chat, so upload your own market pics, tag them and join in the fun. I’m looking forward to seeing some pictures of markets that I’ll maybe visit on one of my next trips. Continue reading

Environment: GMO battle heats up with worldwide protests

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Activists have set May 25 as a wordwide day of action to raise awareness about genetically modified food issues.

Colorado joins in with demonstrations across the state

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Activists today (May 25) will try to raise awareness about what they perceive as the dangers of genetically modified foods with a series of worldwide marches and protests under the #OccupyMonsanto banner.The rallies include events across Colorado, from Denver to Grand Junction. The Denver protest at the State Capitol starts at 11 a.m. and is scheduled to continue until 4 p.m.

A worldwide list of events is posted at this Facebook page.

Grassroots opposition has been growing the past few months since Congress passed what’s been called the Monsanto Protection Act, which appears to gives the U.S. Department of Agriculture at least temporary authority to ignore court rulings on whether it’s OK to plant genetically engineered crops. Read this NPR report for more details on the congressional action. Continue reading

Health: Pre-ordering school meals leads to healthier eating

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It’s hard to resist a tater tot when you’re hungry, but pre-ordering meals at school can lead to healthier choices.

Study in New York shows significant change in food choices

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Not long after reporting that bite-sized fruit pieces spur healthier eating at school, Cornell researchers have released new findings suggesting that pre-ordering food would also help improve the dietary habits of school kids.

The study builds on the conventional wisdom that shopping for food while hungry can lead to unhealthy choices. According to the scientists, hungry people are especially sensitive to sights and smells of foods that will satiate, but may lack in nutrient content. Continue reading

Congress tackles genetically modified food labeling

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Have your veggies been genetically modified? Some members of Congress think you have the right to know.

Citing overwhelming public support, lawmakers introduce measures that would require the FDA to modernize its labeling standards

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The battle over labeling of genetically modified food is once again in Congress, where pending bills in the House and Senate would help consumers be able to make more informed choices about their diet and purchasing decisions.

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR)this week introduced the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act in the House; a companion measure in the Senate got a bipartisan introduction from by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CO) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

“Despite the prevalence of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in grocery stores and prepared foods, it remains difficult if not impossible for consumers to determine if the foods they eat contain GMOs,” Polis said. “This labeling bill is about empowering consumers: consumers can choose to eat or not eat GMOs, or to pay more or less for GMOs. I believe consumers have a right to know what they are eating so they can make their own informed food choices. I am proud to be working toward more informative food labels.” Continue reading

New law would tackle widespread seafood fraud

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When is a tuna not a tuna? Consumers will know more if Rep. Ed Markey’s Safe Seafood Act is passed into law.

Measure would accountability to the seafood supply chain

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Not long after a recent report by the nonprofit group Oceana revealed widespread fraud in the seafood consumer market, federal lawmakers make intervene to hold seafood producers more accountable for what they catch, deliver and sell.

As introduced by Congressman Ed Markey, the Safety and Fraud Enforcement for Seafood (SAFE Seafood) Act would requiring full traceability of all seafood sold in the U.S., from boat to plate.

“Fish fraud is a national problem that needs a national solution. This bill finally tells the seafood swindlers and fish fraudsters that we will protect America’s fishermen and consumers from Massachusetts to Alaska,” said Markey, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee. “From tackle to table, this bill makes the entire seafood supply chain more transparent and trustworthy.” Continue reading

Morning photo: Foodscapes

Seasonal goodies

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New potatoes and asparagus have been on sale recently at Safeway. Together, they make a fine vegetarian meal, and it’s an early season staple and classic in farmhouse restaurants in central Europe. Just boil and serve with some melted butter.

FRISCO — Stepping back from landscapes for a short food interlude today … Continue reading

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