Sunday December 17, 2017

Sweet Sizzlin’ Beans! Fancy Names likely to get Diners to eat their Vegetables

More diners chose the fancy-named items, and selected larger portions of them, too, in the experiment last fall at a Stanford University cafeteria

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This Jan. 20, 2017, file photo shows roasted carrot hummus with crudite and pita chips at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. VOA

Chicago, June 12, 2017: Researchers tried a big serving of food psychology and a dollop of trickery to get diners to eat their vegetables. And it worked.

Veggies given names like “zesty ginger-turmeric sweet potatoes” and “twisted citrus-glazed carrots” were more popular than those prepared exactly the same way but with plainer, more healthful-sounding labels. Diners more often said “no thanks” when the food had labels like “low-fat,” “reduced-sodium” or “sugar-free.”

More diners chose the fancy-named items, and selected larger portions of them, too, in the experiment last fall at a Stanford University cafeteria.

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“While it may seem like a good idea to emphasize the healthiness of vegetables, doing so may actually backfire,” said lead author Bradley Turnwald, a graduate student in psychology.

Other research has shown that people tend to think of healthful sounding food as less tasty, so the aim was to make it sound as good as more indulgent, fattening fare.

Researchers from Stanford’s psychology department tested the idea as a way to improve eating habits and make a dent in the growing obesity epidemic.

“This novel, low-cost intervention could easily be implemented in cafeterias, restaurants, and consumer products to increase selection of healthier options,” they said.

Study’s details

The results were published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The study was done over 46 days last fall. Lunchtime vegetable offerings were given different labels on different days. For example, on one day diners could choose “dynamite chili and tangy lime-seasoned beets.” On other days, the same item was labeled “lighter-choice beets with no added sugar,” “high antioxidant beets,” or simply “beets.”

Almost one-third of the nearly 28,000 diners chose a vegetable offering during the study. The tasty-sounding offering was the most popular, selected by about 220 diners on average on days it was offered, compared with about 175 diners who chose the simple-label vegetable. The healthy-sounding labels were the least popular.

Diners also served themselves bigger portions of the tasty-sounding vegetables than of the other choices.

Turnwald emphasized that “there was no deception” — all labels accurately described the vegetables, although diners weren’t told that the different-sounding choices were the exact same item.

The results illustrate “the interesting advantage to indulgent labeling,” he said.

Dr. Stephen Cook, a University of Rochester childhood obesity researcher, called the study encouraging and said some high school cafeterias have also tried different labels to influence healthy eating.

“It shouldn’t be a surprise to us because marketing people have been doing this for years,” Cook said. (VOA)

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Demonetisation is having Negative impact on Farmers: Too many Vegetables, too little Money

Tomato farmers in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu were the worst hit since prices fell by 60-85 per cent while onion farmers were the worst hit in Maharashtra and Gujarat

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FILE - A private money trader counts Indian rupee currency notes at a shop in Mumbai, India. (Representational image). VOA

Jan 19, 2017: Sunil Kumar, a 31-year-old farmer in Tondala village, Kolar district, 85 km east of Bengaluru, lost Rs 300,000 in November when tomato prices crashed due to the demonetisation earlier that month and the excess supply of vegetables.

Kumar, who cultivates tomatoes on his five-acre farm, said he made a profit of Rs 30 lakh during the same time last year.

The 110 per cent drop in income from 2016 has come at a time when the weather — and so the harvest — was good this year, said Kumar. So, demonetisation – under which Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, which accounted for 86 per cent of all cash, were banned on November 8 — couldn’t have come at a worse time. With money sucked out of the market, there was a tomato glut, and prices crashed by 80 per cent.

“A 15-kg crate of tomatoes traded this year between Rs 30 and Rs 50 (instead of Rs 700 at its peak),” said Kumar. “I had no reason to spend on transportation and bring it to the market or wait for the price to pick up. So, I uprooted all my tomato plants in late November to minimise the loss. This is the worst we have seen in my experience.”

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Kolar is the biggest vegetable-growing region in Karnataka, and houses Asia’s second-largest tomato market. In November, the ruling price of tomatoes in the Kolar market was Rs 3-5 per kg, or 85 per cent lesser than the same time in 2015.

Kumar’s case is echoed across India. The price of tomatoes crashed to 25 paise/kg, reports said, which prompted farmers in a Chhattisgarh district to dump nearly 100 tractor-trolleys, or about 45,000 kg, of tomatoes, on a national highway.

Similar incidents by frustrated farmers were reported in Nashik, Hyderabad and other key vegetable-growing regions.

Tomato farmers in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu were the worst hit since prices fell by 60-85 per cent while onion farmers were the worst hit in Maharashtra and Gujarat, according to an IndiaSpend analysis of vegetable prices in seven Indian cities — Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai — between November 2015 and November 2016.

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The price of potatoes, which have a shelf life of up to 2-3 months, was stable in places such as Delhi and Chennai, while it rose between 17 per cent and 25 per cent in Bengaluru and Mumbai. The price of potatoes per quintal was Rs 1,086 in November 2015, increasing 27 per cent to Rs 1,376 in November 2016.

The price of peas dropped between 15 per cent and 20 per cent, with arrivals increasing in six cities, except Mumbai.

The crash in prices was also due to oversupply, the data show. While the prices of tomatoes (hybrid variety) fell by 55-85 per cent, the supply was double and even triple the previous year in parts of India, such as Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Hyderabad, according to data from the National Horticulture Board.

In Chennai, for instance, the maximum price a farmer could get per quintal of tomatoes in November 2016 was Rs 760, compared to Rs 4,900 in November 2015, a drop of 85 per cent. The supply to the city was 2,910 metric tonne, an increase of 40 per cent from 2015.

In Hyderabad, prices dropped 60 per cent but supply increased 337 per cent in November.

Onions were traded anywhere between Rs 650 and Rs 1,500 per quintal in November 2016, compared to Rs 3,027 to Rs 5,600 in 2015.

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At the Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) in Nashik, Maharashtra, India’s largest wholesale onion market, onions were sold at between Rs 5 and Rs 7 a kilogram.

In the seven cities we analysed data for, supply was 196,400 metric tonne in November 2016, against 186,175 metric tonne in November 2015.

The situation worsened in December, as prices fell by another 20-50 per cent, and peas traded at a 10-year low in the Delhi market, according to officials from the Horticulture Department.

“The monsoon rains would subside during September to November, and it would result in lesser yield, indicating lesser supply and higher prices,” Bellur Krishna, Managing Director of the state-owned Horticultural Producers Cooperative Marketing and Processing Society, told IndiaSpend. “This year, the rainfall was good in the vegetable-growing regions of Karnataka.”

“This led to good harvest but the prices are also down due to the cash crisis triggered by demonetisation,” he said.

Kolar, Belagavi, Haveri and Chitradurga, the top vegetable-growing regions in Karnataka, received normal rainfall during the southwest monsoon in 2016. But Karnataka declared a drought in 22 districts and some additional talukas in October 2016; the state received Rs 1,782 crore from the central government.

“The impact of demonetisation could only be to the extent of 20 per cent of the price fall,” said Krishna.

Around 9.4 million hectares, or 10 per cent of India’s cropped area, is under vegetable cultivation, of which 50 per cent is given to potato, onion and tomato, according to Horticulture Board data.

“Most of the transactions in fruits and vegetables are in cash,” Brajendra Singh, Director, National Horticulture Board, told IndiaSpend. “So, demonetisation has definitely had some bearing. Arrivals had increased; so, the downturn was obvious.”

Tomato cultivation is usually routed through market clusters (around cities) and is profitable, Singh said.

“This time, it was available from local sources,” said Singh. “The price of tomatoes had gone up to Rs 50 a kg over the last two years. This year, the climate was favourable and resulted in bumper crops. Suddenly, the markets were depressed due to oversupply and because there was no cash.”

Singh predicted the situation would be “normal” over the next quarter, and crops would fetch a good price for farmers by the summer of 2017. (IANS)

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Health and Wellness: A mediterranean diet can reduce risk of heart disease

Astonishingly, a Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of death even if you already have a history of cardiovascular disease. Read to know more

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Mediterranean food. Image Source: Wikimedia commons
  • Cholesterol-lowering statins have long been thought of as the most effective way to treat heart disease
  • Experts say that even for those taking statins, adopting a Mediterranean diet could add further health benefits
  • A Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of death even if you already have a history of cardiovascular disease

For some patients with heart disease, a Mediterranean diet could better treat their condition than cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins, according to a recent study.

A Mediterranean diet favors fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish and olive oil over red meat, dairy products and processed foods.

Speaking at a global heart disease conference in Rome, an Italian expert said the study sought to answer a specific question.

“So far research has focused on the general population, which is mainly composed of healthy people,” said Professor Giovanni de Gaetano, head of the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention at the IRCCS Neuromed Institute in Italy. “What happens to people who have already suffered from cardiovascular disease? Is the Mediterranean diet optimal for them too?”

For the study, the researchers looked at 1,200 Italians with a history of heart disease over a period of seven years. What they found is those who adhered more closely to a Mediterranean diet were less likely to be among the 208 people who died during the course of the study.

After adjusting to age, sex, socioeconomic status, level of physical activity, the researchers found that people who ate a mostly Mediterranean diet had a 37 percent less chance of dying during the study period.

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Cholesterol-lowering statins have long been thought of as the most effective way to treat heart disease, which kills nearly 615,000 Americans annually. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 28 percent of Americans over 40 were taking some kind of statin when surveyed in 2011 and 2012.

Statins are popular worldwide and several studies have shown they can lower cholesterol levels, reducing the likelihood of major heart problems.

Experts say that even for those taking statins, adopting a Mediterranean diet could add further health benefits.

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“It is good to know that even if you already have a history of cardiovascular disease, adhering to a Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of death, said Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation in an interview with the Telegraph newspaper.

“This study suggests that even if you are already receiving medical care, if you add a Mediterranean diet, it will have further benefit. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, even if you have had a heart attack or stroke is really important and continues to benefit you.” (VOA)

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Vertical farming: A big leap towards sustainable farming

The vertical farming reduces the dependency and cost of skilled labourers, weather conditions, soil fertility or high water usage.Nearly 30% profitability can be obtained through this technique.

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Vertical Farming. Image source: Industrytap.com

What Is Vertical Farming?

Vertical farming is the technique of producing food in stacked layers or on vertically inclined surfaces which comprises of new automated farms. It requires less natural dependency and helps in reducing the dependency and cost of skilled labourers, weather conditions, soil fertility or high water usage.

What Vertical Farming Does?

  • Modern day vertical farming includes controlled environment agriculture technology i.e. CEA technology. All other environmental factors can be controlled using this technique. Techniques such as augmentation of sunlight by artificial lightning and by metal reflectors are also used for producing a similar greenhouse-like effect.
  • Vertical farms is a pesticide-free technique which requires much less input than traditional farming methods and gives much more output.
  • Farms embedded with this technique uses artificial lighting systems that facilitate enhanced photosynthesis. LEDs are placed near plants to impart specific wavelengths of lights for more photosynthesis. This enhances productivity.
  • Aeroponic mist’ is another technique used which helps in supplying the proper amount of oxygen and other soil nutrients. This makes the nature of growth more robust.

Advantages & Benefits of vertical farming techniques are as follows:

  • Vertical farming enables Reliable harvest. With it, the term ‘seasonal crops’ becomes obsolete. Irrespective of sunlight, pests or extreme temperature, these farms can easily meet the demand of contractors anytime.
  • Minimum overheads – Nearly 30% profitability can be obtained through this growing technique.
    • Low energy usage – Use of computerized LEDs by giving proper wavelength reduces energy to a great extent.
    • Low labour costs – Fully automated technique so no skilled labours are required.
    • Low water usage – Controlled transpiration technique are used. It requires only 10% of the water usage of traditional technique.
    • Reduced washing and processing – No pests control required. Reduces the cost of damage washing.
    • Reduced transportation costs – Can be established in any location. This reduces the cost of transportation and usage.
  • Increased growing area – Enables cost effective farming and provides nearly 8 times more productivity.
  • Maximum crop yield – Irrespective of other geographic factors Vertical Farming technique gives maximum yield.
  • A wide range of crops – Growth of crop are maintained by an intensive database which enables them to grow a wide range of crops such as Baby spinach, Baby rocket, Basil, Tatsoi, Leaf lettuce.
  • Fully integrated technology – All environmental factors are closely monitored and are maintained in an optimal range.
    • Optimum air quality
    • Optimum nutrient and mineral quality
    • Optimum water quality
    • Optimum light quality

All these technologies used leads to a dramatic shift in plant growth rates and their yields.

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Prepared by Pritam. Twitter handle @pritam_gogreen