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Flexitarian is the new way to live

The number of consumers who are reducing their consumption of animal-based products is on the rise in the US, a new study has found.
Professionals from the Institute of Food Technologists have also found that the number of consumers who follow strict vegetarian or vegan diets in the U.S. is relatively small, Newswise reported.

These “occasional” vegetarians, who are also called flexitarians, can be categorised into two groups, semi-vegetarians and meat reducers.
While semi-vegetarians follow a vegetarian diet part of the time, but still eat some meat and dairy products, meat reducers are not trying to follow a vegetarian diet, but are just trying to reduce the amount of meat they eat.

As a result of the increasingly popular flexitarian lifestyle, large food manufacturers like Kraft Foods, ConAgra Foods, General Mills, and others have acquired smaller vegetarian food producers or launched their own lines of vegetarian food products.
In the past, processed vegetarian burgers were bland and tough, and usually only die-hard vegetarians were the targeted consumers, but there are an increasing number of people who are interested in eating healthier or want to reduce their meat intake without sacrificing taste.

Whereas today, updates in processing technologies, food flavours and sauces are making it possible for vegetarian food manufacturers to create foods with more meat-like textures, better flavour and convenience that are more appealing to flexitarian consumers.

New ‘super’ yeast turns pine into ethanol

 A ‘super strain’ of yeast developed by researchers at the University of Georgia can efficiently ferment ethanol from pre-treated pine – one of the most common species of trees in Georgia and the U.S. The breakthrough discovery could help biofuels replace gasoline as a transportation fuel.

 “Companies are interested in producing ethanol from woody biomass such as pine, but it is a notoriously difficult material for fermentations,” said Joy Doran-Peterson, associate professor of microbiology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

 “The big plus for softwoods, including pine, is that they have a lot of sugar that yeast can use.

“Yeast are currently used in ethanol production from corn or sugarcane, which are much easier materials for fermentation; our process increases the amount of ethanol that can be obtained from pine,” she said.

Before the pinewood is fermented with yeast, however, it is pre-treated with heat and chemicals, which help open the wood for enzymes to break the cellulose down into sugars.

Once sugars are released, the yeast will convert them to ethanol, but compounds produced during pre-treatment tend to kill even the hardiest industrial strains of yeast, making ethanol production difficult.

Doran-Peterson, along with doctoral candidate G. Matt Hawkins, used directed evolution and adaptation of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a species of yeast used commonly in industry for production of corn ethanol, to generate the “super" yeast”. Their research showed that the pine fermented with the new yeast could successfully withstand the toxic compounds and produce ethanol from higher concentrations of pre-treated pine than before.

Group calls on tuna fisheries for better shark protection

Countries involved in bluefin tuna fishing need to do more to protect the collateral killing of sharks, an environmental group said.

Three-quarters of migratory shark species that inhabit bluefin fishing areas are threatened with extinction, the Oceana group warned the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT.)

“The fishing countries of the Atlantic can no longer ignore that shark populations are being decimated by ICCAT fisheries,” Oceana manager Elizabeth Griffin Wilson said.

Representatives from dozens of bluefin tuna fishing nations are meeting in Turkey to discuss ways to improve protection for the endangered fish, savoured by many sushi eaters for its firm meat. Oceana wants the 48 commission members to prohibit the retention of endangered or other particularly vulnerable species, including porbeagle and silky sharks.

The commission already has introduced protections for the bigeye thresher, hammerhead and oceanic whitetip sharks.

The US Pew Environment Group wants fishermen to use new materials that allow sharks to escape, such as nylon fishing lines that can be severed by a shark but not a tuna.Pew says 73 million sharks are killed each year, mainly for their fins, which are used in soup in some Asian countries.

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