Buycott

Buycott is an an app to find out what companies and causes your money supports when you are looking for a product. Using the app, is possible to get information about the product’s traceability and make their root informations available to more people by sharing it.

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Have you ever wondered whether the money you spend ends up funding causes you oppose?

A buycott is the opposite of a boycott. Buycott helps you to organize your everyday consumer spending so that it reflects your principles.

Example: During the SOPA/PIPA debate in 2012, a number of companies pushed to pass legislation that reduced online freedom of expression, while other companies fought hard to oppose the legislation. With Buycott, a campaign can be quickly created around a cause, with the goal of targeting companies with a boycott unless they change their position, or buycotting a company to show your support.

When you use Buycott to scan a product, it will look up the product, determine what brand it belongs to, and figure out what company owns that brand (and who owns that company, ad infinitum). It will then cross-check the product owners against the companies and brands included in the campaigns you’ve joined, in order to tell you if the scanned product conflicts with one of your campaign commitments.

Get the app here.

Annunci

L’agronuvola che rispetta le coltivazioni

di Luca Dello Iacovo

Superati i confini urbani di Tokyo i campi di riso scolpiscono il paesaggio inquadrato dai finestrini del treno superveloce Skinkansen. In Giappone sono 6,7 milioni le famiglie impegnate nell’agricoltura secondo le rilevazioni del ministero degli Affari interni. Il progressivo invecchiamento della popolazione ha aperto interrogativi sulla trasmissione della tradizione imprenditoriale ereditata dalle coltivazioni. La domanda è come trasmettere conoscenze alle generazioni più giovani. E la risposta arriva dall’agrocloud. In dieci luoghi è attivo un progetto sperimentale per il monitoraggio in tempo reale: gli operatori nei campi fotografano le piante attraverso un’applicazione installata su un cellulare e inviano le immagini per ricevere consigli e assistenza, ad esempio per affrontare fitopatologie. Inoltre, una rete di dispositivi grandi quanto una chiavetta usb e disseminati sul terreno rileva i valori di umidità, temperatura e irraggiamento del sole sulla superficie di microaree, fino a ricostruire una mappa dettagliata e dinamica. Sono informazioni inviate attraverso i network di telefonia mobile di terza generazione e archiviate in banche dati: le infrastrutture nella nuvola informatica diventano piattaforme per simulazioni e analisi dell’efficienza gestionale, con un livello di dettaglio finora impossibile. Per adesso l’agrocloud è un’iniziativa in fase di test, elaborata da Fujitsu negli ultimi tre anni: entro il 2012 è previsto il primo sbarco sul mercato locale. In Giappone il fatturato derivante dai prodotti coltivati, secondo il ministero dell’Agricoltura, è di 8mila miliardi di yen, equivalenti a circa 80 miliardi di euro: il 37,5% deriva da sovvenzioni pubbliche.
Gli agrodati sono un ulteriore tassello dell’universo di big data che non ha ancora una definizione univoca: secondo Forrester research, ad esempio, big data significa analizzare «petabyte di informazioni strutturate e non strutturate ad alta velocità», dove un petabyte corrisponde a un miliardo di megabyte. A generarli sono sensori, social network, aziende, istituzioni pubbliche, cittadini. È una sfida raccolta dai colossi globali dell’hitech che supera i confini del settore business per rispondere alle esigenze della società, a partire dall’integrazione con la nuvola informatica di salute, agroindustria e reti intelligenti per la gestione dell’energia (smart grid). Diventa, a cascata, un’occasione di sviluppo per una filiera di piccole e medie imprese locali. Osserva Martin Schulz, direttore del Fujitsu research institute: «Anche una Silicon Valley giapponese potrà beneficiarne attraverso startup e venture business».
È una frontiera aperta. «Per analizzare big data serve un livello superiore di computing», ricorda Claus-Peter Unterberger, chief marketing officer di Fujitsu technology solutions. Al momento il supercomputer K ospitato a Kobe è il primo nella classifica dei Top500 al mondo. Ha raggiunto il 30% dell’operatività prevista: prima dell’estate sarà completato lo sviluppo dell’infrastruttura software. «Ha richiesto una squadra di circa trenta persone impegnate per 6-7 anni», spiega Tadashi Watanabe, project leader del centro R&D del Riken institute, equivalente del Cnr in Italia. È raffreddato da un sistema idraulico in grado di gestire mille tonnellate di acqua al giorno: la temperatura operativa nelle sale del supercomputer è di trenta gradi. La potenza di calcolo di dieci petaflop sarà accessibile anche all’esterno per le aziende, ad esempio durante la progettazione di automobili o nella ricerca farmaceutica. Big data riguarda l’immediato presente: resta un nodo aperto nella business intelligence di aziende medie e grandi. Dove è in rapido cambiamento il perimetro dell’ufficio a partire dalla diffusione dell’abitudine di lavorare su dispositivi mobili come cellulari e tablet utilizzati anche nel tempo libero, descritta dall’acronimo byod, «bring your own device». Che contribuisce all’espansione di big data.

Via ilsole24ore

Adesso Parmalat parla francese

Corpo 8 è la dimensione del carattere di stampa che con maggiore frequenza si incontra sui quotidiani.

“Les jeux sont faits, rien ne va plus”, si potrebbe dire ricorrendo al gergo dei croupier. Parmalat, infatti, è definitivamente nelle mani della francese Lactalis. Già lo aveva anticipato prima della chiusura dell’Opa (offerta pubblica di acquisto) il “Corriere della Sera” in edicola l’8 luglio segnalando che nella cassaforte della multinazionale del latte era presente oltre il 50% delle azioni di Parmalat, notizia confermata nello stesso giorno da “Il Sole 24 Ore”. Ma si è andati ben oltre il 50%, con un exploit (prendiamo ancora in prestito un termine francese…) all’83% di azioni che al termine dell’Opa sono finite nei “forzieri” della famiglia Besnier, cui fa capo Lactalis. Molti dettagli della vicenda si possono leggere il 9 luglio su “Borsa e Finanza”. Nello stesso giorno “Il Sole 24 Ore” sottolinea che la francese Lactalis, grazie all’acquisizione di Parmalat, si configura come il primo polo al mondo nel settore dei latticini. Ancora “Il Sole 24 Ore” dedica alla notizia un breve e pungente commento, definendo “goffo” il tentativo di bloccare le iniziative di Lactalis nella sua scalata a Parmalat. Per completare il quadro, dopo la designazione di Franco Tatò alla presidenza di Parmalat, mancava solo il nome del nuovo amministratore delegato, che avrebbe ereditato il posto di Enrico Bondi, il “Risanatore” della Parmalat del dopo-crack. Il 13 luglio ecco arrivare la conferma che alla guida della Parmalat “made in France” è stato designato Yvon Guerin. Il “Corriere della Sera” nel darne la notizia sottolinea la lunga “militanza” di Guerin nel gruppo Lactalis, dove al momento ricopre il ruolo di direttore generale della divisione “Lait Cremerie & Nutrition”. “Il Sole 24 Ore” nel riportare il profilo del nuovo amministratore delegato  di Parmalat, ricorda che al momento risulta scoperta la figura del direttore finanziario ed ancora non è possibile fare previsioni se il ricambio dei manager arriverà più in profondità.

Un altro interrogativo aperto, al momento senza risposta, è quali ripercussioni questo nuovo assetto nell’industria lattiero casearia in Italia avrà sugli equilibri della filiera produttiva, in particolare nei riguardi del rapporto con gli allevatori e nella definizione del prezzo del latte.

Latte, quote e multe

Abbandonata la vicenda Parmalat, ma restando nel mondo degli allevamenti e del latte, dalle pagine della “Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno” il sindaco di Roma, Gianni Alemanno (ricordiamo che è stato ministro dell’Agricoltura), denuncia la situazione che si è creata per le quote latte e per le multe. Sullo stesso argomento interviene anche il settimanale “Il Salvagente” in edicola il 12 luglio. “Il Sole 24 Ore” del 9 luglio dedica un ampio articolo alle decisioni prese a Bruxelles in merito ai contratti per la fornitura del latte e alla possibilità di regolare l’offerta da parte dei consorzi, decisioni che accolgono le richieste fatte dall’Italia all’interno del pacchetto di sostegni comunitari per fronteggiare la crisi del latte.

Il bilancio Ue

Restando in tema di politiche comunitarie, si inizia a parlare, come si legge su “Italia Oggi” del 9 luglio, delle discussioni sul bilancio Ue per il periodo 2014-2020, che potrebbe riservare sorprese spiacevoli per l’agricoltura italiana. Sul nuovo bilancio della Ue va più in profondità “Il Sole 24 Ore” dell’11 luglio, che punta il dito sul rischio per l’Italia di aggravare il saldo fra quanto versa alle casse della Ue e quanto riceve in termini di aiuti.

L’agricoltura dà lavoro

In tempi di disoccupazione in crescita, la notizia che l’agricoltura si muove controtendenza, aumentando il numero di occupati, non poteva passare inosservato dai media. L’argomento è rimbalzato sulle pagine di molti giornali e fra questi “Avvenire” dell’ 8 luglio. La crescita degli occupati in agricoltura, riporta nello stesso giorno “Il Sole 24 Ore”, è stata sottolineata in occasione dell’assemblea Coldiretti dal presidente Sergio Marini, che ha ricordato i molti fronti aperti per un’efficace ripresa del settore. A proposito dell’assemblea di Coldiretti, “La Padania” dell’8 luglio ha dato spazio al messaggio del Presidente della Repubblica, Giorgio Napolitano e del Papa Benedetto XVI, che pur con parole diverse hanno messo l’accento sui valori intrinseci al mondo agricolo.  L’assemblea della Coldiretti si guadagna ampio spazio anche sulle pagine di “Famiglia Cristiana” in edicola il 14 luglio. Ancora dall’assemblea Coldiretti arriva la notizia della selezione di un “superpomodoro” ricco di licopene, argomento che rimbalza su molti media e fra questi il “Corriere della Sera” e “Avvenire” del 14 luglio.

Nello stesso giorno sono numerosi i giornali che si occupano della vicenda giudiziaria che riguarda il ministro Saverio Romano. Per chi volesse saperne di più non ha che l’imbarazzo della scelta, “Il Sole 24 Ore”, “L’Unità”, “Libero” e molti altri.

Angelo Gamberini

via Agronotizie

Hold the Sugar: An Interview with Food Scientist Beverly Tepper on Genetics, Taste, and Bitter-Blockers

    “Food design” can mean very different things, depending on whom you ask. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve heard from a design critic, a corporate giant, a Jell-O entrpreneur, and a pair of design provocateurs about the possibilities and pitfalls of redesigning our food—and between them the conversation has ranged from the impossibility of inventing new pasta shapes to the need to rethink agricultural subsidies, and from DIY digestive system hacks to flavor-changing chewing gum.

    The food scientist Beverly Tepper is director of the Sensory Evaluation Laboratory at Rutgers University. Her research combines nutritional science and psychology with the genetics of taste perception in order to better understand the links between flavor, diet, and health. We talked about some of the innovations she thinks will reshape our food in the coming years, where food scientists have gone wrong in the past, and what she thinks of molecular gastronomy.

    GOOD: What kinds of things do you work on?

    Beverly Tepper: At the moment, I’m working with a food ingredient company and we’re looking at some new types of flavors, but I can’t talk about them until we publish our research.

    One of my past projects, which I can talk about, was looking into a compound that was intended to be a bitter-blocker. The notion behind the research is that if we could understand how bitter taste is perceived by receptors on the tongue, maybe we could put something in bitter food that interfered with that perception. That way we could decrease the perceived bitterness and reduce added sugar without actually making any changes to the actual compound that’s responsible for the taste. We tested several different kinds of compounds and molecules that taste bitter, and we were able to show a nice effect in caffeine.

    In terms of possible real-world applications, there’s a certain chain whose coffee is known to be quite bitter. I’m not going to name any names, and many people like their coffee, but a lot of others complain that it’s too bitter. If the chain added this compound to their coffee, some people would still add sugar, but maybe they wouldn’t have to add as much as they did previously because they wouldn’t perceive the bitter taste.

    Now, I don’t know if this specific compound will make it to market—probably not. But a couple of different companies are testing different kinds of bitter blockers on bitter compounds, so I don’t think it will be too long before we get mass-market products that have these compounds in them.

    G: From your perspective, what’s the social value of this kind food industry investment in R&D?

    BT: Technology has its ups and downs. I think that we as a society find our way through to the stuff that’s good and keep it, and we eventually get rid of the stuff that’s not.

    I think a lot of people have the idea that food technology is inherently sinister. They hear the term and immediately think of things like GMOs or “Frankenfoods.” There are a lot of different points of view on genetic modification, but it’s undoubtedly true that a lot of people have a negative attitude toward it and that spills over into their feelings about food science and the idea of redesigning food in general.

    But from within the field, I get to see a whole range of different approaches in food technology, and so it becomes a lot more nuanced. One area that I think holds a lot of promise is nanotechnology. We’re developing technologies that can be used in food that are so small that you can’t specifically see them or taste them but yet they provide some kind of benefit. Often these are in the sensory area, but there are also benefits in food safety, freshness, and so on. A lot of this is still at the research stage, but it is coming down the line.

    To give you a specific example, the food industry often uses a technique called encapsulation to protect a flavor that they’ve placed in a food product. That means you coat it in some kind of material that allows the flavor compound to stay fresh and separate within the food product until you release it by eating it. The next generation of encapsulation uses nanotechnology, which will open up an entirely different dimension in the kinds of technologies that can be placed in foods and food packaging. For example, there are things that you can place on the inside of a food package that act as a sensor to tell you if the food is spoiled or release molecules into the package that fight bacteria.

    G: Clearly, there are many reasons why people might feel as though these new technologies are suspicious or unwelcome. My own field—the media—needs to take some responsibility, I think, for the shortage of public, reason-based scientific discussion on the topic. But another thing that might contribute to that mistrust is the fact that so much food design research is conducted in-house at corporations or is funded by corporations. Do you think the fact that a lot of food R&D is not publicly funded and is not in the public domain leads to a lack of transparency?

    BT: I do understand that comment. Certainly, what happens in food companies is proprietary. They are businesses, after all. But there is a lot of food research that is happening in the public realm through funding from national agencies. The USDA is a major funder of applied food research—in departments like mine, many of the scientists are supported through USDA grants and other types of publicly-funded grants.

    But I think with any commodity, whether you’re talking about pharmaceutical drugs or energy, there is a percentage of R&D that’s going on in the public realm that university scientists are involved in, and then probably the majority of it is going on inside or funded by companies.  Now, when companies fund research—and I’m speaking as an academic researcher who has worked with food companies on various projects—generally speaking, there is a clause in our agreements that allows us to publish the results of our studies. There only thing is that there will likely be some wording in there that says that if we find some fantastic thing, there’s an embargo of 90 days during which we’re not allowed to make anything public.

    That’s pretty typical of how academic researchers work with the food industry. Personally, I want to publish because that’s extremely important for my career, so I’m much more likely to partner with an industry funder when there’s a publication opportunity down the line.

    G: Given that you think that food design R&D offers value to society, do you think there should be more public funding to shape the direction of research, or encourage it in areas that are less immediately profitable?

    Tepper: Well, we’ll always ask for more funding. [laughs]

    One thing that has happened, unfortunately, is that the USDA, which, as I mentioned, is a major funder for food science R&D, is currently almost exclusively funding research in food safety. Clearly, we have a problem with food safety in this country, and I know they want to make a large effort to address that problem, but because funding is tight, that means there are significantly fewer resources available to pursue other projects, including some of the examples I gave above. I think that tight focus on only food safety is a mistake, but I obviously don’t make policy decisions.

    G: Do your academic colleagues overseas have a similar research funding set-up to the one we have here in the U.S.?

    BT: They are also funded both by industry and by the government, as far as I know. But it does seem to me that funding in the United States is more competitive than it is in, let’s say, Europe—at least in certain areas. We have more difficulty getting funding for sensory behavioral research projects in the United States. I’ve noticed that my colleagues in Europe seem to be able to get funding for research looking at food attitudes, at taste, and at how one’s emotions affect what one might eat. I think in the United States, funding tends to favor the more basic, laboratory kind of science—results that you can measure with an instrument as opposed to behavioral and psychological studies.

    G: Do you personally choose your research topics based on their potential use value to society, or are they just questions that you’re passionately interested in?

    BT: I would say it’s both. To get funded these days, we have to think about what the implications of our work are to people. I’ll admit that sometimes it would be nice to work in a vacuum—to just say “I’m going to do this because it’s cool”—but realistically, we’re always tasked to consider the applications and the implications of whatever it is that we’re doing. Because I do taste and nutrition research, it’s hard not to think about how my research is going to be used by people and whether it is going to help them live healthier, better lives.

    G: But if a company wanted you to help them engineer something so incredible that it would blow consumers’ minds and no one would be able to stop eating it, would you find that an exciting challenge? Or would you want a higher goal?

    BT: [laughs] They maybe want that in their wildest dreams! But to bring it back to reality, I think companies always want to distinguish their products from other products and they want to create something that will capture the imagination of the consumer. That’s always the goal, and that’s fine with me.

    I think one of the areas where we as food scientists could do a better job is that people are often concerned about things that they perhaps don’t understand or weren’t given a lot of information about. I think that’s the case with GMOs, and I think that in the case of nanotechnology, we need to start a conversation with the public about what it is and what it might bring to the table, so that we can understand peoples’ attitudes towards it and figure out whether it’s really fulfilling something that they think is a valuable goal. It’s one thing for a food scientist sitting in lab to think up this great thing, but if nobody really wants it, then we haven’t accomplished our goal and we just created a problem with our consumer that will take a lot of work to fix.

    I think there’s also an issue about labeling. A lot of people want to know what’s in their food, whether or not the FDA judges it safe, or identical to existing products, or whatever. GMOs were placed in many different food products without labeling, and without the knowledge of consumers. Of course, there are many things that are put in food products that consumers don’t specifically know are there, and their knowing can actually be kind of irrelevant unless they’re are a chemist. But for issues that strike a nerve with consumers, perhaps we need to have a different strategy for how we acknowledge incorporating that technology into products. I don’t know how that labeling should work, but I think starting a conversation about it would be appropriate.

    G: The labeling question is interesting, because labeling becomes a marketing tool very quickly. Then you have people labeling things “All natural, non GMO” and that doesn’t help us as a society have a nuanced conversation about what sorts of design we accept in our food, given that “natural” really doesn’t mean anything at all.

    Finally, what do you think of molecular gastronomy, in which chefs like Ferran Adrià or Grant Achatz are also using science to redesign food, but in a very different context to your work?

    BT: I have tasted some of those foods and I think they’re really interesting. A lot of the ingredients that they use are very common in the food processing industry already, but they’re utilizing them in a more exclusive culinary realm and in unique ways. But, in some ways, the only real difference is that industrial food processors are using these techniques in bulk and they haven’t optimized their ingredients.

    That said, and I hope nobody gets upset with me for this, I don’t really see a long term future for it. It seems like a fun, one-time, “gee wow” kind of thing, and then we’ll just get back to bacon and eggs that look like bacon and eggs, and are really bacon and eggs.

    Via GOOD

    La verdura fresca (e bio) arriva a casa con un sms

    A Cigole, nel Bresciano, nasce «Ortaie»: il progetto di due cugine fashion-manager convertite all’agricoltura

    Idee – servizio a domicilio a poche ore dal raccolto. La verdura fresca (e bio) arriva a casa con un sms

    A Cigole, nel Bresciano, nasce «Ortaie»: il progetto di due cugine fashion-manager convertite all’agricoltura

    Maria Vittoria Resta e Angelica Martinoni, di «Ortaie» (Fotogramma)
    Maria Vittoria Resta e Angelica Martinoni, di «Ortaie» (Fotogramma)

    Le donne dell’orto hanno detto sì. E così, la dove c’era il piccolo terreno di una contadina di Cigole, nel Bresciano, ora c’è un orto di 7.000 metri quadri che produce frutta e verdura per le famiglie che scelgono di essere servite a domicilio a poche ore dal raccolto. Mangiare cibi sani (anche) in una giungla d’asfalto come Milano, la sfida bucolica di Maria Vittoria Resta e Angelica Martinoni, fondatrici di «Ortaie». Un’idea nata dal successo che riscuotevano alle cene di famiglia le verdure di Gabriella Pettinari, oggi guru agricola di due cugine trentenni che hanno optato per un’inversione a «u» nella propria vita. Dal caos frenetico della moda al caos calmo del coltivare la terra. Angelica, dopo quattro anni a New York per Marni e Maria Vittoria che organizzava eventi per «Vogue», hanno iniziato ad arare la terra a gennaio. Ad aprile i primi raccolti, il 4 maggio la prima consegna. Solo frutta di stagione e varietà sempre nuove: «Quando siamo in giro incontriamo contadini che ci danno consigli e ci regalano le piantine dello loro terre», racconta Maria Vittoria.

    Nell’orto di «Ortaie» sono arrivati carciofi del Lazio, fave di Capalbio, peperoncini e i pomodori pugliesi. E, dopo un’estate caldissima, un’invasione di pomodoro finita in conserve sotto vuoto. Le ragazze partono per il campo all’alba e tornano in città al tramonto. Curano l’intera fase della produzione usando solo antiparassitari naturali: concimano, seminano, strappano erbacce e raccolgono. Il martedì è giorno di consegna. Una media di 50 al giorno. «Ormai siamo allenate anche al raccolto negli orari caldi, la cosa più scomoda resta il traffico del centro di Milano», racconta Angelica alla guida del pulmino provvisoriamente affittato (presto ce ne sarà uno aziendale).

    Il cliente sceglie il tipo di abbonamento compilando un modulo (a breve da www.ortaie.it sarà possibile anche ordinare online). In base alle abitudini delle famiglie (ogni volta schedate), le ragazze riempiono le scatole con i prodotti di giornata. Alla sera una pioggia di sms. Delle signore che raccontano ricette o delle mamme incredule per i loro bambini che iniziano a mangiare verdura: «Una nonna ci ha scritto che ha svezzato il nipotino con le nostre zucchine».

    Stefano Landi

    Via corriere.it

    Your Extra Virgin Olive Oil Is Lying to You. It’s Not Its First Time.

    A new study finds that extra virgin olive oil is often anything but. What can you do to get the pure olive oil you’re paying for?

    Ah yes, the California dream. Freeways, blue jeans, Craigslist, iPhones, salad greens, fish tacos. What else could you want? How about pristine extra-virgin olive oil?

    While the Golden State may be better known for the dry and meaty table olives that were first planted by Franciscan missionaries, more and more Californians have been coaxing extra-virgin oils from trees planted in the more than 200 orchards across the state. It’s the only U.S. state to commercially produce olives. And as early as 1891, producers established their condition of success—“a perfect guarantee of purity.”

    California oils are still living up to today’s rubric of purity, “extra virgin”—the marketing term for unheated, unrefined oil with low acidity and superior taste. Well, at least 90 percent of the time they live up to the claim, researchers at the University of California at Davis’s Olive Center found. On the other hand, researchers found that two-thirds of the imported brands they tested failed to meet internationally accepted chemical standards for extra virgin olive oil—for things like chlorophyll and the kinds of organic acids unique to olives. Major brands like Bertolli, Rachael Ray, 365 100 Percent Italian, and Newman’s Own Organic appeared to contain either lesser quality oils or had been damaged from the oil’s natural oxidation process.

    Which means these oils could have been extra virgin at the time of pressing, but by the time they reached store shelves, they didn’t live up to their claims. But as Mort Rosenblum, the author of Olives, told me, “Given the premium put on extra virgin oil, there is pressure to apply the label. I’d not be surprised to see some outrig

    ht fudging.”

    The report ushered in an international pissing contest, whereby the International Olive Oil Council, an intergovernmental organization based in Madrid, called into question the study’s funding, which came in part from California Olive Oil Council, a private trade group. The primary U.S. importer, North American Olive Oil Association, whose members include the Italian producers, also faulted the study for using some scientific methods not recognized by international standards.

    In the United States, because the Food and Drug Administration considers olive oil fraud rare, the agency does not test oils for adulteration and relies on trade groups, according to a piece in The New Yorker. In other words, olive oil producers police themselves. The government treats the “extra virgin” label as a relatively harmless marketing ploy, only pursuing tainted or phony oil when it’s dangerous to our health.

    Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to adopt a new set of labeling standards in October, the rules are voluntary. Paul Vossen, University of California farm advisor, told the Los Angeles Times, “It’s like saying you have to stop at stop signs, but there are no cops at the corner. Standards are a good start, but enforcement is important.” (In the European Union, the same kind of voluntary rules permit oil to be sold as “Italian” even if it contains only trace amounts of actual Italian olive oil.)

    While virginity claims might seem frivolous, the U.S. olive oil market is worth $1.5 billion—and demand is only growing for what’s billed as the safest, healthiest, least damaging oil. Just tune into Rachael Ray to hear her cooing about EVOO (extra virgin olive oil). Where there’s money to be made with valuable food, there will always be adulteration and misleading claims—whether that’s water injected into processed hams or Chinese mushrooms masquerading as truffles. And while people might believe the tiny island city of Modena produces hundreds of thousands of gallons of balsamic vinegar, let’s be serious, a considerable portion of the world’s “balsamic” is wine vinegar with caramel coloring.

    Perhaps this study should simply wake us up to the questionable nature of food purity claims. So much of our olive oil is imported under labels that obfuscate origin, consumers rarely, if ever, can verify the purity of extra virgin oils at the time of pu

    rchase.

    Until better assurances can be made, claims like these should be taken with a healthy pinch of salt. Either that, or consumers should look into more vulgar local cooking alternatives. You can buy lard anywhere.

    Via

    How brands fared in olive oil study by researchers

    A study by researchers from the University of California, Davis, found many of the olive oils lining supermarket shelves in the United States are not the top-grade extra-virgin oils their labels proclaim. It analyzed samples from 19 randomly selected, widely distributed brands purchased from retailers in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento and Los Angeles.

    The Associated Press

    Related

    A study by researchers from the University of California, Davis, found many of the olive oils lining supermarket shelves in the United States are not the top-grade extra-virgin oils their labels proclaim. It analyzed samples from 19 randomly selected, widely distributed brands purchased from retailers in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento and Los Angeles.

    The study found th

    at 69 percent of imported oils and 10 percent of domestic oils sampled did not meet the international standards that define the pure, cold-pressed, olive oils that deserve the extra virgin title. Three samples of each imported oil and two samples of each domestic oil were tested.

    Here’s a look at how the olive oil brands fared in the study:

    IMPORTED OLIVE OILS:

    Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Two out of three samples failed.

    Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Three of three samples failed.

    Pompeian Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Three of three samples failed.

    Colavita E

    xtra Virgin Olive Oil: Two of three samples failed.

    Star Extra Virgin Olive Oil: One of three samples failed.

    Carapelli Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Three of three samples failed.

    Newman’s Own Organics Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Two of three samples failed.

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    Mezzetta Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Three of three samples failed.

    Mazola Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Three of three samples failed.

    Rachael Ray Extra Tasty Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Two of three samples failed.

    Kirkland Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil: All samples passed.

    Great Value 100 percent Extra Virgin Olive Oil: One of three samples failed.

    Safeway Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Two of three samples failed.

    365 Everyday Value 100 percent Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Two of three samples failed.

    DOMESTIC OLIVE OILS:

    Corto Olive Extra Virgin Olive Oil: All samples passed.

    California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil: All samples passed.

    McEvoy Ranch Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil: All samples passed.

    Bariani Olive Oil Extra Virgin Olive Oil: One of two samples failed.

    Lucero (Ascolano) Extra Virgin Olive Oil: All samples passed.

    Via

    Cowpooling

    cowpooling-578

    Share Your Meat with All Your Friends

    Because buying in bulk is always better

    by Tamar Adler

    Adler is the director of the Bay Area Meat CSA and Meatshare.org, which help hungry people buy wholesale meat directly from local farmers.

    Optimizing a whole animal’s value
    by buying all of its cuts isn’t new—a half century ago, it was commonplace to buy a whole cow or pig from a neighbor and work your way through the meat over a course of a few months.

    But cooperating with neighbors to absorb all of that meat in one shot—called “cowpooling,” or meat sharing—is. Groups ranging in size from two to 20 people have begun sharing the burdens and the benefits of buying meat straight off the pasture. The groups contract with farmers for one whole animal, and split it up by the pound. The more people who are sharing an animal, the less meat each takes home: When 20 people buy one cow, each only ends up with 15 to 20 pounds.

    As people become more intent on verifying their food’s sources, we predict they will rely more heavily on alternative buying mechanisms like community-supported agriculture and meat-sharing to create critical links between those who want good food and the people who produce it.

    To connect with neighbors interested in starting a local meat co-op, visit localharvest.org

    Via