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Roberto Masi. The Future Factor, a seed worth growing

Economy / -

Twenty contracts from three to five years for twenty farmers under-40. This is the commitment made by McDonald’s Italia at Expo Milano 2015 and signed with the approval of Minister Martina.

It will conclude its experience at Expo Milano 2015 with 1.2 million meals served, for an average price of nine Euros, despite being one of the smallest of the fast food chain’s outlets. This is the commercial result of the McDonald’s restaurant on the Decumano. But inside Expo Milano 2015 the Italian branch of the multinational chain – with 36 fast food outlets in Italy – has recently presented a project with the patronage of the Ministry of Agriculture, namely Fattore Futuro (or Future Factor), which guarantees a supply contract lasting three to five years to 20 farmers under-40 years old.
 
An example worth following
“For us, right from the beginning, Expo Milano 2015 has been a wonderful opportunity for consolidating discussion, relations and relationships”, explains Roberto Masi, CEO McDonald’s Italia to ExpoNet. “We wanted to be part of Expo, we wanted to show the whole world how we operate and offer concrete examples, such as Fattore Futuro, to demonstrate that we don’t just chatter, we sign contracts. This project launches a message to all institutions, which in this case have operated extremely well, because we have succeeded in creating a system involving young business operators, a private multinational company, various associations and a Ministry.”
 

SocialVeg: chef for an hour, minus the meat

Innovation / -

SocialVeg è la scuola di cucina in streaming dedicata a vegetariani e vegani

The start-up Social Streaming offers an on-line vegetarian and vegan experience. You can link up via live streaming and, with the personal guidance of a chef, prepare a gourmet dish that is free of animal protein.

According to Eurispes 2014 data, 4.2 million people in Italy are vegetarians (7.1% of the population). This figure has increased by 15% compared with 2013, when those excluding meat were 3.7 million. According to estimates from AIV (the Association of Italian Vegetarians), the proportion is closer to 10%, and includes 700,000 vegans. Beyond the numbers, what matters is that an increasing proportion of Italians choose not to eat meat (and in some cases even fish, dairy products and eggs). It is an increasingly interesting target market, because it is on the fringes of a population and is generally well-educated, aware, open to experimentation and – most importantly – connected to the network.
 
For this community, the start-up Social Streaming has created a platform that broadcasts cooking classes in live streaming – a unique format in Italy – and in less than an hour helps you make a vegetarian or vegan dish according to a chef’s recipe. Anyone who is interested can log on for free at www.socialveg.it during the transmission (on Tuesday evenings at 20.00) and watch preparations live, talking in real time with the chef Antonio Marchello as he offers personalized tips. "We want to provide an opportunity for comparing ingredients, where to find them – which at times, especially for vegetarian or vegan "newbies" can be difficult – and how to rationalize spending – Rosanna Curi, Co-founder of Social Streaming explains to Exponet – and every week before the lesson, participants consult with the chef on the Facebook page of SocialVeg, exchanging opinions and suggestions."
 
Creating a community
During the live session, participants can communicate via chat in real time with the chef and the other students, asking questions, commenting and suggesting alternative ingredients. Everyone’s contributions help preparation of the dish, giving substance to the philosophy of the social start-up: "This is not mere execution of recipes and techniques mediated by chefs, but the expression of an emotion, an experience and a personal story, that is now also vegetarian or vegan," says the chef Antonio Marchello.
 
 
Prospects also abroad
Social Streaming started in January as a platform for general cooking, and only since May has segmented its offering, establishing a dedicated editorial line. So even the most sophisticated and elaborate vegetarian or vegan recipes can become accessible to everyone, and thanks to digitalization, it opens up opportunities without borders and with significant potential for business growth for Social Streaming. "Estimates are that there are about a billion vegans and vegetarians in the world - says Curi -. In Europe, Germany is the country with the highest concentration of vegetarians (7 million people). According to the British Vegetarian Society in the UK it is around 5%, and at least 2,000 people every week choose to become vegetarian."
 
That is one crowd of cook-spectators not to be ignored.
 

The seeds of the world in safekeeping at Svalbard

Sustainability / -

 
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Svalbard Global Seed Vault
© Jim Richardson/National Geographic Society/Corbis
Svalbard Global Seed Vault
© Jim Richardson/National Geographic Society/Corbis
Svalbard Global Seed Vault
© Mats Forsberg/440.813.23/Corbis
Svalbard Global Seed Vault
© Jim Richardson/National Geographic Society/Corbis
Svalbard Global Seed Vault
© Massimo Brega,/Visuals Unlimited/Corbis
Svalbard Global Seed Vault
© Jim Richardson/National Geographic Society/Corbis
Svalbard Global Seed Vault
© Marsen Hakon Mosvold/epa/Corbis
Svalbard Global Seed Vault
© Paul Nicklen/National Geographic Society/Corbis
Svalbard Global Seed Vault
© Philip Lee Harvey/Corbis

In Norway there is a place where hundreds of thousands of seeds are being safeguarded in case of disaster. But agricultural biodiversity is already in danger because of climate change. 
 
It was renamed the Doomsday Seed Vault, a safe where seeds are kept for Judgment Day. However, the people who wanted it and who are looking after it, disagree with this definition. Created in 2008, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, as it is officially known, aims to preserve the greatest possible variety of seed from every part of the Earth, and to preserve agricultural biodiversity.
 
The deposit is located on the island of Spitsbergenin, the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, about 1,000 kilometers north of mainland Norway to which it belongs politically. Its structure, comprising three rooms that can accommodate up to 1.5 million samples each, is managed by the government in Oslo together with the Global Crop Diversity Trust, a foundation dedicated to increasing food security in the world.
 
Cary Fowler, former executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, had said in an interview at the Atlantic in February 2012, on the occasion of the fourth anniversary since its inauguration, that "the deposit will be used probably sooner than you might think" without leading to a global catastrophe. "We're already losing biodiversity," today and the main cause is climate change. Despite this, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is designed to withstand a millennium and the occurrence of natural or manmade disasters; from the fall of asteroids to a nuclear war.
 
The latest dispatch to the deposit was made in February 2014, on the occasion of its sixth anniversary since its inauguration. 20,000 varieties of seeds from Japan, Brazil, Peru, Mexico and the United States were transported to the nearest village, Longyearbyen, with its population of just over 2,000 people, before being officially checked in.
 
The seeds are pigeonholed in deposits of rock 120 feet deep and are stored in a dry environment, at an average temperature of -18 ° C. The geographical area is remote and is stable from a geological point of view. Permafrost, the permanently frozen soil that is typical of the polar regions, acts as a natural refrigerant, helping the store to maintain a strict and constant temperature, which is essential for preserving the seeds.
 
The need to create such a place is due to several problems that are threatening the agricultural biodiversity of the planet at a time when there is need to increase crop yields when faced by a limited area used for cultivation. It is estimated that from today’s 7 billion or more people living on Earth today, population will grow to 9 billion by 2050.
 
The main threats to agricultural biodiversity are water scarcity, loss of habitat and climate change. And the only move to counter all this is precisely to safeguard this wealth, given that our only resource is to have more solutions for finding the best form of adaptation in a continuously changing environment. And in any case, something quite surprising has already occurred. Out of almost a million samples kept in storage, in Noah's Ark of plant species, nothing has been lost.
 

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