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The fridge of the future will be super cold, magnetic and solar-powered

Innovation / -

PG il frigo del futuro imm
“Save the Food from the fridge”, una proposta molto facile da realizzare di Jihyun Ryou. Contenitori che conservano la freschezza di frutta e verdura prevenendo germinazione, disidratazione e invecchiamento per qualche giorno.

A revolutionary European program and worldwide research to reduce electricity consumption and food waste by using the sun, magnetism and new technologies.

"Doing the shopping, making coffee, chatting with you, killing microbes as well as delivering the weather forecast. And of course, all controlled by your smartphone". This is said to be the fridge of the future. Something that by now is said every year: in September at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) in Berlin, in October at the CEATEC in Tokyo and in January at the CES, the Electronics Consumer Show in Las Vegas where the consumer electronics companies present the home, and more specifically, the fridge, of the future. But then these statements remain simply as that.
One billion refrigerators in the world
These initiatives all have one objective in common, and that is cutting down on the energy consumption that is still very high. And that while the current number of one billion refrigerators running in the world today is only expected to grow. In Europe about 30% of the household energy bill is generated by the refrigerator, while that number is more than double in Asia and in America as there refrigerators use more energy. Moreover, the durability and the quality of food preservation should be improved since this, although better than in the past, still fails to stop the amount of irresponsible waste.
We throw away 30-40% of the food we buy
Every year 30-40% of the food we buy is thrown away because the temperature inside our fridges is not low enough and because consumers make some serious mistakes when storing food. The most advanced program, Frisbee, was born in Europe in 1992 with the introduction of the energy label that has more than halved the consumption of electricity on the European continent. During four years of research, 11 laboratories, 13 companies, 2 associations and 5 countries were involved.
In Europe: super cold and magnetism
Frisbee has studied the route in getting ham, fish, apples and ice cream to the consumer. It discovered that the cause of waste is largely due to the refrigerator temperature being over six degrees, which for 70% of food is too high. Three proposals have been made, the first of which requires the creation of a large super chilling compartment, with temperatures ranging from -2 to -1 degrees. The higher energy consumption is offset by moving a substantial portion of frozen foods to this area from the freezer. The second proposal is to use materials that absorb the cold, retaining it for many hours, and the third, in line with the research carried out by General Electric, is to create cold by using magnetic materials rather than with a compressor as is currently done.
The future is solar
For developing countries suffering from frequent power cuts, there is the solar refrigerator, which uses energy coming from solar panels, as is already being done in Africa thanks to a French innovation. Another fridge, developed by MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is already in operation for two years and cools large quantities of water to keep delicate foods cool when there is no electricity. When the electricity comes back on, the refrigerator resumes, ensuring that foods are kept at the correct temperature. Finally, nothing prevents all these innovations from being monitored by mobile phone, by now ubiquitous throughout the world.

Bread: the food that unites the majority of the world’s civilizations

Culture / -

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Regione autonoma di Xinjiang Uygur, Cina. Donne Kirgiz preparano il tipico pane sottile e circolare.
© Nevada Wier Corbis
Buurhakaba, Somalia. Panettiere prepara il pane.
© Kevin Fleming Corbis
Etiopia. Una donna prepara il pane injera sulla tradizionale piastra lungo la strada principale di Asayta.
© Atlantide Phototravel Corbis
Panetteria ad Haret Jdoudna, Madaba, Giordania, Medio Oriente.
© Chris Parker Design Pics Corbi
Kabul, Afghanistan. Un uomo prepara il Naan in una bancarella.
© Alex Treadway National Geographic Society Corbis
Luxor, Egitto. Preparazione del pane nel villaggio di Abd el Qurna.
© Sandro Vannini Corbis
Mumbai, India, Maharashtra. Panettiere all'opera.
© Tibor Bognar Photononstop Corbis
Israel. Un gruppo di donne Druze preparano pane e dolci per un banchetto nuziale in Galilea.
© Annie Griffiths Belt Corbis
Oman, Al Hamra. Una donna prepara il pane tipico.
© Sergio Pitamitz Corbis
Regione autonoma di Kuqa, Xinjiang Uygur, Cina. Giovane prepara il naan al mercato di Kuqa nel Tarim Basin.
© Lo Mak Redlink Corbis
Sireniki, Russia. Panettiere al lavoro.
© Natalie Fobes_Corbis
Pushkar, India. Ragazza rajasthani prepara il chipattis.
© Ric Ergenbright Corbis
Baku, Azerbaijan. Una donna prepara il pane tradizionale cotto nel tandir.
© Jane Sweeney JAI Corbis

Bread is a popular food in almost all cultures of the world, with an ancient history and ritual uses that go well beyond economics: bread is a symbol, a bond, a value.
There is one food that definitely unites most of the civilizations of the world: bread. Prepared in a thousand different forms for thousands of years, in very different and distant parts of the world, it is a staple of the human diet across many cultures. Cereal products, bread, buns, pizzas, pastas and desserts are the staple of most of the world’s population. The carbohydrates which are rich provide energy and nourishment just to face the day, they also contain proteins, salts and vitamins essential for the proper functioning of the body.
Thousands of bread types
There are thousands of types of bread, all different according to the ingredients used, the techniques of their processing and cooking, forms, contexts of use, and so forth. First we must distinguish between two main types of bread: leavened and unleavened. Unleavened bread can be the outcome of two different causes: the mixture of wheat has no yeast and is shapeless or the bread is made with products that have no gluten, such as corn (Zea mays).
Common shapes
The discovery of yeast was neither simple nor immediate, and it seems that the Romans started eating leavened bread only in the third century BC when, following the conquest of Greece, Macedonians bakers, taken to Rome as slaves, introduced the art of leavened bread making in the capital’s bakeries. Whatever the original state of mother yeast, it has been preserved for thousands of years, thoroughly renewed and made ready to finish the dough by men and women skilled in the art of bread-making. And then there are masses of different shapes of bread – that we know; but then there is a shape that is a little bit common to all cultures that pride themselves in bread-making: it is the circular flat bread, with almost no white dough, thin, and which continues to the present-day to be prepared and baked in wood-fired ovens all over the world. It a type that, intuitively, we know is easy to prepare and even easier to cook.
By the same token, there are many pans and tools used for baking, decorating, and embellishing bread. Bread is never just a functional element of food, but a work of art, where bakers pour out their imagination, creativity and dexterity, while respecting the traditions and standards of preparation; to say nothing of the many types of ovens: the horizontal ovens used in the West; the deep, vertical ovens as used for the famous Indian tandoori; the typically oriental ovens where food cooks in contact with fire or embers; and ovens where fuel is removed and foods cook with the retained heat of the furnace.
Bread is art, work, craftsmanship and tradition on the production side, but also, on the consumer side, a highly symbolic product and a cultural emblem of sociability, sharing and a community’s spirit of communion.
Bread and religions
Bread is often the focal point of complex religious ceremonies – we only have to cast our minds to the Christian Eucharist, in which sharing means belonging to a single ideal, ethical and moral way of life.  In secular festivals the gift of food to guests celebrates the sense of the highest and most disinterested hospitality.  In Mediterranean societies bread was also the main food and many a popular proverb plays on its importance as the fulcrum of the diet. A Sardinian proverb even states: those who have bread will not die of hunger. So let there be bread.

Resilient cities: overcoming the risks of urban societies

Sustainability / -

ida citta resilienti

Since the year 2000, the number of urban dwellers has increased tenfold. In 2025, one in five people will live in the megacities that are already in rapid expansion. To cope with this phenomenon and to prevent the effects of disasters, governments around the world are invited to follow the model of the resilient city.

The United Nations estimates that in 2050, three-quarters of the world population will live in cities. Urban expansion and the increase in birth rates is constantly increasing, especially in developing countries. Nevertheless, local authorities around the world are increasingly sensitive to thwarting the effects of population growth, climate change and food security. The resilient city is a response to the need for a significant improvement of ecological quality, the environment and life within the urban realities.

"Resilience -  as defined by Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation - is the ability of an individual, community, institution or system internal to the city to survive, adapt and develop scenarios in the face of crisis." The list of the most resilient cities compiled by London-based property company Grosvenor was recently published in The Guardian. The three most virtuous cities in terms of vulnerability and adaptive capacity are: Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary (Canada). In contrast is Athens, where the lack of oxygen in the air is due to the absence of trees. Los Angeles is devoid of benefits from solar energy systems despite 300 days of sunshine a year. Bangkok is constantly subject to flooding. In the world, there are a growoing number of projects aimed at reducing risks in the city, and one of them is the Rockefeller Foundation’s  "100 Resilient Cities". In collaboration with local governments, the Foundation is committed to planning and sustainable development of the city in readiness for economic and social damage caused by natural disasters, man-made impact or breakdowns in urban systems.

The most significant operations are addressing scarcity of food resources and malnutrition for 20 percent of urban populations (FAO). Fighting against food insecurity, the attention of local authorities has been focused on resilient cities and the urban-rural balance of systems through the carrying capacity of the land; in other words, the land’s productivity. The campaign "Making Cities Resilient: My City is Getting Ready!"  was launched between 2010 and 2015 by the UNISDR (United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction). As part of an outreach program, it is focused on planning resilience and strengthening local capacities to address social, economic and climate risks in the local territory.

At the Annual Global Forum on Urban Resilience & Adaptation held in Bonn, the plan of resilient cities such as Belo Horizonte (Brazil), Havana (Cuba) and Shanghai (China), was successfully presented. In these cities the formation of urban agriculture programs and the application of innovative systems for sustainable planning are leading to improvements in food security and encourage local agricultural productive capacity. The resilient city is a revolution in urban planning in our century, a conscious and sustainable tool to even out social inequality and economic instability and to help provide food for all countries of the world.

Over a million people are already #FoodConscious. What about you?

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