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There are five new trends in anti-waste. And their watchword? Reuse.

Lifestyle / -

© Andrew Aitchison InPictures/Corbis.jpg

Among the trends focused on caring for the Planet, there is only self-production. There are five new habits that help to protect the environment and to avoid unnecessary food waste in the refrigerator, in the pantry and at the table. Among the latest findings, where creativity goes hand-in-hand with the latest technological findings, there are also apps for smart phones.

The doggy bag. Restaurant leftovers follow you home
In the US, the doggy bag habit is known to all and loved even by chef Gordon Ramsey, while in China they call it Dabao and it seems to have ancient origins. In Italy, however, taking leftovers home is still considered a bit humiliating, even though things are slowly changing. According to a Coldiretti Survey in the summer of 2014 on this point, only ten per cent of Italians regularly ask to take leftovers home. Research shows that 24 percent of Italians are ashamed to make this request, while 25 percent claims not leaving leftovers when dining out, hinting that they know how to order something from the menu sparingly and intelligently. One thing is certain, the Italian law seems to be on the side of customers who want to take home their doggy bag. A ruling of the Italian Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of a citizen of Friuli who insulted a landlord who refused to hand over the remains of a dinner.
 
Supermarket yes, but on tap
From a Coldiretti report in 2012, 30 percent of Italians buy more food products in bulk than in the past. According to this survey, buying food in bulk is the new frontier of sustainable consumption. More and more retail outlets in Italy and abroad are offering customers food, beverages and detergents on tap as an alternative to the sale of packaged products in traditional packaging. And not just small shops offer this type of product, but also supermarkets belonging to large retailers, which are meeting a growing need among people to buy in a conscious way, with an eye to waste, and attempting to pare down their environmental impact to a minimum. But it is not only an ethical motivation that drives families to purchase products on tap. According to a study of the National Consumers Association in 2011 on bulk detergents, this habit can save households more than 205 euro per year.

Your city does not recycle food? Make compost!
According to the 2014 report on waste conducted by ISPRA (Institute for the Protection and Environmental Protection), 15 percent of the organic waste produced in 2012 by the European Union countries, was used in composting plants while in Italy the management of wet waste through composting, is in constant growth, especially in the north of the country. Families who do not have this service in their municipality of residence, while they’re waiting, can organize themselves to dispose of their waste by creating a compost balcony. Thus good part of domestic waste is turned into humus: for example fruits, vegetables, egg shells, coffee grounds and cut flowers. It is a home fertilizer at no cost to families looking to get on with the elimination of wet waste, until they decide to buy or make themselves a composter. According to Campagna Amica, a Foundation to protect agriculture and the environment and promoted by Coldiretti, building a compost bin is not difficult and produces great environmental benefits. Not only does it eliminate a large amount of organic waste in dumps, but also allows us to have a fertilizer for plants and vegetables that is free of charge and whose origins are known. 
 
Do you want to protect the environment? Get the app
Smart phone technology is at the service of the environment, thanks to a variety of applications all born in creative minds – Italian and foreign – with the aim of reducing food waste. Green egg shopper is an app that the English can try before buying food and helps improve larder management at home. It keeps track of all the products purchased and alerts you if at home there are products coming to maturity. Love food hate waste is another app designed by WRAP, an Anglo-Saxon nonprofit organization. The application, formulated as a game in points, helps reduce food waste. As a first app, Love food hate Waste also aims to increase people's awareness of waste, helping them to change habits, for the good of the Planet. Foodsharing, a German app, was born to share with other people who use the service, excess food, with the same aim as the Italian ratatouille, created by four guys from Treviso.
 
Bakers, bartenders and associations also contribute to the cause
Not only do apps exist for private citizens. Wise up on waste is an application designed to help those working in professional kitchens to track purchases and to identify where and when waste is being in generate in the pantry. Breading, born this year thanks to nine young men from Lombard, is aimed at bakers, bread shops and bars where unsold bread is picked up so that it can be used by charities. Bring the food allows food donors – even spontaneous ones – to publish their donations and to check its route to institutions and individuals, while those who collect, can come to an agreement directly with donors.
 
Recycling gourmet. Celebrity chefs also care about the Planet
The matter of recycling and environmentalism have also touched a nerve among the most celebrated chefs.  Il buono che avanza is a project promoted by “Cena dell’Amicizia Onlus” a Milanese voluntary organization that involves numerous Italian restaurants that care about the issue of food waste. Among the prominent names of professionals participating in the initiative are Davide Oldani and Pietro Leeman, celebrity chefs and ambassadors for Expo Milano 2015. At the restaurants participating in the project, customers are encouraged to take home what they ordered, but weren’t able to eat. Another starred chef careful about food waste is the Marche Cedroni Moreno, who is also an Ambassador of the upcoming Universal Exposition, while the chef Nicola Vizzarri has even created, during the European Week for Waste Reduction, a cooking class called "Cycle and recycling "in the name of respect for the Planet and the clever reuse of leftovers.
 

How Can Bitcoin Help Emancipate Billions And Help Food Security

Innovation / -

Bitcoin sicurezza alimentare articolo

Through the fundamental invention of the Blockchain, we now have a tool that, through the use of planet-wide communications networks and smartphones, can put a Western city-dweller and an Indonesian fisherman on equal footing

Through the fundamental invention of the Blockchain, we now have a tool that, through the use of planet-wide communications networks and smartphones that are available to anybody, can put a Western city-dweller and an Indonesian fisherman on equal footing, to participate in global commerce, maximizing their mutual advantage, and heightening incentives to achieve local and global food security.
 
The fundamental invention of the blockchain
Until little more than five years ago it was not at all sure that a given mathematical problem had a solution: how could you deliver a consistent and reliable piece of information across a network whose nodes are unreliable? Called the Bizantine Generals Problem — based on the supposed presence of traitors at a hypothetical battle whose plans must be communicated to all the attackers — it was a real surprise when a clever solution was put together by a pseudonymous developer who called himself Satoshi Nakamoto. The solution was based on computers participating in a network and solving hard cryptographic problems that were easy to verify, and creating a public decentralized database, that could be consulted by anybody. 
 
The first application of this innovation is Bitcoin, the digital currency that is gaining popularity in various types of payment and financial applications. However there are many other classes of problems that can now be implemented differently than before. The consequence of the Blockchain is that a group of participants can reach a consensus and an agreement without delegating this to a central authority, but achieving it as a result of the working of the network itself. Identity, property, legal and notary functions, financial activities like lending, insurance, international remittance and more are now possible in a very novel manner, that promises to be more flexible and efficient, much less expensive than previously. Most importantly, all these services are going to be accessible to anybody who has a smartphone connected to the Internet, without any license or authorization.
 
Inclusivity and emancipation of billions
There are billions of people in the planet who still live in agricultural societies, and not only do not have access to modern financial services, but they have also no possibility of ever accessing them, due to the increasingly hard to satisfy regulatory environment in which they are provided.
The traditional services of the state of providing identity, property, legal and other forms of organization are very often absent, or poorly organized, and when present, inefficient, corrupted, and skewed to advantage the powerful at the expense of the poor and exploitable.Implementing the financial and state services on the Blockchain promises to make them affordable, accessible, streamlined, transparent and more capable of resisting corruption and inefficiencies.
 
Distributed blockchain enabled food production and trade
In many societies the local farmers know very well what would be needed to make their lives easier, their products more marketable, and the outlook of their families and children brighter. Giving access through Internet connected smartphones to the development of financial and legal tools and support enables those who were previously excluded to participate on equal footing, and to put their own local understanding and wisdom to their advantage, emancipating and empowering them to make the best possible decisions for themselves.
 
The next generation platforms of micro-loans, lending, crowdfunding and equity investing will extend to orders of magnitude more people than it is possible to do now. The possibility of establishing trust networks whose workings can be verified and followed by anybody is going to extend circles of empathy and participation to include categories that previously were excluded and ignored.
 
An easier and more direct path to communication will enable a smoother development of commerce, both locally and globally, where a better information symmetry will empower those who would be previously exploited. Food will follow information and knowledge, security will follow trust, prosperity and wealth will follow connectedness complementing self reliance.
 

10 initiatives to counter food waste

Sustainability / -

Ten initiatives to counter food waste
© decode_imageBroker_Corbis

Food sharing, awareness campaigns, cooking with leftovers. Initiatives are springing up everywhere to counter food waste. Every year there is still much good food being thrown away.

Buy too much food and in the wrong quantities, follow expiry dates on packaging to the letter and you'll waste a lot. According to the FAO every year, 30 percent of the food produced for human consumption is wasted, and according to data from UNEP, the United Nations program for the environment, food thrown out or left to rot equals half of the world’s annual cereal production.
 
There is an increasing number of initiatives involving governments, organizations and businesses, from supermarkets to individual snack bars or restaurants, to avoid wasting food: here is a roundup of just some of the ideas already in place in the world to inspire us, to eat better and not wasteful.
 
From the supermarket to the associations
In Belgium, in the municipalities of Herstal and Namur, a new law requires supermarkets to donate unsold products that are still good to voluntary associations which help those in need.
 
Recirculated food... on a bike
In Lisbon, through the Refood project, hundreds of volunteers are cycling around for restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries, supermarkets and private homes to retrieve leftover food, taking it to associations that provide aid to the poor in the local area. In the district of Nossa Senhora de Fatima there are more than 100 locals participating and more than 300 volunteers; in Telheira there are 200 volunteers and 150 shops signed up.
 
A license to eat!
In Helsinki, in the area of Roihuvuori, there is a strong focus on sharing food in the neighborhood: local residents can bring their excess food or make use of what’s available through the project "Saa syödä" (literally: "license to eat")a project that was developed by private companies and supported by the Ministry of the Environment.
 
Recovery of food and awareness from an early age
In Denmark, the consumer movement Stop Wasting Food continues its fight against food waste with awareness campaigns in schools and through public lectures and seminars. What’s more, with the collaboration of renowned Danish chef the association has created a series of cookbooks, the Leftovers Cookbook, which explains how to reuse leftovers of meals to cook new dishes.
 
What is this food? Ugly but good
In France, supermarket chain Intermarché has launched a campaign called Inglorious fruits and vegetables, which aims to sell vegetables that are aesthetically ugly, but still good: according to European standards, "ugly fruit" has no market appeal and goes straight from the field to landfill even though it’s still perfectly edible. Thanks to this campaign, fruits and vegetables with strange shapes are rehabilitated and helps to sensitize people to the fact that certain products may be ugly but are still cute. In a test bench in the produce section where dedicated packaging emphasizes their goodness, stores in which the campaign was implemented recorded in just a few months, a 24 percent increase in sales.
 
Shopping for bad ... but good fruits
Similar to the French experience Ugly Fruits was born in Germany: a campaign of rehabilitation of aesthetically ugly but nutritionally good fruit launched by three students. Thanks to their initiative a now lumpy lemon, or discolored zucchini or misshapen carrots are on supermarket shelves and tables. The dream of the three students, as reported by Der Spiegel is to see the emergence of "Ugly Fruits" supermarkets, stores that sell only products that are rejected by other chains.
 
Neighborhood refrigerators 
Again in Germany, but in Berlin, sit two refrigerators in the courtyard of an apartment building in the district of Kreuzberg that house food just past or close to its expiry date or leftover or aesthetically ugly fruit and vegetables. These shared fridges are filled by volunteers who deal with surplus collections from businesses, shops and restaurants, but also by ordinary people in the neighborhood.
 
Freaks of nature at the table
Also in Germany in 2012 is Culinary Misfits, a catering company that creates dishes using only ingredients discarded by restaurants and supermarkets because of their unconventional shape or fruits and vegetables with bruises that do not meet the aesthetic and dimensional parameters. Thus they become good and tasty ingredients in dishes that are prepared for parties, receptions and events of all kinds. The idea came from two former German designers Lea Emma Brumasck and Tanja Krakowski, whose initiative, "culinary misfits" has a name that speaks ironically about the aesthetic appearance of fruits and vegetables as “freaks of nature” but also dispels the common belief that food is only good if it's good looking.
 
Treasures in the trash...
Rubies in the Rubble is an example from England and demonstrates how you can avoid wasting food and at the same time address the problems of unemployment and social exclusion. The project aims to bring about a change in the local community by providing employment to people in need and goes against the current culture of excessive waste, using discarded fruits and vegetables to make chutneys and jams.
 
Food sharing is social too
Nick Papadopoulos, tired of throwing unsold products of her family's farm, Bloomfield Organics, launched an online community platform CropMobster. This tool allows farmers, traders, restaurateurs in the San Francisco Bay Area to publish advertisements of surplus food for sale, donation, or business. Messages are immediately sent via the website to various social media, including Facebook and Twitter. Since its launch in March 2013 CropMobster has put $500,000 into the circulation of food, about one million servings for people, food banks, schools and other groups in need.
 
A visit to Expo Milano 2015 will be a way to get to know and appreciate the history of food, to figure out what is going on around the food that we find on our tables every day. Walking through the Pavilions of the Participant Countries will become a path of awareness, which leads us to appreciate and give value to food.
 

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