Business, Food

Vegemite bought by Bega from US food giant Mondelez International

Vegemite is set to return to Australian ownership after dairy company Bega announced it would buy most of Mondelez International’s Australia and New Zealand grocery and cheese business.

Bega, in a note to the Australian Stock Exchange, said it would use bank debt to fund the $460 million acquisition.

The deal does not include Philadelphia products but will see Australian ownership of Kraft-branded products, including peanut butter, cheeses and mayonnaise — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Food

Ribbon Candy / Lofty Pursuits

Public displays of Confection use a very old ribbon candy machine to finally make some nice ribbon candy just before Christmas 2016. This batch was cherry, but they’ve made tutti frutti, and peppermint too. Lofty Pursuits makes candy on equipment made from the late 1800’s until the modern day. They concentrate on finding and restoring old candy equipment and re-learning the dying art of hard candy making — via Youtube

Food, Technology

Sundrop Farms pioneering solar-powered greenhouse to grow food without fresh water

A groundbreaking greenhouse that relies on sunlight and seawater to grow tomatoes officially opens next week, 300 kilometres north of Adelaide.

The company Sundrop Farms spent several years developing the idea at a pilot plant on the outskirts of Port Augusta, before building a commercial facility that is 100 times larger.

This is a very special project, head grower Adrian Simkins said.

The 20-hectare futuristic-looking facility includes a field of more than 23,000 mirrors that capture the sunlight and direct it to a central receiver at the top of a 127-metre power tower.

At its peak it produces 39 megawatts of thermal energy, which is used for electricity, heating and making water.

All the water used for irrigating the crops is piped from the Spencer Gulf and converted into fresh water using a thermal desalination unit.

Mr Simkins has spent more than two decades running tomato greenhouses in Europe and North America and says the desalinated water is first-class.

It’s almost the perfect water, he said.

You’re taking all the salt out of it, there’s no disease aspects, it’s very pure and then we’re able to enhance it with the nutrition that the plants require — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Food

Pounding Mochi with the Fastest Mochi Maker in Japan / Great Big Story

Mitsuo Nakatani is a mochi master, and to watch him do his work is a genuine thrill. Turning sticky rice into Japan’s traditional soft and chewy treat requires pounding, flipping and smashing the glutinous rice at high speeds in perfect coordination with a team. While visitors come to Nakatani’s mochi shop to taste the best, they stay to watch him make it — via Youtube

Food, Wildlife

Honey Fences

Edible Geography readers have perhaps heard of pollinator pathways, an initiative to thread together isolated pockets of green space into nectar-filled corridors, in order to give butterflies and bees easier passage across otherwise unfriendly urban expanses of concrete and asphalt. A recent article in British Airways’ High Life magazine about efforts to save Kenya’s last remaining elephants introduced me to an interesting twist on the concept of bee-based landscape design: honey fences.

Although the main threat to the elephants’ survival is ivory-market driven poaching, a significant number are also killed each year following altercations with local villagers. As Angela Carr-Hartley, director of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, politely put it, These communities have mixed feelings about an elephant coming into their smallholdings overnight, as they can wreak havoc eating the crops.

Zoologist Lucy King came up with the honey fence solution, which takes advantage of the fact that elephants are terrified by the sound of bees. (The delicate skin inside their trunks is apparently particularly vulnerable to being stung.) King had read that elephants tend to avoid acacia trees, usually a favourite food, if bees have built a hive in the branches. Based on that initial insight, and after several years of behavioral experiments, including playing elephants the sound of disturbed bees from a hidden loudspeaker and filming their reaction, King developed the honey fence system: a series of hives, suspended at ten-metre intervals from a single wire threaded around wooden fence posts. If an elephant touches either a hive or the wire, all the bees along the fence line feel the disturbance and swarm out of their hives in an angry, buzzing cloud — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Food

Cooking on Konapun / AAAjoken

The Japanese toy line Konapun includes scale model kitchens that people can use to make food. In the past, the food has been fake. But the company also manufactures a stove so realistic that you can cook a proper, albeit very small, meal on it.

In this video, YouTube member AAAjoken prepares scrambled eggs, sausage, and coffee using Konapun utensils and a stove. He serves them on two plates and cups on a tiny kotatsu — via Youtube

Entertainment, Food, Wildlife

Cthulhumas Cookies 2014 / Maika Keuben

It goes without saying that I’ve tried these cookies myself, which was both reckless and prudent because I learned that I needed to include a warning with the boxes I’ve been sending to people. While eating them, one sometimes hears ancient voices speaking in alien tongues and notices cats, birds and/or trees casting multiple shadows. However these are merely signs of a strictly temporary lunacy that does eventually pass. All essential rites were observed and incantations uttered by me throughout the preparation process. And what’s a little madness and abject terror if it means I’m able to put a smile (however demented) on the face of a friend? Cthulhu fhtagn — Imgur

Food, Science

Snake oil Superfoods? / Information Is Beautiful

The team at Information is Beautiful have visualised the scientific evidence — or lack thereof — behind what they dub Snake Oil Superfoods, breaking down hard data in an infinitely clickable format. Each of the coloured bubbles on the page corresponds to a specific food, but also a specific claim; so, some edibles make multiple appearances on way opposite ends of the spectrum — via Gizmodo

Crowdfunded cups and straws quickly detect invisible date rape drugs

The odorless and tasteless nature of date rape drugs can make them impossible for victims to detect before it’s too late. But soon your drinking glass may able to warn you if dangerous chemicals have been slipped into your cocktail. Next month, DrinkSavvy will begin shipping plastic cups and straws that change colour if a drink contains GHB, Rohypnol or Ketamine, three drugs commonly used for spiking purposes. The effort began with a successful $50,000 Indiegogo campaign led by company founder Michael Abramson — who himself was once unknowingly “roofied” during a night out with friend — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Watermelon Swiss Roll / Hankerie

Watermelon Swiss Roll / Hankerie

Watermelon Swiss Roll / Hankerie

Hankerie came out of this idea — watermelon swiss roll. I will name it as cakemelon. This creative idea inspired from the Australia Melon that I’ve seen in supermarket here. Most of the Australia watermelon melon are more pinkish, but surprisingly they’re sweeter than what we have in Malaysia — red flesh watermelon — via Hankerie

Japan Suspends Some Imports of US Wheat

Japan has suspended some imports of wheat from the United States after genetically engineered wheat was found on an Oregon farm.

The Agriculture Department announced the discovery on Wednesday. No genetically engineered wheat has been approved for American farming.

Japan is one of the largest export markets for American wheat growers. Katsuhiro Saka, a counsellor at the Japanese Embassy in Washington, said Thursday that Japan had cancelled orders of western white wheat from the Pacific Northwest and also of some feed-grade wheat.

In most countries the unapproved genetically modified wheat would be a target of concern, Mr Saka said. The Japanese people have similar kinds of concerns.

In addition, the European Union said it would test incoming American shipments and block any containing genetically modified wheat — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Soylent Corporation prepares to defeat food

Credulous geeks have poured over $130,000 into a fantastic food replacement named Soylent, a substance whose creators aim to free your body from the need to eat solids ever again.

The ludicrously ambitious and suspiciously under-skilled Soylent Corporation announced its crowdfunding campaign on Tuesday and within hours had apparently taken in over a hundred thousand dollars worth of pre-orders for its magical default meal gunge.

Soylent’s inventor Rob Rhinehart claims in a promotional video for the nutrient goo that he’s been living off of Soylent for the past three months and has never been healthier.

The company hopes that its green beige slop will help spark a food revolution that will see people eat non-gloopy food for pleasure rather than need — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Chilli bucket emptied over alleged takeaway robber

A man has been left red-faced after being doused with chilli while allegedly trying to rob a takeaway in Sydney’s south.

Police say the 24-year-old man had a bucket of chilli poured over his head when a female employee tried to stop him stealing money from the till at Rosebery last night.

Officers found the man lying on the floor suffering burns to his face — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Why Your Supermarket Only Sells Five Kinds of Apples

In the mid-1800s, there were thousands of unique varieties of apples in the United States, some of the most astounding diversity ever developed in a food crop. Then industrial agriculture crushed that world. The apple industry settled on a handful of varieties to promote worldwide, and the rest were forgotten. They became commercially extinct — but not quite biologically extinct.

Even when abandoned, an apple tree can live more than 200 years, and, like the Giving Tree in Shel Silverstein’s book, it will wait patiently for the boy to return. There is a bent old Black Oxford tree in Hallowell, Maine, that is approximately two centuries old and still gives a crop of midnight-purple apples each fall. In places like northern New England, the Appalachian Mountains, and Johnny Appleseed’s beloved Ohio River Valley — agricultural byways that have escaped the bulldozer — these centenarians hang on, flickering on the edge of existence, their identity often a mystery to the present home owners. And John Bunker is determined to save as many as he can before they, and he, are gone — via redwolf.newsvine.com

On Campus, Costly Target of Brazen Thefts: Nutella

People take silverware, cups and plates, and that adds up over the course of a year to a lot of money, he said. With Nutella, it added up much more quickly. Where Dining might have to spend $50,000 to replace silverware and cups, they were spending thousands of dollars on Nutella in one week.

Ms Dunn told me it was close to $5,000 in that first week, he said. As for the amount of Nutella that Columbia students were consuming, or at least loading up on and walking away with, he said, I was told it was more than 100 pounds per day.

How much more? That was all I got, he said.

Before hanging up on a reporter who called on Wednesday, Ms Dunn said: I’m not allowed to comment on anything. You have to go through university communications.

A spokeswoman declined to comment on the Nutella situation at Columbia. She said that numbers quoted in The Columbia Daily Spectator — and repeated by Mr Bailinson in a telephone interview on Wednesday — were speculative and inaccurate and that the cost figures were roughly 10 times greater than the actual figures.

Nutella is widely available on school campuses, though precise figures could not be obtained. It was also unclear whether Nutella hoarding had become a financial concern on other campuses — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Refrigerate Cookie Dough for Tastier Cookies with Better Texture

If you’re planning on baking some holiday cookies, you might want to get a head start a little earlier. Refrigerating the dough ahead of time not only makes it easier to bake whenever you get a chance to, it also improves the cookies.

Many cookie recipes suggest you refrigerate for a short time before baking, but Kathleen Purvis’ research for The Telegraph has found that refrigerating for more than a day can give the dough more time for the flavours to develop:

The difference starts with the liquid in the egg, which hydrates the starch in flour. Giving the flour more time to absorb that liquid makes the dough firmer, but it also lets enzymes in the flour and the egg yolk break down carbohydrates into the simple sugars fructose and glucose. Separately, they taste sweeter and they caramelize faster when baked.

— via Lifehacker

First commercial vertical farm opens in Singapore

Singapore now has its first commercial vertical farm, which means more local options for vegetables.

The technique uses aluminium towers that are as tall as nine metres, and vegetables are grown in troughs at multiple levels.

The technique utilises space better — an advantage for land-scarce Singapore.

Sky Greens farm first started working on the prototype in 2009, and has opened a 3.65-hectare farm in Lim Chu Kang.

It produces three types of vegetables which are currently available only at FairPrice Finest supermarkets.

They cost 10 to 20 cents more than vegetables from other sources.

Despite the higher prices, the greens have been flying off supermarket shelves — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Tuna worker accidentally cooked to death

A worker at a Bumble Bee Foods factory in Santa Fe Springs, California, died in industrial oven accident this week, NBC News reported.

Safety officials said Jose Melena, 62, was accidentally cooked in a steamer machine at the seafood canning company’s plant, NBC News reported. Police pronounced him dead at the scene at 7.00am Thursday.

California Division of Occupational Safety and Health spokeswoman Erika Monterroza said it was unclear how Melena ended up inside the oven, the Contra Costa Times reported. Cal-OSHA has launched an investigation into the accident which it plans to complete in six months, she added.

If it turns out that the factory did violate state health and safety regulations, Bumble Bee Foods will face civil penalties, Monterroza said, according to the Contra Costa Times. In addition, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office could decide to indict the company on criminal charges — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Lunch lady slammed for food that is too good

A talented head cook at a school in central Sweden has been told to stop baking fresh bread and to cut back on her wide-ranging veggie buffets because it was unfair that students at other schools didn’t have access to the unusually tasty offerings.

Annika Eriksson, a lunch lady at school in Falun, was told that her cooking is just too good.

Pupils at the school have become accustomed to feasting on newly baked bread and an assortment of 15 vegetables at lunchtime, but now the good times are over.

The municipality has ordered Eriksson to bring it down a notch since other schools do not receive the same calibre of food — and that is unfair.

Moreover, the food on offer at the school doesn’t comply with the directives of a local healthy diet scheme which was initiated in 2011, according to the municipality — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Soapy taste of coriander linked to genetic variants

Julia Child loathed the stuff, one in six Nature staff (informally surveyed) says it tastes of soap, and a popular website collects haiku poems denouncing it. Now, researchers are beginning to identify genetic variants behind the mixed reception for the herb Coriandrum sativum, which North American cooks know as cilantro, and their British counterparts call coriander.

A genetic survey of nearly 30,000 people posted to the preprint server arXiv.org this week has identified two genetic variants linked to perception of coriander, the most common of which is in a gene involved in sensing smells1. Two unpublished studies also link several other variants in genes involved in taste and smell to the preference23 — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Malawi school kitchen to be named in honour of school meal blogger Martha

A school kitchen being built in Malawi is to be named in honour of a nine-year-old blogger who has raised £85,000 for charity.

Martha Payne started the NeverSeconds blog six weeks ago, posting daily pictures of, and opinions about, her school lunches.

The blog has received 6m views and won the support of celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Nick Nairn.

On Friday Martha was told by Argyll and Bute council to stop taking photos for her blog as media coverage had apparently left catering staff fearing for their jobs. But the council reversed its decision after a barrage of negative publicity in the media and on social networking sites.

The ban led to thousands of donations flooding in to Martha’s JustGiving site, which she had set up to raise money for Mary’s Meals. The charity runs school feeding projects in communities around the world where poverty and hunger prevent children from gaining an education.

Martha’s fundraising total rocketed from £3,000 to almost £85,000 in just four days. It means a kitchen will be built at Lirangwe primary school in Blantyre, Malawi, and all 1,963 of the pupils will be fed for a whole year, as part of the charity’s Sponsor a School initiative.

Martha has chosen to name the kitchen Friends of NeverSeconds, in recognition of the worldwide support she has received — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Nine-year-old critic Martha wins food fight with council

A nine-year-old blogger has won a food fight with authorities in her Scottish town, after an online outcry prompted officials to lift a ban on posting photos of her school lunches.

Martha Payne’s images of uninspiring school meals — one consisted of two croquettes, a plain cheeseburger, three slices of cucumber and a lollipop — drew international attention. The blog, set up about six weeks ago as a writing project and to help raise money for a school-meals charity, has drawn more than two million hits — via redwolf.newsvine.com