Food

Honey bees in trouble? Blame farm chemicals, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: July 24, 2013   View Article

Honey bees rented to out pollinate crops from apples to watermelons return to their hives with pollen containing an array of agricultural chemicals that make the insects more vulnerable to infection by a lethal parasite, according to a new study.

While other research has shown certain pesticides, including insecticides known as neonicotinoids and others used to fight parasitic mites, can compromise bee health, the new study shines a light on the impact of sprays used to kill fungi and molds.

Supergrapes could make good wine despite climate change

Publication: NBC News   Date: June 6, 2013   View Article

Experts say “terroir” — the geography, geology and climate of grapes’ native soils — defines the difference between good vintage and bad. But the plants’ sensitivity to their environment also means that climate change presents a massive threat to the industry and that delicate balance. However, new genetic research may stave off those worries, even as the planet warms.

Working with Corvina grapes, a team of Italian geneticists identified genes that help protect the fruit from the vagaries of the weather and could serve as a platform “for breeding new cultivars with improved adaptation to the environment,” the team reports Friday in the journal Genome Biology.

Country’s largest brewery goes landfill free

Publication: NBC News   Date: June 27, 2013   View Article

Back in 1873, Rocky Mountain spring water put the Coors brewery in Golden, Colo., on the map for lovers of beer. Now, lovers of all things green will mark the facility as well: This week, the largest brewery in the country moved to landfill-free status.

The accomplishment, announced Monday, means that the 135 tons of waste the brewery generates each month is now recycled or reused. Spent grains, for example, are fed to livestock, while all paper, glass and pallets are recycled.

They’re alive! Harvested fruits and veggies respond to light cycles, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: June 20, 2013   View Article

The fruits and vegetables lining grocery store shelves respond to light signals, according to a new finding that may have profound implications for how food is stored, when it is eaten and, ultimately, human health.

While biologists knew that certain cells in harvested crops keep living after they are picked from a tree, plucked from a vine, or pulled from the ground, the responsiveness of fruits and veggies to the daily cycle of light and dark is a surprise, said study co-author Janet Braam from Rice University.

“The idea that postharvest you could keep circadian rhythms going is new,” the cell biologist told NBC News. “And that it would have a consequence for the accumulation of certain types of metabolites, some of which may have relevance to human health” is also new.

Want to save the planet? Ditch meat, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: June 19, 2013   View Article

A shift to plant-based diets is one strategy to help the world meet its food demands by the year 2050, according to a new study that says crop yields are improving too slowly to satisfy meat-eaters’ appetites.

“That is a very optimistic part” of the paper, lead author Deepak Ray, with the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, told NBC News.

How do oysters spell climate change relief? A-N-T-A-C-I-D

Publication: NBC News   Date: June 12, 2013   View Article

Oyster hatcheries are dropping the equivalent of Tums and other antacids into water to make it easier for naked mollusk larvae to build their shells. The remedy is working, for now, to keep hatcheries in business and oyster bars well stocked with the slimy delicacies, a hatchery scientist said.

Heartburn for the shellfish industry comes from ocean waters turning ever more corrosive as they absorb a fraction of the carbon dioxide humans are pumping into the atmosphere. The acidification, in turn, makes it harder for oyster larvae to build their shells.

The hatcheries’ antacid, sodium carbonate, makes the water less acidic and “raises the amount of carbonate in the water, which is what the shellfish are using,” Benoit Eudeline, the chief hatchery scientist at Taylor Shellfish Company in Quilcene, Wash., told NBC News.

Moldy strawberries? Not for 9 days with UV LEDs

Publication: NBC News   Date: June 4, 2013   View Article

Strawberries are a treat to treasure, but if stashed in the fridge for a handful of days, they’re likely to grow an undesirable goatee of mold. Those days may be numbered, according to researchers who’ve shown that exposing the red fruit to low levels of ultraviolet light doubles their shelf life.

The proof-of-concept results stem from a challenge given by an undisclosed refrigerator manufacturer to the maker of new light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that emit ultraviolet (UV) light at wavelengths found in sunlight transmitted through the atmosphere.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach