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Animals Packaged Food Sweets What's New

Ben & Jerry’s Just Made Ice Cream Treats For Dogs

Photo courtesy of Ben & Jerry’s

Normally, ice cream is something we should try to keep away from dogs. Much like many humans, dogs can suffer from lactose intolerance as they get older, meaning they can’t break down the sugars in milk and have stomach problems.

That doesn’t mean dogs can’t enjoy frozen treats with us though, as Ben & Jerry’s just came up with a solution to that problem: frozen doggie desserts.

Photo courtesy of Ben & Jerry’s

Made with a sunflower butter base and no dairy, the new Doggie Desserts collection are sets of frozen treats built specifically for dogs to eat. This doesn’t skimp on the quality, though, as Ben & Jerry’s is using the same ingredients that go into their regular ice cream for these sweets.

Each of the two new flavors is named after a dog in the Ben & Jerry’s headquarters. Rosie’s Batch is a Pumpkin Cookie frozen dessert made with pumpkin puree and mini cookies, while Pontch’s Mix blends together peanut butter and pretzel swirls.

Ben & Jerry’s new doggie treats are being sold in both grocery stores and pet shops nationwide, so you can pick up a pint for both yourself and man’s best friend next time you’re on a grocery run.

Categories
Animals Science Technology

FDA Approves Genetically Altered Pigs Meant To Prevent Meat Allergies From Triggering

Photo: Shutterstock

The FDA has given the green light to the usage of “GalSafe” pigs, a genetically engineered variety that is designed to prevent meat allergies from getting triggered when consuming pork.

GalSafe pigs were developed by biomedical firm Revivicor, who received the first-ever joint approval for their pigs in both food and medical uses. This means that in the future, we could see these pigs both being consumed and used in place of standard pork cells in current medical treatments.

Red meat allergies can be triggered by contracting “Alpha-gal Syndrome,” which is a condition that causes us to react to a specific sugar called “Alpha-gal” that is common in many mammals (excluding humans). These allergic reactions can range from mild to severe.

Alpha-gal Syndrome is believed to be transmitted via the bite of the Lone Star tick, but more research needs to be done to determine the role that the ticks play there.

Photo: Shutterstock

These GalSafe pigs have been genetically engineered to have the Alpha-gal sugar removed, preventing those with Alpha-gal Syndrome from getting an allergic reaction when eating meat from these specific animals. They would also not get these allergic reactions from any medicines developed with cells from these specific pigs.

Revivicor’s safety studies focused on the potential for allergic reactions to occur in medicinal uses of the GalSafe pig cells. The FDA also reviewed the safety of consuming pork from these pigs, and determined they would also be safe to eat, finding that the Alpha-gal sugar was removed across multiple generations of pigs. However, safety of eating was not evaluated for those with Alpha-gal syndrome, meaning that more research needs to be done there before confirming that those with meat allergies can eat the pork with full confidence.

For those concerned about any potential danger of eating genetically engineered foods, it should be noted that there is a global consensus from scientists that such foods are safe to eat.

The FDA also found that the pigs were no more environmentally harmful or at risk of a food safety outbreak than standard pigs. GalSafe pigs have more stringent living conditions than standard pigs, so if anything, they might be getting slightly better care.

While GalSafe pigs have been approved to eat, it may take a while before pork products from these pigs start becoming available for sale. These are just the second-ever genetically engineered animal approved for eating, after AquAdvantage salmon, a product still not available for purchase yet.

When it is available, however, Revivicor has indicated that they intend to sell it by mail order, not through grocery stores.

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Animals Food Policy Science

Pig Guts Literally Flew As Taiwan Politicians Brawled Over American Pork

Photo: canghai76 // Shutterstock

The phrase “when pigs fly” took a whole new meaning in the Taiwanese government, where opposition legislators literally tossed pig guts in the Parliament building during a speech.

According to the Washington Post, the entire fiasco was launched by the Kuomintang, or Chinese Nationalist Party, who brought organs, intestines, and innards into the chamber to toss on the floor in a massive protest. Also on the floor was an American flag and a sign reading “INEDIBLE” in English.

This all came after the ruling Democratic Progressive Party in Taiwan decided to allow U.S. imports of pork containing the controversial additive ractopamine. Although the ruling for such was passed in September, an annual policy address in late November describing the inclusion led to the fracas.

To understand why legislators were making such a big deal over pork, one should know that food policy and health is one of the biggest issues in Taiwan. Such brawls and protests were also more common in the early days of Taiwan’s parliament, and while they can be violent, they are more of an act of showmanship or toughness.

These days, those fights are usually reserved for hot-button issues, of which ractopamine and food policy is definitely one of in Taiwan.

Photo: Studio Molekuul // Shutterstock

Ractopamine is particularly controversial because while China and the EU ban its use in pork and animal feed, it is still allowed by the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for use stateside. The chemical, similar to adrenaline or epinephrine, can be used as a stimulant for weight gain and increases lean muscle mass. In the industry, it’s meant to get pigs to gain weight faster close to slaughter without a need for using as many natural resources.

Controversy around ractopamine stems from potential adverse health effects it can have on humans. The FDA does not allow potentially harmful amounts of ractopamine to be left in pork, but the compound itself is not very well studied in humans. One of the few studies out there conducted had a participant drop out due to a “rapid heart rate,” but the consensus is that if used properly, usage in the livestock industry should not be toxic to humans.

Photo: ArtemSh // Shutterstock

As a food scientist and writer looking at the future of food, it is important to understand that the world has to find ways to make food with a decreasing and limited supply of natural resources. Ractopamine has been a way to do that for USA factory farms, but a more effective long-term solution would come from more sustainable farming practices and changing dietary mindsets to include protein from alternate sources. That way, we don’t have to force a compound with potential for adverse short-term effects into our diets.

The United States has been trying to get China to allow imports of ractopamine-fed pork in the past, but has so far been unsuccessful. China is currently conducting a review on their ban on ractopamine, however.

Getting approval in Taiwan may be inroads to a future pathway to get that to happen, but the furor and controversy stirred in Taiwan’s government may prove to be a deterrent.

Categories
Animals Grocery

New California ‘Beef Directory’ Helps Customers Buy Directly From Ranchers

For those in California looking to support local beef ranchers, especially during the pandemic, farmers’ markets have often been a place to go. It’s a way to feel more connected to our food system, rather than just buying branded steak from the grocery store.

For those that want to take it a step further, or find a rancher in their area to buy meat from, California now has its own “Beef Directory” you can access to do just that.

The “Beef Directory” breaks California into three regions: Northern, Central, and Southern. You can then track ranches in the area, get their contact info, and see what they sell. Many ranches will sell individual cuts of steaks, but often times, you can also purchase a quarter or half share of a cow. A typical cow yields 639 pounds of meat, 38% of which is turned into ground beef, if that helps you calculate how much meat is in each offering.

Right now, over a dozen ranches are listed on the California Beef Directory, with listing spots available for any other ranchers that want to get on the list.

Buying from small-scale ranchers and local beef producers helps local food makers around you continue to thrive, especially during a challenging time like this pandemic. It also can be more sustainable for the planet, as smaller ranches often employ more sustainable methods of raising their livestock.

For those living in other parts of the country or world, local beef directories may exist in your region that provide contact information for ranches, info on what cuts of meat they sell, or both.

Using these beef directories makes finding local beef, whether it be for restaurant or at-home use, a lot easier, and gets the general public more connected to original food sources once again.

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Alcohol Animals Beer

Foster A Dog And Get Free Busch Beer

We’re all spending A LOT more time at home and, as a result, our pets have become an even bigger part of our lives — they’re attending conference calls, workout sessions and happy hours! However, if you don’t have a dog to spend this time with, Busch Beer may have the answer you’re looking for.

There are a lot of dogs in serious need of homes, with animal shelters and rescue centers shutting down operations across the country, and the American beer brand wants to reward you for helping out. Introducing “Foster a Dog, Get Busch,” a new partnership between Busch and Midwest Animal Rescue & Services (MARS) that will reward anyone willing to open up their home with free beer.

Now through April 25, anyone who fosters or adopts a dog through MARS will receive a 3-month supply of Busch beer. Additionally, to kick off the partnership, Busch made a $25,000 contribution to MARS, a shelter that has been dedicated to placing animals in homes across the nation for the past 14 years.

So apply, simply fill out an application by clicking either of the links above (for MARS, mark Busch in the referral) to learn more. All entrants who are approved will receive the gift of Busch.

Busch isn’t the first brand to combine two of our favorite things. In February, Coors Light did a similar promotion for Valentine’s Day.

Categories
Animals Culture Food Trends Food Waste Health News Sustainability What's New

The Wagyu Beef of Lamb Is Here, and It’s Trying to Save the Environment

During the Edo Period in feudal Japan, “mottainai” was a way of life. The word, which roughly translates to “what a waste,” represents the idea that everything has a purpose, even things that didn’t immediately seem useful. For example, when the townspeople’s kimonos had turned drab, they were repurposed as futon pads, diapers, and dusters. Once these had become unusable, they were burned and the ashes were sold for various uses. This general focus on maximizing resources permeates throughout Japan to this day, and the phrase mottainai became a popular motif for a Kenyan environmental movement that reached the UN eventually.

The concept revolves around the commonly used three R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle. But what distinctifies it is an additional, fourth R — respect. Such respect is applied for the Earth, for animals, and for the role they play in our life.

“It’s one of the things I’ve always respected about Japanese culture, that they aren’t so wasteful and that they do value the resources that they have around them,” says Suzannah Moss-Wright, the owner of the Australia-based company Mottainai Lamb, which aims to change the course of the meat industry.

The company, which has been around for four years now, is producing sustainable meat. The first six months of their lambs’ lives are spent on a pasture, grazing on grass. While this is not particularly revolutionary, it’s the finishing weeks where the company makes their mark. Instead of using grain feed to plump up the lamb, as most farms do, Moss-Wright’s company finishes their lamb with a cocktail of unused vegetables. Their finishing feed consists of 80% recycled material from nearby farms: carrots too ugly to sell, carrot tops, carrot pomace, and olive oil sediment. 

And, while this does bring something new to the table, Moss-Wright points out, “One of the big challenges that we face, when we want to innovate, and we want to really disrupt this supply chain and the way food is conventionally produced in this sort of mass commercialized world, is you’ve got to have something that nobody else has.” 

After three years of research and development, they had it. The lamb they produced marbled.

Mottainai Lamb ribs (Photo: Reach Guinto, Foodbeast)

Marbling, a term used to describe the intramuscular fat in a cut of meat’s tendency to look like the white streaks running that run through marble rock, is a sign of quality. The more marbling, the better the meat. Japanese A5 Wagyu beef is famed for its marbling and is considered some of the best in the world. In order to get the A5 distinction, the beef must have an intramuscular fat percentage of above 43.8%. Most regular lamb has an intramuscular fat percentage of a mere 3-5%

Mottainai Lambs have 37%, according to Moss-Wright.

They found that the carrot and olive pomaces, once in the digestive rumen of the sheep, are considered by their body to be partially digested, so it moves through in a third of the time as it normally would. Because of this, the unsaturated fatty acids that cause marbling don’t break down and were absorbed as such.

The result is a prime cut of lamb. Fresh and light, the meat is significantly less gamey than most other lamb. The pungent odor that lamb tends to carry is nowhere to be found. It melts in the mouth, just like A5 Wagyu, very much warranting the $36/lb price point.

This dwarfs the regular pricing of lamb. 

“Great lamb is $12/lb,” chef Jason Quinn of Playground, in Santa Ana, CA, told me for reference. Playground is the only restaurant in California serving Mottainai Lamb.

Mottainai Lamb served as a tartare at Playground in Santa Ana, CA (Photo: Hunter Anderson, Foodbeast)

Not only is the quality to A5 standards, but so is the going rate. This presents a challenge that any growing sustainable meat operation will eventually face. How do you convince people to purchase a premium product that’s made sustainably, when they can get a cut from the feedlot for significantly cheaper?

The problem reflects a question that’s slowly becoming more apparent, one that shifts from lamb and turns toward meat in general: Can we, collectively, change our meat reliant diets? The problem isn’t eating meat, necessarily, it’s how often we eat it.

This small-scale example does not address the climate impacts of meat production. There are certainly better and worse waste to produce meat, but none of them are scalable enough to sustainably meet current demand.” says Jennifer Molidor, sustainability writer and Senior Food Campaigner for the Center of Biological Diversity, an Arizona-based environmentally focused nonprofit.

Places like McDonald’s wouldn’t be able to meet their demand, which is close to 75 hamburgers per second, if they were to try to do it sustainably. Massive, wasteful farms are the only way we can meet this demand. 

Factory farms are immense patches of land where animals are kept in captivity and fed fattening grain and hormones until they’re plump. They’re also where, uncoincidentally, 99% of American’s meat comes from, according to a study done by the Sentience Institute. 

The results of these farms are damning. It’s estimated that livestock production accounts for around 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, those producing animals that use a rumen to digest food, mainly cows and sheep, are even worse for the environment as these animals naturally excrete methane, one of the worst greenhouse gasses for our environment. While this may not be concerning on an animal by animal level, with the amount of these animals being produced, it certainly adds up. It’s estimated that, in western countries, each person needs to cut their intake of nearly every animal product by over 50% in order to prevent any further damage from occurring.

But most people don’t envision the ramifications of their shopping choices when they walk into the store and see pounds of ground meat on the shelf. They only see the finished product. A disconnect has formed. It’s slowly withering away with the introduction of plant-based beef, the rise of vegetarianism/veganism, and the increase in grazing farms, but it’s still very much there–  and Moss-Wright intends to change that.

“[The supply chain]’s not respecting animals, it’s not respecting farmers, it’s not respecting the environment, and we’ve got to turn that around,” she said. 

Seeing this, Moss-Wright decided that the company needed a fifth R, in addition to the aforementioned four R’s of mottainai, to properly describe their mission. Reduce, reuse, recycle, respect, and reconnect. 

To institute this, Mottainai Lamb takes a hands-on approach to their distribution and growth by personally visiting chefs that buy their product with their distributor, Trex. This pushes a platform of transparency between the consumer, the distributor, and the grower, with the intent to shift the culture towards this. 

Unopened racks of Mottainai Lamb ribs along with their authentication (Photo: Reach Guinto, Foodbeast)

“I believe that chefs are ready for that, they’re really looking for that connection now and consumers are wanting that connection,” stated Moss-Wright.

And she’s right, chefs like Jason Quinn are ready for the change, and they’re actively practicing it.

“I preach a lot that, in this restaurant, if you work here, you can’t just be a person that thinks that steak is special and peas are not. Every single ingredient that hits the plate has the ability to be special, to change someone’s mind, to be the highlight of the night. And if you’re ignoring vegetables because they’re on the side for meat dishes, then you’re just wasting a lot of time at this moment,” he declared. 

But, those working in restaurants such as Quinn’s aren’t the people that need convincing. That would be the general population. Information regarding the concerning nature of the meat industry is abundant. It’s still going to be hard to convince an entire population to kick a meat-reliant diet after generations of eating that way. As with most addictions, there’s a dissonance. 

People believe what they see, though. The hope is that if chefs, like Quinn, start serving less meat and more vegetables as their main courses, and pushing transparency in the sourcing of their ingredients, then people would grow used to this and come to expect it everywhere.

Quinn brings up revolutionary Australian restaurant Saint Peter, where Chef John Niland is able to use 90% of each fish that’s consumed. Quinn says Americans wouldn’t be ready for this, and points towards Australia’s older restaurants that were serving out-of-the-box dishes years ago, giving the same culture a curiosity it needs to make Niland’s creations, like a crispy barbot stomach sandwich, a hit.

By applying that logic, and the fifth R, to their mission, Mottainai Lambs hopes to help inspire the needed cultural shift. They’re aware that they can’t do it all at once. It’s a process to tear down such a large system, and inspire others to do the same.

“You know, what we’ve done, in terms of risking everything, investing in R&D, and taking on a food supply chain and really trying to disrupt it and innovate it, it’s not easy to do. But, if I break the wind, then other people can ride my wake,” Moss-Wright points out. “It takes a lot of distance — what was it, 17 nautical miles to turn a ship around? —  so it’s not going to happen overnight. But we’ve got to stop turning this ship because we don’t have a second chance with this.”

Mottainai Lamb’s blueprint is by no means an end-all-be-all solution for sustainable meat production. It’s a needed step in the right direction in an industry that so badly needs to take that step. And, while yes, the meat is utterly prime, it’s the premise of others in the same area of business taking note, and following suit in addressing better sustainability options, that’s truly exciting. 

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#foodbeast Animals Culture Health News Plant-Based Sustainability

Eddie Huang Goes Vegan Amidst Amazon Rainforest Crisis

Photo: May S. Young on Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Incase you’re living under a rock or somewhere off the grid like Tibet, you’ve probably heard that the Amazon rainforest has been on fire for over three weeks. In a time where climate change is a hot button issue, this news should alarm you.  The Amazon is the world’s largest tropical rainforest, covering over 5.5 million square kilometers and producing more than 20% of all oxygen. To give you an idea of how significant 20% is, the Amazon is referred to as our planet’s lungs.  Suffice to say, it plays a major role in the fight against climate change.

There have been a reported 72,843 fires in the rainforest this year, the highest rate since Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) began tracking them in 2013. What’s really crazy about all of this is the fact that news outlets only began reporting on the fire this past Wednesday. Word of the fire set the internet ablaze as news spread throughout social media, with news outlets receiving heavy scrutiny for the three-week coverage delay.  

Photo: Unknown on Pxhere, CC0 1.0

Thankfully, information on how you can help is now reaching the masses. In addition to speaking out, one celebrity is taking it a step further in an effort to show solidarity. Announcing that he is going vegan in response to the environmental crisis, writer, host, chef and restaurateur Eddie Huang had this to say:

“After watching videos of the Amazon on fire this week, I’ve decided that this corned beef I ate at Junior’s last week will be the last piece of beef I ever eat,” he wrote on Instagram. 

As a famed restaurateur and former host of Vice’s HBO show “Huang’s World,” Huang is no stranger to eating meat. He continued, “[I love food] but I don’t love what food tv and more importantly what food has become in our culture: a drug.”

With a newfound beef with beef, he explained further, “I’m going to go vegan because it takes 20 times less land to feed a vegan than a meat eater and over 90% of the land cleared in the amazon rainforest since 1970 is used for grazing livestock, but if all of us just stopped eating BEEF it would solve huge problems.”

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After watching videos of the Amazon on fire this week, Ive decided that this corned beef I ate at Junior’s last week will be the last piece of beef I ever eat. I love beef, I love ox tails, I love Peter Luger’s, I loved growing up in a steak house cutting NY Strip on xanax. It was soothing but beef is fucking us. Actually, we are fucking ourselves on multiple levels and we need to make changes. Im going to go vegan because it takes 20 times less land to feed a vegan than a meat eater and over 90% of the land cleared in the amazon rainforest since 1970 is used for grazing livestock, but if all of us just stopped eating BEEF it would solve huge problems. Eat fish, eat chicken, eat pork until the next crisis but if all u can do now is quit beef, please do it. I know a lot of ass backwards people think vegetarianism or veganism is some uppity white girl thing to do but its not. There have been Asian Buddhist Vegetarians for thousands of years, Ital Rasta, Hindu as well, this is not some new age thing to laugh at. We are getting back to roots, healing the Earth, and ourselves. Ive eaten my last bite of meat. I wish I had planned this better and ate my mom’s ox tail soup but fuck it. There really isnt time to waste. Some things have to start today. I started to get these feelings shooting the last season of Huang’s World and fasted for 5 days because my producer David’s mom said I looked sick. She was right. The 5 days not eating fundamentally changed me and I shot the second half of the season while intermittent fasting. Ive made a lot of food videos because I love food but more than anything because food was fertile ground for exploring difference, but I dont love what food tv and more importantly what food has become in our culture: a drug. I had a really rough 2018- early 2019, got high and just ate myself to sleep watching Harry Potter a lot lol but Im getting back on my shit. Take a moment, think about it, and reexamine your relationship with food because it’ll make the Earth and ourselves very very sick if we keep abusing it.

A post shared by Eddie Huang (@mreddiehuang) on

Whether or not he sticks to his guns and truly switches to vegan, the stance alone is a powerful one. Oftentimes it takes celebrities speaking out to inspire action on a large scale and Huang’s actions are certainly commendable. You definitely don’t need to go vegan in order to help, but everyone should feel inspired to do something. It can be as simple as sharing a post. Let’s hope climate awareness continues to grow as the world comes together to save the Amazon. 

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Animals Restaurants Video

Whole Rabbit Pastrami Is Just One Of The Custom Meats This Butcher Can Create

Old-school butcher shops are sadly a dying breed in the United States. Those that you can still find out there, though, are true masters of meat, taking any animal in front of them and transforming them into tasty, mouthwatering cuts.

Such is the case with Claudiu Giorgioni, the owner and butcher at Goodies in the Pantry in Orange, California. His shop, which is part butchery, part boutique market, has quickly become renowned in the community for all of the custom charcuterie and masterful cuts he puts together. You request it, he’ll make it — including pastrami out of whole animals.

Giorgioni, who is from Romania, makes pastrami out of just about any meat, with one of his signatures being a pork tenderloin wrapped in wild boar belly. One of the most unconventional ones he makes, though, is whole rabbit pastrami. The entire process takes a few days, but what results is a mouthwatering, aromatic meat centerpiece.

The amount of care and attention that goes into each meat Giorgioni crafts is admirable. It’s all in the little details, from growing his own wild garlic to flavor his cure with to his secret spice blend. A whole small animal like a rabbit takes three to four days to cure, and it is then smoked with hickory and cherry wood for three hours. The result is a tender, ambrosial meat with a perfectly dosed punch of smoky flavor.

While you can get the rabbit served whole, Giorgioni can also make a different dishes from it. His butcher shop doubles as a lunch counter with a variety of sandwiches and specialty dishes on offer. Serving it up as a charcuterie board, complete with cheeses and other cured meats he has in store, is a solid choice. So is the rabbit fricassee, which takes various cuts of rabbit and puts them into a creamy stew with bacon and mushrooms.

Finding someone who still breaks down the whole animals, makes their own in-house charcuterie, and will cook it all up for you is hard to come by these days. Giorgioni, however, is keeping that style of artisanship alive with the butcher craft he’s learned, the lunches he serves, and the meat he cures.

You can see more about Goodies in the Pantry, the rabbit pastrami, and Giorgioni himself in the above Foodbeast ‘News Bites’ video.