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Drinks Sustainability

Straw Stars: A Straw Alternative Power Ranking

Last week, Foodbeast’s lead TikTokker/editor-in-chief Elie Ayrouth posted a video of an enormous, 1-pound bag of boba milk tea. Why exactly this product exists, I do not know. But, what I do know is that one of my favorite reactions to the video was a comment that asked him not about the boba, but about the environmental ethics behind his consumption of said gluttonous bag of tea. More specifically, the plastic straw he used was in question. 

Now, I’m all for not using plastic. You’re talking to the person who used to force his coffeeshop coworkers to use glass cups with no straws while at work. But, if you see a bag of boba big enough to give someone a concussion should a fight come its way, and the first thing you think of is how wasteful the straw usage is, you might be on a path towards being overkill. 

Anyways, as the Foodbeast editorial team sat in our meeting room and discussed this comment during our weekly meeting, we started to wonder: what ARE the best straw alternatives? Besides coming to a communal agreement that paper straws would be better off staying a tree, the results were varied. But, after much deliberation, here we have it, a power ranking of straws:

10. Biodegradable Plastic Straws

Photo by: Christopher on Pexels

Ideally, biodegradable plastic straws would be the answer to all our problems, and would make this list irrelevant. But, like anything that sounds too good to be true, it is. These types of straws are only biodegradable in certain, commercial compost facilities, meaning you have to dispose of them in a way that definitely doesn’t include tossing it away with your iced coffee before you enter work, a fate similar to that of most of our straws.

9. Pasta Straws

Photo by: Pixabay on Plexels

Pasta straws are indeed highly functional, but they’re still single use and are ruined after an hour’s time. Pass. 

8. Silicone Straws

Photo by: frank mckenna on Unsplash

Silicone straws are flexible, easy to clean, and heavily reusable. The only problem is most lend a distinct taste to any drink they’re served in. No flavor compliments everything you drink quite like an undertone of rubber, right?

7. Paper Straws

Photo by: Vlad Chețan on Pexels

Personally, I have no qualms with most paper straws. In my experience, most paper straws take over an hour until they start becoming flimsy. But, alas, it seems as if the general consensus is that paper straws become soaked and useless after a couple minutes in liquid and have a weird “lip feel.”

6. Hay Straws

Photo by: Pixabay on Pexels

Surprisingly, straws are named after straw. Like, the stuff in hay bales. More surprisingly, there are companies selling straw straws. From my research, it seems as if they work well, too. The issue is that it’s difficult to produce a consistent product, as each stalk of straw grows to a different diameter. Until these are able to be mass produced, they’ll stay in the middle of the pack (hay bale, if you will).

5. No Straw

Photo by: Daria Shevtsova on Pexels

This would be higher up if it wasn’t for the active lifestyle that most people live. For sitting down at a meal, or kicking it at a coffee shop, no straw is the best straw. But, the moment you have to take a drink to go, choosing to go no straw turns your commute into a perilous mission.

4. Glass Straws

Photo by: Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash

By all means, glass straws work great. Easy to clean, cheap, and essentially acting as an additional part to the glass you’re drinking out of, glass straws are amongst the best straw alternative options. But, while many glass straws are indeed tough, the off chance that a glass straw shatters in your bag, backpack, or drink brings it’s ranking down.

3. Sippy Lid

Photo by: Daria Shevtsova on Pexels

It’s like no straw, but with some protection from the elements. The only issue is that some people don’t feel right drinking things without a straw, apparently. For me, this is not an issue. But, hey, if you absolutely need a straw, who am I to judge?

2. Bamboo Straws

Photo by: Artem Beliaikin on Pexels

Sustainable, economical, smooth on the lips, and resistant to soaking, bamboo straws are about as good as it gets. The only downside is that they do eventually wear out, which brings them down to second on our list. But, on the bright side, it’s a stick. You can properly dispose of these straws by simply tossing it in the dirt. 

1. Stainless Steel Straw

Photo by: Louise Burton on Unsplash

There’s really no downside to stainless steel straws. They’re hard to break, easily cleaned, not too expensive, and some come with silicone tips to give an improved lip feel. If you’re going to use a straw alternative (you should), this is the Foodbeast approved answer.

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 News Technology

Cell-Cultured Meats May Be The Future For Our Furry Friends Too

The cutting-edge research and interest behind cell-cultured meats have been increasing in recent years as consumers have evolved to be more environmentally conscious.

Now, instead of companies racing to develop cell-cultured meats just for human consumption, Bond Pets is trying to bring that same science to our furry friends’ food as well, according to an article by Quartz.

Rich Kelleman, a former advertising executive, launched Bond Pets after noticing the lack of transparency behind the ingredients in pet foods, and facing the ugly truth of most pet foods being made of undeveloped eggs, chicken necks, animal bones and hair, even manure.

By developing cell-cultured meats for pet foods, our pets will be able to eat “clean” meats while leaving a minimal environmental footprint, putting to ease two main concerns that most conscientious pet owners have.

Although this futuristic food, for both humans and pets, is still in its early stages, once it starts taking off, it’s safe to say that it’ll revolutionize the food industry.

“Pet food has always been a quick follower to the human food trends,” said pet-food industry consultant Ryan Yamka. “So it’s not surprising that you see… what I would call the sustainable food movement getting into the pet-food side.”

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Hit-Or-Miss

Hawaii Is Officially The First State To Ban Plastic Bags In Grocery Stores

Plastic-Bags-Hawaii

Hawaii has officially banned plastic bags in grocery stores. The City and County of Honolulu announced Wednesday that it will be enforcing a ban prohibiting the distribution of plastic bags in supermarket checkout lanes, reports the Huffington Post. Because Oahu was the last island in the state to enforce the ban, Hawaii will no longer offer them to customers.

Stores in various counties across the nation have gradually been removing plastic bags from checkout. Instead, they encourage patrons to bring reusable bags for their groceries.

Since plastic isn’t biodegradable, it’s a leading contributor to ocean patches that eventually form into garbage islands. By using a reusable bag, we limit the negative impact plastic bags have on the environment.

 

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Health

New Study Shows That Loud Surroundings Are Making Us Fat

Fat-Noise-Study

If your noisy neighbors weren’t annoying enough, a new study shows they might also make you fat. According a team of Swedish researchers, a study on the effects of metabolism discovered a link between environmental noise and weight gain.

The study observed 5,000 people in Stockholm. Residents near noisy areas like airports, train tracks, or loud blocks, were found to be chubbier than their counterparts living in quieter areas.

Loud noises can lead to lack of sleep and cause prolonged stress. However, the researchers also hypothesized that the environmental noise also increased cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone known to stimulate fat growth.

According to the study, living by traffic will make people 0.21 centimeters thicker. Those living by a railroad were 0.46 centimeters fatter. Those living in an area with planes flying overhead will gain 0.99 centimeters.

While there’s really nothing those who live in metropolitan cities can do about this, it’s something interesting to keep in mind the next time residents are up all night thanks to environmental noise.

 

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Hit-Or-Miss

We’ve Been Discarding Pizza Boxes Incorrectly This Entire Time

Recycled-Pizza-Boxes

So you can’t recycle pizza boxes.

There’s a tiny sense of accomplishment you get after a major pizza party when you’re walking to the recycle bin with a huge stack of boxes. Apparently, that accomplishes nothing for the environment.

According to FOX News, a pizza lover recently set to discover if pizza boxes were really recyclable. Y’know since they’re made of cardboard.

The answer was no.

Darby Hoover of the Natural Resources Defense Council finally explained why you can’t just throw pizza boxes in with the recycling.

Turns out the porous paper used to make the boxes is “particularly susceptible to food and beverage contamination,” the resource specialist explained. This is largely due to all the leftover cheese, grease and oil that ends up stuck to the cardboard.

Food and oil can’t separate from paper when undergoing the pulping process.

However, for anyone who has a high-volume compost, you can chuck a pizza box in with other organic waste. Otherwise, you’re probably saving folks a lot of grief by simply throwing it in the trash can.

 

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss

Chinese City Blames Bacon, Yes, Bacon, for Severe Air Pollution

Bacon-Pollution

Sure, blame the bacon. Chinese municipality Dazhou has been experiencing some pretty severe air pollution, according to the provincial environmental monitoring center. Officials from Dazhou’s environmental protection bureau, however, believe the central cause of this air pollution to be bacon.

Yep, bacon.

They believe that the smoking of bacon by local residents has contributed to the less than spectacular condition of Dazhou’s air. We talk about how much we’d love to live in a world where bacon is constantly cooking, but after a while, we’re guessing it can be overwhelming for folks.

This whole situation kind of reminds us of the Sriracha outrage of 2013.

Zheng Jian, head of Chongquing-based social service agency Bayo NPO Development Center, stated in a report that even if smoking bacon could have a negative impact on air quality, it’s unlikely that impact would be substantial.

Smoked bacon is a much-enjoyed delicacy in Sichuan cuisine.

h/t MarketWatch

Categories
Health

Apparently, 65% of the World Drinks Goat’s Milk Over Cow’s Milk

goat-on-a-cow

Despite America’s countless milk mustaches and the iconic “Milk, it does a body good” campaign, 65 percent of the world drinks goat’s milk over cow’s milk.

It’s worth noting that this worldwide preference for goat’s milk has happened without any high-powered marketing campaigns or celebrity endorsements. The simple reason for goat milk’s popularity seems to be the relative ease with which it’s produced.  One goat, which can produce an average of a gallon and a half of milk a day, more than enough for a single family, takes up less space and needs less feed than a dairy cow. This provides impoverished countries or homes without refrigeration, a cheaper and easier way to consume dairy.

Not only are goats easier to keep than cows, but goat milk is less likely to cause lactose intolerance (because it contains less lactose molecules) and is easier to digest than cow’s milk. It also contains less fat and is naturally homogenized, which means the fresh milk won’t separate, like cow’s milk tends to do.

While redditors are still contesting whether these statistics are true, there’s  little doubt that goat milk consumption is better for  the environment and for both cows and goats alike.  The jury’s still out on which one tastes better, but we bet milk from a happy grass-fed goat tastes pretty darn good.

Think “Got Goat Milk?” should be the new slogan? Let us know in the comments if you’ve ever tried it!

H/T Reddit + PicThx Goats on Things