Eating less meat? Meatless butchers to mushroom burgers can help

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Oyster mushrooms are pictured on a substrate bloc in the "Bunker Comestible" (the "edible bunker") in Strasbourg, eastern France, in this February 21, 2018 photo. (AFP)
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Oyster mushrooms are pictured on a substrate bloc in the "Bunker Comestible" (the "edible bunker") in Strasbourg, eastern France, in this February 21, 2018 photo. (AFP)
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Oyster mushrooms are pictured on a substrate bloc in the "Bunker Comestible" (the "edible bunker") in Strasbourg, eastern France, in this February 21, 2018 photo. (AFP)
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Employee, Raphael Manet checks the growth of Oyster mushrooms in the "Bunker Comestible" (the "edible bunker") in Strasbourg, eastern France, in this February 21, 2018 photo. (AFP)
Updated 05 March 2018
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Eating less meat? Meatless butchers to mushroom burgers can help

ROME: From juicy chicken chunks and sausage rolls to bacon and tuna, Dutch butcher Jaap Korteweg offers it all. But there’s a twist: None of the goods on display at his shop in The Hague are made from meat.
Korteweg, a ninth generation farmer, became a vegetarian out of concerns about animal welfare after millions of pigs were slaughtered to contain swine fever in the Netherlands in 1997.
But he missed the taste and texture of meat so much that he got together with scientists and chefs to create plant substitutes that capture both.
The reason there are relatively few vegetarians in many parts of the world “is not that people want to eat less sustainably, less healthily and don’t care about animal welfare, but because they are hooked on meat,” Korteweg told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Rearing animals is a major driver of climate change — making up nearly 15 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions — and raising meat makes less efficient use of land and water than growing crops, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
While governments and scientists are looking at ways to cut back on emissions from animal farming, many experts say cutting demand for meat — particularly in wealthy countries — is what would make a big difference in combatting climate change.

MUSHROOM BURGER?
Cutting back doesn’t necessarily mean giving up meat, seen as tastier than a plate of vegetables, researchers say.
If all hamburgers eaten in the United States could be made of a blend of 70 percent beef and 30 percent mushrooms, for instance, it would save as many emissions as taking 2.3 million cars off the road, according to research by the World Resources Institute (WRI).
It would also save water equivalent to that used in 2.6 million American homes, and reduce the agricultural land needed to produce the burgers by an area larger than the US state of Maryland, or the size of the nation of Belgium, WRI said.
“Because of the umami taste and extra moisture of mushrooms, you can end up with a better tasting burger — and it’s healthier,” said Daniel Vennard, director of the Better Buying Lab at WRI.
The part-mushroom burgers, pioneered in the United States, where WRI esimates about 10 billion burgers are eaten each year, are now available to buy in supermarkets, and are served in some schools and office canteens as well.
On Monday, the burgers will also launch at SONIC drive-in fast-food chains around the United States. The restaurant said it will roll out the part-mushroom burgers in all of its restaurants.
“It’s beginning to really grow in the United States. It’s getting a lot of industry and consumer traction, and we think it has the opportunity to be a global solution,” said Vennard.
CUT THE LABEL
Eating too much meat has been linked to obesity, heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers, pushing some governments, including China, to encourage people to cut back.
But labelling foods as “vegetarian” or “healthy” can put off shoppers and people in restaurants, some researchers say.
Linda Bacon, a behavioral scientist and former global strategy director at Mars, Inc, has studied how people’s choices in a restaurant depend on where vegetarian dishes are placed on a menu.
She found that when pea risotto and ricotta and spinach ravioli were clustered at the end of the menu under the heading “Vegetarian dishes,” people were 56 percent less likely to order them than if they were listed as the first and last dish on a unified menu — one that also included king prawns, fish and chips, steak, and hamburgers.
“This and other similar research shows that restaurateurs can influence their customers to eat more vegetables and less meat,” she wrote in a blog post. “All they need to do is change the design of the menu.”

SUCCULENT NAMES
Using decadent-sounding descriptions also boosts sales of vegetable dishes, according to researchers at Stanford University.
When the university canteen used labels like “sweet sizzlin’ green beans and crispy shallots,” “zesty ginger-turmeric sweet potatoes” and “rich buttery roasted sweet corn,” they sold significantly more than if the same dishes were given health-promoting labels, or simply called beans or sweet potatoes.
Meanwhile, Korteweg, the Dutch producer of vegetable-based chicken and bacon, now is selling his products across Europe, and in Israel and South Korea.
In Britain and the Netherlands almost all are sold by supermarkets, which are also beginning to use them in ready-made meals and salads.
His first client was a butcher near Rotterdam. “He tasted our products and said, ‘It isn’t necessary for me to use meat. I just want to use tasty products’,” Korteweg said.
The “meats” are made from wheat, beans, peas, soya and other plant-based proteins, which are fed into a machine that helps give them a meat-like texture. Natural flavours are added to create the taste.
“My dream is that in 20 or 30 years’ time we won’t need animals anymore, and we will feed wheat and peas not to animals but to machines that can produce very tasty meat products in a sustainable, healthy and more intelligent way,” he said.


Blankets, bed-sharing common in accidental baby suffocations

In this March 22, 2012 file photo, a doctor demonstrates how an infant can die due to unsafe sleeping practices using a scene re-enactment doll in Norfolk, Va. (AP)
Updated 22 April 2019
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Blankets, bed-sharing common in accidental baby suffocations

  • The authors studied 2011-2014 data from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention registry of deaths in 10 states
  • Young babies can’t easily move away from bedding or a sleeping parent; all of the study deaths were in infants younger than 8 months old

CHICAGO: Accidental suffocation is a leading cause of injury deaths in US infants and common scenarios involve blankets, bed-sharing with parents and other unsafe sleep practices, an analysis of government data found.
These deaths “are entirely preventable. That’s the most important point,” said Dr. Fern Hauck, a co-author and University of Virginia expert in infant deaths.
Among 250 suffocation deaths, roughly 70 percent involved blankets, pillows or other soft bedding that blocked infants’ airways. Half of these soft bedding-related deaths occurred in an adult bed where most babies were sleeping on their stomachs.
Almost 20 percent suffocated when someone in the bed accidentally moved against or on top of them, and about 12 percent died when their faces were wedged against a wall or mattress.
The authors studied 2011-2014 data from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention registry of deaths in 10 states. The results offer a more detailed look at death circumstances than previous studies using vital records, said lead author Alexa Erck Lambert, a CDC researcher.
The authors said anecdotal reports suggest there’s been little change in unsafe sleep practices in more recent years.
“It is very, very distressing that in the US we’re just seeing this resistance, or persistence of these high numbers,” Hauck said.
The study was published Monday in Pediatrics.
For years, the US government and the American Academy of Pediatrics have waged safe-sleep campaigns aimed at preventing accidental infant suffocations and strangulations and sudden infant death syndrome. These include “back to sleep” advice promoting having babies sleep on their backs, which experts believe contributed to a decline in SIDS deaths over nearly 30 years. But bed-sharing has increased, along with bed-related accidental suffocations — from 6 deaths per 100,000 infants in 1999 to 23 per 100,000 in 2015, the researchers note.
Dr. Rachel Moon, a University of Virginia pediatrics professor not involved in the study, said the results are not surprising.
“Every day I talk to parents who have lost babies. They thought they were doing the right thing, and it seems safe and it seems OK, until you lose a baby,” Moon said.
Some studies have found bed-sharing increases breastfeeding and it’s common in some families because of cultural traditions. Others simply can’t afford a crib.
Erika Moulton, a stay-at-home mom in suburban New York, said bed-sharing was the only way her son, Hugo, would sleep as a newborn. Moulton struggled with getting enough sleep herself for months, and while she knew doctors advise against it, bed-sharing seemed like the only option.
Now 14 months old, “he’s still in our bed,” she said. “Trying to transition him out is a little difficult.”
The pediatricians group recommends that infants sleep on firm mattresses in their own cribs or bassinets but in their parents’ room for the first year. A tight-fitting top sheet is the only crib bedding recommended, to avoid suffocation or strangulation.
Young babies can’t easily move away from bedding or a sleeping parent; all of the study deaths were in infants younger than 8 months old.