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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Is Cloned Meat Healthier?

Posted by admin On December - 7 - 2009 2 COMMENTS

The thought of growing meat in a laboratory without animals is quite disturbing to me, as I am sure it is to many of my readers. But more scary is the thought of eating meat cloned from dead humans. Quite possibly you could end up eating meat generated from, ugh, your father and mother and won’t even know it.

Remember Dolly the sheep, the world's first cloned adult animal. The scientists who cloned Dolly are to stop experiments involving genetically modifying pigs for human organ transplants because of concerns that deadly new diseases could be passed on to people.  Photo: PA

Remember Dolly the sheep, the world's first cloned adult animal. The scientists who cloned Dolly are to stop experiments involving genetically modifying pigs for human organ transplants because of concerns that deadly new diseases could be passed on to people. Photo: PA

This brings to mind images of Motel Hell where the owners planted their guests in holes with their heads above ground and fed them minced meat through a funnel jammed down their throats. When the bodies were just right they were dug up and parts sold as smoked ham.

Meat as I know it is reared in your back yard or a farm. Animals chomping on grass or in the case of pigs, feeding on waste food. My grand-parents’ yard were always filled with clucking chickens, quacking ducks, turkeys, goats and at one time cows. It was messy at times, too. When they felt like eating meat they just grabbed a chicken in the yard and you know the rest. At Christmas, they had goat meat reared in the yard, too. They are long deceased but the lifestyle continues, no longer in my family but in many in urban and rural areas in Trinidad, where I was born. One day, however, it will become ancient history. The likes of animals wandering fields, chickens clucking in the yard and even the poor pig will cease to grunt.

Science is taking over. Call it mad science or whatever you wish. But the evidence suggests that we are heading into the world of science fiction where food will be manufactured in a laboratory and not in mills or grown on the land. Perhaps as some believe, meals will be served in tiny pills.

Five cloned piglets, born in Virginia, USA on March 5 2000. The world's first cloned piglets were produced by PPL Therapeutics from an adult sow using a slightly different technique from the one that produced Dolly.  Photo: Matt Gentry, AP/The Roanoke Times

Five cloned piglets, born in Virginia, USA on March 5 2000. The world's first cloned piglets were produced by PPL Therapeutics from an adult sow using a slightly different technique from the one that produced Dolly. Photo: Matt Gentry, AP/The Roanoke Times

It’s not unusual nowadays to see and hear about things that were once considered science fiction and were seen only in the movies.

Bioengineers are growing nerve, heart and other tissues in labs. They recently grew artificial penises from rabbits, has cloned sheep, mule and cat and now meat for daily consumption has joined the list. They have cloned chicken, beef and pork. Even if its only nuggets as scientists claim, it is still cloned meat, engineered in a lab under certain conditions.

In the online edition of the journal Trends in Food Science & Technology, Biomedical engineer Mark Post, of Maastricht University, Netherlands, and his team recently announced that they had found ways to grow tiny nuggets of lab meat. One day they hope to grow steaks in vats as well as other types of meats. They believe meat cultivated in the lab could eliminate contamination, for example, salmonella, and other environmental infections associated with industrial livestock grown on farms.

The team of scientists believe that cloned meat could help meet the rising demand for meat worldwide. Among the advantages they cited are:

  • Avoid  animal suffering by reducing the farming and killing of livestock.
  • Dramatically cut down on food-borne illness such as mad cow disease and salmonella or germs such as swine flu, by monitoring the growth of meat in labs.

    A pair of new-born cloned calves in a cowshed in Ishikawa Japan, on July 5 1998. They were born exactly two years after Dolly, the British sheep that made history by becoming the first clone of an adult animal. They are the second adult-animal clones, and were produced by a similar technique. A spokesman for the Ishikawa prefectural livestock research centre said the new technique would be used to breed better cattle strains with higher-quality beef or greater milk capacity. Photo: AP/Kyodo

    A pair of new-born cloned calves in a cowshed in Ishikawa Japan, on July 5 1998. They were born exactly two years after Dolly, the British sheep that made history by becoming the first clone of an adult animal. They are the second adult-animal clones, and were produced by a similar technique. A spokesman for the Ishikawa prefectural livestock research centre said the new technique would be used to breed better cattle strains with higher-quality beef or greater milk capacity. Photo: AP/Kyodo

  • Livestock takes up 70 percent of all agricultural land, which accounts for 30 percent of the world’s land surface, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations. Labs require less space.
  • Livestock generate 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than all of the vehicles on Earth, the FAO said. Animals are mostly responsible for these gases, reducing livestock numbers could help alleviate global warming.

Post explained that the meat can be grown from satellite cells, the natural muscle stem cells responsible for regeneration and repair in adults, via tissue- engineering techniques, where stem cells are often embedded in synthetic three-dimensional biodegradable matrixes that can present the chemical and physical environments that cells need to develop properly.

It would also involve the electrical stimulation and mechanical stretching of the muscles to exercise them, help them mature and to grow other cells alongside the satellite cells to provide necessary molecular cues.

Thus far, scientists have only grown small nuggets of skeletal muscle, about half the size of a thumbnail, which could be used in sauces or pizzas. If they were to embark on wide scale cultivation they would choose beef, chicken, pork, or fish.

Morbid as it may sound, Post said that cells could be harvested from human cadavers from which to grow the meat. “In principle, we could harvest the meat progenitor cells from fresh human cadavers and grow meat from them. Once taken out of its disease and animalistic, cannibalistic context. You are not killing fellow citizens for it, they are already dead, there is no reason why not.”

He did note that they had a long way to go before they could make a product that was remotely competitive with the meat currently on the market.

Would you eat meat that was cloned in a lab? What about from cells taken from dead people?

FruitBerry’s Y Mas, Healthful Eats

Posted by admin On November - 18 - 2009 ADD COMMENTS

By Susan Gosine

Just like its name, FruitBerry’s y mas, offers more in meals than any ordinary restaurant. Its unique dishes, delightful combinations of fruits and vegetables, meats and fish, are healthful recipes thoughtfully put together with customers’ wellbeing at heart.

Helena Lopez creates her own recipes at FruitBerry's.

Helena Lopez creates her own recipes at FruitBerry's.

FruitBerry’s, a homely little restaurant with a large menu and tons of satisfied customers offers more than just fancy meals. Each dish, made to order, serves up a balanced diet of all the nourishments; proteins, fats, minerals, carbohydrates and vitamins. “Enough to satisfy total gastric volume.”

Described as a restaurant of healthy food, FruitBerry’s located at 91-09 31st Avenue, East Elmhurst, is bordered by an array of small shops. One cannot miss the colourful green and red sign and the huge, black, white and red strawberry picture above the entrance.

Like its menu, its history is unique. Founded by Colombian immigrants, Jose and Helena Lopez, FruitBerry’s was first opened in Colombia, in 1993. And when the husband and wife, decided to migrate to the United States of America, they packed up the business and brought it along.

Jose Fernando Lopez looking for investors for FruitBerry's.

Jose Fernando Lopez looking for investors for FruitBerry's.

They arrived in New York in 2002. Two years later, they opened FruitBerry’s y mas, in one of Queens multi-ethnic communities; East Elmhurst. The restaurant prides itself on its home concoctions. Each dish is a special creation born of Helena’s culinary skills and is prepared with a “fusion of natural fruits, vegetables, grilled meats and healthy dressings.” Helena, who obtained a degree in culinary arts while living in Colombia, trains and supervises her chefs while they prepare the various dishes.

A soft spoken woman, with a pleasant smile and limited English, Helena, is always on hand to serve her customers. She said the idea of a healthy food restaurant was born in Colombia. They did not want to give up the idea so they brought it with them and worked on the concept of reestablishing their business in New York.

When they first introduced the concept, the aim was to create new healthy foods based on high quality products that promoted wellbeing. They have succeeded in making that a reality and are now ready to open up their business to investors. Future projections include selling business franchises.

Jose Fernando Lopez, Miss Colombia 2007 Eileen Roca Torralvo, Helena Lopez and chef Harold Estrada.

Jose Fernando Lopez, Miss Colombia 2007, Eileen Roca Torralvo, Helena Lopez and chef Harold Estrada.

Married for 20 years, Helena says, they hope to have the first franchise open in 2011. For now, however, they are looking for investors and Jose has embarked on a campaign to invite investors into the business. “He walks door to door introducing the concept to potential investors and handing out menus and flyers. It’s a difficult thing, but sometimes you have to go after what you want.”

FruitBerry’s menu is crammed with more than a hundred different types of dishes all with a Colombian flavour. Many of which Helena has created. She also created the unconventional sauces and desserts which keep customers returning again and again.

To the beat of merengue, salsa and bachata, customers dine on many unusual dishes. Christmas decorations are displayed on the walls and ceiling of the little restaurant. Although the downturn in the economy has impacted the daily influx of customers, a steady stream of hungry people with children filed in and out while I spoke to Helena. “Customers come from far as Manhattan to dine here,” she says. “It’s the healthy food that brings them. We have customers from all different cultures dining her, especially, on the vegetarian dishes. We cater for all kinds of customers, and the meals are healthy.”

Dining at FruitBerry's

Dining at FruitBerry's

Unique to the restaurant are: FruitBerry’s assortment of meat and seafood salads, a shrimp Caesar salad, avocado salad, palm salad and a natural fruit salad. Made with their own recipe are the grilled steaks, grilled chicken, fish and shrimp dishes. One size dishes of shrimp and vegetables, fish with vegetables and chicken with vegetables, all served with rice. The sopas or soups are muy delicioso. And there is a flavour for each day. Monday, spinach, pumpkin, chickpea, carrots, an ajiaco soup indigenous to Bogota, and broccoli, respectively.

A favourite among customers is the Make it Yourself Five Fruits Salad. Different from anywhere else, says, Helena. She wanted to give customers a choice of fruits from a wide variety. There’s a spring fruit salad for the less adventurous.

FruitBerry’s also has an interesting combination for smoothies. Also put together by Helena. Paradise made with strawberry, maracuya and banana. Splendour made with maracuya, papaya and banana. The Fall made with apples, grapes and peach. Conquistador made with pineapple, banana and orange. Tropical made with pineapple, papaya and orange. Delight made with blackberry, strawberry and cantaloupe. Yogurt fruit made with strawberry, banana and mango. They also serve home-made ice cream.

The Doctors Came To The Fair

Posted by admin On November - 8 - 2009 5 COMMENTS

The aroma of curried chicken, goat and beef were strong. The dhal puri were in trays to the right. Pholourie and doubles were next to them. The bread sale was at another table. Hand crafted jewelry, books, clothing, bric-a-brac, perfumes, shoes and toys were neatly displayed nearby. And the doctors were seated at a round table, the Hygiene Center, waiting to impart advice to those who needed it.

Dr. Ben Adams, Dr.Leillia Brown and Dr. Damaliah Gibson

Dr. Ben Adams, Psycho-therapist Leillia Brown and Dr. Damaliah Gibson

Everything was in place for the roti and bread sale, free flu shots and medical advice. The Health Fair fund raiser at the auditorium of St. Gregory’s The Great Roman Catholic Church at the Corner of St. Johns Place and Brooklyn Avenue, was past the halfway point when I arrived yesterday.

Organiser Beverley DeSouza explained that it was the second such venture held this year to help raise money for the church. The first, was held in summer, in the church’s car park. She said she was working towards hosting it regularly, perhaps every two weeks.

DeSouza noted that the auditorium was too small to accommodate the number of vendors who wanted to participate in yesterday’s the fund raiser. “We had to turn away vendors today,” she said, adding that, “for the next one we’re hoping to use both levels of the auditorium.”

Though the day started slowly, a steady flow of shoppers came and went during the time I was there. DeSouza pointed to the doctors noting that they were invited to attend the event to give free medical advice for anyone who required it. She said it was part of the planned package offered for the Health Fair, Roti Sale and Flea Market. Although free flu shots were advertised I saw no one receive the injection while I was there.

Getting set for the roti sale at the fund raiser.

Getting ready for the roti sale at the fund raiser.

Dr. Ben G. Adams, clinical psychologist and researcher at Columbia University and Dr. Damaliah Gibson, counseling psychologist of King’s County Hospital sat at the round table which was covered with stacks of printed material on psychiatric illnesses such as anxiety disorders; specific phobias, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, stress management and relaxation techniques. They were there to answer questions on mental health and mental hygiene and to offer advice on how to deal with such a situation should one present itself.

Adams and Gibson explained to me how certain persons could appear to be happy and may still have underlying mental issues. And a relaxed forum such as what they attended yesterday was sometimes an effective way to interact with community members.

Also on hand offering advice was psycho-therapist Leilia Brown. The team said they enjoyed being there to assist in a community event. They would return many times again, if invited, they said.