Long gone are the days of knowing exactly what you’re going to eat at every weddingyou attend. Everyone from trend forecasters to planners to caterers agree the formulaic-ness of cocktail hours, dinners, and other wedding eats are behind us. Instead, 2019 will show us interactive drink stations, hyper-personalized favors, and late night food so good and greasy you’ll feel like you’re a freshman in college again. But, you know, one who dresses way better now.

“We’re actually seeing a lot of what we call ‘gifting suites.’ Instead of leaving your guests something to welcome them to their room, you invite them to a hotel room and have a whole swag suite set up there, kind of like you’d expect if you’re a celebrity going to an awards show. You have everything laid out, they can choose what to stuff their bag with, and you get to have this mini-meet-and-greet.” –Alyssa Longobucco, Style & Trends Editor, The Knot

“Another popular choice this year is to give guests gift certificates to local spots with a welcome letter. Here in New Orleans, [gift cards to] beignet trucks are always a top pick! Guests often forget their gift bags or leave them at the reception, so this ensures that they’re putting their favors to good use while they’re visiting.” –Emily Sullivan, Owner, Planner, Emily Sullivan Events

“[We’ve been doing] a lot of brownies with personalized stickers.” –Cynthia Jordan, Executive Pastry Chef, Baked NYC

Couples are now working with the culinary team to essentially tell a story with their selections. If their first date was sushi, then perhaps their favorite rolls are being passed out. Some selections may be a nod to favorite destinations they’ve visited or pay homage to the region where they decided to marry.” –Kylie Carlson, Owner, International Academy of Wedding & Event Planning

There’s a move to more activity-centered, Instagrammable [cocktail hour] stations. We recently created an ‘action’ station with one of our chefs hand-carving Iberico ham to serve with crostini.” –Heather Jones, Catering Sales Director, Wente Vineyards

Grazing tables [remain] a popular choice, especially among couples who opt for a more relaxed, casual vibe. Smaller snacks combined with choice cocktails or mocktails allow for more mingling between guests.” –Trip Wheeler, President, SB Value

“This year will see a lot of CBD-infused cocktails, which is quirky and obviously for a certain subset of the population.” –Alyssa Longobucco

“Interaction is big this year. Instead of simply being handed a crafted cocktail, guests will get in on the fun. Expect to see stations equipped with flavored syrups, fruits, edible flowers, and herbs for guests to add to the base of the cocktail themselves.” –Kylie Carlson

Signature cocktails will forever be popular at this point, and they’re almost expected as an easy way to personalize your day. You can do it as simple as giving it a name that speaks to you, or you can get a little crazier. I worked on a wedding where the couple met on Bumble, so they named their drink The Bumble. It had honey in it, and they had these wood stirrers that had bees on them.” –Alyssa Longobucco

“As a venue and caterer we’re always looking for ways to stay eco-friendly, [and wedding drinks are a good place to start with] more straw-less or alternative options such as paper straws and bamboo stir sticks instead of plastic.” –Heather Jones

Rectangular market tables are popular, but they’re being combined with round tables to create different textures, shapes, and dimensions. Wooden market tables look great as a juxtaposition to textured linens or velvet for the round tables! We’ve also noticed a trend in long head tables for the wedding party and parents.” –Heather Jones

Picnic-style seating with the bride and groom is particularly on-trend, and we’ve seen it go a step further with a passed-plate serving style. This removes any isolation of the couple and eliminates the need for a sweetheart table altogether.” –Trip Wheeler

“There is an uptick in couples wanting food to serve the dual purposes of being both decor and edible. Consider a champagne tree greeting guests as they enter cocktail hour or placing food on walls or tall bookshelves for your guests to admire andeat.” –Kylie Carlson

With intimate weddings on the rise, couples are developing tasting menus for their guests featuring 6-7 smaller courses. This is an especially great and popular choice right now for food-loving couples who may not have a big dancing crowd.” -Kylie Carlson

Dinner is the biggest place where we’ve seen the loosening of the ties. It used to be very formal and very regimented. [Now, we’ve been seeing things like] a roaming dinner, which is essentially an extended cocktail hour. It’s having no sit down dinner at all. Instead, you have little lounge areas set up with some high-top tables people can put their plates at, but it’s really all about tons of passed appetizers that get heavier as the night goes on.” –Alyssa Longobucco

Guests want to know the exact food origin and backstory. This year, we’ll see unique food stations with a more personalized sourcing story, like pasta with mushrooms that were foraged locally by the chef himself, [for example].” –Trip Wheeler

We’re seeing a sudden spike in requests for [ombre cakes], cakes with a lot of colors speckled onto a classic white cake. I’ve especially gotten a lot of requests for different shades of blues lately. What we’re not seeing is orders for fondant bands on the base of the tiers of cake, [which was very popular at the beginning of last year]. I’ve not seen one yet this year. The fondant stuff is fading out.” –Betty Wu, Head Decorator, Baked NYC Tribeca

“We will see fewer ‘naked’ cakes with a move toward a more sophisticated style of smooth buttercream and fondant. If we do see a ‘naked’ cake, it’ll be much more polished-looking with touches of metallics or strategically placed blooms.” -Kylie Carlson

“A Belgian waffle stack, or a pancake stack is [a fun cake alternative right now]. We’re seeing a lot of cinnamon bun cakes and a lot of donut cakes—I don’t think the wedding donut wall or donut cakes are going anywhere anytime soon.” –Alyssa Longobucco

Healthier options for the wedding day menu are still big, so this will inevitably trickle down to late-night snacks. Expect to see acai bowl stations, vegetarian stir fry in miniature takeout containers, and large grazing tables pairing cheeses with fresh fruit.” –Trip Wheeler

Coffee bars are also a rising trend if the party will go on into the night. Think about this—are you sending people home or getting them ready for round two? If the party is going late, think in terms of more substantial snacks!” –Emily Sullivan

All The Wedding Food Trends You’ll Be Seeing Everywhere In 2019 [Delish]

The world has a food waste problem and technologists are coming up with all kinds of ways to solve it. A pair of entrepreneurs from the Netherlands, Elzelinde van Doleweerd and Vita Broeken, have an approach that’s more unusual than most: They want to give old food a new lease of life (or, at least, a new shelf life) by turning into a material which can be used for 3D printing new food.

“With Upprinting Food, we are creating an attractive food experience from food which otherwise would have been thrown away,” the co-founders told Digital Trends in an email. “We use, for example, old bread, in combination with fruits and vegetables. We create a printable puree from those residual food flows and print it in nice shapes to make it look attractive again. After printing, we bake it and dehydrate it to create a crunchy structure [with a] long shelf life. The food can be implemented very nicely in dishes, and people can eat it again.”

The 3D-printed material is made from upward of 75 percent residual food flows, in addition to select additional ingredients and herbs and spices for flavoring. Using this approach, they have created a variety of both sweet and savory food samples.

The idea for the startup came from research carried out by van Doleweerd for her bachelor’s degree at the Eindhoven University of Technology. This was an attempt to combine her study of sustainable food with new technology — in this case, 3D printing. After graduating, van Doleweerd was invited to show off the project at several exhibitions. She then teamed up with friend and business partner Broeken to launch the idea as its own startup.

“Currently we are focusing on high-end restaurants,” the pair continued, explaining their future plans. “This is a niche market, but a quite interesting start for us because the production of the food can take place in restaurants with their own residual food flows. Our first step is to upscale the printer, to make it less time consuming for restaurants to create enough 3D printed samples for their quests. In the future, we also want to focus on the retail and wholesalers, to make a larger impact and reduce more food waste.”

3D printing snacks from food waste? Sounds gross, but it’s actually brilliant [Digital Trends] 

 

USING THE FOODMARBLE AIRE

The FoodMarble Aire is a small, square device that contains the sensors and a battery, which you breathe into at one end. It links to the app on your phone using Bluetooth, and the battery lasts a few days before it needs a recharge, depending on use. It doesn’t require a forceful breath like a Police breathalyzer. You breathe in for three seconds, then breathe into the Aire for five seconds. That’s it — you can assess what your stomach is up to, and the results are instant. A nice touch is being able to remove and wash the mouthpiece on the main unit too.

For more detailed results, the FoodMarble comes with special sachets of powder, which when mixed with water — and drank — imitate how the body deals with the major intolerance groups such as lactose, inulin, sorbitol, and fructose. These give a much clearer picture of where you digestion problems come from. Anyone with an intolerance already will likely have a good idea of what causes an issue, but nailing it down — as it may be more than one group — makes dietary selection in the future far easier.

Beyond this, the FoodMarble Aire can be used to establish which foods cause problems when you’re eating out. For example, a dish from one establishment may be fine, but the same at another may not. Using the Aire will help find out which ingredient used in the second dish is the problem. Having a food intolerance and not really understanding the root cause means making uniformed choices, or simply running the risk and living with the consequences. The FoodMarble Aire can help remove this uncertainty.

Additionally, intolerances change over time, and what was once fine, suddenly becomes a problem. Having a device on hand that can track those changes takes away that sinking feeling that accompanies such times. The app we saw looked clean and well-designed, and also has sections for including sleep and stress data, which also affects digestion. It’s a mixture of lifestyle tracker and stomach activity tracker.

LIFE-CHANGING TECHNOLOGY

The FoodMarble Aire started out as a crowdfunded device, and the first units have started to ship now. Everyone else can go to FoodMarble’s website now to buy the device for $160, and it comes with a charging cable and a neat little carry case. You pay $30 for the four sachets to test individual food groups, which we think are an essential, at least for your first use.

At the time of our test we had no stomach issues, surprising for CES time, but we’re sure to return to “normal” soon. We will be testing the FoodMarble Aire out over the coming weeks to see if it can change the way we live. That’s not hyperbole either. The team told us the story of one user, who had spent 10 years having tests and consultations to find out she had a lactose intolerance, which never really cleared up her problems. Three weeks in with the Aire, and she identified another intolerance, which combined with the lactose dietary adjustments, improved her quality of life considerably.

Three weeks, compared to 10 years? No, we weren’t exaggerating the impact this device could have on someone who suffers from any kind of food intolerance.

It’s no secret that most coffee shops fail. Some people mistakenly believe a coffee shop is an easy source of income. It can be when you’re passionate about the coffee industry. Unfortunately, without passion, you’re doomed to fail from the start.

Passion is vital, but it’s not enough. You need to be meticulous with the way you run your business. If your coffee shop is treading water, here’s what to do:

  1. Start with a reality check

You can’t rescue a failing business if you don’t know why it’s failing. Your first order of business is to pinpoint exactly why your coffee shop is failing. Using analytics tools to capture and analyze data (sales, inventory, labor, etc.) will help you see what’s really going on.

At first glance, lost sales and a dwindling customer base are easy to attribute to “the economy,” competitors, or a bad location. Those are possibilities, but plenty of coffee shops thrive despite a down economy, Starbucks moving in next door, or being in a challenging location. When you look deeper into the matter, you’ll probably find something else at the root.

Consider how you’re running your business. Are you slow enough that you only schedule one barista from afternoon until evening? It’s possible that afternoons and evenings are slow because you only staff one person.

One person is never enough to run a coffee shop, no matter how skilled they are. One person means you’re providing poor service to a handful of customers every day. While your morning customers get top-notch service, your afternoon and evening customers will be subjected to subpar service. Over time, those customers will drop away, and you’ll be permanently left with slow afternoons and desolate evenings.

It costs money to keep two people on staff at all times, but it’s a necessary component for success and customer satisfaction. Using HR analytics tools will give you the data necessary to justify those extra workforce expenses.

  1. Ask customers for feedback – and listen

Customers will tell you exactly what they like and don’t like – if you ask them. Give customers an incentive to provide their feedback. Offer free or half-priced drinks for filling out a comment form. If something has changed, your regulars will let you know.

There will be some things you can’t change (like prices) but sift through the feedback with an open mind. Put your investigator hat on. Why is your business failing? You will find clues in customer feedback.

  1. Start a secret shopper program to uncover hidden issues

The benefit of using a secret shopper program is being able to check on the execution of your company’s standards. You’ll prep your secret shoppers with a checklist noting all of the standards you want them to measure. For example, you might measure speed of service, drink quality and accuracy, food freshness, and whether or not they suggested an upsell.  

Make sure to measure all promises your company makes to customers. For example, say you guarantee customers a 60-second visit. Hire various secret shoppers to visit your store throughout the week and time your transactions for about fifteen minutes. If your transactions are all in the five-minute range, and you used to deliver on that 60-second guarantee, you know where to start cleaning house.

  1. Bring in an expert

When all else fails, bring in an expert to evaluate your business. Be cautious of hiring any expert, however. Coffee is a specialty industry. While a general expert in business can help you with accounting and management tasks, they won’t notice what you’re doing wrong inside your shop. You need an expert with a background in coffee.

If you’ve watched Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, you know you’ll be in for an impactful reality check, but that’s what you need if you want to revive your business.

  1. Don’t listen to other failed business owners

Failed coffee shops produce bitter business owners. Take their stories with a grain of salt. For instance, one failed coffee shop owner says “pastries are a monetary black hole unless you bake them yourself.” Their belief is based on the fact that they threw away 50% of their croissants.

Pastries aren’t a monetary black hole. The key to selling pastries is figuring out what your customers want, and avoid providing “acceptable” alternatives to popular items. For instance, don’t sell a butter croissant and an almond croissant unless there’s equal demand for both. When you sell out of almond croissants and people settle for butter, you’ll think there’s a demand for butter.

Be willing to change

To be successful, you need to be willing to change. If you need to turnover your staff, cut down your menu selections, or get better equipment, do it. Change is a small investment in your future success.

Tomatoes are certainly hardy plants – this is partly due to a compound which they emit, known as hexenyl butyrate (HB). Spanish scientists have now found that a spray of synthetic HB helps various crop plants to withstand both drought and bacterial infections.

In a natural process called transpiration, water within a plant evaporates through tiny pores known as stomata, which periodically open on the surface of its leaves. At the same time, carbon dioxide from the surrounding air is drawn into the plant, also through those stomata.

Among other things, this exchange is necessary for regulating the process of photosynthesis. That said, a recent study suggested that due to the increased atmospheric carbon dioxide of modern times, plants may no longer need to have their stomata open for as long an amount of time, in order to get all the CO2 they need (a tomato stomata is pictured below).

That’s where the HB comes in. The natural form of the compound causes tomato stomata to close, thus keeping water from leaving the plant, andkeeping bacteria from entering through the pores.

Scientists from Spain’s Institute for Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology created a synthetic form of HB, and then sprayed it onto tomato, corn, alfalfa, citrus and tobacco plants. It was found that the treated plants were able to survive on considerably less water than a control group, plus they were much more resistant to infection by harmful Pseudomonas syringaebacteria.

The compound is reportedly easy and inexpensive to synthesize, it’s non-toxic, and it’s highly effective, meaning that relatively low doses are needed. And while too much of it could keep plants from maturing – they enter a sort of dormancy if their stomata remain closed for too long – that factor could also be used to farmers’ advantage, as they could purposely delay the ripening of crops to coincide with the needs of the market.

“The application of this compound in fields will allow the industry to have a new natural strategy for improving crop yields: treatments will protect crops from biotic and abiotic stress easily, efficiently and at a low cost,” says Purificación Lisón, who is part of the research team.

A paper on the study was recently published in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science. The Institute for Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology is a joint center of the Universitat Politècnica de València and the Spanish National Research Council.

Tomato “perfume” could protect crops from drought and bacteria [New Atlas]

The World Tourism Organisation and Basque Culinary Center (BCC), have launched a pioneering initiative for the gastronomic tourism sector, with a global call for startups or companies, mature or emerging, technological and non-technological, with innovative ideas capable of revolutionising and integrating gastronomy in tourism and inspiring tourists with new ways and reasons to travel

The gastronomic tourism sector is moving towards innovation and the diversification of its offerings. UNWTO, in collaboration with its affiliated member, Basque Culinary Center (BCC), has launched the first UNWTO Gastronomy Tourism Startup Competition, the first and largest initiative in the world dedicated to identifying new companies that will lead the transformation of the gastronomic tourism sector.

Intangible cultural heritage has become the decisive factor that attracts and captivates tourists. Gastronomy tourism, as a component and vehicle of culture and tradition, is an indispensable resource that adds value and provides solutions for destinations that seek to stand out through unique product offerings.

Innovation and tourism investment

The competition will make it possible to identify the best solutions and projects that contribute the most to the sector through pioneering proposals in the implementation of emerging and disruptive technologies, as well as emerging companies or startups. It aims to identify challenges and projects and to catalyse innovations that can transform the gastronomy tourism sector in the near future.

“Innovation and tourism investments are not ends in themselves, but are means to promote better tourism products, improve tourism governance and harness its proven capability to foster sustainability, create jobs and generate opportunities,” said Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili.

“Education and innovation are essential for the development of sustainable gastronomic tourism. At Basque Culinary Center, we support entrepreneurship and the development of new business projects to ensure the future of the sector. In this regard, we are proud to once again team up with our partners at UNWTO in order to continue fostering entrepreneurship and innovation linked to gastronomy tourism through this initiative,” said Joxe Mari Aizega, General Manager of Basque Culinary Center.

UNWTO and Basque Culinary Center have entrusted the process of finding startups to BCC Innovation through its Culinary Action! programme, which has accelerated nearly 50 startups by providing innovative, sustainable and high added value solutions to the gastronomy value chain.

Sustainability and technology Startups are invited to pitch business models that are related to sustainability, respect the value chain, offer an authentic and coherent narrative, and add value to cultural and local heritage.

The winners of this competition will have the opportunity to present their projects at the 5th World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism, which takes place from 2-3 May 2019 in San Sebastián, Spain, with the possibility of receiving personalized consulting and mentoring from the BCC experts of project accelerator Culinary Action!

First global gastronomy tourism startup competition launched  [Bizcommunity]

Behold the trendiest foods of 2019! Sure, we’re less than a month into the new year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start looking ahead to the food items you can expect to see more of at the farmers market, on restaurant menus, and on supermarket shelves in the coming months.

To find some of the trendiest eats of the year (we’re looking at you, celtuce!) AskMen analyzed data from Pinterest, Facebook, and more. Make some room in the refrigerator and scroll down to see which foods made the cut!

Mighty Mushrooms

Nutrient-packed mushrooms are bursting with flavor and make the perfect main, side dish, or appetizer for any dinner. That’s probably why they are springing up everywhere from coffee drinks to chocolate bars. According to Pinterest’s list of the top food trends for 2019, searches for fungi-focused recipes were up 64 percent year over year.

Worldly Breakfasts

According to the National Restaurant Association’s annual What’s Hot survey  — a barometer of food and beverage trends in restaurants around the country — worldly breakfast dishes are expected to be exceptionally popular in 2019. The yearly poll examined the responses of approximately 650 professional chefs (all members of the American Culinary Federation) and found that more than 69 percent of respondents said globally inspired breakfast items would be the year’s top food trend. Shakshouka — a Tunisian/Israeli dish made of poached eggs, tomato sauce, onions, chili peppers and spices — is one such meal

Various Infusions

In addition to earning a spot on Pinterest’s list of top food trends, infusions (think items such as ginger water and CBD) also caught the attention of Supermarket News and Kind Snacks, which predicted maple water (an infusion in its own right) will have a moment this year.

Sea Vegetables

Sea vegetables — aka seaweed — have been a sushi staple for years, but Nation’s Restaurant News predicts 2019 will be the year the Asian snack becomes a star in its own right. According to James Griffin, an associate professor at Johnson & Wales University, seaweed consumption is growing 7 percent annually in the United States, and The New York Times predicts it will gain popularity because it is healthful, environmentally sound, and full of umami. Consider us on board!

Oat Milk

Move over almond milk; there’s a new dairy alternative making waves in the food world. Per Pinterest, oat milk, which is tasty and environmentally friendly, saw an impressive 186 percent search increase over last year. In fact, it’s proven so popular that PepsiCo reportedly has plans to launch an oat beverage under the Quaker brand at some point this month. Uber Eats also predicted the vegan drink would be one to watch this year, along with pea milk — yet another trendy beverage that’s void of dairy.

Food Trends to Look Out for in 2019 [Askmen]

To be clear, I’m not talking about the original Impossible Burger — a plant-based “hamburger” that debuted a couple years ago and is currently available at burger joints all over the globe. You’ve probably heard about it, and there’s a good chance you’ve actually tasted it, too.

What I am currently gushing about is the Impossible Burger 2.0 — the new-and-improved version of the company’s original plant-based hamburger. Impossible unleashed it at CES this year, and after tasting the new formulation at a press conference last night, I’m here to tell you that version 2.0 puts version 1.0 to shame. It’s a massive improvement.

Now don’t get me wrong — the original Impossible Burger wasn’t bad. The first time I tried it, I remember being impressed by how meat-like it was — but something wasn’t quite right. It had a weird aftertaste (like overcooked corn) that lingered in the mouth, tipping you off to the fact that what you were eating wasn’t actually meat, and reminding you with every chew that your mouth was full of fraud.

This new version doesn’t suffer the same drawbacks. Everything is dialed in — the smell, the color, the texture, the flavor — it’s all so similar to the profile of real hamburger that unless you’re really scrutinizing it, you’ll be hard-pressed to tell the difference. I’m sure it won’t fool hardcore carnophiles, but I’m honestly not sure that most people would be able to tell a well-cooked Impossible 2.0 apart from regular hamburger in a blind taste test. It’s that close.

The fact that Impossible was able to achieve such an astonishingly meat-like burger (one that’s also more nutritious than real hamburger) using nothing but plants is simply incredible. Keep in mind that this isn’t a lab-grown burger made from animal cells — it’s a bunch of plants and plant-derived compounds that, through a mixture of science and culinary wizardry, come together to create a substance that looks, feels, tastes, and behaves like animal tissue. It bleeds for fuck’s sake! How insane is that!?

So why does it matter? Why am I raving about what’s ultimately just a high-tech veggie patty? Here’s why: Because by shrinking the flavor gap between real meat and fake meat, Impossible is making it easier for everyone to make more environmentally conscious food choices — and that’s a big deal. A huge deal, actually. Animal agriculture is the number one cause of environmental destruction in the world, so reducing humanity’s consumption and cultivation of meat is arguably one of the most effective ways that we can combat climate change.

Thing is, meat alternatives have been around for ages, but they haven’t really gained widespread popularity among anybody but vegetarians and vegans because, to most people, veggie patties simply don’t taste as good as real meat. That’s why the new Impossible Burger is so game-changing. Now, more than ever before, picking the eco-friendly option doesn’t mean compromising flavor — and that’s something that could legitimately save the world.

Taste test: The new Impossible Burger is a triumph of food engineering  [Digital Trends]

When was the last time you considered a citrus peel for more than a second? It’s the skin around either the orange or lemon or whichever fruit it houses, you peel it off, and throw it out. But once you start researching common zero waste practices and how you can more efficiently lead a lower-impact life, you come to realize just how much potential is in a single citrus peel.

Truth is, there’s a lot you can do with a citrus peel. Firstly, instead of throwing it out, citrus peels can almost always be added to the household compost. Lime peels, orange peels, lemon peels, grapefruit peels—each of these types of citrus peels have been somewhat controversial in composting. Some people think that citrus peels ward off good worms that help the compost work faster; others argue citrus peels deter bugs from also working on the compost pile. But these myths have no truth to them; in fact, citrus peels are crucial to the compost pile.

How to add citrus peels to a compost

It’s true that citrus peels raise the acidity of a compost pile. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Citrus peels gives off a strong scent, one that keeps pests like rodents and raccoons away from your compost pile. In order to combat the high acidity levels citrus peels add to a compost pile, all you have to do is add more grass clippings to the pile. Citrus peels are great sources of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium for a compost pile.

Using citrus peels for DIY scrubs

Peels make for excellent exfoliant qualities because of their natural coarseness. Ground your surplus peels using a blender or food processor (this often works best if the peels are previously dried). Then, add the peels to homemade body scrubs made of sugar or salt. Both salt and sugar are great exfoliants, but the citrus peels add more exfoliating power to the scrub

Using citrus peels for at-home cleaners

Did you know citrus peels make awesome made-at-home cleaners? Citrus peels can be used for all kinds of cleaners. For an effective scouring sink cleaner, mix borax and baking soda on top of a grapefruit. Using the grapefruit as a sponge, scrub the grapefruit around the sink, and watch all the stains disappear. For better results, grind the grapefruit rinds up in a coffee grinder or a food processor. Once it’s a finely-ground powder, add the grapefruit powder to 5 tablespoons of baking soda and 3 tablespoons of borax. Combine everything in a shaker, shake the mixture into the sink, then clean the sink with a wet sponge.

Put a few orange peels in a jar with some vinegar. Let it infuse for a few weeks; now you have a vinegar-based, all-purpose cleaner. Both the citrus and vinegar have anti-bacterial and -microbial properties that make this at-home recipe an efficient cleaner.

If you’re not into the smell of vinegar, you can make a similar version of the all-purpose cleaner with lemon juice, peels, and vodka. Use 4 parts vodka, 8 parts vinegar, and 4 ounces of lemon juice. Infuse with the lemon rinds, add two or three drops of castile soap in a spray bottle, and you’re good to go.

What to Do With Old Citrus Peels [Green Matters]

Many of us start our day with Kelloggs — and in the  United Kingdom, some people will be able to end their day with Kelloggs too!

In an effort to minimize their impact and reuse food waste, the breakfast food company has teamed up with Seven Bro7hers Brewery — a local brewery in Manchester — to create beer made from “rejected” cornflakes (in other words, pieces that are too big, too small, or overcooked). The brewery has introduced “Throw Away IPA,” The Telegraph reports, which gets about 30 percent of the grain content from the “rejected” flakes.

In addition to reusing the rejected food that would otherwise be wasted, for every can sold, the brewery is also donating 10 pence to FareShare — a charity that not only reduces food waste in the U.K., but also helps feed the hungry using the food that would otherwise be thrown out.

Food waste is a problem globally, and in the U.K., FareShare estimates 1.9 million tonnes (which is about 4 billion pounds) is wasted in the food industry every year — a number that Kelloggs is hoping to reduce with initiatives like this.

“Kelloggs is always exploring different and sustainable ways to reduce food waste in its factories. So it is great to be involved in such a dun initiative with a local supplier,” Kate Prince, corporate social responsibility manager for Kelloggs U.K., told The Telegraph. “Kelloggs is working hard to eliminate food waste in our manufacturing processes and give our consumers the wholesome products they love with minimum impact on the planet. Our approach has delivered a 12.5 percent reduction on food waste in our U.K. sites this year.”

As far as their partnership goes, Kelloggs and Seven Bro7hers have big plans in the future.

“Seven Bro7hers Brewery is delighted to be working with Kelloggs on a project which uses edible but not sellable cereal. Kelloggs recognizes that it has an important role to play in reducing food waste, and that includes finding uses for edible food that doesn’t make it into the cereal box,” Seven Bro7her’s Alison Watson explained to The Telegraph. “We plan to create three beers including a hoppy IPA, which will be launched this month.”

Kelloggs Cuts Back on Food Waste by Using Rejected Cornflakes to Make Beer  [Green Matters]

Every year, millions of tonnes of perfectly good food are wasted around the world because people aren’t sure it’s still fresh. To cut down on this, researchers at Fraunhofer are developing an infrared pocket scanner that will let consumers, supermarkets and other food handlers determine if a food item has gone bad and even its degree of ripeness.

According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Association, one third of all the food produced in the world is lost or wasted. That’s about 1.3 billion tonnes annually. In the developed world, which has the highest percentage of waste, that works out to US$680 billion dollars down the garbage disposal each year.

There are a number of reasons for this wastage, but a large factor is that consumers tend to have trouble determining if a food item is still edible. Often meat and produce will be judged on aesthetic grounds, or the “sell-by date” will be confused with a “use-by date.”

To combat this, the Bavarian Ministry of Food’s “We Rescue Food” alliance, has launched 17 initiatives, one of which is the Fraunhofer pocket scanner. The device is designed to be an inexpensive solution for determining the edibility and shelf life of foods from farm to table.

The scanner is based on a high-precision near-infrared (NIR) sensor. An infrared beam is shined on the food and the reflected light is measured across the IR spectrum. By comparing the absorption spectrum from the food with that of a known sample, the device can determine not only if the food is still edible, but also its ripeness and even if it’s a counterfeit, such as trout being passed off as salmon.

It’s a technique already used in laboratories, but the tricky bit is reducing the size and cost of the device without sacrificing function. This is managed by using new, small, inexpensive sensors.

According to Fraunhofer, the scanner is still in the demonstrator stage. Currently, it can only handle homogeneous foods, so it can analyze a potato, but not a pizza with its many toppings. The hope is that hyper-spectral imaging and fusion-based approaches using color images, spectral sensors and other high-spatial-resolution technologies may overcome this in the future.

Another aspect under development is a machine-learning algorithm that will allow for better pattern recognition. So far, the team has worked with tomatoes and ground beef using statistical techniques to match the NIR spectra with the rate of microbial spoilage and other chemical parameters, allowing them to measure the germ count and the shelf life of the meat.

This is done by sending the scan data over Bluetooth to a cloud database for evaluation. The results are then sent to a mobile device app to show if the item is still good, how much shelf life is left, and tips on how to use the food if its sell-by date has expired.

The research team says that supermarket tests are slated for later this year to see what consumers think of the scanner. The technology can not only be used for foods, but also for wider applications, such as sorting plastics, wool, textiles, and minerals.

Pocket scanner blasts food with infrared light to determine its freshness [New Atlas]

While it’s important to keep food of any type fresh, it’s particularly crucial with seafood, as it can become tainted with toxic bacteria. That’s why an international group of scientists is developing a transparent antibacterial film that gets eaten along with the seafood it’s covering.

The research is being conducted by scientists from Pennsylvania State University, along with colleagues from Thailand’s Prince of Songkla University, Kasetsart University, and the Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technology.

Their film starts out as a clear gelatine made up of cassava-derived starch and a biodegradable polymer known as polybutylene adipate-co-terephthalate (PBAT). Added to this mixture are the antibacterial agents Nisin Z and lauric arginate (LAE).

The idea is that pieces of seafood get dipped into this gel – which subsequently dries into a form-fitting flexible film – after which they’re vacuum-packed and then chilled or frozen. As they sit in storage, the antibacterials gradually proceed to kill any harmful microbes that may be present.

In lab tests, slices of big-eye snapper and tiger prawns were intentionally inoculated with E. coli and two types of Salmonella bacteria, then coated with the film, and then vacuum-packed. They were subsequently either left chilled at 4 ºC (39 ºF) for up to one month, or stored frozen for 90 days. When they were analyzed after this period, the bacterial populations were found to be greatly reduced.

The scientists are now exploring methods of commercializing the technology.

Lead scientist at Penn State, Prof. Catherine Cutter, has previously developed another edible antibacterial coating containing essential oils and nanoparticles. The US Department of Agriculture is also developing a milk-based film, while the National University of Singapore is making one from a compound found in crustacean shells.

Edible film kills bacteria in seafood [New Atlas]

Israel-based startup Aleph Farms has just unveiled the world’s first lab-grown steak. This milestone on the road to bringing a cruelty-free meat product to the market demonstrates, for the first time, the technology’s ability to imitate the flavor, shape, texture and structure of a classic beef steak.

Back in 2013, the first lab-grown burger was revealed to the general public. At the time the burger cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, but it was seen as a priceless proof of concept for producing beef without the environmental or ethical costs generally associated with meat production. However, it’s one thing to create a beef mince-like protein in laboratory conditions, but growing something that resembles a conventional steak is another challenge altogether.

“Making a patty or a sausage from cells cultured outside the animal is challenging enough, imagine how difficult it is to create a whole-muscle steak,” explains Aleph Farms CEO, Didier Toubia.

Lab-grown meat (aka cell-grown meat, or clean meat) generally involves extracting muscle tissue samples from a live animal and then stimulating those cells to replicate in laboratory conditions. A large assortment of start-ups are racing to be the first to commercialize this technology and estimates on when it will finally reach market shelves vary from three to 10 years depending on how quickly cost-effective large-scale production can be developed.

Aleph’s demonstration of the first lab-grown steak is an exciting advance in cell-cultured meat technology. The company claims the steak takes about three weeks to grow from an initial cellular sample into the steak we see cooked by Israeli chef Amir Ilan in the video below.

“Aleph Farms’ minute steak is thinly sliced and will cook in just a minute or so,” says Ilan, discussing his experience using the meat. “For me, it is a great experience to eat meat that has the look and feel of beef but has been grown without antibiotics and causes no harm to animals or the environment.”

Lab-grown meat hitting the market is clearly a case of when and not if, as the technology continues to race forward in both sophistication and efficiency. Traditional meat-producers went on the offensive earlier in 2018, beginning political plays to stop these new products using the term “meat.” After some early initial wins it seems like the nascent lab-grown meat industry will face more than just technological hurdles in getting its product to the market over the coming years.

Aleph Farms serves up world’s first lab-grown steak[New Atlas]

Carbohydrates have been developing a rather bad reputation as the 21st century has progressed. From low-carb/high-fat diets to more restrictive ketogenic regimes, it seems the growing consensus has simply become “carbs are bad.” However, a new study from the University of Sydney suggests a low-protein/high-carb diet can promote healthy aging and improve brain health, perhaps even slowing the onset of dementia.

The research was spawned by the observation that, while we have a large volume of evidence pointing to the many benefits of caloric restriction, it may not be the most sustainable dietary recommendation for many people in the modern world.

“We have close to 100 years of quality research extolling the benefits of calorie restriction as the most powerful diet to improve brain health and delay the onset of neurodegenerative disease in rodents,” says Devin Wahl, lead author on the new study. “However, the majority of people have a hard time restricting calories, especially in Western societies where food is so freely available.”

The new study, conducted in mice, compared the effects of four different diets that varied in protein and carbohydrate content against a standard 20 percent caloric restriction diet. The results found that a diet low in protein but high in complex carbohydrates resulted in comparable brain aging benefits to caloric restriction.

The research examined behavioral and cognitive differences between each diet using spatial awareness and memory tests, but only modest improvements were observed. The most dramatic effects the researchers found came when they studied the changes in gene expression, particularly in the hippocampus.

“The hippocampus is usually the first part of the brain to deteriorate with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s,” explains senior author on the study, David Le Couteur. “However, the low-protein high-carbohydrate diet appeared to promote hippocampus health and biology in the mice, on some measures to an even greater degree than those on the low-calorie diet.”

The results follow on from several prior studies from the University of Study revealing low-protein/high carbohydrate diets to be comparable to low-calorie diets in promoting cardiovascular health and extending lifespan. The correlation between healthy brain aging and a small volume of carbohydrate consumption is also one echoed by other research, particularly a study from 2008 finding that low-carb diets can impair cognition.

The research also compellingly mirrors a huge amount of study affirming the health benefits of diets rich in complex carbohydrates and low in protein, such as those seen in the Mediterranean and some parts of Japan.

“The traditional diet of Okinawa is around nine percent protein, which is similar to our study, with sources including lean fish, soy and plants, with very little beef,” says Le Couteur. “Interestingly, one of their main sources of carbohydrate is sweet potato.”

So while this study isn’t suggesting all carbohydrates are good and we should go crazy on the bread and pasta, it is a reminder that healthy eating isn’t as simple as just saying fat is good and carbs are bad. Instead, a well-rounded and healthy diet is a little more complicated, much to the chagrin of those looking for a straightforward and easy diet plan.

Not all carbs are bad: Study shows high-carb diets can promote healthy brain aging [New Atlas]

Keurig is best known for popularizing the coffee pod machine, designed to make your morning cuppa joe more convenient. But realizing it’s always five o’clock somewhere, the company is now taking the concept out on the town with the Drinkworks Home Bar, which cooks up cocktails (or beer and cider, for some reason) from the same kind of premixed pods.

At a glance, the Drinkworks Home Bar looks like a regular old coffee machine, measuring 13.5 x 13 x 13.5 in (330 x 343 x 330 mm) with a 50-oz (1.5 L) tank of water. Once you pop in a pod, the device chills the water to a refreshing 35° F (1.6° C), then carbonates it from a replaceable CO2 cartridge and mixes all the prepackaged ingredients together. According to the company, the machine recognizes which pod is in there at any given time and will adjust the water and carbonation levels accordingly.

Home Bar will launch with 15 different cocktail recipes, including cosmopolitan, gin and tonic, daiquiri, Long Island iced tea, mojito, Moscow mule, old fashioned, red sangria, white Russian, white wine peach sangria, lime vodka soda, mai tai, margarita, classic margarita and strawberry margarita.

For those with less of a sweet tooth, the Drinkworks Home Bar can also dispense beer and cider. At launch, the beer pods pack brews from Bass and Beck’s, and the cider is supplied by Stella Artois.

Cocktails in pod form make perfect sense – after all, it can be a pain to mix them up just right, especially after you’re already a few drinks into the night. Plus to get this kind of range, you’d need a well-stocked home bar, which can be a pretty pricey investment. Slapping in a pod and pressing a button is an enticing alternative. What we’re less sure of though is the need for beer and cider pods – this seems like more work, and more room for something to go wrong, than just cracking open a bottle.

The Drinkworks Home Bar isn’t the first attempt at streamlining the cocktail experience at home, but it does look like the neatest so far. The Somabar, for example, has canisters that need to be filled from your own liquor collection and it can’t chill the water for you. Pernod Ricard’s Opn smart cocktail system packages individual ingredients into cartridges and then makes you mix them yourself – with some guidance, of course.

The Drinkworks Home Bar is available for US$299, with cocktail pods selling for $3.99 each and beer or cider pods going for $2.25 each, which is much cheaper than bar prices or keeping your own liquor supply well-stocked. For now, the machine is only available in St. Louis as part of a limited test run, but Keurig says it’ll open up to more places in 2019.

Keurig switches from AM to PM with pod-based cocktail maker [New Atlas]

For years, scientists have suspected that drinking coffee helps lessen the chances of getting Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. A new study indicates that this may indeed be the case, and that the darker the roast, the better it works.

Led by Dr. Donald Weaver, scientists at Canada’s Krembil Brain Institute compared three types of Starbucks 100-percent Arabica instant coffee – light roast, dark roast, and decaffeinated dark roast.

In in vitro (glass dish) tests, it was found that the two dark roasts were both particularly effective at keeping the protein fragments beta amyloid and tau from clumping. The clumping of these fragments within the brain is believed to be a key cause of both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Of all the compounds that were analyzed in the coffees tested, there was only one – a group known as phenylindanes – that had the anti-clumping effect. The longer a coffee is roasted, the greater the amount of phenylindanes it contains, thus the more potent the effect is. Interestingly, the caffeinated and decaffeinated dark roasts were equally potent, indicating that caffeine content is irrelevant (that said, a study recently conducted at Indiana University Bloomington suggests that caffeine iseffective at warding off dementia).

“It’s the first time anybody’s investigated how phenylindanes interact with the proteins that are responsible for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s,” says Dr. Ross Mancini, who (along with biologist Yanfei Wang) assisted Weaver in the research. “The next step would be to investigate how beneficial these compounds are, and whether they have the ability to enter the bloodstream, or cross the blood-brain barrier.”

Here’s a scenario for you. It’s early in the morning and you know that you need to be out of the door in just a few minutes, but that craving for some sweet, sugary goodness soaked in fresh, cold milk hits your taste buds and you can’t help but pour yourself a bowl of cereal. You either have to eat it at the kitchen table and be late or try to take it with you and risk spilling all over yourself. It’s a no-win proposition until now, thanks to the CrunchCup.

Currently raising funds on Kickstarter (it already surpassed its goal of $18,000), the CrunchCup is a simple concept that allows you to eat cereal just about anywhere. The design, which looks like the love child of a flashlight and a shaker bottle, contains two separate chambers. The outer layer holds your milk while the inner layer contains your cereal of choice. The lid on the top of the contraption has a small opening that allows the milk to pour out, while a larger opening about the size of a ping-pong ball lets you get at the cereal.

The container is made of BPA-free, food-grade plastic and can hold up to 10 ounces of cereal and six ounces of milk — or whatever milk-like alternative you prefer given your dietary preferences. It’s dishwasher safe, so you can toss it in with the rest of your dishes and have it ready to go for your next breakfast on the run.

CrunchCup has already met its funding goal on Kickstarter, but you can still back the project if you would like to get your hands on the reimagined cereal bowl. Early bird backers have to pledge $25 to receive the CrunchCup, which the creators say will be about 10 percent off the expected retail price. The CrunchCup is expected to arrive sometime in April 2019. (Of course, you should always take anything from a crowdfunding campaign with a grain of salt.) The creators of CrunchCup also stated they will be donating 5 percent of the proceeds from their creation to a nationally recognized organization that helps get food to children in need, so your purchase will do more good than just letting you eat cereal on the go.

Rushing out the door just got faster — CrunchCup lets you eat cereal on the go [Digital Trends]