Green / Sustainability

By: Digivu  11-11-2011
Keywords: Food Processing

Friday, October 7th, 2011

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Saturday, June 25th, 2011

Here is an interesting post, where the writer has satisfied his inquisitiveness about the way the French use bread by doing a short analysis of carbon footprints.

He finds that its likely that most of those who collect their bread by car, emit more greenhouse gasses on the trip than the baker does in making the bread. The author lives 2,5 km from the nearest bakery and finds that the 75% of his carbon footprint for his morning baguette comes from the drive and only 25% from the bread.

The food processing side lies in the nature of French bread – its mainly eaten fresh (the texture of a baguette, especially the crisp crust and soft interior is lost in a few hours) and it is seldom toasted. It is this that means it has to be collected at least once a day unlike sliced bread which can be refrigerated and used over many days and toasted as it gets older.

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Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

I am going to be spending the next few months working from a house in rural Bourgogne (Burgundy to the English and the wine drinker!) in France.

Having just returned from a first visit to the supermarket it was interesting that for the first time in my life I actually said to myself “We mustn’t buy too much fruit because the garden is full of cherries!”.

photograph by DIGIVUZA

published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.

This brought home the Local Food issue, especially as the plums and pears in the supermarket were from South Africa! We definitely, especially in South Africa, make little effort to reduce our carbon footprint by using foods that are grow nearby. Here someone planted trees decades ago and without fertilisation or any real pruning they produce year after year and as they are just off the dining room with “zero” carbon emission.

I also saw some interesting products and concepts in the supermarket such as LCD pricing, easy cracking macadamias and another solution to cooking rice!

I have therefore decided to write a number of posts while I am here that reflect on these and similar items focussing on innovation and the environment.

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Thursday, April 28th, 2011

The website allows you to select an item and see its carbon footprint as well as that of a number of related products – just as shown in the image above.

The figures presented need to be used cautiously as a carbon footprint is totally dependent on the particular conditions for which it is calculated. Also it depends on the assumptions made in the calculation especially when deciding how far up the production chain to go. For instance the data gives the CO₂ created as zero for washing with cold water but CO₂ is also created in getting the water to the sink, in the production of detergent, in manufacturing the sink, in washing the towel used for drying etc

So don’t take the numbers as absolute but rather as approximations for particular circumstances and indications of relative effects.

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Saturday, February 12th, 2011

For some time I have been slowly promoting the sun drying process because of its low capital cost and zero energy consumption. So the Drying Process has a very low carbon footprint! But here is someone who’s taking it even further!

They claim a 7 to 10 day drying period is at the heart of their product quality! The long drying period means drying is gentle and they even speak of rehydration during cool moiste evenings.

The logical argument against sun drying is the potential of it being soiled either by microorganisms, insects, rodents, birds or just dust and dirt. The chance of these occurring is proportional to the time the tomato is out in the open – so it makes you think!

I have always said a 3 or 4 day drying period is necessary if a stable clean product is to be produced, but this seems to say different. Possibly there is a cleaning and sorting step involved – I will be following up and giving more information.

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Sunday, December 5th, 2010

This 28 page document is the Food Vision of the British Frozen Food Industry.

Although the document considers the British industry it is packed with information that would be of value to anyone, anywhere considering entering the frozen food market.

There are detailed sections on market, technology & quality, sustainability & social and nutrition. The report has large lists of references.

Possibly as would be expected from a Frozen Food Association they are very positive about the future of the industry.

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Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Here is the design specification for short term food preservation for Pabal farmers as drawn up by an investigation team that included the University of Cambridge and Engineers Without Borders. Interestingly the need was very similar to what many before them had identified.

They have though, identified the advantage of a solution which does not involve running costs and the need for low cost solutions.

Their report is informative and selects a combination of solar chimney and underground cooling pipe as the technology that would meed the specification developed.

This has been described and analysed in the above report. However, the rigorous theoretical engineering approach has not yet provided a suitable solution, mainly because of the limited experimental data collected to date. The temperature drop achievable with the passive solar chimney is only 2 degrees and forces the author to recommend a battery powered fan which increases the cost and runs the risk of introducing an unsustainable running cost.

It will be interesting to follow this project and see the progress and the solution that arises from this kind of rigorous approach.

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Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Yes its apparently true Fritos Lay introduced a compostable crisp bag – environmentally great!

However, Fritos Lay has changed the bulk of their Sun Chips back to conventional packaging. This because sales were decreasing and they attributed this to consumer resistance to the noise the chip bag makes compared to the normal one.

I find this very sad and wonder if we will ever be able to implement real changes in behavior that benefit the environment if we can’t even accept a noisy chip bag.

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Saturday, October 30th, 2010

This diagram presents the data that has been collected in a lot of work in the United Kingdom. It breaks down the CO2 production for the complete food chain.

The author, John Stanford, highlighted the following points from this diagram that put emmissions in context.

• Soil emissions are the biggest single item
• Farm enteric emissions bigger than the emissions of the whole of food manufacturing
• UK Freight emissions are less than domestic cold storage
• The biggest contributors are Agriculture, Food Production and Trade Balance Household

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Monday, October 25th, 2010

Its my feeling that you need to be! both from a point of view of “saving the world” and from the point of view of satisfying your customers moral desires. The introduction of the lifecycle concept in this argument is very important because a partial analysis can miss larger hidden differences if all impacts are not determined.

This article by IUFoST is a good place to start understanding the issues and the practices.

The article outlines a range of issues such as Life Cycle Assessment, global warming, eutrophication, acidification, abiotic resource use, pesticide use/ecotoxicity, land use, Water use and Carbon Footprint of food and interaction with other impacts, before focussing on food processing.

It covers the process based approach, assessment boundaries, mass balance, emissions and co-products and highlight the difficulty of assessing complex foods. The paper gives information and links on the sources of data and provides some data comparing the carbon footprints of food.

A final section shows how the kind of information given here can be used to support decisions and actions in many areas.

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Keywords: Food Processing

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