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Rising to the challenge

first_imgSt Anne’s College was the venue for The Rise of Real Bread Conference a place where the Gandalfs and Aslans of all baking things, philosophic and prophetic, gathered.Sheila Dillon, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme, chaired the proceedings and kicked things off by rhetorically asking “Why does bread matter?” I’ll now paraphrase the rest of the day and Dillon’s answer: it is the staff of life and essential to health; the Chorleywood Process was a scientific triumph, but belongs to the era of processed food that also includes MRM (mechanically reclaimed meat) and water-injected meat, she said; and if we can start by getting our bread right, we stand a chance with the rest this latter assertion followed by enthusiastic hand-clapping.The baton was then handed to food writer, historian and Sunday Telegraph food columnist Bee Wilson, who told us that, from a historical perspective, the 40p loaf she held up was very odd a sad example of a loaf, made with bulk fermentation and mechanical kneading. Why is no one punished for this ’bread’? she asked. Her assertion was that good bread is dependent on the people who make it and, traditionally, bakers would have cut a signature mark into their loaves, both for traceability and as a badge of honour.Vision of the futureOver to Bread Matters author and co-founder of The Real Bread Campaign Andrew Whitley aka the Boil on the Bum of Big Boy Bakeries who opened with a vision of a future where everyone would be within walking distance of real bread. Whitley answered his own question, “What’s so good about real bread?” by exclaiming that it is a question met with gross indifference. The notion of real bread is a difficult one, but is fundamental to gaining a better food culture. Indeed, the state of bread is a matter of social justice and public health.Inspiration of the day went to the real bread bakers, who are the cavalry of the battle to bake better bread for Britain. Ground is being won in communities, quiet as a dough rise, but equally enchanting and fulfilling. We witnessed the testimony of Dan and Johanna McTiernan of The Handmade Bakery, based in Slaithwaite near Huddersfield, who proved how the community bakery model could work with great bread, little capital and no waste! Allowing the community to have control of how its bread is produced is empowering and gives people ownership of the bread baked for them.Sooo, what to do? Biologist and author of Feeding People is Easy, Colin Tudge, gave us six action points: take food very seriously; be a good consumer; invest ethically; promote community and supported agricul-ture; have trust for real farming; and become a farmer.The clarion call was for action: petition government to lift punitive laws and promote the things that support the rise of real bread; fund research into the differences in real and commercial bread; bring together the good and real food movements, initiatives and groups, while also maintaining diversity.The feeling was we must catch up with Europe. We must find real bread’s part in addressing this country’s annual £6bn obesity problem. And finally, we need to find a Jamie Oliver-style baker with street cred and real bread to champion the cause.The conference bore witness to great ideas, encouraging anecdotes and learning from our shared and magnificent heritage. The stomach punch of negative realities can be eschewed in the celebration of real bread.last_img read more

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Brave New Herd.

first_imgAfter almost two years of research, University of Georgia scientists have successfully cloned eight healthy calves.Unveiled at a June 26 press conference in Athens, the calves will help pave the way for improved cloning technology, say experts with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.The improved technology, scientists say, will allow the livestock industry to efficiently meet consumers’ growing demand for consistent, quality meat products.”To produce offspring and develop methods to improve the efficiency of the cloning process has been our goal,” said Steve Stice, lead scientist for UGA cloning research.About 200 cloned embryos are produced in Stice’s lab each day. Only 10 to 20 percent of those embryos make it through the first seven days to be then transferred into recipient cows, he said.But with the development of the eight full-term, healthy calves, “we’ve shown significant improvement in the process,” Stice said. “We’re all very pleased.”Stice is a professor and Georgia Research Alliance eminent scholar with the UGA animal and dairy science department.Over-the-Hill Cow CloneThe calves are clones of a cow that had grown too old to reproduce but had desirable traits worth preserving, he said. The cloning process doesn’t change the genetic makeup. It repeats it, just like an identical twin in nature.”Improvement in the efficiency of cloning will allow us to reproduce those individuals, bulls or cows, that have lost the ability to reproduce because of age or accident,” said Larry Benyshek, CAES animal and dairy science department head.”If we can spread improved genetics at a faster rate,” Benyshek said, “this will be a great benefit for producers. That has ramifications for consumers and the public in general.”Cloning won’t replace sexual reproduction, the scientists say.Improvements Still NeededEstablished breeding programs lead to the genetic traits farmers want, such as quality consistent meat and better breeding and nurturing characteristics, Stice said. Cloning allows a way to more easily duplicate those traits.But there are still improvements to be made. “The next step is to take it further and make additional jumps in pregnancy rates,” Stice said.The UGA calves were cloned using technology developed in collaboration between the UGA animal and dairy science department and Athens-based ProLinia, Inc. The technology will be patented by UGA and licensed by ProLinia.Cloning BusinessProLinia is not only developing its own cloning technology but is also combining and cooperating with other companies to further develop of the cloning process, said ProLinia president Mike Wanner.One of the eight calves was cloned using a combination of the technology developed in Athens with technology developed by Geron, the company that produced Dolly the sheep, Wanner said.”We were very pleased with the results with a (cloning) process that has not been used before,” Wanner said.Consumers should be able to find out easily the animal’s breed and genetics and what it was fed, Wanner said.”There is a need for consumers to know when they’re at the meat counter exactly what kind of meat they’re buying,” he said. Consumer Is King”The cattle industry is becoming more and more a consumer-driven industry,” Benyshek said. “Everybody realizes that in today’s market, the consumer is the king. … Genetics has an important part to play in improving those qualities (the consumer wants). We know we can do that.”Cloning, like the research done in Athens, could help the livestock industry meet the consumer demand for niche markets for specific products, Benyshek said.”It gives us another tool to enhance and provide a way to further spread desirable genetics and meet the demand,” he said.’Fantastic Breakthrough'”I’m excited about it,” Benyshek said. “It (the cloned calves) was a fantastic breakthrough. It’s right in line with many breakthroughs in animal biotechnology. It will be very good for animal production for Georgia, the country and the world.””The demand for animal products is directly proportional to the economic well-being for humans,” Benyshek said. “We’ll have to become more efficient so there is more product to meet demand without harming the environment and to allow us to produce more on a smaller quantity of land. This research is certainly a step in that direction.” By Brad Hairelast_img read more

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