The Benefits of Agroecology for Increasing Food Production

In a new report the UN’s special reporter on the right to food says that agriculture is at a crossroads and suggests that the way forward to increase yields depends not on industrial-scale farming but on sound ecological farming.

Olivier de Schutter says that food production and farming are in need of a revolution on the scale of the 19th Century Industrial Revolution if food production is to be increased and food prices are to be kept under contro.

But increasing food production to meet future need will not be enough without also making progress in improving the income levels for the poorest, particularly small-scale farmers, as well as making progress on reducing malnutrition.

Studies of eco-farming projects in more than 57 countries have demonstrated that average crop yields in poor countries can be increased by 80% by using natural methods for improving soil conditions and protecting against pests, his report says.

Agroecology combines the sciences of agronomy and ecology using a wide variety of techniques, many of which are based on knowledge of local conditions including the predators and indigenous plants that can keep pests and diseases under control.

It is, says de Schutter, a coherent concept for designing future farming systems, strongly rooted both in science and in practice, and has been shown to work well in projects in 20 African countries, where sustainable intensification has been developed during the 2000s.

Projects included crop improvements, integrated pest management, soil conservation and agro-forestry, and average crops yields doubled over a three to ten-year period. The systems used were more sustainable also, because they were not reliant on fossil energy (oil and gas).

His report argues that eco-agriculture is “knowledge intensive” and requires states to devote far more investment and resources that they currently do. It means bringing together the best of what scientists can offer and the valuable experience of smallholder farmers.

De Schutter’s report also makes clear that although agroecology methods are needed throughout food production to farm more sustainably the transition will be harder to make in the developed world which he argues is addicted to an industrial, oil-based model of farming.

Although the report focuses on the benefits to the world’s poorer communities some of the arguments are also applicable to farming methods in the developed world.

The UK’s Food and Drink Federation has just released figures showing that exports of food and drink had reached £10 billion in 2010. It is therefore becoming increasingly important to the economy and this arguably increases the importance of UK farming’s also increasing yields in a way that is sustainable given that there is a limited amount of land available on a small island.

There is an opportunity here for the efforts of the biopesticides research companies to develop a new range of low-chemical agricultural products (biopesticides, biofungicides and yield enhancers) to play a part in removing the dependence on the oil-based faming model in the UK as well as other parts of the developed world.

The science of biopesticides development depends on developing effective plant protection products derived from natural materials as animals, plants, bacteria, and certain target specific pests and diseases. They are effective in very small quantities and often decompose quickly so that they leave little or no residue in food or in the soil and water of the ecosystem where they are used.

Perhaps it is time for more state investment in this increasingly important sector of the UK economy to help farmers gain greater access to these new products and the information about how to use them to help them take advantage of this opportunity for economic growth.

Copyright (c) 2011 Alison Withers

Waste Management Software for the Food Industry

Effective waste management in food industry is the key to controlling the costs and keeping the ROI high. The process starts with tracking the food waste streams, identifying the areas of improvement and formulating an effective waste management strategy. However, since tracking the food waste streams can be very time consuming, it’s often overlooked. Waste management software can be an extremely helpful tool for this process.

Features of a Food Manufacturing Waste Management Software

There are numerous and different types of waste management software available in the market today; however, only some qualify to be relied upon. Good waste management software will provide you accurate information and allow you to be more productive in lesser amount of time. Following is a list of key features of a food manufacturing waste management software and some key considerations you should pay attention to before buying one:

  • Identify and differentiate between different types of waste – Top 5 types of waste in a food manufacturing unit are – Wrap area, Make-up area, Oven area, Mixing Area, and Other.
  • Identify waste by production line – In case the facility has more than 1 production line, this function will allow you to identify which line is being most productive and which is the least.
  • Identify waste by shift – The ability to set different shift timings allows you to identify how much each shift is contributing towards a particular waste type.
  • Identify waste trends over a period of time – The ability to modify date and time parameters to generate different sorts of reports is critical for a thorough and quick analysis of the waste streams and waste lines.
  • Manage Hauling – It must track the waste stream data from manufacturing line to disposal.
  • Levels of access – It must offer different levels of access to the floor operator as well as the management team. This will allow floor operators and managers alike to be proactive about making a conscious effort towards meeting the long term waste reduction goals.
  • Hardware – Most waste management software come with their own specialized hardware. You should ask upfront about the additional costs associated with the hardware, if any.
  • Initial implementation cost – Ideally the initial implementation costs should be a part of the software price.


Proper tracking and reporting of manufacturing waste help any food processing organization with the easy access to the critical data that they require to identify potential opportunities for reducing manufacturing costs. Reduced manufacturing costs allow you to produce the same product using lesser resources and thus giving you the advantage over your competition and helping you achieve higher levels of sustainability. Lesser waste would also contribute towards higher employee morale with cleaner and safer working conditions. Start identifying your food processing waste today and save money!

Fibromyalgia And The Foods We Eat

Physicians have found that fibromyalgia does appear to be affected by the foods we eat. Its effect can manifest itself differently for each individual, similar to having the same medication effect an individual differently than someone else. Some responding better or worse with the same medication or food. This is partly due to our complex body systems and depending on what each part of our bodies need at any given time. It is a difficult one to explain fully.

Eating healthy foods on a daily basis has been found to help people with fibromyalgia and other disorders like it. Actually, a good healthy diet serves to help with all things. Fibromyalgia can be quite debilitating and suck the energy right out of you. A lot of energy is used just dealing with the discomfort in movement and the ever present fatigue. It is not even clear what causes the fibromyalgia symptoms of muscle/joint pain and fatigue. At any rate, it can zap the zest for life.

Research is showing that the foods we eat play a role in the fibromyalgia symptoms. There has been many varied and contradicting diet recommendations. I think it always comes back to a basic foundation of healthy eating and sometimes a few tweaks for a particular condition based on sound research.

A Few Foods That May Cause More Symptoms

With fibromyalgia and other disorders like it, a good nutritious diet is a must. According to an article posted on WebMD, they have found a few foods that seem to sometimes cause problems with people suffering from Fibromyalgia. Not all of the people in their study had problems with all of these, but it is worth investigating one at a time to see if your symptoms improve. First and foremost, simply start with a good nutritious diet. Do this for at least a couple weeks to get a good, solid foundation, then try eliminating each one of foods below, one at a time. Give it at least a week for each one to be sure it is helping. It may help to keep a written diary as you are doing this.

Aspartame (NutraSweet)-In my opinion, most artificial sweeteners should be avoided. Many unrelated studies have been done on aspartame and it appears to cause problems for many people with and without fibromyalgia.

MSG (monosodium glutamate) and nitrates like those in lunch meats and processed meats. MSG is an additive that is found in many processed foods such as many flavored chips, sauces/gravies, pre-packaged foods, some restaurant foods and the like. There are different names for MSG. MSG can cause symptoms for many people with and without fibromyalgia as well. In minuscule amounts, it may not be noticed while others are quite sensitive to MSG and/or nitrates.

Sugar-Again, sugary foods, especially processed sugars, can affect a person’s health adversely whether you have fibromyalgia or not. High fructose corn syrup has been a major topic in recent years. Sodas, in particular, have a high level of sugar in them, which many people tend to drink a lot of. Relating to sodas, often people with fibromyalgia will drink a soda because they are fatigued. The carbonation and sugar cause an intense increase in the blood sugar levels, which shortly thereafter takes a sharp decline, which further increases symptoms, especially fatigue, then due to the fatigue, they will drink another soda. This imbalance of blood sugar levels can increase symptoms.

Caffeine-We all think of caffeine giving us a burst of energy, but this energy boost is temporary and when it is over, it can cause even worse fatigue for those with fibromyalgia.

Yeast and gluten-Often these substances are found together in breads, pastries and a lot of baked foods. There has been a lot of growing research connecting peoples’ digestive absorption type issues with fatigue and muscle/joint pain. There is a growing number of people with gluten intolerance. Removing gluten has helped people with fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, respiratory concerns, skin problems, abdominal discomfort and related issues, weight loss and has helped with just a general boost in a zeal for life. The good news is that there has been an increasing number of gluten free products out there that actually taste good.

Dairy-Dairy products have many benefits, but can cause problems for some. Some people are just lactose intolerant and trying a lactose free milk product may be worth trying. Others are sensitive to the additives, hormones or pesticides that can be in the milk. Buying an organic type milk can solve that problem. If you feel, milk might be making symptoms worse for you, then either try removing it altogether or trying lactose free or organic first. Remember, if you do remove it completely, be sure you are getting adequate calcium from another source.

Nightshade Plants- Nightshade vegetables, the most common being tomatoes, sweet and hot bell peppers, potatoes, tobacco and eggplant. These have been found to cause an increase in arthritic type pain for some.

Fibromyalgia can be a challenging disorder, but eating the right foods can make a difference as well as staying away from foods that have been researched to possibly worsen your symptoms. Remember to start with a healthy, nutritious diet which is basically one with low fat, low sugar, low processed foods, healthy proteins and carbohydrates, plenty of fruits and vegetables as well as adequate intake of water.

Powerhouse Energy

Interestingly, research has found that people with fibromyalgia have mitochondria dysfunction. This is a section of your cell that produces energy. It is the powerhouse of the cell. It is necessary that fibromyalgia sufferers have a high level of nutrition to improve mitochondria function in order to assist with the production of energy. This makes it even more clear that people with fibromyalgia are affected by the foods they eat and don’t eat, making a high nutritious diet an absolute must.

Probiotic Food Products – Their Benefits

News reports and mainstream media reports about pathogens and harmful bacteria almost on a daily basis. It is easy to think that all bacterias are bad for your health. The truth is, there are certain classes of bacteria that are good for you, they are also called probiotic or “for life”. In recent years, the United States have seen the rise of probiotic food products and these have become widely available in supermarkets.

The United States, however, is lagging behind Europe where such food products are so popular that they are sold almost everywhere. Examples of these food products include heart-healthy beverages, soy-based drinks, yogurt, kefir (fermented milk based beverages that contain probiotics), cultured dairy products, juices, salted gherkins, fermented cabbage, and brined olives. Of course there are probiotic food products of popular brand names which you can check online.

Manufacturers of these products claim that it prevents diarrhea. What is more, these food products are often advised to be eaten when a person is prescribed antibiotics which can kill both beneficial bacteria as well as pathogens. With the absence of beneficial bacteria, new pathogens would get a better chance at infecting the person and therefore causing diarrhea and other intestinal problems. These products have especially been beneficial for infant diarrhea that may also give rise to dehydration.

They are also touted to be effective against lactose intolerance, when your body cannot break down the sugar present in milk and other dairy products. Lactose intolerance is present in some degree in almost three quarters of all American adults. Probiotics have been found to aid in the easy break down of milk and other dairies.

Additionally, makers of these food products have said that probiotics can prevent colorectal and other types of cancer, as well as enhancing the immune system. A 1984 study showed that probiotics reduced the presence of carcinogens and enzymes that cause cancer in the intestinal tract.

Improving the body’s digestive tract also means an overall improvement to the human immune system. This is because the human immune system relies on the digestive tract. Such products have also been found to stimulate some parts of the immune system like its antibody functions and cell regeneration, increasing the body’s ability to protect itself when it is under attack.

These products are good for asthmatics and people who suffer from allergies. Researchers at the University of California at San Francisco found that babies with an asthmatic parent given probiotics during the first six months of life were less prone to develop asthma.

They have also been considered as a way of alleviating the symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease. This is because probiotics act on the intestinal microflora.

Other claims made by makers of these products include reducing cholesterol levels, preventing infections.

These products may help in some conditions. But, most people still do not know what good bacteria and bad bacteria are present in their bodies. And not all of these food products are created equal. Depending on the probiotics present in the product, they have different effects on your body and your intestinal track. Also be aware that not all products contain the same level of probiotics. These differences in the type of probiotics used and concentration of bacteria makes these products different from each other. So, make sure you are eating the food that’s right for you.