Monday, January 29, 2018

Peanuts & Sustainability, What’s The Connection?/RNN

An international group of agricultural scientists have mapped the genetic code of peanut, The Peanut Foundation announced Dec. 25.  The culmination of a five-year research project will give scientists around the world a map with which to unlock some of the genetic potential of the peanut plant. The data will be openly available to all scientists.

This discovery by the Peanut Genome Consortium, a group of scientists from the U.S., ChinaJapanBrazilArgentinaAustraliaIndiaIsrael, and several countries in Africa, gives scientists the capability to find beneficial genes in cultivated and wild peanuts that can lead to greater yields, lower production costs, lower losses to disease, improved processing traits, improved nutrition, improved safety, better flavor and virtually anything that is genetically determined by the peanut plant.
“Study of peanut genome structure and order makes a great detective story, where many clues are found and linked together to unlock mysteries of genetics and gene regulation. This is exciting work,” said University of GeorgiaProfessor and Eminent Scholar Scott Jackson, chair of the Peanut Genome Consortium. The U.S. team included scientists from University of California-DavisUniversity of GeorgiaTexas A&M University, NC State University, Auburn UniversityUniversity of Florida, USDA-ARS in Tifton, Ga.Griffin, Ga.Stillwater, Ok.Ames, Iowa and Stoneville, Miss., and NCGR at Santa Fe, NM.
Many researchers contributed to this project, with The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology coordinating the assembly of the final peanut genome. “The quality and completeness of the peanut genome sequence exceeds anything to date that has been produced for a tetraploid crop plant. It’s much more complete than our cotton assemblies.  It’s really, really good!” said Jeremy Schmutz with HudsonAlpha.
In 2012, the U.S. peanut industry urged The Peanut Foundation to initiate a research program to map the genetic code of the peanut plant. The International Peanut Genome Initiative (IPGI) was — and remains — the largest research project ever funded by the industry, with the $6 million cost shared equally among growers, shellers and manufacturers.
For decades to come, the IPGI work will lead to improved sustainability and profitability of every segment of the industry and maintain peanut’s competitiveness among other crop choices that farmers may have. These accomplishments have opened doors for breeders to manipulate peanut traits like never before, and without using controversial and expensive GMO techniques.
Today, peanuts are a staple in diets across the globe, from the Americas to Africa and Asia.  They are also a key ingredient in Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) that have been proven to treat severe acute malnutrition.  Moreover, they are a crop that farmers in developing countries around the globe count on to advance personal and community economic wellbeing.
“Peanuts are already more sustainable and affordable than any nut available today, and consumers choose them for their flavor and familiarity,” explained Bob Parker, president and CEO of the National Peanut Board.  “I don’t know that any of us can fully articulate what this advance means to our ability to grow more peanuts with fewer resources to feed the world.  But I’m excited just thinking about the promises ahead of us.”
“Mapping the genetic code of the peanut proved to be an especially difficult task, but the final product is one of the best ever generated,” said Steve Brown, executive director of The Peanut Foundation. “We now have a map that will help breeders incorporate desirable traits that benefit growers, processors, and most importantly, the consumers that enjoy delicious and nutritious peanut products all over the world. ”

12 Sustainable Goals for the New Year/Part 2



7. Make Something You Would Normally Buy 

This one can be adventurous as you like and could be food or product based. You can make bread, butter and wine, simple recipes, or opt for a DIY green cleaning item or even start making your own paper. Go for something interesting, rewarding and bonus points for fun factor! Making eco-friendly glitter is the latest thing for us, not that we buy it very often, it is just something we don't want to purchase again, and it sparkles!

8. Do Something in Your Community

Acting locally can help make your community more sustainable, and it doesn't have to have an environmental focus at all. Maybe you are able to volunteer on a project or for a charity, join a community garden or perhaps you will pick up one piece of trash every time you go for a walk.  One thing I did this year was a Soupahero Challenge .......and ate soup for an entire week, to raise funds for homeless and those at risk. If everyone took a community minded action, the world would be a better place for it. 

9. Learn a New Skill

This might help you achieve some of the other items in the list. Having more skills gives you the freedom to make, fix or do things yourself, and of course be more sustainable. Think of something that really appeals to you. It could be fixing your own bike, hanging a picture, learning to sew, or learning something from your grandmother (Those old ladies have some valuable knowledge, so get it while you can!).

10. Take on a Challenge

This is great for motivation as well as the potential to compete with friends while doing something positive. It can be as simple as  ride your bike to work day, Plastic Free July or participating in Earth Hour. Remember to choose something that suits the amount of time and effort you can realistically devote to your cause. I created a super easy, printable, 30 day challenge you might want to try. Just head to the home page and subscribe to download.

11. Visit Your Library

I can never say this enough, but libraries are awesome and full of books, music, games, magazines plus fun activities for kids and adults. If you aren't yet a member of your local library, please make this your first goal. This is a perfect place to get hold of knowledge you need to become more sustainable, not to mention access to the latest books, movies and music for free and zero waste. (Unless you have a puppy and he eats one of your books, and now you have to go and confess the sin and probably pay up....but that's probably just me!). 

12. Get Into Nature

Don't just look at the world, get out into your parks, botanic gardens, beaches or just stargazing in your backyard. Take the time to get some sunlight, fresh air and feel the grass under your feet. There's nothing like the outdoors to lift your mood and remind us that we are just a small part of the world, yet have the potential to make a big impact!

What are your goals for 2018?

Saturday, January 27, 2018

12 Sustainable Goals for the New Year/Part 1

We continue to search and share with you ideas on making 2018 a great year around transformation.

A simple list of 12 sustainable goal ideas for your New Year's Resolutions. Whether you are wanting to live a little greener and eco friendly or maybe cut back on waste in 2018. One goal a month is attainable and can help prevent overwhelm, but you may just want to pick a couple. Whichever way you go, it will make a positive impact for 2018.

1. No more accidental straws

I'm still getting caught out by unexpected straws and I hate it. The new goal is to start saying 'Can I have that without a straw please?' every single time I order a drink. This is going to be tricky to remember, so I'll be starting this one straight away and make it my main goal for January as my New year's resolution. Maybe your goal isn't straws, but think of the one single-use thing that seems to catch you out more than you would like.

2. Plant or grow something New

We all know greenery is great for our surrounds and can even make us feel happier and healthier. We will be planting some oat seeds we received a while ago so the kids can watch how they grow over the summer break, and slowly add to our indoor and outdoor plants throughout the year. You might even want to try some windowsill gardening.

3. Reduce recycling

I'm always on a mission to cut back on waste, and aiming to reduce what you need to recycle can be hard. Choose a month and an item or material type to focus on to keep this one simple. If you have been following the blog, you might have noticed that I find recycling soft plastics kinda inconvenient to store and drop-off. My aim will be to cut out more soft plastic packaging, such as frozen vegetables, chips, icy poles (which leads into goals number 5, 6,& 7).

4. Remember Reusables  

If you're anything like our family, this requires more than just a scheduled reminder on your phone. I'm pretty good at keeping shopping bags in my boot, and a coffee cup in the glove box at all times, but not so great on remembering the small things. Reusable  produce bags, cutlery and a few small containers just in case I make a quick stop while I'm out, will really make a difference to 2018. Aim to make this an automatic habit, like grabbing your purse, or keys. I'm even considering making a tailored grab bag with slots for the regular items I need, so it is obvious what I'm missing. (I'll post the instructions if I get around to doing this).

5. Make a Product Swap

This is another sustainable action that is simple and worthwhile, often saving money in the long-term. This past year, I've made numerous swaps to more sustainable options and my next big move is safety razors (and hopefully I can convince my partner to hop on board too!). Picking one product swap at a time and giving yourself a chance to adjust and alter until its successful is often better than changing a hundred things and making it too hard on yourself. Here are some of my favourite eco-friendly products.

6. Eat more whole foods 

Doing this has health benefits as well as environmental. We all know we should eat far more vegetables, fruits, nuts and legumes and these are the most easily found foods in stores that allow you to use your own containers or bags. Processed and packaged foods contain loads more salt, preservatives and fake flavours, plus the packaging is generally plastic inside more plastic. Doing this action for 1 month will set you up for incorporating it into your daily life. One example I have started doing is to replace crackers with carrots, its simple, cheap and takes little time to implement.