This Montreal Company Turns Juice Pulp Into Food
By Harriette Halepis
More food isn't the answer to a growing population problem. Sustainably upcycling food is, and there's one Montreal man who knows how to make that happen.
Jonathan Rodrigue is the former business development director of Moisson Montreal, the largest food bank in Canada. His job at Moisson was to take as much edible waste as he could find and distribute it to various food banks throughout the city.
That upcycled juice pulp looks good enough to eat!
Rodrigue developed a program at Moisson that collected edible waste from more than 200 of the province's grocery stores to feed people in need. You could say that he has seen his fair share of food waste (two tonnes per store monthly). "I saw the scope of food waste at many levels," said Rodrigue.
He is talking about not only the food wasted in grocery stores and other markets but also the massive amount of food wasted during production. It's not uncommon for edible food to wind up in trash bins or on warehouse floors, mostly due to poor planning. Having this bird's-eye view gave Rodrigue a different perspective.
He saw many different types of products that were not being collected, distributed or upcycled. He and his team looked for basic ingredients that could be turned into other goods.
This led him to create Stillgood Inc., a company that upcycles juice pulp and spent grains by turning them into tasty bars, snacks, cookies and other treats. Rodrigue chose to focus on pulp and grains because he was looking for a way to upcycle items that were not yet being used.
"Non-profits usually choose products like bread and bakery goods that are already manufactured and ready to be eaten, but those aren't basic ingredients," he said. "They're already produced." Stillgood is still on the hunt for raw ingredients that may be the perfect addition to the company's products to decide what's needed to create a new product.
Rodrigue's passion for upcycling is evident, and he puts great emphasis on the fact that Stillgood isn't just a passing trend or fad. "For me, upcycling and reducing waste are a way of being," he said. "I didn't wake up one day and decide to cash in on a trend. My background is in food waste reduction."
While Stillgood is gaining traction in Montreal, that's not Rodrigue's end goal. "For me, building a company that reduces food waste is a way to try to change the way that food manufacturing is done right now."
Rodrigue wants other companies to see Stillgood as a sustainable model for food waste reduction. "We want people to look at what we're doing and say 'Hey, it's actually possible to reduce food waste and here's how,'" he said.
Stillgood products can be found in various stores in the Montreal area and through the city's rooftop farming initiative, Lufa Farms. Rodrigue has plans to expand the company's product line in the near future and is currently working on developing vegan snack options.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Modern Farmer.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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