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Starbucks Introduces Olive Oil-Infused Coffee in Italy
há 10 horas
2:57Starbucks has presented a new line of olive oil-infused coffee at its locations across Italy. The company plans to introduce the beverage in California in the spring and the United Kingdom, Japan and the Middle East later in the year. Howard Schultz, the company’s interim chief executive, said five new hot and cold brewed beverages would be made with Nocellara del Belice extra virgin olive oil sourced from Partanna, Sicily. The Brooklyn native said the inspiration for the new olive oil coffee line came after a trip to Sicily. He was introduced to the custom of drinking a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil before his morning coffee. Soon after, he started mixing the olive oil with the coffee. “I was absolutely stunned at the unique flavor and texture created when the Partanna extra virgin olive oil was infused into Starbucks coffee,” Schultz said. “In both hot and cold coffee beverages, what it produced was an unexpected, velvety, buttery flavor that enhanced the coffee and lingers beautifully on the palate.” Amy Dilger, the company’s principal beverage designer, was charged with creating the new olive oil-infused drinks. After researching extra virgin olive oil, she blended the oil with the company’s blonde espresso roast, which the company describes as having “smooth, well-rounded flavors that are delicious both hot and iced.” Italy is Europe’s third-largest coffee market, with an annual per capita consumption of 5.3 kilograms. However, there has long been plenty of antipathy toward Starbucks. In 2018, Starbucks announced plans to open its first store in Milan, the country’s second-largest city and economic hub. In protest, Italians set fire to some of the palm trees in the Piazza del Duomo, an iconic city landmark where the first store was set to open. Eventually, there was a gradual acceptance of the chain. The decision to launch an olive oil-based line of coffee comes after a flurry of other olive and olive oil beverage infusions. Last March, an entrepreneur in Liguria, a region of northern Italy, launched an olive oil-infused vodka. Like Schultz, he said adding olive oil gave the vodka a velvety texture. In Spain and Italy, two separate companies recently introduced olive-infused beer. Producers in Lazio added olive leaves obtained from pruning to the traditional brewing process, resulting in a smoky taste in the beer. Meanwhile, an award-winning Spanish beer uses Empeltre olive extract, which infuses the flavors, aromas and colors of the olives into the beer. While all three of these products have won regional and international acclaim, it remains to be seen how Italy’s coffee-enthusiastic public takes to the new drinks.
AI Tools May Not Transform Agriculture, but Will Help Farmers, Experts Predict
há 10 horas
6:13In the three months since it was first unveiled, OpenAI’s artificial intelligence-powered chatbot has captured the general public’s imagination. OpenAI no longer publishes official use figures but said 1 million users signed up for the free service in the first five days. The large language model-based generator – fed on billions of data points, including books, news articles and other web content – can instantly answer questions, though not always accurately, and mimic creative writing styles. Since its inauguration, people from a wide range of sectors have been trying to figure out how best to harness the unprecedented power of this artificial intelligence to make their businesses more efficient. ChatGPT is unlikely to revolutionize agriculture, but experts suggest that it could help farmers with research and tasks, such as writing website content and marketing material. Heng Ji, a professor of computer science at the University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign, told Olive Oil Times that large language model-based generators could help farmers perform tasks where human judgment can be used to assess the accuracy of the information. “But we should not really think of this as a magical tool that can solve all the problems,” she said. For example, Ji said farmers could ask ChatGPT how to plant specific crops in certain regions or climatic conditions and expect to receive accurate advice. ChatGPT could also summarize the findings of scientific studies or provide practical information, such as how to repair a piece of equipment. “A large language model is just memorizing a sequence of tokens,” she said. “It is about the aggregation of human experiences from the past. It’s basically gathered all the data from the whole web before 2021 and memorized it.” Sequence of tokens A “sequence of tokens” means a sequence of smaller units of meaning, called “tokens,” that make up a larger piece of text or code. Tokens are usually words or punctuation marks. Breaking down text or code into sequences of tokens makes it easier to analyze and process, and is used as inputs for machine learning models to generate new text or classify it into different categories. Ji warned that large language model-based generators – despite what they claim when asked – cannot engage in the process known as scientific discovery. For example, ChatGPT says it can help farmers by predicting future climatic conditions and market prices. However, Ji explained why this is not possible. “It does not have deep reasoning abilities,” she said. “It cannot predict the future. If you are asking the model to discover something about a new condition or some tasks that it’s never observed before, it’s not going to do that [accurately].” “It will generate an answer in fluent English, but there’s no knowledge grounding capability, and there’s no guarantee about the truthfulness of the answer,” Ji added. “The system was not designed for reasoning or discoveries.” Todd Janzen, an attorney specializing in agricultural law, agrees. He asked ChatGPT: “What are the top five ways that ChatGTP will revolutionize agriculture in the United States?” Among the responses, ChatGPT said it could use its abilities for data analysis and predictions. “If you knew nothing about agriculture, you would think ChatGPT’s predictions were pretty amazing,” Janzen wrote in Successful Farming magazine. “These predictions come across as very authoritative and knowledgable.” “But peel back the veneer, and you find a kind of word salad that sounds impressive but lacks much depth or meaning,” he added. “Most of these five points are just regurgitating the same concepts: data analysis and prediction.” Before ChatGPT can become a revolutionary tool for farmers, Ji believes that the problem around the accuracy of its answers must first be fixed. She added that researchers are already working on their own large language model-based generators. One specifically geared toward agriculture could be created, where all the...
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Starbucks Could Become a Global Ambassador for EVOO, Experts Say
há 10 horas
3:25Some experts predict that Starbucks’ initiative to blend Italian olive oil and coffee might significantly enhance the global popularity of extra virgin olive oil. Last week, Starbucks introduced five new olive oil-infused hot and cold coffee beverages at its flagship Italian location in Milan. The company used Nocellara del Belice extra virgin olive oil sourced from the NYIOOC award-winning producer – Oleificio Asaro – in Partanna, Sicily. Nicholas Sampogna, a spokesman for Starbucks, declined to comment on why the multinational coffeehouse chose Oleificio Asaro. The Sicilian producer’s Partanna brand earned a Gold Award at the 2022 World Olive Oil Competition. Sampogna confirmed that Partanna would also be used in olive oil-infused coffee beverages when launched in California, the United Kingdom and the Middle East later in the year. “Partanna extra virgin olive oil is the exclusive brand that will be used to craft Starbucks Oleato as we launch around the world,” he told Olive Oil Times. According to Anna Cane, president of the olive oil group of the Italian Association of the Edible Oil Industry (Assitol), the new beverage could widen the olive oil market’s horizons. “Mixing coffee and olive oil is a truly challenging innovation,” she told Olive Oil Times. “Extra virgin olive oil is an extraordinary product. Giving it value through coffee could relaunch its image, mostly among the younger generations.” Denis Pantini, head of the agrifood business unit at Nomisma, a consulting firm, said Starbucks’ global reach could provide a significant platform to promote olive oil. As he waits for a taste of the new coffee, Pantini told Olive Oil Times how “the partnership between a big player such as Starbucks and a ‘Made in Italy’ product such as extra virgin olive oil offers, without doubt, both promotion and visibility for Italian olive oil.” “Should the coffee-extra virgin olive oil mix achieve a high level of satisfaction among consumers, then its positive effect will be even more amplified,” he added. “For sure, it could win the interest of those who might still be hesitant to consume a healthy product such as olive oil.” While representing a breakthrough for the American coffeehouse chain, Cane emphasized how innovators increasingly use extra virgin olive oil to venture into new food and beverage consumption categories. “Think of extra virgin olive oil-based cocktails, which are appreciated by all great bartenders or the olive oil-based Panettone [a popular Italian Christmas fruit cake],” she said, adding that extra virgin olive oil is increasingly used in ice creams and pastries. Pantini said the wide variety of extra virgin olive oil organoleptic properties provide plenty of opportunities for innovative food producers to experiment. “Consumers have plenty to choose from and to explore,” he said. “Let us hope that this new partnership triggers a virtuous circle enabling [extra virgin olive oil] promotion and giving new value to the Italian olive oil and specifically to those olive oils which come from the many different territories of the country.” Daniel Dawson contributed to this report.
Olive Growers on Evia Island Strive to Revive Fire-Damaged Groves
há 10 horas
6:41In August 2021, dozens of catastrophic fires burned across Greece, including the north of Evia Island in the Aegean Sea. Evia, the second-largest island in the country after Crete, runs parallel with central Greece to the east, lying only a few kilometers off the mainland. Around 50,000 hectares of forest and agricultural land were ravaged by the wildfires on the island 18 months ago. In the affected areas, the flames consumed thousands of olive trees. After the disaster, farmers and millers in northern Evia grappled with restoring their livelihoods on the burned land. “Reviving the destroyed olive groves is a herculean task,” Dimitris Papanastasiou, an olive mill owner based in the coastal village of Oreoi, told Olive Oil Times. “It takes planting lots of young olive trees and requires tons of water for irrigation. And a lot of labor, of course.” “Almost 80 percent of the olive groves in our area were burned in 2021,” he added. “However, the promised state aid has seriously lagged, and struggling olive farmers have few resources to put into reviving their groves.” “The state handed out some money after the fire, but not all olive growers have received it yet,” Papanastasiou continued. “Even more, the reconstruction committee for northern Evia handed out some olive trees to farmers, and now they are nowhere to be seen.” Papanastasiou also said the region’s olive trees have experienced reduced fruition due to the unseasonably mild winter weather in the area since 2019. “Only this crop year, the trees that survived the blaze were almost back to normal and able for a modest olive oil yield,” he said. “Olive producers secured some small revenue, but the situation is difficult.” Others in Evia’s olive sector also complained that compensation for the fire-stricken farmers had fallen behind. “The government is giving money for [reconstruction] studies but has not yet compensated the farmers for the fires,” said Kostas Tzavaras, the assistant director of the union of Evia’s agricultural associations. “Some money was initially distributed by ELGA [the Greek organization of agricultural insurance], including the one-off benefit, and then nothing,” he added. “Apart from the money for the trees, the olive producers have not yet been reimbursed for the damage to their machinery and facilities.” In the wake of the 2021 fires, the Greek government set up a committee under Stavros Benos, a former minister of culture, to plan and direct the reconstruction of the damaged agricultural regions in northern Evia. According to the progress report of the reconstruction program, 30 of the 71 sub-projects the program includes are already materializing. “Our job was to identify the steps required for the recovery of the agri-food sector of the impacted areas in northern Evia,” Xenofon Kappas of CVF, a foundation that worked with the committee to compile Evia’s reconstruction study, told Olive Oil Times. “The distribution of financial aid to impacted farmers pertains to governmental agencies,” he added. “What is more, a number of olive trees were initially distributed to farmers by some other private initiatives, not the committee.” “Our study is application-oriented and includes specific suggestions, which highlight the work needed to revive the agri-food sector of northern Evia,” Kappas continued. “Some of the suggestions have started to take shape, and some have already been completed, such as installing smart cultivation systems in the Rovies olive grove.” Rovies, a well-known area in Greece for its vast olive groves for table olive varieties, was hit hard by the 2021 wildfires. “Around 30 to 40 percent of the main Rovies olive grove was destroyed by the fires in the summer of 2021,” Nicos Vallis, an olive grower and head of the agricultural association of Rovies, told Olive Oil Times. “There were also many more olive trees in other groves toward the nearby town of Limni, which were razed to the ground.” The region is home to around 50,000 trees o...
Mediterranean Diet and Exercise Improve Working Memory in Young Students
há 10 horas
5:56Young students following the Mediterranean diet and exercising regularly demonstrated improved working memory, according to the results of a new study. Working memory refers to a system in the brain responsible for temporarily holding and manipulating information necessary for performing complex cognitive tasks. The researchers believe their findings should be considered when developing public programs and educational policies targeting school-age children. “Working memory is a short-term memory; it is the ability to remember information and to build on it,” Laura Dallolio, a researcher at the University of Bologna and co-author of the study, told Olive Oil Times. “It is like having a blackboard one can take notes on, retain and elaborate on.” Using a standard test in working memory research, the researchers gave 106 students aged 6 to 10 from the northern Italian town of Imola a series of numbers to remember, asking them to repeat the numbers back in reverse order. By gradually adding new numbers to the series, thus increasing the difficulty of the challenge, scientists could test the limits of the efficiency of the students’ working memory. “We did not expect these results, as the beneficial effects of the Mediterranean diet on students have rarely been researched, and they are usually broadly associated with well-being and general health,” Dallolio said. Mediterranean diet The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating that is based on the traditional dietary patterns of the countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. The diet emphasizes the consumption of plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and extra virgin olive oil, with moderate amounts of fish, poultry and dairy products. The researchers explained that better working memory is linked with improved learning skills, affecting academic achievement and opportunity. Language skills, reading comprehension, mathematics and reasoning are all impacted by working memory. “It is a function that continues developing until about 12,” Dallolio said. Along with problem-solving, self-control and mental flexibility, working memory is among the main executive brain functions, all of which are interrelated. “Research has proven that physical activity and the Mediterranean diet affect cognitive function,” Francesco Esposito, a researcher at the University of Bologna and co-author of the study, told Olive Oil Times. “It has also shown that the intake of polyphenols and other Mediterranean diet contents impact cognitive health.” “In the latest edition of the MedDiet pyramid, physical activity is shown at the base of the pyramid,” he added. “That is because dietary habits and physical activity are strictly connected, so they are considered together.” “It is a virtuous circle,” Alice Masini, a researcher at the University of Bologna and co-author of the study, told Olive Oil Times. “One cannot say if more significant physical activity comes from healthier dietary choices or vice versa. They are two aspects deeply linked to each other.” “When we see the data collected from the participating schools, we cannot say if the outcome is due to the dietary habits or to the physical activity, as the focus is on the whole of the impact and outcomes,” she added. To evaluate the Mediterranean diet adherence of the students, researchers collected data from parents and caregivers about their children’s eating habits. Using a benchmark food index, researchers assigned positive and negative scores to the different food choices to measure the impact of healthy and less healthy diets. “As an example, the index assigns a positive score to the regular daily consumption of vegetables,” Rossella Sacchetti, a researcher at the University of Bologna and co-author of the research, told Olive Oil Times. “On the contrary, it gives a negative score to dietary intake that does not belong to the healthy model of the Mediterranean diet, such as not having breakfast, eating fas...
Health Researcher: Focus on Healthier Diets Instead of ‘Demonizing’ Certain Foods
há 10 horas
6:41Health professionals and government officials should emphasize what consumers should eat instead of warning against eating specific foods, a British health researcher has urged. Duane Mellor, the associate dean of public engagement at Aston Medical School’s college of health and life sciences, said health officials should make it easier for people to follow a healthier diet instead of warning them not to eat ultra-processed foods. He argued that the combination of urbanization and modernization, the oversimplification of the scientific study results and perverse incentives in politics and agribusiness had created a food environment at cross-purposes. “As people get wealthy and move to cities, there tends to be more meat, more pastries, more processed high fat, high salt and high sugar food,” he told Olive Oil Times. The backlash to this trend came in the form of fad diets that demonized foods rich in carbohydrates and fats, which have not succeeded in curbing rates of obesity and cardiovascular disease. “Humans don’t like restrictions,” Mellor said. “We are creatures that tend to like making our own decisions and exploring our own ideas, so we need an environment that supports and celebrates healthy choices.” Instead, he urges a more holistic vision of diet and food with an emphasis on helping people make healthy choices instead of chastising them about what not to eat. For example, Mellor said people should follow the Mediterranean diet and other eating patterns followed by populations living in “blue zones.” The Mediterranean diet is characterized by a high intake of plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes, with extra virgin olive oil as the primary source of fat. The diet, which is often referred to more as a lifestyle, also encourages moderate consumption of fish and poultry and limited consumption of dairy products, red meat and sweets. However, Mellor believes it is the social aspects of the diet, such as encouraging exercise and eating meals with friends and family, that make it effective. “The big thing that’s forgotten is the conviviality of the approach, so it’s not just based on the chemicals on the plate; it’s the art of the food and the sharing of food with others,” Mellor said. His plea to change the conversation about healthy eating comes on the heels of a new study published in The Lancet. The research found that replacing 10 percent of processed foods with an equal amount of minimally processed foods was associated with reduced risk for several types of cancer. Mellor believes politicians, health officials and the private sector can work together to help people achieve this replacement through a positivist approach. “There are a lot of things that could be done through agricultural policy, through health policy,” he said. For example, governments could stop subsidizing low-quality crops destined for animal feed, such as corn, and encourage farmers to grow more whole grains and legumes instead. Supermarkets could easily modify their layouts to group foods for healthy and easy-to-prepare five-item recipes together while separating common processed food combinations, such as hot dogs and buns or frozen processed meat and fries. “You could change your environment, so making healthy choices is easier, and you are guided in making these choices,” Mellor said. He added that some ultra-processed foods might even be used as a gateway to healthier meals, such as adding fresh vegetables, lentils or whole grain pasta to a jar of tomato sauce. “Some people would hate me for saying this, but you could make ramen using the instant noodles, which are processed, but vegetables that are not, and make a healthy meal out of it,” Mellor said. “It’s a quick, easy and convenient way to get lots of healthy food with a small amount of processed food at the start,” he added. Along with health policy officials and private companies, Mellor believes researchers and journalists also have an essenti...
Lab Test Would Define the Sensory Profile of Olive Oil by Analyzing Its Molecules
há 10 horas
7:19One of the most relevant challenges has been identifying how a specific molecule was related to the organoleptic feedback and which molecules corresponded to a positive attribute or a negative one.– Anna Cane, president, Assitol’s olive oil group Researchers and olive oil producers in Italy are one step closer to completing a new scientific procedure for identifying the volatile compounds of extra virgin olive oil. The goal is to add a laboratory analysis to the routine tests done by extra virgin olive oil tasting panels to confirm quality and determine organoleptic characteristics. The Italian Association of the Edible Oil Industry (Assitol) asked producers and laboratories across Italy to participate in the last testing phase. “We are talking about a new analytic system capable of evaluating the sensorial profile of extra virgin olive oil,” Anna Cane, president of Assitol’s olive oil group, told Olive Oil Times. According to current European Union regulations and International Olive Council standards, evaluating the quality of extra virgin olive oil requires a panel test. “It is a method based on human abilities, as it requires at least eight expert tasters who follow an established procedure,” Cane said. “Their sensorial organs constitute the equipment of the panel test analysis.” “The new analysis tool is based on scientifically-sound technology,” she added. “It allows us to extract the volatile compounds of extra virgin olive oil and identify the specific molecules, which come in hundreds.” According to Assitol, the whole sector would benefit from the new analysis procedure once it is perfected and translated into a legal standard. One of the advantages would be the ability to analyze a large number of samples from different suppliers. “The new method might allow a first screening of the samples to exclude those that do not fit the desired profiles quickly,” Cane said. “It could greatly speed up the procedures and support the panel test operations.” Additionally, Assitol believes this approach would improve the information given to consumers. “Today, we have limited options to include sensorial indications on extra virgin olive oil labels,” Cane said. “We can only use ‘fruity,’ ‘bitter’ and ‘piquant’ as they are those determined by the sole legal analytic system, the panel test.” As many consumers are not yet aware of extra virgin olive oil organoleptic qualities, most producers only use the attribute “fruity” on their labels, shunning “bitter” and “piquant,” or pungency. “That means that extra virgin olive oils on sale are not sufficiently differentiated,” Cane said. “In the future, we could have an analytic tool capable of detecting herbaceous, artichoke, almond or many other positive attributes.” “That could even help develop a new regulation on extra virgin olive oil labeling,” she added. “To display sensorial attributes on the label, today, those attributes must have been certified by an analytic system defined by law.” The new labels could also support extra virgin olive oil sales through different channels, including food service. “Restaurants are the ambassadors of local quality products throughout the country,” Cane said. Many restaurants in Italy feature different wines expertly paired with each meal. “Recently in Umbria, a maitre d’ spent 10 minutes explaining to my friends and myself the beauty of a Riesling bottle of wine, so we ordered it,” Cane said. “When I asked him for some extra virgin olive oil, he just put a bottle on the table.” “When we asked him to tell us something about that extra virgin olive oil as he had done for the wine, he told us he did not know anything about it,” she added. “That is an example of how much we need to reach a new level of communication for extra virgin olive oil.” Assitol emphasized how producers could also deploy the new system to evaluate olive oil blends alongside the panel test. “It could help evaluate the profile of the blend a company aims to bring onto the market...
Farmers in Croatia See Promising Use of Drones
há 10 horas
8:25The owners of millennial olive trees in Lun on the Croatian island of Pag are left without a harvest year after year. Even last season, when they had high hopes, they failed to produce oil from wild olives. This year, they planned to present their extra virgin olive oil at an international competition for the first time, choosing the 2023 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition as the venue. Unfortunately, they failed. “There was no fruit that was healthy enough to make at least one batch of top-quality oil,” Želimir Badurina, the founder and president of the Lun Olive Cooperative, told Olive Oil Times. First, fertilization went wrong. Some fruits that survived the heat wave improved, but the olives turned brown over time, then black and finally fell from the branches. What little was left was damaged by pests – the olive fruit fly, borer and patula (a moth). The problem is that protecting the Lunje olive groves against pests and diseases is not possible using conventional methods. The reason is simple: the Lunj olive groves cover about 400 hectares of rugged, hard-to-access terrain. Most of the 80,000 trees cannot be accessed by vehicles. Even if spraying with atomizers from a tractor were possible, it would have no effect because the centuries-old trees, some of which are more than 2,000 years old, are tall with crowns of 6 to 10 meters. Due to the slope and rocky terrain, the disposition and variable spacing of the trees, the impossibility of using tractors and the lack of workforce protection here, as in quite a few other olive growing areas, especially on the islands, is only possible from the air. “With drones, it would be possible to effectively treat and protect the entire complex of olive groves in Lunje,” Andrea Cantore Badurina said. The young agronomist, Badurina’s nephew, studied agronomy in Milan, where he was born. Later, he graduated from a master’s program in Zagreb and received his doctorate in Sardinia, where his parents live. After finishing his studies, he returned to Lun, where his mother is from. Cantore Badurina works as a guide in the Gardens of Lunje olive groves, which he preserves and protects. He also does scientific work, following the latest developments in digital agriculture, especially in olive growing. He said drones are widely used in other olive-growing countries to collect valuable data, including soil analyses, plant health indicators and water and nutrient information. This data helps farmers optimize inputs, such as fertilizers, water and pesticides. As a result, they provide timely protection against pests, save time, reduce production costs and ensure larger and better quality crop yields. Several other projects also are underway in neighboring Italy. For example, in Tuscany, experts are developing a model for assisted pollination of olive trees with the help of drones. The European Union-funded project Olimpolli Montagnani is still in the experimental phase. However, the first tests carried out in olive groves in Garda and Tuscany provided encouraging results. Instead of increasing the productivity of existing olive trees by the 1 to 3 percent associated with traditional methods, Olimpolli Montagnani’s method has increased the productivity by 20 to 25 percent. The uncrewed aerial vehicle hovers above the olive trees, disperses the pollen and fertilizes the flowers. Days without wind and rain are ideal for pollination. Pollen that is still active is collected directly from the plants. The olive growers can fly the drones themselves or hire specialist companies to do it for them. The pollen can be stored and used in ideal temperature and humidity conditions the following year. Experts said olive farmers with large groves would benefit from using drones for pollination because they can cover huge areas quickly, flying over trees even in inaccessible areas, such as steep slopes or terraces. Even in such conditions, the drone allows farmers to apply pollen on one hectare of olive groves (ab...
Med Diet Adherence Associated with Lower Dementia Risk
há 15 horas
6:02A long-term, large-scale study published by BMC Medicine provided further evidence that adherence to the Mediterranean diet is associated with lower dementia risk. The results showed that participants with the highest adherence to the Mediterranean diet lower such risk by up to 23 percent. A lower adherence might still yield some beneficial effects. A research team from Newcastle University and other United Kingdom academic institutions assessed the impact of following the Mediterranean diet on 60,298 people with a follow-up period of more than nine years. The size and duration of the trial make it one of the most extensive studies ever conducted in this area. “There have been a number of previous studies on the subject,” Oliver Shannon, a co-author of the study and researcher at Newcastle University’s Population Health Sciences Institute, told Olive Oil Times. “Generally, they have been small studies and did not have many dementia cases, factors that limited their statistical power to detect the possible association between the Mediterranean diet and dementia,” he added. The researchers accessed the information from the U.K. Biobank database, an ongoing cohort study of more than 500,000 participants. The database is considered a crucial source for investigating diseases that develop in middle and older age. By applying standard investigation methods commonly used in long-term cohort studies, U.K. scientists could identify individuals whose data were of interest for the study, including Mediterranean diet adherence. Eight hundred eighty-two cases of dementia were reported during the 9.1-year follow-up period in the sample group, which included individuals with an average age of 63.8 years. Their dietary habits, body mass index, socioeconomic status, education, sleep duration and physical activity level were among the indexes considered by the research. The extended follow-up provides researchers with a more reliable data set to study. Usually, patients who are in the early stages of developing dementia switch to a healthier diet as a consequence of that condition. “That makes it more challenging for these kinds of studies as there is a potential issue of reverse causality,” Shannon said. “But if you can track the dietary habits for a long time, that mitigates the issue of reverse causality, as you can look at how their dietary habits were before [the dementia onset] and how they developed.” Therefore, the researchers measured the incidence of dementia in each of the three groups into which the study subjects were divided, identified by low, moderate or high adherence to the Mediterranean diet. “If we look at people with the lowest adherence to the Mediterranean diet, for every 1,000 people we have seen, 17 of them develop dementia during the follow-up period,” Shannon said. “In the higher Mediterranean diet intake group, instead, only 12 individuals per 1,000 developed dementia.” In the study, the researchers highlighted how higher Mediterranean diet adherence was found among women with healthy body mass index values, higher educational levels and a higher level of physical activity compared to the group with lower adherence. The study also investigated how individuals with a genetic predisposition for dementia respond to adopting the Mediterranean diet. “That is something that very little previous research has ever looked into,” Shannon said. “We were interested to see if the impact of the Mediterranean diet differed in individuals with different genetic profiles.” “We know that there are certain genes which might make individuals more likely to develop dementia or certain variants of those genes,” Shannon said. For example, individuals who carry the APOE gene and its allele APOE4 are considered significantly more at risk of developing dementia. In their study, scientists used a polygenic risk score to combine a complete set of genetic information potentially related to dementia onset and used it to profile the subjects in...
Thousands of Hectares of Abandoned Olive Groves Set to Be Sold in Italy
há 16 horas
3:27Twenty thousand hectares of unused and abandoned farmland and olive groves have been put on sale in Italy by the Institute of Services for the Agricultural and Food Market (Ismea) The sixth edition of Ismea’s National Bank of the Agricultural Lands (BTA) auction lists available farms across the country. According to Ismea, the land on sale, enough to establish 800 farms, is worth €260 million. Of the available farmland, 315 lots are exclusively olive groves in southern Italy. However, plenty of other lots, including olive groves and other crops, notably vineyards, are also available. The farmland lots on sale are listed on the BTA website. Thirty-six percent of the available land is in Sicily, 13 percent in Tuscany, 12 percent in Sardinia and 9 percent in Puglia. To participate, farmers must submit their declaration of interest by June 5th. The area and price vary considerably, from 5 hectares of olive trees sold for €100,000 near Caltagirone, Sicily, to 98 hectares for €316,000 in Arcidosso, Tuscany. While the BTA auction is open to everyone, specific support is set to be provided to young farmers. The bank will allow farmers under 41 to pay the total price of the farmland with a 30-years fixed-rate amortization plan. “Since its first edition, BTA has auctioned more than 40,000 hectares of farmland, distributed from north to south, triggering almost 7,000 declarations of interest,” Ismea officials told Olive Oil Times. In the first five editions, the BTA has sold 450 lots, mainly in the southern regions of Puglia, Sicily and Basilicata. BTA is just one of Ismea’s initiatives to stimulate the interest of a new generation of farmers. Another example, the Land Generation initiative, provides special financing for younger farmers to expand their operations or launch new farms. Ismea officials said younger farmers and women are supported through a specific initiative that mixes loans at favorable conditions and grants. “[These] are meant to strengthen current agricultural production and the transformation and commercialization of agricultural products, as well as foster the diversification of agricultural income,” Ismea officials said. “The generational turnover is crucial to keep rural areas alive and to sustain a competitive, innovative and economically and environmentally sustainable agriculture,” they added. “Sadly, data show us that the young abandoning rural areas is still very intense and constitutes a demographic and socio-economic risk for entire territories.” “At the same time, what clearly emerged in the last census by Istat [the Italian national statistics agency] is the strong association between the young farmer and a higher competitive capacity of the farm, which is a result of the willingness to invest, the introduction of technological innovation, the ability to value the [farmers’] network,” the officials concluded. “It also comes from a tendency to diversify income sources and give value to the territory.”