This AI food truck could bring fresh produce directly to you

January 10, 2019 by  
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It’s no secret that artificial intelligence is trending worldwide, which is why it is also a prominent component of CES 2019 . But as interest in futuristic tech grows, so does consumer interest in fresh, local food. The farm-to-table concept continues to gain popularity, which is why Panasonic has proposed an innovative mash-up of these two seemingly polar opposites — an AI mobile delivery service that operates like an ice cream truck to bring local fruits, vegetables and other grocery items directly to you. SPACe_C eMart is part of Panasonics broader model of mobility solutions called SPACe_C. This particular concept is just that — a proof of concept idea that, once it gains investment, could quickly and easily become a reality. Unlike many current food delivery services, the eMart would not only just deliver fresh produce,  but also teach consumers precise information about the specific products they buy. Related: 5 simple ways to reduce your food waste right now The mobile delivery service would operate like an ice cream truck, traveling through neighborhoods and central locations to make it easy for consumers to pick up groceries, say, on their way home from work or just before preparing dinner. Each grocery item would be equipped with a QR code that could share information on expiration dates as well as notify users if the item is organic or GMO and where it came from. The truck would also feature a unique, refrigerated cabin that would use precise temperature and humidity controls for each type of food to ensure optimal freshness. These high-tech controls and food life cycle tracking systems would be powered by AI. The overall goal of the SPACe_C eMart is to bring fresh, local and healthy foods to consumers in an efficient manner, but we imagine this design could also be implemented further to help provide fresh produce and food education to food deserts and underserved communities. + Panasonic Photography by Inhabitat

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This AI food truck could bring fresh produce directly to you

How to grow a lush garden in your tiny kitchen windowsill

October 2, 2018 by  
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Envision a garden — you probably picture rows of corn neatly spaced across a field or lettuce coming to life in large raised beds. What you might not realize is that produce can grow very well in limited spaces, too. You can transform the confined windowsill in your kitchen into an oasis of herbs, greens and other goodies. In addition to growing flavorful herbs and fresh food, you also bring visual appeal to the space and produce a natural  air filtration system . By growing plants organically, you know what you are eating, and you can save money. It’s also nice to be able to easily pluck fresh flowers, herbs or produce any season of the year. When you’re ready to tackle the challenge, here are some tips and tricks to get you started on growing your own windowsill garden. Picking the best plants for a windowsill garden There are myriad possibilities when it comes to selecting plants for your indoor garden. First, consider your preferences. Are you looking for unique, conversation-starting plants that draw interest, or is your goal to produce as much food as you can from your space? Also think about the amount of time you can dedicate to the garden. Since vegetables need frequent attention, consider durable houseplants if you have less of a green thumb. You can start plants from seed, cuttings or plants. Plants are the easiest and most productive option. Cuttings are started from existing plants. Simply trim off a 3-4 inch section and place it into a jar or glass with the bottom in water. Change your water about once a week to avoid bacterial growth. After roots appear (in a week or two), transfer your cuttings to soil. At first, help your cutting adjust by keeping it quite moist, and then gradually cut back the water as it stabilizes in the soil. If you want to start with seeds, seed trays are a good way to develop individual plants. Use a seed soil or potting soil rather than heavy garden soil , which can be too dense for seeds to grow through. Related: 6 foods you can regrow from kitchen scraps Most compact vegetables will do well in a windowsill garden. Look for dwarf varieties that remain small in size but produce a quantity similar to outdoor gardens . Snow peas, cucumbers, radishes, different types of lettuce, spinach, bush beans, green onions, garlic, chilies, sprouts and microgreens are all examples that will perform well in the right indoor conditions. Also consider porch tomato options, such as cherry tomatoes. Just about any herb will grow happily inside the kitchen. Some great options include basil, dill, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, dill and tarragon. Choosing plant containers The containers you choose can make a unique, artistic statement or create a peaceful, uniform landscape. Consider whether you want them all to match or if you prefer an eclectic blend. Use terracotta pots in their natural form, or give them a fresh coat of paint.  For a DIY look, cover them in chalk paint and label each pot with the plant it contains. Alternately, select your favorite ceramic pots, baskets or vases; use an old canister, tea kettle, bowls or jars; or gather standard store-bought resin planters. When choosing your planting containers, size is the biggest factor. Make sure you have room for each plant to spread out its root system without confinement. Plants will not be happy with compressed roots. Also make sure that the container you choose will fit on the windowsill. Whether you’re using a rain boot or an antique tea cup, make sure you have a drainage hole in the bottom of your container with some sort of saucer to catch the water that filters through. Finding a home for your indoor garden The location of your windowsill garden can be the difference between success and failure. South-facing windows are best, because they do not suffer from the harsh afternoon heat or struggle to find light. Many plants will thrive in an east-facing window as a second option. Wherever you locate your plants, they should receive at least 5-6 hours of direct sunlight daily. If your space doesn’t allow adequate sunshine , artificial light via heat lamps can do the trick. Set them on a timer to help you out and also to provide more consistent light for the plant. Make sure that your plants don’t come into direct contact with the cold window glass during the winter months, and protect them from the blazing greenhouse effect on hot summer days. Also stay away from areas with drafts, such as fireplaces or central heating vents. Tending to the garden Once you’ve selected your plants, containers and location, it’s time to pamper, watch and wait. Label all of your plants for easy reference. You can also include any care instructions that you want to keep close at hand. Keep your plants moist without providing too much water . You can set up drip systems for consistent watering or simply dip your finger in each pot every few days to feel for moisture. Offer your plants fertilizer every few weeks to boost health and productivity. Watch for signs that your plants are not getting the proper amounts of food, water or sunlight, and make adjustments as needed. Related: Why are my plants turning yellow? After herbs are well-established, pinch them back frequently to encourage bushy growth and keep them from going to seed. If the air in your house is dry from a wood-burning stove or other heat source, lightly mist around your plants weekly to improve humidity. Also rinse your plants every few weeks to deter insects, and be sure to look under the leaves for evidence of bugs. When your garden is thriving, propagate your next round of plants. Take cuttings and get them in water. Cut your green onions without pulling them out of the soil, and they will regrow. After harvesting your garlic, replant individual bulbs to grow again. Windowsill gardens are a great way to enjoy your garden all year without concern for outdoor weather conditions. Plus, it keeps your harvest within arm’s reach, adds variety to your meal plan and sparks visual appeal. Start your own windowsill garden and discover the many joys of indoor gardening for yourself. Images via Till Westermayer , Gemma Evans ,  Cassidy Phillips and Shutterstock

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Fresh food prescriptions given to low-income patients to help combat disease

May 9, 2017 by  
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What if instead of prescribing medicine to treat a disease , doctors could prescribe fresh food to help prevent one? Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania is testing their food prescription idea with Fresh Food Pharmacy, a service that currently provides diabetic, food insecure patients with recipes and nutritious fare. It turns out giving away healthy food for free is not only socially beneficial, but could ultimately save the healthcare system a decent amount of money. The Fresh Food Pharmacy brims with whole grains, fresh produce, lean meats and fish, greens, and low-fat dairy products. Patients aren’t just handed food, but provided a one-on-one meeting with a dietitian, recipes , and instructions on how to make nutritious meals. They receive enough food for five days. Related: HUMAN Healthy Vending Machines Fight Childhood Obesity by Offering Healthy Snacks Some people thought handing out free food might rack up a hefty price tag. But diabetes costs are greater than $240 billion a year in the United States. In contrast, Geisinger Health System will pay around $1,000 a year for each diabetes patient in the food pharmacy program. The Geisinger team is tracking hemoglobin A1C levels to help see how much the Fresh Food Pharmacy could save them. CEO David Feinberg estimates each point of decrease in hemoglobin A1C could save them around $8,000, and many of the around 180 patients in the pilot program have seen a drop of three points. America’s health care system today is often termed a disease care system instead; physician Mitesh Patel of The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania said, “We wait until people get sick and then spend a lot of resources helping them get better.” But he says the Fresh Food Pharmacy offers social and financial incentives to actually help people make a change in their own health. The Fresh Food Pharmacy has made a huge difference for Type 2 diabetes patient Tom Shicowich. He said he used to stop at Burger King or McDonald’s for dinner, or heat up a frozen meal. Now he cooks meals at home with his girlfriend. He’s lost around 45 pounds. And his A1C level has changed significantly. The threshold for Type 2 diabetes is above 6.5. Shicowich’s A1C level was almost 11 a year ago; today it has plummeted to the high-six range. Via NPR Images via Peyri Herrera on Flickr and Geisinger Health System

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Fresh food prescriptions given to low-income patients to help combat disease

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