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Japan, Inc.: World’s First Robot-Run Farm will Harvest 30,000 Heads of Lettuce Daily

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Spread’s new automation technology will not only produce more lettuce, it will also reduce labor costs by 50%, cut energy use by 30%, and recycle 98% of water needed to grow the crops.

 reports: The Japanese lettuce production company Spread believes the farmers of the future will be robots.

So much so that Spread is creating the world’s first farm manned entirely by robots. Instead of relying on human farmers, the indoor Vegetable Factory will employ robots that can harvest 30,000 heads of lettuce every day.

“The use of machines and technology has been improving agriculture in this way throughout human history. With the introduction of plant factories and their controlled environment, we are now able to provide the ideal environment for the crops.”

— J.J. Price, a spokesperson at Spread

Don’t expect a bunch of humanoid robots to roam the halls, however; the robots look more like conveyor belts with arms. They’ll plant seeds, water plants, and trim lettuce heads after harvest in the Kyoto, Japan farm.

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Spread: A worker at the Kameoka Plant. Not a robot.

“The use of machines and technology has been improving agriculture in this way throughout human history,” J.J. Price, a spokesperson at Spread, tells Tech Insider. “With the introduction of plant factories and their controlled environment, we are now able to provide the ideal environment for the crops.”

[Read the full story here, at Tech Insider]

The Vegetable Factory follows the growing agricultural trend of vertical farming, where farmers grow crops indoors without natural sunlight. Instead, they rely on LED light and grow crops on racks that stack on top of each other.

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In addition to increasing production and reducing waste, indoor vertical farming also eliminates runoff from pesticides and herbicides — chemicals used in traditional outdoor farming that can be harmful to the environment. Read the rest of this entry »

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Americans Should Drink More Coffee

spresso-cups-WaPo

Not only can people stop worrying about whether drinking coffee is bad for them, according to the panel, they might even want to consider drinking a bit more

Roberto A. Ferdman reports: When the nation’s top nutrition panel released its latest dietary recommendations on Thursday, the group did something it had never done before: weigh in on whether people should be drinking coffee. What it had to say is pretty surprising.

“I don’t want to get into implying coffee cures cancer — nobody thinks that. But there is no evidence for increased risk, if anything, the other way around.”

— Tom Brenna, a member of the committee and a nutritionist at Cornell University

Not only can people stop worrying about whether drinking coffee is bad for them, according to the panel, they might even want to consider drinking a bit more.

Ryan Ludwig, of Counter Culture Coffee, prepares a coffee cupping, or tasting, at the company's training center in lower Manhattan. Leslie Josephs/The Wall Street Journal

Ryan Ludwig, of Counter Culture Coffee, prepares a coffee cupping, or tasting, at the company’s training center in lower Manhattan. Photo credit: Leslie Josephs

“We saw that coffee has a lot of health benefits. Specifically when you’re drinking more than a couple cups per day.”

— Miriam Nelson, a professor at Tufts University

The panel cited minimal health risks associated with drinking between three and five cups per day. It also said that consuming as many as five cups of coffee each day (400 mg) is tied to several health benefits, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

coffee-chart

“We saw that coffee has a lot of health benefits,” said Miriam Nelson, a professor at Tufts University and one of the committee’s members. “Specifically when you’re drinking more than a couple cups per day.”

“The decision, which broke the committee’s more than 40 years of silence on coffee, was driven by heightened interest in the caffeinated beverage as well as a growing anxiety about potential health risks associated with it.”

That’s great news if you’re already drinking between three and five cups each day, which Nelson and the rest of the panel consider a “moderate” level of consumption. But you know what? You probably aren’t, Giant Coffee Cupbecause people in this country actually tend to consume a lot less than that.

“It remains to be seen whether the Department of Health and Human Services or the Agriculture Department will take the committee’s recommendations for coffee intake to heart and include them in the official dietary guidelines update…”

On average, Americans only drink about one cup of coffee per day, according to data collected by the United States Department of Agriculture. Even when Americans drank the most coffee they ever have, back in 1946, they still only drank two cups a day on average. Read the rest of this entry »


‘No, Wait, DON’T Let Them Eat Cake!’

UntionnetteFirst Lady Michelle UN-tionette Axes Cupcake Sales For WWII Vets?

The Daily CallerEric Owens reports: Students at Waccamaw Middle School in Pawleys Island, S.C. did something pretty cool this spring when they baked cupcakes and cookies to sell during lunchtime to raise money so six World War II veterans could go on an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.

The fundraising effort was a smashing success. The students raised $2,500 in just three weeks to help the six vets visit the various national memorials that venerate their sacrifices, according to the Georgetown Times.

If the kids want to act similarly selflessly this academic year, though, they’ll be out of luck.

They can thank first lady Michelle Obama for getting them out of such do-gooderism.

The 2010 Hunger-Free Kids Act that the first lady has strongly advocated now prevents such bake sales at all schools taking the associated federal funding. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: RUSSIA YOGURT CRACKDOWN

banned-yogurt

(AP) — U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) is calling on the Russian government to allow Chobani Greek yogurt to be delivered to Sochi for U.S. Olympic athletes and NBC Studios employees.

Chobani Forbidden Entry into Russia

Schumer said Tuesday that a shipment of Chobani yogurt is being held up at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey because of “unattainable” Russian Customs certifications.

Read the rest of this entry »


U.S ‘Choice’ Beef Prices Climb to New High

Getty Images

What’s a self-respecting red-meat republican carnivore to do? Take up cattle ranching as a hobby? Getty Images

The price of choice-grade U.S. beef at wholesale set a new record on Thursday as already tight supplies were further squeezed by harsh weather that reduced the number of cattle that came to market in parts of the country, analysts said.

Select beef cuts on Thursday also marked a fresh record high for a fifth straight day.

Choice beef typically has more “marbling” or fat, making it juicier and more tender than select-graded beef.

The day’s wholesale price, or cutout, for choice beef hit $212.05 per hundredweight (cwt), eclipsing the previous May, 2013 record of $211.37, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Read the rest of this entry »


Half of infants in Washington State now face starvation due to Federal Shutdown, say Wa. State Dems

In an attempt to dramatize the effects of the federal government shutdown, Washington state Democrats may have revealed more about their state and about the state of the economy under President Obama than they intended.  The Advance, official blog of the Washington state house Democrats, posted the following on Thursday:

Federal shutdown could take food from half the babies in Washington state

Half of Washington state’s babies—and one third of all pregnant women in the state—rely on the Women, Infant and Children nutrition program.

The program is run by the state, but the funding comes from the federal government. Which is shut down.

Now the money that feeds those pregnant women, babies and young children will run out in a matter of days, according to the state Department of Health….

Almost half of all babies, one third of pregnant women, and one quarter of children under five in Washington State are on the WIC Program.

In Washington State, WIC reaches over 195,000 women, infants, and children in 205 clinics each month and provides services to over 315,000 individuals each year.

WIC is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture and operated by the Washington State Department of Health.

The Weekly Standard


Was Your Chicken Nugget Made In China?

It’ll soon be hard to know

Chicken Nuggets with BBQ Sauce.
Here’s a bit of news that might make you drop that chicken nugget midbite.

Just before the start of the long holiday weekend last Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture quietly announced that it was ending a ban on processed chicken imports from China.

The kicker: These products can now be sold in the U.S. without a country-of-origin label.

Read the rest of this entry »


Chart: Food Stamp Spending More Than 5X Greater Than Job Training For Vets

By Daniel Halper

Two charts on food stamps spending, provided by the minority side of the Senate Budget Committee, just as the Senate is voting the food stamps program (which is part of the so-called farm bill):

“Among the roughly 80 means-tested federal welfare programs, the food stamp program is the second-largest and the fastest growing. Nearly 1 in 6 Americans now receives the benefit. Food stamp spending has more than doubled since the start of the Obama presidency, and has quadrupled since 2001. Total spending on food stamps is now projected to be more than $760 billion over the next 10 years. By contrast, between 2003 and 2012, the nation spent less than $480 billion on food stamps,” writes the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee.

Following this historic increase, the Administration continues to use promotional campaigns to further increase enrollment. USDA, for example, advertises food stamps as a form of economic stimulus, asserting that “each $5 dollars in new SNAP benefits generates almost twice that amount in economic activity for the community… Everyone wins when eligible people take advantage of benefits to which they are entitled.” USDA has also acknowledged a formal partnership with the Mexican government to boost food stamp enrollment among non-citizens. In response to oversight inquiries from Ranking Member Sessions and then-Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Pat Roberts, USDA revealed that the current administration has met with Mexican officials approximately 30 times as part of the partnership.

“The Department also instructs food stamp administrators and volunteers on “how to overcome the word ‘no’”, and has given a “Gold” award to a local recruitment office for overcoming the “mountain pride” of individuals in North Carolina. USDA even provides bonuses—totaling about $50 million per year—to states that meet high enrollment targets.

“The Senate farm bill would reduce food stamp spending by $4 billion dollars over 10 years, or just 0.52 percent. That compares to reductions of nearly $14 billion to the other farm bill programs, approximately a 6 percent cut.”

via Chart: Food Stamp Spending