Monday, 27 February 2012

Restaurant Review: Cherry Blossom and Shell Temple (Sanzhi, New Taipei City)


Cherry blossom season has arrived, and various flower-lined roads in Taiwan's lower mountains will receive most of their entire year's visitors in the next few weeks. Often a short distance from urban areas, many of these routes date from the 1895-1945 occupation of the island by the sakura-loving Japanese.

Usually located on narrow, winding lanes, these cherry blossom routes (櫻花道) are ideal for bicycles (except that people in cars stop suddenly and fling their doors open to get out and take photos).

Last week, NOMM went with the Bean Power (戰豆力) vegetarian cycle team (along with the primarily omnivorous Yufeng 禦風 group) to Qingshan Road (青山路) in the hills above Sanzhi (三芝) in New Taipei City.

One additional treat of this particular cherry blossom ride is Dingshan Temple (頂山寺), better known as Shell Temple (貝殼廟). Just about every square-inch of wall, pillar, ceiling and censer is covered with shells, coral or other marine life. All the usual decorations are present--dragons, qilin, yin-yang symbol, &c.--but executed in shells and with aquatic themes. The dragons, for example, have fish tails.

And one additional treat of the Shell Temple, are the soup, noodles and warming ginger tea (薑母茶) provided for visitors, all vegetarian (素食) of course. None will win a culinary award, but on cold winter days in the mountains the ginger concoction certainly hits the spot, and the noodles provide cyclists with extra calories for the 30km ride back to Taipei.

Address: 69 Erpingding, Sanzhi District, New Taipei City (新北市三芝區二坪頂69號)

Text and photos copyright Jiyue Publications

Saturday, 25 February 2012

News Brief: artificial meat (from last month!)

oops, missed this one ...

Race to serve up artificial chicken for a $1m prize

The Guardian

A small group of people will meet in Washington later this year for what they hope will be a lunch to change the world. The meal should consist of fried chicken and nothing else, but while it may look like chicken, have the texture of chicken and even taste like chicken, it will never have lived or breathed.

Five years ago Peta, the world's largest animal welfare group, gave scientists until 30 June 2012 to prove they could make "cultured", or laboratory meat, in commercial quantities. The first scientist to show that artificial chicken can be grown in quantity and be indistinguishable from "real" chicken flesh will be awarded $1m.
... Leading the race to show that it is possible is Mark Post, head of the department of vascular physiology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Post ... has claimed he will produce a synthetic beefburger this year.Post cannot win the Peta prize because he is working with beef, not chicken, but he has successfully grown strips of meat a few centimetres long. But his work is slow and it is proving hard to grow the meat any thicker or in large quantities.

Another group of scientists, at Utrecht university in the Netherlands, is experimenting with stem cells harvested from embryos. ... I think it is a decade away and we need research money," said Bernard Roelen, professor of veterinary science.

Coming from a different direction is US scientist Vladimir Mironov, ... now working with a Brazilian meat company. Mironov works with tissue engineering and has taken embryonic muscle cells from turkeys, bathed them in a bovine serum and successfully grown muscle tissue, but only in very small quantities.

...  the prize of being able to one day grow hundreds of tonnes of meat from stem cells is potentially vast, say animal welfare groups and food manufacturers. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation expects world consumption of meat to double between 2000 and 2050,

... Cultured meat has the added advantage of requiring far less energy and space to grow. Analysis by scientists from Oxford and Amsterdam last year showed the process could be engineered to use only 1% of the land and 4% of the water compared with conventional meat.

... For vegetarians, the prize is less animal suffering. "More than 40bn chickens, fish, pigs and cows are killed every year for food in the US alone, in horrific ways. In vitro meat would spare animals from this suffering," said Peta.

News Brief: Singapore to lift restrictions on Taiwanese foodstuffs

The Singaporean Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) has decided to lift safety measures on certain Taiwanese products and return to normalized trade, the Taipei Representative Office in Singapore announced yesterday, the Taipei Times reports today (full article here).

After the plasticizer food scare in May last year, Singapore enacted measures compelling five major foodstuff imports from Taiwan (sports drinks, juice products, tea products, jams and syrup products, and foodstuffs in the form of capsules, pills or powders) to be labeled with the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ (MOEA) Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection’s special proof of examination.

The plasticizer scare refers to the use of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, or DEHP, and other -plasticizers, -chemical substances used to increase pliability in plastic materials and which have been found to be endocrine disruptors, in food additives such as clouding agents.

The office said that after assuring the AVA that the plasticizer issue has been taken care of in Taiwan and urging it to consider lifting the extra safety measures on Taiwanese imports, the authority had agreed to a general lift of the measures starting on March 1.

News Brief: Eating shark fin could cause brain damage

People who like to eat shark fin should be careful, and not just because environmental groups want to stop consumption of this delicacy. Researchers in the United States have discovered the neurotoxin β-N-methylamino-L-alanine (甲氨基-丙氨酸; BMAA) in shark fin, which could cause brain damage or lead to Alzheimer’s disease (阿茲海默症), ETTV (東森新聞) reports today (full Chinese-language article here, and related English-language article here).
Concentrations of BMAA  found ranged from 144 to 1,838 nanograms per milligram, which were noted to be similar with the levels found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease.

Translation © Jiyue Publications 2012

News Brief: Pardonez Moi!--Will McDonald’s persuade you with its “McBaguette”?

In order to make headway into lucrative fast-food markets around the world, McDonald’s is happy to incorporate local tastes into its menus. The latest such initiative comes in France, where for six weeks starting April 18, hamburgers made using “French bread” will be offered by the US franchise’s 1,228 outlets to see if they will increase the chain’s customer base, NOWnews reports today (full Chinese-language article here).

These are reported to include the “McBaguette”(4.5 Euros; ca. NT$180), which will also use local Charolais beef in its patty, Emmenthal cheese and French mustard.

According to research by the Bread Observatory, French people consume bread with almost every meal and annually eat an average of 55kg of French bread. French research organization Credoc says that 98 percent of citizens eat bread every day, mostly French bread.

McDonald’s already has locally customized menus in 14 European countries. In Finland, for example, it sells the Rye McFeast, in Spain it makes gazpacho (cold tomato-based raw vegetable soup), and in Italy it has products made in conjunction with a 3-star Michelin restaurant. 

Translation © Jiyue Publications 2012

Thursday, 23 February 2012

News Brief: Government clampdown on illegal eateries in Shida neighbourghood continues

The Taipei Times has more on this issue today (here).

Of particular interest to anyone thinking of opening a food outlet, apparently:

"In addition to noise and air pollution, some local vendors have also violated regulations as their locations are classified as a residential zone. According to land-use regulations, roads less than 8m wide in residential zones cannot be used for commercial purposes."

Feature/Debate: Why youngsters are reaching puberty younger and younger

The scientific aspects to the “are lean-meat additives bad for people?” debate about US beef imports to Taiwan are getting politically tainted with so-called blue (KMT) and green (DPP) food science experts getting wheeled out to make their pontifications.

Although not of direct relevance to the issue of ractopamine but of chemicals in food in general, this called to mind reports last year of recent surveys finding a lowering of the age of puberty in girls, with 15 percent starting as young as seven (CBS article here). This represents a doubling of the number found in 1997, which would seem to be a super fast social change.

CBS put the causes down to “obesity” and “environmental exposures, things like BPA (Bisphenol A, a chemical used in plastic water bottles and lining of canned foods and drinks) that are ubiquitous in our environment can have hormone-like activity”.

Some have blamed hormone residues in milk and meat, particularly the artificial bovine growth hormone rBGH. But this is now less blamed, as it should be destroyed in the human digestive process.

Others (e.g. NaturalNews here) point a more direct finger. Quoting a report in “Public Health Nutrition”, it notes that “while only 35 percent of girls who ate meat four times a week or fewer had reached puberty by age 12.5, 49 percent of those who ate meat 12 times a week had done so.”

This, it suggested, was due to the higher levels of persistent organic pollutants found in animal fat, such as meat and dairy.

And this is not just a Western phenomenon. A 2011 survey in New Delhi, India, found puberty occurring in girls as young as 8 (shouldn't we call them “8-year-old women” if they have already reached puberty?) compared with a previous low of 10.

The Indian Express (full article here) did go on to blame a Western junk food diet, however.

Text © Jiyue Publications 2012

News Brief: beware "nutrient-enhanced" milk -- nutritionalist

Consumers of fresh or powdered milk products are urged to pay attention to information on food labels before making a purchase, as many items contain unnecessary and excessive additives, a foundation said yesterday, the Taipei Times reports today (full article here).

Although some milk cartons are emblazoned with words such as “nutrient-enhanced,” the milk itself has a high cream content, which translates into more fat and a less balanced diet, said Hsu Hui-yu (許惠玉), director of the nutritional section of the John Tung Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to public welfare.

A survey conducted by the foundation earlier this year found most milk products contain a wide range of additives such as calcium and sugar substitutes.

“Our bodies do not need these additives,” said Lin Wei (林薇), a professor at Chinese Culture University’s department of food health and nutrition science.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

News Brief: cut back on those "all you can eat" buffets and hot pots

A salutary warning about the dangers of “all you can eat” buffets and hot pots was reported by the China Times online yesterday (full Chinese-language article here).

A young man from Taichung who likes to eat “bottomless buffet” almost once per week and eats hot pot pretty much every other day had gout (痛風) by the age of 18, didn’t ameliorate his diet or take the medicine prescribed him, and three months ago was found to have a serious edema (dropsy; 水腫) in his calf. Now subsequent blood tests show his kidney function is roughly one-tenth of normal and he faces a lifetime of dialysis (洗腎).

Taking the tastiest items from a buffet provides a diet with too much potassium and sodium, which can be a dangerous factor in causing high blood pressure. Combined with popular, more expensive items such as seafood and beef, the protein content often exceeds recommended levels, which over extended periods can lead to kidney disease. This kind of diet is also implicated in the onset of diabetes.

Translation © Jiyue Publications 2012
awaits translation

Monday, 20 February 2012

Restaurant Review:-- Bakery and Italian restaurant, Taipei City

Ever been so hungry you’ve just entered a bakery and hoped you can assume its bread or cake products are vegetarian or even vegan? Well at Kopok you can: No eggs or meat products are used at all, and for vegans, dairy-free (無奶) items are clearly marked.

Located in a park-adjacent lane off the tail end of Fuxing South Road between Heping Road and a back entrance to Taiwan National University, Kopok (卡帛) Vegetarian Bakery and Café has a wide range of bread products to take away and a Italian-themed noodles, risotto and “baked” (rice and noodles) for consumption in its restaurant.

Open since 1998, Kopok is largely a secret to Taipei citizens who want “egg-free egg-cake” (“egg-cake” 蛋糕 is the Chinese for “cake”). Naturally, in keeping with Taiwan’s religious vows, its vegetarian menu is also devoid of onions and garlic.

Incidentally, the menu is excellently translated into English (“by an English teacher who eats here”), the only confusion come from the Chinese that lists some items as “dairy-free”, while the waitress says to pay no attention, that very few have milk or cheese products.

As a friend of NOMM who reviews restaurants for a national newspaper says: “Any restaurant can raise the price of its noodles from NT$40 per bowl to NT$160 by calling them Italian.” This is essentially the case here, especially since we ordered “fried wide rice noodles with Italian seasoning”, a.k.a. hefen (河粉) or bantiao (粄條), one of the “chef’s specials”, which would be expensive at NT$80 without the “Italian” tag. They were tasty enough, however, even the cooked celery (not an NOMM favorite) was good, and with an extra NT$40 came with two bits of bread, a bowl of soup and a cup of tea.
Diners following their meal with a drink get discounts of 20 percent and this includes a slice of cake, or so says the menu. Cook-at-home vegetarian dumplings (水餃) are available for NT$50 fo4 12.

Address: No.5, Lane 308, Fuxing S. Rd., Taipei
Tel: 02-2733 6819
Hours: Mon~Sat  08:00~22:00; Sun: 9:30~21:30
NOMM fake-meat/processed food index: 4 (moderate; but avoidable)

The neighbourhood is very pleasant, those selecting bakery products can sit and eat them in the park outside. There is a Buddhist vegetarian buffet where the lane branches off Fuxing S. Rd., and next to Kopok is "Garlic Restaurant", which has half-a-dozen items that can be cooked to vegetarian standards (素可), for those Western vegetarians encountering garlic withdrawal symptoms in Taiwan.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

News Brief: Discount meals for speakers of oppressed languages

Tuesday (Feb 21st) is World Mother Language Day for the promotion of threatened minority languages. In a related activity in Taiwan running all this week, almost 100 stores are offering discounts to people shopping in their mother tongues.

No, that doesn’t mean English &c. for foreigners, or even Mandarin for  descendants of Taiwan's 1 million+ 1949 immigrants, but the local, previously discriminated-against Hoklo Taiwanese, Hakka and Aboriginal languages.

In addition to some bookshops and even dentists, many participating outlets are restaurants ranging from Mom&Pop stands to haute cuisine establishments. CNA reports today (full Chinese-language article here).

News Brief: keep an eye on local beef/pork producers using lean-meat additives

The ractopamine-traces-in-US-beef issue continues to take up column inches day after day,

According to an interview in today's Taipei Times (full article here), a not insignificant ("less than 10 percent") number of Taiwanese farmers illegally also use such lean-meat additives.

News Brief: alcohol and sport DO mix -- FIFA

If McDonald's being the "official restaurant" of the Olympic games (since "airlifting
hamburgers to homesick  U.S. athletes competing at the 1968 Olympic Winter Games in Grenoble, France") and Coca Cola a sponsoring beverage ("since 1928") isn't bad enough, the BBC last week reported that FIFA is trying to force legislative changes in Brazil to make alcohol available at venues for the 2014 Football World Cup (full story here).

Monday, 13 February 2012

to be completed

Restaurant Review: good food at a good price in tourist town (Yingge)

With northern Taiwan enjoying its first sunny Sunday of the spring, it was not surprising that many people chose to shake off their winter cobwebs by cycling the hour or so west along the Dahan River bikepath to Yingge (鶯歌), one of the island’s oldest ceramics towns.
There is still no sign of a fully vegetarian restaurant up on the “old street” tourist centre. An increasing number of stalls offer meat-free snacks, however, including one selling stinky tofu and lu-wei (滷; marinated tofu, mushrooms &c.).

There are three vegetarian restaurants immediately outside the railway station, and with two of them closed for some reason, the third, Amitoufo (阿彌陀佛; meaning the “Amitha Buddha” but no English) was doing excellent trade. Housed in more of a tent than a building, it has been in operation for just 8 months, and its owners claim to have been busy since then whatever the weather.
Basically it is a noodle/dumpling place—with more than two dozen items on the menu including no less than 3 kinds of dumplings: hongyou-chaoshou (紅油抄手), shuijiao (水餃) and huntun (餛飩)—as well as some unusual additions.

NOMM tried four classics: sesame-paste noodles (麻醬麵; NT$40), shuijiao dumplings (NT$45), boiled leafy greens (燙青菜; NT$30), and a mixed plate of tofu/dougan (豆乾; dried beancurd) (NT$55), and one unusual item: vegetarian oyster omelet (素蚵仔; NT$45).

The noodles and greens both had fake meat in their sauces but otherwise were fine, the dumplings surprisingly did not, and their tastiness did not suffer as a result. We were told not to add sauce to the lu-wei as the beancurd had been marinated to a family formula, but were encouraged to dunk the dumplings in chili sauce as this was also home-made by the owner’s mother.

The non-oyster oyster omelet was the real surprise, as it did not contain the fake-meat oysters so typical of this dish (non-egg omelets can also be ordered for vegans) but rather had bamboo shoot, bean sprouts and seaweed as additional ingredients. An excellent meal for two for NT$215 in a dog-friendly, friendly restaurant.
Address: “Beside the rear entrance, Yingge Railway Station,
Jianguo Road
.” (according to the business card)
Tel: 0928-068272
Hours: ~, Wed~Mon, 2nd and 4th Saturdays also closed
NOMM Fake-meat/processed food index: 2 (low)

Text and photos copyright Jiyue Publications

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

News Breif: 90% of US adults consume too much salt, main culprit is ... BREAD

Nine out of ten US adults exceed the daily recommended salt intake, and the main culprit is not potato chips or popcorn, but sliced bread and rolls, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced, local media report today (full Chinese-language article here) in a translation of a Reuters' report from yesterday (full English original article here).

The CDC said that 44% of salt consumed comes from 10 food types, with bread and rolls worst, followed by cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, poultry, soups, sandwiches, cheese, pasta dishes, meat dishes and snacks including chips.
rolls lead the list followed by cold cuts and cured meat, pizza, poultry, soups, sandwiches, cheese, pasta dishes, meat dishes and snacks such as pretzels and potato chips.

A single slice of white bread could contain as many as 230 milligrams of salt.

High salt intake can raise blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease and strokes.

The average American consumes 3,266 milligrams of salt daily, not counting salt added at the table, which is far above the recommended 2,300 milligrams, the CDC said.

For six out of 10 Americans, including those who are over age 51 or have high blood pressure or diabetes, 1,500 milligrams is the recommended daily salt limit.

Even foods that seem healthy such as cottage cheese may be high in salt, the agency reported. Even raw chicken and pork is often injected with salt.

The CDC recommended eating more fruits and vegetables and carefully reading the labels on food products to find those with the lowest salt content.

One in three American adults has high blood pressure.

Most adults eat or drink about twice the amount of sodium as is recommended, and most of that extra sodium comes from common grocery store and restaurant items and a very small proportion from the salt shaker at the table..

Salt per calorie of food consumed was much higher at restaurants than from store-bought food, the CDC said.

"While progress is being made, reducing sodium in products without affecting the taste or consumer acceptance of products is no easy task," the Grocery Manufacturer's Association said in a statement emailed to Reuters.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Feature: Interview with Bruce's Kitchen's Bruce

Last Saturday, we ate at Bruce’s Kitchen in the Ankang (安康) area of Xindian (新店), New Taipei City (a review will appear soon). Yesterday NOMM met with Bruce to find out more about his restaurant, his vision for a “different” kind of vegetarianism in Taiwan, and future plans. [This is the beginning of the interview, more will appear when time allows.]

NOMM: Perhaps we could start at the beginning: What led you to open a vegetarian restaurant up here in the hills overlooking southern Taipei.

Bruce: I opened my first restaurant in 2002. But its origins date back about three years earlier, to the 921 Earthquake [of September 21, 1999]. I was living in Taipei, on the 5th floor of a building near Wuxing Street, and suddenly in the middle of the night, the house started rocking, and plates and glasses and stuff was thrown off shelves and smashed on the floor. The next day, after the dust had settled, I brought my wife and daughter up her to the single-story farmhouse where I had grown up and which was then unoccupied. We felt safe here, and enjoyed the clean air, tranquility, and the distance from the chaos of Taipei. We decided to renovate the place and relocate here. I had always enjoyed cooking, and so later we decided to share our special place with other people, and open a restaurant.

NOMM: But not immediately?

Bruce: We immediately planted a herb garden, as I am passionate about herbs in cooking, but at that time I wasn’t even a vegetarian, and my first idea was to open a regular Italian-style restaurant in this nice location. Earlier in my life I’d lived in South Africa, and my favorite restaurant was had a simple menu—just pizzas, pastas and lasagna—but a great location in the vineyard country near Cape Town. That was kind of my ideal. Open style. Part of the environment.
But when we first lived here, I still had my own design company in Taipei doing post-production work. In that industry you tend to work at night and sleep by day, eating unhealthily and drinking too much. It was for my health that I became vegetarian in 2000. I am a Buddhist, but Buddhism for me is about the teachings and meditation, nothing to do with diet. And unlike Taiwan’s Buddhists, I eat onions and garlic. As someone from northern China [Bruce was born in Taiwan but his father, mother and four brothers were all born in pre-Communist China], I can easily go without seafood and meat, but without garlic I will die.
I had also decided not to work in an office again, and my wife backed my idea. For a year we lived on her income, and I traveled around Taiwan learning as much as I could about cooking and running a restaurant.



Monday, 6 February 2012

Restaurant Review:-- Baozi (steamed-bread dumplings), Taipei City

Sushi Dianxin (素食點心; "Vegetarian Snacks" but no English name) is a vegetarian institution. People travel from neighouring counties into Taipei City to stock up on its soft, large, variously-filled steamed-bread dumplings (包子; baozi).

The flavours include  Brassica juncea var. crispifolia (雪裡紅; see here for explanation of this vegetable), cabbage (高麗菜), mushroom and bamboo shoots (香菇竹筍), wholemeal flour with mixed grains (全麥五穀), Chinese yam (山藥), green beans ( 四季豆), "eight treasure sauce" (八寶醬), Hakka pickled vegetable (客家酸菜), radish (蘿蔔絲), sweet sesame (芝麻) and osmanthus-flavoured bean paste (桂花豆沙). All cost NT$20.

When NOMM visited yesterday at 12:30pm only the first kind was available, which is typical in that rarely is there a full selection on offer.

Baozi originated in North China but have long had a wide range of regional variations. Immigration of Han Chinese from all parts of China following the ROC defeat in the Chinese Civil War (1949) means that many different kinds are available in Taiwan. Nevertheless, Sushi Dianxin is unusual in providing only vegetarian baozi.

The shop/stall is located just outside the Guangfu Market (光復市場) at 149, Lane 419, Guangfu S. Road.
Tel 02-2878 1949
Opening hours: 08:00~14:00; 7 days/week
NOMM fake meat/processed food index: none in the one flavour sampled (NOMM will report back after trying more)

Text and photos copyright Jiyue. Publications 2012

Saturday, 4 February 2012

News Brief: with a few food facts (pork and beef)

The Taipei Times has more on the banned-addatives-in-meat-imports-to-be-unbannned story (here).

In addition to the main thread, the article contains a few food facts, such as:

1. Taiwanese eat more pork than beef.

2. The number of households engaging in pig-raising exceeds 10,000. They rear about 6 million pigs nationwide and pork tops the list of agricultural goods in terms of production value.

3. Taiwan is about 95 percent self-sufficient in pork production, while only 7 percent of its beef is locally provided.

 all provided by Hu Sing-hwa (胡興華), deputy minister, Council of Agriculture

News Brief: Shida Night Market becomes official secret

Visitors to the Shida Night Market (師大夜市) in Taipei who take the MRT will now find that the popular evening food center is no longer listed on station signs showing appropriate exits, TTV (東森新聞 ) reported yesterday.

Following local residents’ complaints about noise, chaos and littering, the city government has covered the name with tape, and similarly removed it from tourism websites. 

Arguing that the area is residential and not a business district, residents’ organizations even want the nearby bus stop name changed from Shida Night Market (師大夜市) to Longquan Neighborhood (龍泉里) or Heping East Road Police Substation (和平東路派出所).

Full Chinese-language article here).

Translation © Jiyue Publications 2012

News Brief: Sugar is toxic and addictive and should be a controlled substance -- Scientists

Sugar is toxic and addictive just like alcohol and tobacco, scientists at UCSF (University of California, San Francisco) argue, Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported yesterday. It should similarly incur taxation, have legal restrictions applied to the location and targeting of advertising, and even have restrictions on the age of purchasers so as to strictly control its use.

(Full Chinese-language article here),

Translation © Jiyue Publications 2012

News Brief: heat-insulating cup lids contain toxins -- CF survey

The Consumers’ Foundation (中華民國消費者文教基金會) tested 15 different thermos-style heat-insulating cups (保溫杯) from shops, departments stores, home appliance and lifestyle stores in the Taipei area, and although the bodies were made of metal, it found the caps of two cups to contain the heavy metals lead and cadmium, and 14 of the cups tested positive for plasticizers, the Central News Agency (中央社) reported yesterday.

Although the lead and cadmium did not exceed the maximum levels allowed for food containers, they nevertheless contravene environmental standards. Ingestion of lead can affect red blood corpuscle formation and harm brain nerve cells, affecting memory and concentration. Cadmium is carcinogenic, and if consumed, can accumulate in the liver and kidneys, is difficult to excrete, and over a long period can damage the urinary system.

(Full Chinese-language article here).

Translation © Jiyue Publications 2012

Friday, 3 February 2012

News Brief: Taiwan prepares to allow US beef imports

Food politics made the front-page main article of the Taipei Times today (full article here) as the Council of Agriculture is preparing to set tolerance levels for ractopamine residues in meat, thereby giving a green light to the import of US beef.

Although successive governments have promised to do this over the last half-decade, the opposition Democratic Progressive Party accused the KMT-led administration of poor timing for implementing changes immediately after winning the election.

Currently Taiwan has a zero tolerance for the growth-promoting chemical.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

News Brief: Sodas might be even worse than we thought, say Danish scientists

Despite knowing that they can cause obesity, a great many of us drink carbonated drinks ("sodas" to Americans). But new research by Danish scientists suggests their detrimental health implications might be far worse than this, TVBS reports today (full Chinese-language article here).

In a project conducted over six months, researchers divided their study subjects into four groups: those who i) drank soda every day, ii) drank an equal calorific amount of milk, iii) drank low-calorie sodas, and iv) drank water.

The first group were found to have excessive hidden fat deposits on their livers, bones and other organs. Even those on the low-calorie alternatives risked damage to brain cells, they said, due to artificial sweeteners.

Furthermore, many sodas include brominated vegetable oil (溴化植物油), which although used in sodas for more than half a centrury, are now subect to restrictions in many countries due to associated health problems.  For more about BVOs see here.

News Brief: Time is running out says U.N.

Taiwan's Awakening News (醒報新聞) today carries a translation of a Reuters' report from Monday. Following are some of the original points, (the full English article is here).

The world is running out of time to make sure there is enough food, water and energy to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population and to avoid sending up to 3 billion people into poverty, a U.N. report warned on Monday.

As the world's population looks set to grow to nearly 9 billion by 2040 from 7 billion now, and the number of middle-class consumers increases by 3 billion over the next 20 years, the demand for resources will rise exponentially.

Even by 2030, the world will need at least 50 percent more food, 45 percent more energy and 30 percent more water, according to U.N. estimates, at a time when a changing environment is creating new limits to supply.

And if the world fails to tackle these problems, it risks condemning up to 3 billion people into poverty, the report said.

Efforts towards sustainable development are neither fast enough nor deep enough, as well as suffering from a lack of political will, the United Nations' high-level panel on global sustainability said.
"The current global development model is unsustainable. To achieve sustainability, a transformation of the global economy is required," the report said.

"Tinkering on the margins will not do the job. The current global economic crisis ... offers an opportunity for significant reforms."