agriculture * food * energy * environment
This news items from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is based on a new study suggesting that neutralizing an acid-producing diet may be an important key to reducing bone breakdown, or “turnover,” while aging. With health care cost going up and the economy traveling along an uncertain road, little healthy tidbits like this can come in handy and save money and keep you healthy all at the same time.
Fruits and vegetables are metabolized to bicarbonate and thus are alkali-producing. But the typical American diet is rich in protein and cereal grains that are metabolized to acid, and thus are acid-producing. With aging, such diets lead to a mild but slowly increasing metabolic “acidosis.”
The researchers conducted a placebo-controlled study involving healthy male and female volunteers aged 50 or older. Key measurements were taken at the beginning and end of the intervention, which lasted three months.
A group of 78 volunteers had been provided either of two bicarbonates–potassium or sodium–along with their usual diet and exercise regimes. Key bone mineral nutrients were controlled to reduce variation in study outcomes. The bicarbonate groups consumed an amount of bicarbonate equivalent to about 9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. This allowed the researchers to look at possible acid-neutralizing effects from an adequate, not high, alkali load.
The results showed that the 78 volunteers in the bicarbonate groups had significant reductions in biomarkers that are associated with bone loss and fracture than the 84 in the no-bicarbonate, or control, group.
The authors concluded that increasing the alkali content of the diet, for example by consuming more fruits and vegetables, merits further study as a safe and low-cost approach to improving skeletal health in older men and women.
The research was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
From Mike Miller of Cattle Fax. Nebraska’s cattle industry has cash receipts in 2007 of more than $8 billion. It’s a big driver of the state’s economy and a barometer of what could be head for Nebraska, along with the ethanol market. especially as the recession deepens.
With a slowing economy and consumers keeping a closer eye on their spending, some of the dynamics in the beef industry are shifting in 2009. Cattlemen face softer beef demand to start 2009, but that could change if the financial markets begin to stabilize.
As in previous years where market volatility was prevalent, risk management will be an important strategy this year. “Know basis,” says Randy Blach, executive vice president for CattleFax. “It needs to become second nature. We’ve got to learn to understand risk.”
Consumer are making more meals at home and eating out less at nicer restaurants. That has lowered the value of the higher priced middle meats like the rib and loin. At the same time, the chuck and round are claiming a larger share of carcass value (21 percent vs. 19 percent) compared to a year ago.
Overall cattle supplies are expected to decline in 2009, following a 1.5 percent dip in 2008. Beef cow numbers have declined 600,000 head to 31.9 million in response to drought in some areas and marginal profitability elsewhere. Beef cow slaughter is projected to be at a liquidation pace in 2009. As a result, the calf crop for 2009 and 2010 is projected to shrink by 2 percent.
A decline in cattle inventory means a smaller beef supply and that could bump beef imports to 2.7 billion pounds for 2009, also encouraged by a stronger dollar that makes the U.S. market more attractive than it was a year ago. Supplies of competing meats also are projected to be lower in 2009, marking the first time in decades that all the major protein supplies have declined. This is happening partly as a result of higher feeding costs in the livestock industry.
Even with softening domestic demand for beef, worldwide demand for protein is increasing, says Brett Stuart, a CattleFax analyst specializing in exports. While the credit crunch will limit exports to some top markets, U.S. beef exports should post some growth, led by gains in the South Korean market as Mexico continues to be the No. 1 export destination for U.S. beef. For the year, CattleFax projects that beef exports will reach 2.3 billion pounds. That figure taken with net imports represents an improvement in the beef trade gap as U.S. exports continue to rebuild from the 2003 BSE incident.
Increased production costs for corn, estimated to be as much as 30 to 40 percent more than 2008, will impact planting decisions. The current crop is forecast at 12.5 billion bushels, and increased production is needed to meet ethanol demands, although that market is softening. U.S. and world stock levels remain historically low, which tends to support prices.
“You better have a disciplined approach to how you manage risk or you will not like the results,” Blach says.
Over the last two years the average price of a bushel of corn has increased $2.70. CattleFax projects that the overall U.S. price for a bushel of corn in 2009 will be lower than 2008, $4.25 vs. $5.30.
“Economic conditions and credit availability, especially in foreign markets, are going to affect us a lot this year,” Blach says. “We’ll get through this and those who do a better job of managing their risk will get through a little better than the rest of us.”
CattleFax is a Denver-based, market analysis and information firm. For information about CattleFax services, call 303-694-0323.
Here’s a novel idea how farmers can help fight global warming. According to researchers at the University of Washington, making bales with 30 percent of global crop residues – the stalks and such left after harvesting – and then sinking the bales into the deep ocean could reduce the build up of global carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by up to 15 percent a year, according to just published calculations.
That is a significant amount of carbon, the process can be accomplished with existing technology and it can be done year after year, according to Stuart Strand, a University of Washington research professor. Further the technique would sequester – or lock up – the carbon in seafloor sediments and deep ocean waters for thousands of years, he says.
A good sign that America is refreshing its intellectual-base and insuring a progressive future is that in 2007, a larger percentage of foreign-born than native-born residents had a master’s degree or higher, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Nationally, 11 percent of foreign-born — people from another country now living in the United States — and 10 percent of U.S.-born residents had an advanced degree.
In the West, according to the report, the percentage of foreign-born who had completed at least a bachelor’s degree or higher was less than the percentage of the native-born (24 percent compared with 31 percent).
Among the foreign-born, those living in the Northeast had the highest percentage of bachelor’s degrees or more (32 percent), which was the same as their native-born counterparts.
The foreign-born in the South (26 percent) and Midwest (31 percent) were more likely than native-born residents to have at least a college degree (25 percent and 26 percent, respectively).
Across all regions, a smaller percentage of foreign-born than native-born adults had completed at least a high school education.
Other highlights from the report include:
— 84 percent of adults 25 and older had completed high school, while 27 percent had obtained at least a bachelor’s degree in 2007.
— A larger proportion of women (85 percent) than men (84 percent) had completed high school, but a larger proportion of men had earned a bachelor’s degree (28 percent compared with 27 percent).
— The percentage of high school graduates was highest in the Midwest (87 percent), and the percentage of college graduates was highest in the Northeast (32 percent).
— Men earned more than women at each level of educational attainment. The percentage of female-to-male earnings among year-round, full-time workers 25 and older was 77 percent.
— Workers with a bachelor’s degree on average earned about $20,000 more a year ($46,805) than workers with a high school diploma ($26,894). Compared with non-Hispanic whites and Asians, black and Hispanic workers earned less at all attainment levels.