“Meat glue” sounds kind of awesome

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I know this story on Planet Green—all about the edible “meat glue” that holds together everything from imitation crab sticks and chicken nuggets to modernist chef cuisine—is supposed to make me freak out and only want to eat organic, whole foods from the farmer’s market.

Trouble is: I kind of think meat glue sounds pretty cool. I like the fact that we’ve found new ways to use scraps and parts of meat that aren’t sell-able on their own. That alone is nothing new. Humans have been doing that for centuries (See: sausage, soup stock). Transglutaminase—meat glue’s real name—is just a newer tool. And it doesn’t even sound particularly scary or gross. At least, not to this honest-with-herself omnivore.

Technically called thrombian, or transglutaminase (TG), it is an enzyme that food processors use to hold different kinds of meat together. TG is an enzyme that catalyzes covalent bonds between free amine groups in a protein, like lysine, and gamma-caroxminid groups, like glutamine. These bonds are pretty durable and resist degradation once the food has been formed.

Thrombian is made from pig or cow blood, though you’ll see it on labels, if at all, as “composite meat product.”

It’s a naturally occurring enzyme, derived from animal blood. When you put it that way, it’s easy to understand why the EU—which tends to be more stringent on rules about food additives than the United States—voted nearly unanimously in favor of allowing transglutaminase to be used in products sold in EU countries.

Personally, I’m with wrecksdart, who Submitterated this, in wondering where I can get transglutaminase, and what ridiculous foods I can make at home with it. Animal-shaped meatloaf pops, here I come.

Pitch perfect comic parable about sustainability

stmatthew.jpg Just wanted to showcase this marvelous comic by Stuart McMillen (the cover of which you see above and is a nice nod to Hergé). It’s called “St. Matthew Island” and asks: “What happens when you introduce 29 reindeer to an isolated island of untouched natural resources?” As a parable (humans being humans, and reindeer being reindeer), it does a great job of gently and effectively illustrating the issue of over consumption . St Matthew Island by Stuart McMillen

Things that kill birds

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As a nice follow-up to the hysteria that followed America’s collective realization that, sometimes, birds die in groups, the New York Times offers up a story detailing what actually does the killing. Some facts:

• Five billion birds die in the U.S. every year, out of an average yearly population of 10 billion, minimum. During fall migration, for instance, the population can temporarily rise to 20 billion.

• “Even without humans, tens of millions of birds would be lost each year to natural predators and natural accidents.” But we complicate matters. Often in surprising ways.

• For instance, rural domesticated cats in Wisconsin kill some 39 million birds every year, all on their own. That’s not even counting their city cousins, or cats in neighboring states.

• Window strikes kill more birds than pesticides, at least when measured directly. It’s hard to track indirect pesticide deaths, like chicks that die when their parent is killed by pesticide exposure. But, even if you assume an equal number of birds are killed indirectly as directly—i.e., double the number of pesticide deaths—it still doesn’t even get close to the worst years on record for window-strike deaths.
Not to say that pesticide deaths aren’t a problem—especially since the indirect deaths could be a lot bigger—but it’s interesting to see this cause of death in context with others. It suggests that, if you care about wildlife, you probably want to spend more time scrutinizing our propensity to build big, all-glass buildings. There’s an environmental issue here that’s going overlooked.*

Submitterated by TerribleNews.

*And in more ways than one. I won’t start ranting about energy use here, but, suffice to say, if someone shows you an all-glass building and tells you it’s sustainable or Green, feel free to roll your eyes. And maybe ask, “In comparison to what?”

Image: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos via GNU license

CicLAvia on Kickstarter

FUN_6206.jpg Earlier this year, Los Angeles hosted it’s first CicLAvia (blogged here previously)— an event which closed off 7.5 miles of city streets to cars for a full day allowing cyclists and pedestrians full use of the roadways. It was a huge success with over 100,000 residents showing up on 2 wheels rather than 4. Yes, this happened in Los Angeles, dare I say one of the most “car-positive” cities in the world. The organizers are working on plans for the next CicLAvia for 2011 and have teamed up with Kickstarter to help raise some funds. They are hoping to bring in $5K, and have a bit over $1K right now. I just donated because I think it’s a super worthwhile cause, and because I ride my bike in LA on the streets all the time anyway and being able to do it every once and a while without worrying about getting run over is awesome.

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[Top photo by Alex Thompson, bottom by Waltarrrrr]

Post your green-worthy DIY project to MAKE and win a trip to Maker Faire!

Katie Dougherty of MAKE says:

Make-Tager Do you have an innovative project that you think is “green” or one you’ve been thinking about starting? That word green gets tossed around a lot. Do you think others would find your project “environmentally-friendly,” a worthwhile solution to today’s environmental problems? Does it promote conservation? Appropriate use of technology? Let’s find out. MAKE is running a Green Project Contest, as part of GE’s ecomagination. Enter your project now for a chance to win a trip for two to a Maker Faire of your choice (Bay Area, Detroit, New York) in 2011!

How it works:

1.  Post your green-worthy DIY project to the Green Project Contest website on MAKE.

2.  Encourage your readers, family and friends, and your social network to vote for your project!

3.  Posts that get lots of votes, besides be eligible for prizes, will also draw the attention of MAKE editors. We’ll start doing blog posts, and maybe even articles in the magazine, about some of the more popular projects. To help inspire you, we’re putting together a series of videos on Maker Pioneers who are doing work we think is worth of the tag “green”. The first video is with Saul Griffith, talking about his Onya Cycles business.

Wikileaks’ ISP nuclear bunker cave


Here’s a series of panoramae of the purported site of Wikileaks’ servers, the Bahnhof ISP is Stockholm, a kind of batcave decorated with rough stone walls and gro-light foliage. The site is a former nuclear bunker, situated under 30 meters of rocky mountain. Bahnhof ISP (Thanks, Benjamin!)

Pro-mining propaganda comic from mid-1960s

As the Chilean Miner telenovela continues today, with mining company execs and politicians now transforming a barely-averted catastrophe into a publicity stunt: here’s timely look back at some mid-century American mining industry propaganda in the form of a weird comic book unearthed by Ethan Persoff.

“With an environmental message!,” says Ethan— “Specifically how strip mines are good for clearing landscape of pesky earth to make way for park benches and manufactured fishing (check out the very funny Sportsman’s paradise joke on page 11).

Comics with Problems #41: “New Uses for Good Earth” (or, Ethan’s title, “Gee Dad, can they flatten our mountaintop, TOO?”)

CycLAvia attracts over 100,000 cyclists to car-free Los Angeles streets

Beginning of CicLAvia

If you’d told me a year ago that the City of Los Angeles would close off almost 8 miles of primary city streets to let cyclists have free rein for a day I never would have believed it. If I hadn’t seen it actually happen with my own eyes yesterday, I’d still be suspicious. But it’s true: thanks to the amazing efforts of the die-hard volunteers behind the project, yesterday the first ever CycLAvia (a riff on the South American Ciclovía idea) took place and some 100,000 residents took to their bikes and got a glimpse of what the city might be like if at least some parts of it were car-free. As an avid cyclist living in LA, I’ve long said this is an amazing city to bike in and that it takes on a whole new life when you see it from a bicycle. But most often the reaction I get from non-cyclists is that I must be crazy to ride a bike in LA. I’m not, and judging by the photos on flickr and reactions on twitter a ton of people now see the city a little differently. With any luck this is just the first of many upcoming bike-friendly events in the city. I know I can’t wait to see where this leads! (Follow @Cyclavia for future details)

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Photos by Tara Brown and Jory Felice