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Food

Keeping track of crop health is an overwhelmingly tough ask for farmers, and things are only likely to get tougher with predictions of huge yield drop-offs in the coming decades. With a freshly-inked US$100,000 cheque tucked under its arm courtesy of MIT, startup RaptorMaps plans to get crop-mapping drones into the air this summer to better track their health and give farmers' harvests a boost.

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Whether you need to spread it, measure it or slice it, a new device is claiming to make the process of using butter simpler. The Butter Boss is described as being like a "Chapstick for your butter," gradually dispensing it for easy use.

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Soft drink giant PepsiCo recently announced its plans to stop sweetening Diet Pepsi with aspartame in response to growing consumer concern, yet the company, regulators and many medical authorities say the potential detrimental effect of the artificial sweetener on human health is overblown. So, what's really going on here and who should you believe? Read More

We frequently hear that eating fish is a healthy thing to do, because it's full of beneficial long chain fatty acids. Unfortunately, the Western diet tends to be short on fish and bigger on beef, which contains short chain fatty acids that aren't quite so good for us. Chinese scientists are creating a work-around, however – genetically-engineered beef that's high in the "good" fatty acids.

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A new miniature cooker from Israel called the Genie is set to spark a revolution in meal preparation – it's able to turn pods of freeze-dried ingredients into full meals in as little as half a minute. Everything from chicken and rice to a chocolate soufflé can be whipped up, and the chefs working with the Genie inventors say that they're just getting started.

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Hunger pains are the bane of any dieter's existence, kicking in even when skipping a single meal and goading the sufferer to indulge their desire for food. Controlling hunger is now better understood as neuroscientists tease apart why we (well, our model mouse cousins) feel hunger. Mind-bendingly, the same researchers have used genetic therapies to create feelings of satiety where none would otherwise exist. Read More

During this year's Salone del Mobile, Dutch Design firm Weltevree unveiled its own updated take on the root cellar. The prefabricated Groundfridge uses the earth's own insulating properties to keep food fresh, no electricity required. Read More

Manned missions beyond Earth orbit face the rather important problem of how to feed the crew and maintain the capsule environment for years on end without any resupply from home. The product of a NASA challenge, AstroGro is a space garden pod aimed at addressing this problem. It relies on 3D printing to produce a system that can be replicated and modified while in the depths of space. Read More
It may sound like the stuff of futuristic science fiction, but a high-tech kitchen featuring a robot is set to become a commercial reality. The Automated Kitchen was recently unveiled to the public at Hanover Messe in Germany, a leading industrial products trade show. Created by UK-based Moley Robotics, the company claims the robot – the key component of the ensemble – can cook like a seasoned chef. Read More
These days, it seems like every celebrity comes out with a cookbook at some point, and IBM's Watson supercomputer is no exception. The newly released Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson includes 65 recipes, developed with the help of what's billed as "the world’s first cognitive cooking system", is the result of a three-year collaboration between IBM Research and chefs at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE). Read More
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