Science Picks

Influence of using different databases of foods’ environmental footprints

There are different available databases of foods’ environmental footprints that can impact the estimates of the dietary environmental impact, possibly compromising the validity and comparability of results. This study compared the use of several databases, and despite the absolute estimates differed, the correlations amid most environmental indicators were moderate-to-high. Meat was the top contributor to most indicators independently of the data source.

Source: Carvalho, C., Correia, D., Costa, S. A., Lopes, C., & Torres, D., 2023.

Models can enhance science-policy-society alignments to unleash the potential of agri-food systems to mitigate climate change

The effective GHG mitigation strategies are country-specific and that they inherently depend on prevailing socio-economic conditions. Given the magnitude of the climate change challenge, harnessing the development and adoption of advanced modeling tools under the auspices of international entities is paramount to achieving greenhouse gas mitigation targets in agriculture and food production systems.

Source: Cammarano, D., Olesen, J. E., Helming, K., Foyer, C. H., Schönhart, M., Brunori, G., Bandru, k.k., Bindi,. M , Padovan, G.,.Thorsen, Bo J., Freund, F., Abalos, D., 2023.

Improve the Digestability of Pinsa Romana

The Pinsa Romana, a type of pizza that, recently, has been commercially rediscovered and that needed elucidation from a nutritional and digestibility perspective, if made with biga with sourdough and long fermentation showed the lowest predicted glycemic index, the highest content of total peptides, free total and individual amino acids and gamma-aminobutyric acid, and the best protein quality indexes

Source: Costantini, A., Verni, M., Mastrolonardo, F., Rizzello, C.G., Di Cagno, R., Gobbetti, M., Breedveld, M., Bruggink, S., Lefever, K., Polo, A., 2023.

Research of sustainable technologies to enhance the oxidative stability of vegetable oils

Industries are searching for alternatives to synthetic antioxidants to protect oils against oxidation. Antioxidant compounds extracted from different plant parts or sourced from agri-food industries, including residues left after food processing, attract consumers for their health properties and natural origins.

Source: Fadda, A., Sanna, D., Sakar, E.H., Gharby, S., Mulas, M., Medda, S., Yesilcubuk, N.S., Karaca, A.C., Gozukirmizi, C.K., Lucarini, M. and Lombardi-Boccia, G., 2022. Innovative and Sustainable Technologies to Enhance the Oxidative Stability of Vegetable Oils. Sustainability. 14(2), p.849.

Control of fruit postharvest moulds with natural plant extracts

In the postharvest handling of horticultural commodities, plant extracts with fungicidal activity are a valid alternative to synthetic fungicides. The fungicidal activity of leaf extracts from eight myrtle cultivars was studied in vitro against Penicillium spp. and on artificially inoculated mandarins.

Source: Fadda A., Sarais G., Lai C., Sale L., Mulas M., 2021. Control of postharvest diseases caused by Penicillium spp. with myrtle leaf phenolic extracts: in vitro and in vivo study on mandarin fruit during storage. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 101, 4229-4240.

Effects of climate changes on woody fruit crops in Mediterranean area

Climate changes affect phenological stages, physiological processes, disease-pest frequency, yield, and qualitative composition of the perennial plants and derived products. However, the low flexibility of woody crops is balanced by resilience in the long-life cycle.

Source: Medda, S., Fadda, A., Mulas, M., 2022. Influence of Climate Change on Metabolism and Biological Characteristics in Perennial Woody Fruit Crops in the Mediterranean Environment. Horticulturae, 8(4), 273;

Effects of climate change on Italian grasslands

A reduction of cold tolerant species and a spread of xeric/thermophilus ones and shrubby vegetation are expected under future climate conditions. Heat stress conditions are the main factors for the reduction of forage quality and  grasslands palatability.

Source: Dibari C., Pulina A., Argenti G., Aglietti C., Bindi M., Moriondo M., Mula L., Pasqui M., Seddaiu G., Roggero P.P., 2021. Climate change impacts on the Alpine, Continental and Mediterranean grassland systems of Italy: A review Italian Journal of Agronomy, 16:1843

A Durum Wheat Germoplasm: 1011 tetraploid accessions as ideal resource to identify and map useful genetic diversity

The Global Durum Panel (GDP) is a representative, broad and diverse collections made of 10.11 tetraploid wheat accessions consisting of durum wheat modern germplasm and landraces, along with a selection of emmer and primitive tetraploid wheats to maximize diversity. The GDP has been multiplied, deeply genetic characterized with SNP array and made freely availability to all durum wheat breeders. The GDP is a unique and ideal resource to identify and map useful genetic diversity at loci of interest.

Source: Mazzucotelli, E., Sciara, G., Mastrangelo, A.M., Desiderio, F., Xu, S.S., Faris, J., Hayden, M.J., Tricker, P.J., Ozkan, H., Echenique, V. and Steffenson, B.J., 2020. The Global Durum wheat Panel (GDP): an international platform to identify and exchange beneficial alleles. Frontiers in plant science, 11.

A natural preservation of food

A new nanostructured formulation using a mixture of two species of medicinal and aromatic plants was found, which presented a new natural alternative for the preservation of products, such as food.

Source: Fathi, F.; Ebrahimi, S. N.; Salehi, P.; Safari, A.; Shahsavari, Z.; Hadian, J.; Carlos Matos, L. C.; Alves, R. C.; Oliveira, M. B. P. P., 2021. Antimicrobial multi-component lipid-based nanoemulsion of Eucalyptus globulus and Mentha piperita as natural preservative. Journal of Dispersion Science and Technology,

Gunnera tinctoria: a Portoguese invasive plant as source of pretious properties

A Portuguese invasive plant was evaluated as a possible food and nutritional alternative, as well as a potential source of micromolecules for cancer treatment at nanometer and micrometer scales. The results obtained are promising both for the use of the species as a non-conventional food plant, as well as a future source of useful micromolecules for the treatment of cancer.

Source: Fathi, F.; Samad N. Ebrahimi, S. N.; Valadão, A. I. G.; Andrade, N.; Costa, A. S. G.; Silva, C.; Fathi, A.; Salehi, P.; Fátima Martel, F.; Alves, R. C.; Oliveira, M. B. P. P., 2021. Exploring Gunnera tinctoria: From Nutritional and Anti-Tumoral Properties to Phytosome Development Following Structural Arrangement Based on Molecular Docking. Molecules, 26, 5935.

A new use of coffee extract

Different strategies for the transformation of a by-product of the food industry into different products with high added value, both from a nutritional and functional point of view, are found.

Source: Fathi, F.; Samad N. Ebrahimi, S. N.; João A. V. Prior, J. A. V.; Machado, S. M. L.; Kouchaksaraee, R. M.; Oliveira, M. B. P. P.; Alves, R. C., 2022. Formulation of Nano/Micro-Carriers Loaded with an Enriched Extract of Coffee Silverskin: Physicochemical Properties, in vitro Release Mechanism and In Silico Molecular Modeling. Pharmaceutics, 14, 112.

Tools for assessing dietary intake

Are diet-tracking mobile apps suitable to estimate energy and macronutrient intake? Comparing the data obtained from the five apps available in Italy with those from the dietary software Foodsoft 1.0 used in the last national food consumption survey, no significant differences were found in the mean values of energy and macronutrients, except for fat intakes. The selected apps could be a suitable tool for assessing dietary intake, as well as Foodsoft 1.0, and reduce the interview burden.

Source: Mistura, L.; Comendador Azcarraga, F.J.; D’Addezio, L.; Martone, D.; Turrini, A. An Italian Case Study for Assessing Nutrient Intake through Nutrition-Related Mobile Apps. Nutrients 2021, 13, 3073

Potato: environment influences nutritional quality

Mountain cultivation could greatly modify beneficial potato features. Upland potatoes satisfies consumer demand for high quality foods linked to traditional areas of origin and for new specialties and niche products endowed with added nutritional value, as it is commonly thought that the crop and environment synergy improves the potential beneficial properties of the tuber and gives it a special taste and a renowned quality.

Source: Pacifico, D. Upland Italian Potato Quality—A Perspective. Sustainability 2018, 10, 3939.

Economic analysis of Norvegians crop farms

Economic performance among Norwegian crop farms

Starting from a panel data for 1991-2013 from the 455 crop-producing farms with 3,885 observations, mean minimum costs were about 93% and 92% of the actual costs for crop farms in the central and eastern regions, respectively. The marginal effects of crop rotation, land tenure, off-farm activity, direct government support, and experience were positively associated with crop farm economic performance. The marginal contribution of these variables on economic performance increased in the years 2000-2013 compared with the years 1991-1999 in both regions.

Source: Alem, H., 2020. International Journal of Business Performance Management, 21(4), 417-436.

A Metafrontier Analysis on the Performance of Grain-Producing Regions in Norway

Estimating regional efficiency and the technological gap in Norwegian grain farms using the stochastic metafrontier approach, we classified the country into regions with district levels of development and, hence, production technologies. The dataset used is farm-level balanced panel data for 19 years (1996–2014) with 1463 observations from 196 family farms specialized in grain production. The study used the true random effect model and stochastic metafrontier analysis to estimate region level technical efficiency (TE) and technology gap ratio (TGR) in the two main grain-producing regions of Norway. The result of the analysis shows that farmers differ in performance and technology use.

Source: Alem, H., 2021. Economies, 9(1), 10.

Performance of the Norwegian dairy farms

This paper aims to construct a dynamic stochastic production frontier incorporating the sluggish adjustment of inputs, to measure the performance of dairy farms in Norway. The empirical application focused on the farm-level analysis of the Norwegian dairy sector for 2000- 2018. The dynamic frontier is estimated using the system Generalized Method of Moments estimator. The analysis shows that the static model in the previous studies underestimates the performance of the dairy farms.

Alem, H., 2020. Research in Economics, 74(3), 263-271.