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High-tech gets to the root of nutrition

The humble carrot could be the superfood of the 21st century, if a pioneering farmer has his way, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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Vito Rugani, co-founder of Greenway Farm and the Rugani carrot and juice brand, with the carrots that bear his name (Pic: ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK)

He discovered a dirty secret that underpinned not only carrot juice, but almost all fruit and vegetable juices: that their claimed nutritional benefits were almost non-existent. Most fruit juices were reduced to a concentrate, which would then be combined with water, preservatives and other additives to ready it for the shelves – often months after the fruit had been harvested. But even “fresh” carrot juice as it used to be made was lacking.

Rugani becomes somewhat technical as he explains what happened next.

“The key was the effective extraction of total soluble solids – the solids dissolved in a substance – to get maximum caratanoids, the source of beta-carotene, which has massive health benefits. Not only to get it out of the plant and vegetable root, but to get it into a bioavailable form in solution, but still viable as a source of nutrition. A total soluble solid is usually very difficult to extract, because you can’t just wash it out; you can’t just squeeze it and out it comes. 

“You could do that but then you’d get probably about 0.4 milligrams per hundred milligrams. But if you deliberately applied yourself extracting the total soluble solid through a relatively simple technology, you’d get over 10 milligrams. It’s nothing groundbreaking, just a mentality of how you’re treating the product.”

Vito Rugani at a display of his juices in the Randburg Fruit & Veg  Market, the first outlet to stock his juice  (Pic: ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK)

He came across a world-leading specialist in the topic, Professor Gabriele Di Giacomo of the University of L’Aquila in Italy. Rugani says: “He was one of those enthusiastic  scientists who realised the nutraceutical value of viable bio-available beta-carotene. And he said it’s not that hard. It can be done. And he was right. It was about a combination of freshness, the extraction technology, and viability of the end-product you want to get into the box.

“Put all that together, and you have superfood. Superfood is what everybody’s talking about but that very few people can do effectively on a commercial scale. I don’t think we’ve made any breakthroughs on the know-how, but it was definitely a breakthrough on the commercialisation of the know-how.”

The real advantage was that Rugani had 80 tons of carrots at his disposal – every single day.

“Most people, if they did the research, will also find the technology freely available, but to actually have 80 tons of fresh carrots every day, to get it into a container within hours, capturing it in a bio-available form, was a huge breakthrough in its own right. And you’re not going to do that from scratch. You have to be a carrot farmer to do that.”

The consequences of this breakthrough, he believes, goes far beyond his own brand.

“One of the things that the modern body is most short of is a viable and reliable source of beta-carotene. It’s the most powerful anti-cancer agent; it is known as a chemo preventive. Many scientists think that when beta-carotene is fully understood by the world one day, it is going to be as efffective to combat disease in human health as penicillin was in the last century.”

Visit the next page to read about the dirty secret of fruit juice.

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GoFundMe hits R9bn in donations for people and causes

The world’s largest social fundraising platform has announced that Its community has made more than 120-million donations

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GoFundMe this week released its annual Year in Giving report, revealing that its community has donated more than 120-million times, raising over $9-billion for people, causes, and organisations since the company’s founding in 2010.

In a letter to the GoFundMe community, CEO Rob Solomon emphasised how GoFundMe witnesses not only the good in people worldwide, but their generosity and their action every day.

“As we enter a new decade, GoFundMe is committed to spreading compassion and empathy through our platform,” said Solomon in the letter. “Together, we can bring more good into the world and unlock the power of global giving.”

The GoFundMe giving community continues to grow with both repeat donors and new donors. In fact, nearly 60% of donors were new this year. After someone makes a donation, they continue to engage with the community and give to multiple causes. In fact, one passionate individual donated 293 times to 234 different fundraisers in this past year alone. Donations are made every second, ranging from $5 to $50,000. This year, more than 40% of donations were under $50.

GoFundMe continues to be a mirror of current events across the globe. This year, young changemakers started the Fridays for Futuremovement to fight climate change, which led to a 60% increase in fundraiser descriptions mentioning ‘climate change’. Additionally, the community rallied together to support one another during natural disasters like Hurricane Dorian and the California wildfires, where thousands of fundraisers were started to help those in need.

The report includes a snapshot of giving trends from the year based on global GoFundMe data. It also includes company milestones from 2019, such as launching the company’s non-profit and advocacy arm, GoFundMe.org, and introducing GoFundMe Charity, which provides enterprise software with no subscription fees or contracts to charities of every size.

Highlights from GoFundMe’s 2019 Year in Giving report include:

  • Global giving trends and data
  • Top 10 most generous countries
  • Top 10 most generous U.S. states and cities
  • Biggest moments in 2019

To view the entire report, visit: www.gofundme.com/2019

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For users, in-car touchscreens ever more useless

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As touchscreens become more commonplace, the gulf of perceived differences in the performance of these features between cars and other devices (such as mobile and in-home) has become wider. A new report from the In-Vehicle UX (IVX) group at Strategy Analytics has investigated car owners’ satisfaction with their on-board touchscreens. Long hamstrung by poor UX and extended production cycles, in-car touchscreens are seen by car users and buyers as lagging behind the experience offered by touchscreens outside the car. As such, consumer satisfaction has continued to slide in China and Europe, while reaching historic lows in the US.

Surveying consumers in the US, Western Europe, and China via web-survey, key report findings include:

  • Difficult text entry and excessive fingerprint smudging are common complaints among all car owners.
  • Because touchscreens have reached market saturation in the US, satisfaction with in-car screens has tailed off significantly.
  • However, touchscreens remain a relatively newer phenomenon in many car models in Western Europe (compared with the US) and thus their limitations are less prominent in the minds of car owners.
  • Overall touchscreen satisfaction fell for the fifth straight year in China, indicating a growing impatience for in-car UX to match UX found elsewhere in the consumer electronics space.

Derek Viita, Senior Analyst and report author, says, “Part of the issue with fingerprint smudging is the angle at which in-car touchscreens are installed – they make every fingerprint increasingly visible.

“Fingerprint smudging is an issue across all touchscreen-based consumer electronics. But in most form factors and especially mobile devices, consumers can quite easily adjust their viewing angle. This is not always the case with fixed in-car screens.”

Says Chris Schreiner, Director, Syndicated Research UXIP, “Although hardware quality certainly figures in many of the usual complaints car owners have about their screens, it is not the sole factor. Cockpit layout and UI design can play important roles in mitigating some issues with in-car touchscreens.”

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