Research towards Sustainable Food Systems

In a world where various resources are becoming scarce, one of the fundamental resources for sustaining life is ‘Food.’ Although Thailand is known as a country with abundant resources, without proactive measures to address unforeseen challenges, the long-standing abundance could potentially be jeopardized.

Research towards Sustainable Food Systems

In the year 2022, Thailand faced its highest inflation rate in 13 years, resulting in increased prices of raw materials for food production. This situation, coupled with the safety concerns regarding chemical residues in vegetables and fruits and the outbreak of diseases, such as the swine flu, led to a record surge in pork prices. These factors have limited the choices for individuals with low incomes.

The trend of Future Food aims to innovate the food production process to meet the current global demands and create a sustainable food system such as Novel Foods, Functional Foods, Organic Food, and Zero Waste Cooking are part of this initiative.

The research focuses on developing Novel Food, which elevates the quality of alternative food ingredients with high nutritional content. Dr. Natteewan Udomsil, an associate professor in the Food Technology department at Mahidol University, Kanchanaburi Campus, has developed a functional beverage from short-chain grasshopper protein. Grasshoppers are an economically supported insect, cultivated in various provinces of Thailand with continuous expansion. Grasshoppers are rich in protein, have essential amino acids, and various minerals. Utilizing grasshoppers to produce a short-chain protein beverage with antioxidant properties and nutritional value, the development aims to create a functional drink that is interesting and commercially viable. The development of the functional drink from grasshoppers has been well-received by consumers, displaying characteristics such as high antioxidant properties and a complete amino acid profile, including elevated levels of BCAAs (valine, leucine, and isoleucine) compared to other amino acids.

Research in the field of Future Food within the Food Technology department, related to Zero Waste and Functional Food, involves extracting fiber from raw banana peels to produce a non-fat ice cream. The research by Dr. Chutikarn Kapcum aims to address the increasing consumer trend toward healthier food choices, including reduced consumption of sugar, fat, and salt. Milk ice cream is a popular sweet, but low-fat formulas often affect texture and melt quickly. Hence, there is a need for alternative fat substitutes, including extracts to enhance the physical quality of food, comparing closely with full-fat formulations. This research uses banana peel extracts, which are byproducts and are additionally used to improve the quality of low-fat ice cream.

Moreover, the study investigates the antioxidant properties of mango leaf and peel extracts from Nam Dok Mai mango trees. These byproducts result from the pruning process by farmers in Nakhon Si Thammarat province. The extracts from the mango peel and stem demonstrated higher antioxidant properties than those from the leaf. The mango peel extracts were tested for their antioxidant properties in high-fat products, and it was found that they effectively delayed the oxidation process of high-fat Kang Chiang products, comparable to synthetic antioxidants at the same concentration level of 200 ppm.

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