Whether you are vegan or not, you have probably seen plant-based milk like soy milk or almond milk at grocery stores, coffee shops, and more. However, ever since genetically modified soy received a lot of coverage in recent years, almond milk has become one of the most popular choices for plant-based milk. In the US, sales of almond milk already surpassed soymilk. While some people are simply allergic or lactose intolerant, some believe that almond milk is a better option for their health and even for the environment.
Milk is a great source of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. It is important for people to meet their daily nutrition values in order to stay healthy. However, not all milk offers the same level of nutrients. For example, in one cup of milk, regular whole milk contains 276 mg of calcium. On the other hand, unfortified almond milk contains 61 mg of calcium. It is a well-known fact that calcium is necessary to keep our bones strong. It is especially important for kids to get enough calcium because it may lead to serious health problems such as osteoporosis. Dietitians recommend that when shopping for almond milk, one should check to make sure that it has been fortified with nutrients that provide enough amount of the recommended daily value.
Environmental Impact: Almond Milk vs. Regular Milk
In order to produce a cup of almond milk, it takes 10 gallons of water while a cup of regular milk takes about six times more water to produce the same amount. In terms of carbon footprint, a cup of almond milk produces 174 g CO2 and regular milk produces 400 g CO2.
In this podcast episode from Science Vs, an environmental scientist Joseph Poore discusses types of milk including soy, almond and oat milk and their impacts on our plant in more detail.
Do you think we can one day sustain life outside of Earth? Perhaps one day in the future, but when will that be? That day may be sooner than you think!
The first time biological matter to sprout and grow on the moon has been achieved! On January 2nd 2019, China’s Chang’e-4 lunar probe landed on the far side of the moon where no human or robot has ever ventured before. It carried a “lunar biosphere” experiment containing plant seeds and silkworm eggs. The plan is that the plants provide oxygen for the silkworms, and in turn, the silkworms will nurture the plants with its waste and released carbon dioxide. There are potato, rock-cress and cotton seeds among the seeds carried on board. The “biosphere” experiment is all contained inside a 0.8 liter aluminum alloy cylinder weighing in around three kilograms and includes nutrients, water and dirt. Sunlight is filtered into the container through a tube with small cameras set up inside. The cameras watch the environment and relay the footage back to Earth through a complicated relay system. The accomplishments so far show great progress towards sustaining life on the moon.
The moon’s rotation speed is in sync with Earth’s orbit. This results in the moon rotating on its axis and also orbiting the Earth every 28 days. The same face of the moon always faces Earth, and the side we can’t see from the planet’s surface is considered the far side.
Why is it hard to land on the far side of the moon?
To put it bluntly, the moon blocks radio contact to Earth and makes it very difficult to maintain a communication link. To overcome this issue, in May 2018, CNSA launched a satellite Queqiao into orbit around “L2.” L2 is a point beyond the moon where the gravity of the moon and Earth cancel out the centripetal force of an object stationed there. This satellite helps bridge the gap between the Chang”e-4’s lander and mission control.
China has sprouted plants on the moon!
A picture taken on January 12th 2019 of the cotton seeds growing after the excitement of them sprouting a few days prior. Source: Chongqing University.
Out of all the germinated seeds (rapeseed, potato seed, cotton seeds), the cotton seeds were the first to sprout. This amazing breakthrough could be the start to a new era and displays great progress towards a system where food ( such as potatoes), clothing (from the cotton), and oil (from rapeseed) can be sustained for space explorers. Being able to grow plants on any celestial body outside of Earth will be necessary for any future human settlements outside of Earth.
In the future, if things go as planned, China will launch Chang’e-5 sample-return mission later this year. Let’s all look forward to the future progress together! Keep an eye out!