The discussion of "foodprints" that we chronicled in the "Ask Natural Life" column in September/October 2007 has been given a new spin. Researchers at Cornell University recently agreed with the earlier research that we presented, which found that a low-fat vegetarian diet is very efficient in terms of how much land is needed to support it. But, the researchers say, adding some dairy products and a limited amount of meat may actually increase this efficiency.The study, published in the journal Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, is the first to examine the land requirements of complete diets. The researchers compared 42 diets with the same number of calories and a core of grains, fruits, vegetables and dairy products (using only foods that can be produced in New York state), but with varying amounts of meat (from none to 13.4 ounces daily) and fat (from 20 to 45 percent of calories) to determine each diet's "agricultural land footprint."Lynne Chepulis and Nicola Starkey raised rats on diets containing either ten percent honey, eight per cent sucrose or no sugar at all for 12 months. The honey-fed rats spent almost twice as much time in the open sections of an "assessment maze," which the researchers say suggests that they were less anxious. They were also more likely to spend time in new sections of a Y-shaped maze, suggesting that they had better spatial memory.
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