Local Daily News 14th November

Doctors create a system that locates patients with poorly controlled diabetes

To detect patients with type 2 diabetes that is not well controlled and act in time before there are complications is the objective of a pilot project developed at the Sant Joan Hospital. Through the computer programs that Primary Care physicians work with, a system has been developed that allows almost automatic detection, by introducing a series of parameters, of patients who do not have good control of the disease. “The tool looks for patients diagnosed with diabetes who either have not had recent tests or have altered results,” explains Francisco Pomares, endocrinologist at the Hospital de Sant Joan and one of the main authors of the study, along with Domingo Orozco, responsible of the Research Unit of the Hospital de Sant Joan.

In this way, doctors can see these patients in consultation and adjust the treatment or order an analysis in case there has not been a recent check-up. During the months that the piloting of this project was underway, the proportion of patients who improved control of the disease increased by 6%, “which is a very good figure.” Given these good results, Francisco Pomares points out that work is being done to extend this initiative to the entire Valencian Community. In this way, long-term complications derived from poor diabetes control are avoided. “The fact that the patient is not well controlled for a few months has no repercussions, but poor control over time can lead to chronic complications in the eyes, kidneys or circulatory system,” adds Pomares, also responsible for the Diabetes Plan of the Valencian Community.

Every year 5,000 new cases of diabetes are diagnosed in the Valencian Community, a disease that affects 8.2% of the population. 172,000 people suffer from it in the province. 95% of diabetes detected are type 2, more related to poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. One of the greatest advances in recent years has been the financing by the Ministry of Health of the new generation devices, called continuous flash glucose monitors, for patients with diabetes. 4,500 people in the province carry one of these devices.

Paella gets protected status as part of Valencia’s cultural heritage

Paella has been declared by Spain’s regional government of Valencia, where the dish originated, as “an asset of cultural interest” (or BIC in its Spanish acronym), a status affording special legal protection.

A new decree published in the Mediterranean region’s official gazette describes paella as “the art of uniting and sharing.” According to the declaration, paella is at the heart of Valencia’s gastronomic tradition and has become one of the “most prestigious global brands” of Spain.

As part of the recognition, the paella’s origins have been officially established as emerging from the wetlands of La Albufera, “where the dish was cooked in order to sustain the peasants and farmers in the area.” At the end of the 19th century, Valencian paella was exported from the farmhouses to the eating houses and picnic areas around Malvarrosa beach, the Grao district of Castellón and the Albufereta neighborhood of Alicante.

“Without a doubt this emblematic dish, which is at the core of traditional Valencian cuisine, represents togetherness and is a fundamental cornerstone of the Valencian region’s gastronomy… Paella is not only a dish in itself. Its elaboration and the art involved in its preparation and tasting make it a true social phenomenon, even shaping aspects of the landscape and ecosystem of the Valencian region due to the cultivation and harvesting of the food with which it is made.”

The decree was approved on the 29th of October following a request from Valencia’s City Council. As well as being declared an asset of cultural interest, the paella is now protected by a series of additional measures, including further studies and documentation work to ensure that the knowledge is passed onto future generations.

The origins of the dish are traced back to 330 BC, when Alexander the Great brought rice to Europe. “However, rice was not grown in large quantities in Valencia until the arrival of the Arabs who introduced improvements in cultivation techniques and irrigation systems on the eastern coast of Spain,” states the decree.

In the 16th century, the playwright Francisco de Paula Martí wrote in a small treatise attached as an appendix to the General Agriculture Study by Gabriel Alonso de Herrera that “the Valencians have the arrogance, well founded in my opinion, [to believe] that no one has come to know how to season [rice] better than they do, nor in such various ways (…) It is not strange that the Valencians have achieved a degree of perfection in this aspect, unknown in the other provinces, because they sustain themselves almost exclusively with this food, particularly those without great means, and so they have studied how to make it more pleasing to the palate.”

De Paula added: “Everywhere people have wanted to imitate them and, in a bid to do so, they usually leave it half-cooked, mistakenly calling it Valencian rice, as they are under the impression that the natives eat it almost raw, having observed that the cooked grains remained whole and separated in the Valencian dishes.”

In the 18th century, the first reference to paella or “Valencia-style rice” popped up in a manuscript of recipes, explaining the techniques for its preparation, including the remark that the rice must be dry. And in 1896, the French cinematographer Eugène Lixse filmed the preparation of a paella for the first time.

In the 20th century, this traditional dish began to catch on in the big cities and reached its zenith with the tourist boom in the 1960s, when foreign tourists flooded into the country to spend their vacations on the coast.

The decree does not provide the recipe for paella because “there are many versions and styles,” but it does give some broad suggestions regarding its preparation. For example, it flags up the practice of adding rice to the broth by “forming a cross so that the amount is distributed equally in the paella; and. if the number of diners allows, the layer of this ingredient should be thin.” Another tip states that “it is advisable not to stir the rice while it is cooking, as it contains starch, a thickening element present in cereal, which is not desirable if you want the grain of the paella to be loose.”

According to the Valencia government’s declaration, tradition dictates that paella should be eaten with a wooden spoon, “although today this custom is no longer widely practiced and it is left to the choice of each diner.”

But it is the ritual around the preparation of the dish that makes it a peculiarly Valencian social icon. “Virtually any major event that takes place in the Valencia region has this delicacy at its heart, as it is indicative of festivity and cohesion, largely due to the humble dish’s simplicity. The custom of involving the diners in its preparation, within a festive framework, makes it a symbol of the Valencian people.”

After granting paella cultural protection, regional authorities now wish to take the matter further and “have our iconic dish declared part of the world’s intangible heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.”

The rise in electricity costs will bring the price of desalinated water up by 45% in 2022 and condemn 30,000 farmers

The rise in the electricity tariff will raise the cost of desalinated water for irrigation to 1.25 euros/m³ in 2022, condemning thousands of farmers to disappear, according to the Sindicato de Regantes del Tajo Segura. Until now, Acuamed had set a price of 0.81 euros for the flow that is produced in Torrevieja, but with the price per kW/hour at 87 euros. This is a rate that, except for political intervention, will now be raised due to the fact that the cost of electrical energy already exceeds 200 euros per kw/hour, as it became known this Friday during the extraordinary assembly of the Central Union of Irrigators of the Tajo-Segura. This organization – to which 30,000 farmers in the province belong – rejected the rise and the agreement that Acuamed has put on the table. The farmers demand that the vice-president Teresa Ribera go further into the issue and apply the Drought Law, which makes it possible to subsidize the price of desalinated water and set a price of 0.30 euros / m³. The president of the Union, Lucas Jiménez, denounces that “on the issue of water the Government remembers the worst moments of Francoism or Stalinism. Imposition after imposition and tricks such as forcing farming communities to sign individual agreements for desalinated water concessions, scaring them with the predictions that the Tajo-Segura transfer will be able to supply less water every day”.

The uncontrolled rise in the price of electricity is the penultimate stick in the wheels of the farmers’ cart, because if the final price of desalinated water was already through the roof, everything points to the fact that there will be a new increase due to the review clause set by the state company Acuamed. “The desalinated water of Torrevieja is going to rise above the euro/m³, condemning first the farmers but in the end it will also affect the largest companies”, underlines Lucas Jiménez.

Lucas Jiménez pointed out this Friday, after the assembly that has brought together his 80 irrigation communities to analyze Acuamed’s proposal on the price of water from the Torrevieja plant, that agriculture will not be able to pay the prices that are considered for more than one euro per cubic meter, for which he demanded that the State Administration comply with the Drought Law by which they can subsidize it at a price of thirty cents per cubic meter.

Jiménez, however, makes it clear that farmers need water for their agricultural crops and that they do not care where it comes from. “We have no problem with that”, but we do with its quality and that the price is suitable for irrigation, the latter question that remains in question with the high prices that are being paid in recent months and with a clause that Acuamed has set to charge at the end of the year for extraordinary expenses that could even increase the bill for desalinated water even more before starting 2022.

The concern of the farmers is such that yesterday they agreed to answer Acuamed’s proposal that they certainly want water because they need it “especially after the Ministry for the Ecological Transition continues with a military step towards an unjustified increase in ecological flows in some points of the river Tajo”.

Jiménez harshly criticized Acuamed’s proposal. “It is not an agreement. It is an adhesion contract. Either take it or leave it, with completely abusive clauses,” in a dilemma in which the irrigators of the Spanish Levante “are increasingly obliged to use desalinated water, because successive ministries have been cutting back the transfer of the Tajo.”

President Lucas Jiménez de los Regantes stressed that “we want the law to be complied with, and it may sound bland in this country, but we are asking for absolutely nothing more. If the drought law says that the State will enable all subsidy mechanisms so that desalinated water, where the weather does not allow obtaining enough water by other means, is at a price of 30 cents per cubic meter, which is already a very exaggerated price for what other farmers pay on average in Spain (three or four cents),” he said.

The hotel industry has reservations for the Christmas period since October, and begins to stock products due to rising prices

The hotel industry has reservations for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve since October and begins to complete dates for family, friends and business lunches and dinners while stockpiling products due to the rise in prices that raw materials are experiencing. Meanwhile the trade observes how customers advance the purchase of gifts for fear of shortages. Christmas will move more than 500 million euros, close to pre-pandemic figures, in two economic sectors very affected in the province by the restrictions of the past holidays.

The catering industry does not want to risk the long-awaited rise in income, which they set at a minimum rise of 20% in income compared to 2019, after the income fell to 75% last Christmas. The establishments buy food well in advance and freeze it for fear of shortages and the rise in the price of food, which already amounts to 40% in seafood and 30% in meats. Sirloin is missing, typically used for Christmas, as there is little of it and it is expensive; and the same goes for champagne. The restaurants try to adapt the menu to the zero kilometer products and do away with bringing specialties from abroad so as not to affect the final price of the menus, which will nevertheless cost a minimum of 5 euros more. The offer tries to satisfy the increase in the demand of the families, who have savings after the stoppage of social life due to the pandemic. The same thing happens with small and large commerce: after the average drop in sales of 50% in 2020 and the collapse of the textile turnover, the forecast is a sales increase of 10%, reaching 90% of the business volume prior to the health crisis.

“We have a lot of reservations for every Christmas day. On the 25th of December it is full and New Year’s Eve is already 80% full, with more than half of reservations being from foreigners. Families have booked in advance, especially large ones, who fill up the restaurant right away. There is more joy and it looks good but not so much when it comes to the issue of supply and prices”, explains María Eugenia Perramón, manager of La Terraza del Gourmet, in Alicante. “The red prawn is very expensive. The big one, which would have to be worth between 90 euros and 100 euros per kilo, is 150 euros; and we are paying the median at 100 euros when in November it costs half. The tuna has risen 3 euros per kilo. They are not increments of cents, but rather large and generalized”. Lamb is 30% more expensive and sirloin is in short supply, she explains. “According to the supplier, in the pandemic not so many cows were raised, they have not grown and there is no sirloin and what there is is priced at 25.50 euros per kilo (19 euros before). It’s a lot of money. He says let’s freeze, that he doesn’t know if there will be Christmas. The distributors want to sell us frozen food but we have said no. He also brought a very good steak from Australia but the transport has made it extremely expensive”. For this reason, she tries to adapt the menu to zero kilometer products so as not to raise the cost of the menu in excess, although she points out that New Year’s Eve will cost 120/130 euros compared to 110 euros last Christmas.

The El Sorell restaurant in Alicante has raised the menu by 5 euros, and it is 45 euros at Christmas and 95 euros on New Year’s Eve. The weekends of December and the 25th have been fully booked since last month. “There is a lot of movement for any event, not only Christmas. Dinners, birthday celebrations or delayed communions. We will be full on the 31st and the 1st, the people are very excited”.

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