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What are food miles and why are they important?

How many food miles did your last meal rack up? As consumers, we’re often blissfully unaware of the journey our food has been on before it’s served up on our plates. From tomatoes grown in the Netherlands to oranges ripened… Read more

How many food miles did your last meal rack up? As consumers, we’re often blissfully unaware of the journey our food has been on before it’s served up on our plates.

From tomatoes grown in the Netherlands to oranges ripened in Spain, our food goes on quite an adventure to reach us.

So, what are food miles and are they bad for the environment? Is eating locally the answer to living more sustainably? Find out with our food miles guide.

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UK food miles: Some facts & statistics

How do food miles affect the environment?

If you’re wondering how food miles affect the environment, first we have to look at how food is transported. 

Plane, train, lorry and car; all of these forms of transportation cause pollution by releasing carbon emissions into the air – even your trip to the supermarket adds to your items’ food miles. While air freight only accounts for around 11% of the UK’s food transport emissions, this method of transport creates around 50 times more carbon emissions than shipping and ten times the emissions of road transport.

These emissions degrade air quality and produce greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere and can stay in the air for just a few to thousands of years, warming up the planet and causing climate change.

How to reduce your food miles

If you want to reduce food miles, first you must look at where your food is coming from. But it’s not quite as straightforward as just shopping locally.

Fruit and veg grown out-of-season in the UK can actually have a higher carbon footprint than food grown abroad and transported into the UK. This is because our normal climate can’t produce strawberries, wheat or berries year-round, unless intensive heating and farming methods are used. Therefore, it can actually be kinder on the environment to source fruit and veg from abroad.

Another important food miles fact to consider is when different foods come together to create one product; like trail mix or cereal. For instance, the nuts in your morning cereal may come from China, before being mixed with other grains in Switzerland and transported to the UK. This all adds to the product’s food miles and, ultimately, its carbon footprint.

Are food miles important?

With all these factors to consider, are food miles important? The simple answer is yes – reducing your food miles can drastically reduce your household’s carbon footprint. However, with little information available on supermarket packaging around carbon emissions, it can be hard to weigh up the real cost of buying your produce from the UK or overseas. 

One of the easiest ways to live more sustainably and reduce food miles is by eating what’s in season and sourcing it locally. At Pikt Fresh, our organic fruit and veg boxes are designed with the seasons in mind. We partner with farmers and growers that care about producing the best possible fruit and veg going and work with nature – to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Discover more about our seasonal boxes or check out our blog to find out more about what’s in season and when.

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The National Food Bin: how much food gets wasted in the UK

Each year, as a country, Britain throws billions of pounds in the bin – the food bin that is. Our food waste is increasing, and despite wanting to be more ethical and environmentally friendly, we are not doing enough to… Read more

Each year, as a country, Britain throws billions of pounds in the bin – the food bin that is. Our food waste is increasing, and despite wanting to be more ethical and environmentally friendly, we are not doing enough to reduce it.

Our latest infographic dives into the problem of food waste in this country and offers a simple solution to reducing food waste in your home, restaurant or office.

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The National Food Bin: how much foodgets wasted in the UK

Each year, as a country, Britain throws billions of pounds in the bin – the food bin that is. Our food waste is increasing, and despite wanting to be more ethical and environmentally friendly, we are not doing enough to… Read more

Each year, as a country, Britain throws billions of pounds in the bin – the food bin that is. Our food waste is increasing, and despite wanting to be more ethical and environmentally friendly, we are not doing enough to reduce it.

Our latest infographic dives into the problem of food waste in this country and offers a simple solution to reducing food waste in your home, restaurant or office.

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Debunked: The 4 myths about plastic-free produce

You don’t even know you’re doing it. With your scribbled shopping list in hand and your thoughts elsewhere, picking out plastic-free produce is probably the last thing on your mind. Perhaps you subconsciously opt for plastic-wrapped produce simply because it’s… Read more

You don’t even know you’re doing it. With your scribbled shopping list in hand and your thoughts elsewhere, picking out plastic-free produce is probably the last thing on your mind.

Perhaps you subconsciously opt for plastic-wrapped produce simply because it’s ‘safer’ or it ‘retains its freshness’. But underneath the plastic, the fruit and veg is just the same, isn’t it?

So, why are we still shunning plastic-free produce?

Let’s roll up our sleeves and delve a little bit deeper into the myths surrounding the topic.

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The top 4 plastic-free produce myths

There’s a lot of noise online and on television about plastic alternatives and loose produce. It can be difficult to distinguish the old wives’ tales from the facts.

To ease your conscience and help you make better grocery choices, we’ve compiled four plastic free produce myths that you should dismiss today.

1. “Plastic alternatives are just as bad”

If we’re talking recycled plastic, the Chinese whispers are probably right.

But biodegradable, innovative packaging alternatives are more environmentally friendly to make and much better for the planet.

Plant-based ‘bio’ plastics, for example, are grown sustainably and, once finished with, compostable on an industrial level. Current plastic packaging, however, isn’t yet widely recycled. So, in short, it’s better to avoid plastic altogether and opt for plastic-free or paper packaging instead.

2. “Fruit and veg goes off faster”

If you’re buying plastic-wrapped produce for fear of a shorter shelf life, you’re not the only one. More than half of fruit and veg buyers believe the plastic keeps the produce fresher for longer.

The truth is: so long as fruit and veg is handled right, plastic wrap isn’t necessary.

For example, apples that are stored at room temperature in paper trays and cartons stay just as fresh as those in plastic wrap.  

3. “It’s difficult to store”

According to some science whizzes at Washington State University, air-tight plastic bags are the worst choice for storing vegetables.

Your fresh produce needs room to breathe.

That said, we understand the visual nightmare that is loose produce in a fridge. So, to keep your produce bundled safely together, why not opt for a reusable mesh produce bag instead? They’re simple, planet-friendly and easy to stuff into a back pocket.

4. “Loose produce is expensive or harder to find”

We’re going to be honest with you here. Supermarkets still do favorplastic. (Yes, we hear you there in the back – you’re right, it should be changed.)

But just because corporations favour plastic, it doesn’t mean that loose, plastic-free produce is by any means more expensive or harder to find.

You should be able to eat well anddo your bit to clean up the planet, without having to use up your valuable time or money. That’s why we’ve pioneered Pikt: our sustainable, environmentally friendly fruit and veg box delivery service.

It’s simple. We deliver affordable, fresh and organic fruit and vegetables straight from our farms to your door. No annoying substitutes. No plastics. No fuss.

Become a plastic-free produce champion

By altering little habits in your day-to-day life, you’ll help to rid oceans of plastic and change the world.

It’s a step-by-step process that may take some time, but we believe in you – you’ve got what it takes. And, hey, we’re here to help you wherever we can along the way. So, are you ready to make a change?

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Food fight: Junk food vs employee wellbeing

Eating unhealthily increases the risk of unproductive time in the workplace by 66 percent. No, that’s not a misquote, you read that right. In fact, productivity losses due to health issues cost employers two to three times more than annual health… Read more

organic fruit delivery

Eating unhealthily increases the risk of unproductive time in the workplace by 66 percent. No, that’s not a misquote, you read that right. In fact, productivity losses due to health issues cost employers two to three times more than annual health care expenses.

But what’s the meaning of life if you can’t enjoy a burger with fries every once in a while, are we right?

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Well, ‘every once in a while’ is rapidly turning into ‘every other day’. We live in an age of convenience. No longer are we preparing nutritious lunches for work on Monday. Instead we’re getting food straight to our desks, and the food we order is seldom healthy.

The harsh reality: Junk food is affecting wellbeing

Researchers found that people who consumed a lot of fast food and baked goods were 37 percent more likely to become depressed over a six-year period than people with the lowest consumption. Yikes. Mental health, though, is only the tip of the iceberg. One in every four adults in the U.K. is classified as obese, for example.

There’s no arguing that obesity and depression will lead to lower productivity, a lack of focus and a demotivated state of mind (science can back this up).

For your business (let alone your employees who might be eating themselves into an unhappy state of mind), that’s bad news.

Short-term convenience vs long-term productivity

We make decisions about what to eat as little as three times a day, every single day. It requires a lot of mental capacity to choose to be healthy, and oftentimes, we don’t put that time aside.

Consequently, employees opt for convenience food over nutritional value. It’s inexpensive and efficient, meaning we can keep our bums at our desks and get more work done. But the 10 minutes saved by choosing convenience food is made up by weaker workplace performance throughout the rest of the day.

As an employer, this is cause for concern. Sure, you might have a wellbeing strategy in place (nearly half of all businesses do), but is diet front of mind? These daily micro decisions are affecting you staff, and something needs to change.

Fortunately, healthy food is becoming as convenient as a Five Guys burger (which, if you ask us, is actually quite inconvenient. There are 15 toppings to choose from… 15!).

Delivering healthy food to the workplace

Food delivery boxes are on the rise. According to Royal Mail research, the subscription box market is forecast to grow 72 percent, from £583 million in 2017 to £1 billion by 2022.

But while meal kit providers are delivering healthy recipes to your home, the workplace lacks in convenient healthy food. And we spend more time at work than at home.

At Pikt, we’re bringing healthy food to the workplace, whether it be a one-time order, or more conveniently, a month-to-month subscription package. You choose your fresh fruit, and we’ll deliver it to your office for your team to feast on (and feast they shall).

According to research from the Health Enhancement Research Organisation:

  • Employees who ate healthily all day long at work were 25 percent more likely to have higher job performance.
  • Employees who ate five or more servings of fruit and veg at least four times a week were 20 percent more productive.
  • Those who ate healthily and regularly exercised were absent from work 27 percent less than those who didn’t.

Food affects felicity, and felicity affects productivity. Feed your employees well, and they’ll work smarter for you.

To find out more about Pikt, be sure to visit our website or continue reading out blog.

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You say tomato and we say…delicious!

OK, so we love tomatoes…and we don’t care who knows it! Tomatoes are one of the most versatile fruits (more on that later) out there – there is a plethora of choice out there, each as unique as the next… Read more

OK, so we love tomatoes…and we don’t care who knows it! Tomatoes are one of the most versatile fruits (more on that later) out there – there is a plethora of choice out there, each as unique as the next one. So where do we even start? 

Mysterious origins 

Tomatoes originated in western South America, crossed the Atlantic to Spain with the conquistadors in the 16th century, but only finally caught on in northern Europe in the 19th century. A member of the nightshade family (along with aubergines, peppers and chillies), tomatoes are in fact a fruit, but their affinity for other savoury ingredients means that they are usually classed as a vegetable.

The best news?

Tomatoes are available all year round with a constantly changing line up of varieties from season to season. The British tomato season runs from June to October.In winter, you could use more of canned tomatoes to save on food miles (the environmental cost of food transportation).

So many to choose from, but where to start? 

This list is by no means exhaustive but we’ve got to start somewhere haven’t we? So why not start with the most popular: 

Beefsteak: these are the biggest tomatoes, and have a meaty texture with a sweet, mellow flavour. They are good for salads, grilling or stuffing.

Salad(or round): this is the traditional British tomato – it’s a good all rounder, but really needs to be ripe to get the best flavour.

Cherry: small and very sweet, cherry tomatoes are pricier than salad tomatoes but their intense flavour is worth the extra moola. They are good in salads, pasta sauces or roasted.

Plum: Available as a baby or full-grown tomato, plum tomatoes have an oval shape, with a rich flavour and comparatively few seeds. Good for making sauces and stews.

Green: there are two types of green tomato. One is unripe, and is quite tart but good for chutneys, or fried. The other is a variety that stays green when ripe, has a tangy flavour and is good in salads or, again, fried.

Yellow: these ripen to a golden yellow colour, and are good in salads, salsas and chutneys.

Now it’s time to make something delicious

If you’re not a fan of the tomato by now then there’s really no helping you. If, however, your mouth is salivating….then we have the most epic tomato chutney recipe from Cully and Sully. Perfect to give as a Christmas gift…or just to sit at home and eat all to yourself. 

Ingredients

  • 2kg of fresh, ripe tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 red pepper, halved
  • 4-5 fresh ripe red chillies, halved and de seeded
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • A few fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano etc)
  • Olive oil
  • 150g sultanas
  • Approx 250g cox, braeburn or other good eating apple, peeled and chopped
  • Approx 250g cooking apples, peeled and chopped
  • Approx 500ml cider vinegar
  • Approx 350g brown sugar
  • Bay leaf
  • Cinnamon
  • Lemon juice

Method

  • Stew the apples in a large pot with the sultanas, sugar and vinegar.
  • Add a bay leaf and a stick of cinnamon.
  • The key to this fantastic chutney is the way the tomatoes are cooked.
  • Fresh tomatoes from the glasshouse are roasted in a hot oven for 20mins along with the onion, peppers, chillies and garlic and some fresh herbs on the stalks all with a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice.
  • Once roasted, remove the onions, peppers and chillies.
  • Discard the herbs.
  • Chop the peppers (skin first), onion and chillies and add to the stewed apples.
  • Get a pair of scissors and cut up the roasted tomatoes in the same roasting tray.
  • This is essential as it means you don’t lose any of the fantastic juices!
  • Add this to the same pot.
  • Simmer gently for another while to let the flavours combine and reduce the liquid down to the right consistency.
  • This is a rustic chutney and quite chunky! Season and adjust vinegar/sugar as required.
  • This recipe can also be made with green tomatoes, just omit the red pepper and use green jalapeño peppers instead of red chillies.
  • The resulting chutney will also be a less sweet.
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How to go plastic-free

Plastic waste is getting a lot of attention. Google searches for the subject have tripled in the last five years, and for good reason. If we continue on the same track with regard to plastic consumption, there will be 12 billion tons… Read more

Plastic waste is getting a lot of attention. Google searches for the subject have tripled in the last five years, and for good reason. If we continue on the same track with regard to plastic consumption, there will be 12 billion tons of the material in landfills by 2050. That’s the equivalent of 1.7 billion African elephants. 

It’s clear that something needs to be done about the amount of plastic we’re all using on a day-to-day basis. But what is a ‘plastic-free lifestyle’, why exactly is it important, and what can you do to get started? Good question! Let’s start with explaining why it’s worth doing.

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Why is going plastic-free so important?

There’s a reason interest in reduced plastic consumption has been making headlines over the last few years. It’s become clear that our collective plastic use has reached a point that requires immediate action, and thankfully it’s now a question being asked in the cultural mainstream. Zero waste advocates recognise the ‘Attenborough’ effect, for example – the impact of the Blue Planetseries that catapulted the subject of plastic pollution to the forefront of the climate change debate. A few statistics bring the seriousness of the situation into focus:

  • Of the 8 billion tons of plastic we’ve produced, just nine percent has actually been recycled.
  • Plastic production has doubled over the last 50 years.
  • 1 million sea birds – and 100,000 marine animals – die from plastic pollution every year.
  • The average person in the UK will eat around 70,000 ‘microplastics’ – microscopic fragments of the material – every year.

Plastic is negatively impacting our environment, directly killing millions of birds and animals and polluting our bodies, so it’s imperative that we reconsider our relationship with it before the situation gets worse.

But where do you start with such a big lifestyle change?

Defining a ‘plastic-free lifestyle’

The concept seems fairly self-explanatory – and it is – but it’s valuable to define the lifestyle you’re aiming for when making a change.

Perhaps the most important thing to recognise is that a ‘plastic-free life’ sounds more like a zero-sum-game than it has to be. Kathryn Kellogg, author of the popular Going Zero Waste blog, makes a useful point:

‘Zero waste is not all or nothing. It does not hinge on perfection. It hinges on everyone giving it their best! Do what you can, where you can, in your circumstances.’

The goal is to become as plastic-free as youcan be. That means different things for different people. Some are able to almost completely eliminate the material from their life, while others are restricted by the resources available to them. There’s a spectrum, and it’s crucial to think of the lifestyle as one that you can adopt to varying degrees. Any progress is good progress!

We’re calling it a ‘lifestyle’, but how many aspects of your life can the practice actually impact? Surely it’s just a matter of getting a reusable shopping bag, right? Not quite! The specifics will be detailed below, but there are opportunities to cut down on your plastic consumption when it comes to:

  • The food you buy
  • The clothes you wear
  • The cleaning products you use
  • The toiletries you use
  • The way you dispose of waste
  • The electronics you buy
  • The way you pay your bills
  • The way you listen to music and watch TV

Thanks to the historical overuse and disposability of the material, plastic has an impact on almost all aspects of our lives as consumers. That can seem daunting, but it just means that if you’re not able to cut down on your plastic use at the supermarket, there are plenty of other ways you can get involved. So what are they?  

Quick wins: Changes you can make today

We’ve said that any progress is good progress, and that ‘plastic-free’ means different things to different people. We meant it! There are, however, a few steps that almost everyone can make to kickstart their commitment to reducing plastic consumption.

Our advice is to start small, and start now. It’s overwhelming to try and eliminate plastic entirely, but making some small changes means it can be done one manageable step at a time.

Get some reusable shopping bags

If you live in the UK, you’ll know that supermarkets are now required to charge 10p for plastic carrier bags. There’s a reason this law has come into effect. An estimated two million plastic bags are used every minute, and they can take over 500 years to decompose, eventually turning into those microplastics that end up in our bodies. 

The solution here is simple. Getting hold of a few reusable shopping bags to keep in the car isn’t difficult, and it’s cost-effective in the long run when you don’t have to keep paying for the single-use alternatives. They also looka lot better than the supermarket bags. Here’s a list of shopping totes that we think are a big style upgrade, and that’ll last you for years.

Buy a reusable water bottle

It’s a similar story when it comes to water bottles. About a million are used every minute, and they take hundreds of years to break down. 70 percent of them don’t get recycled and end up in landfills. Needless to say, it’s a pretty serious problem that we should all be trying to combat.

It’s another case of ‘reuse, don’t recycle’. Good quality, reusable water bottles and thermoses might seem like a significant investment at first, but they pay for themselves in the long run when you’re not buying single-use bottles from the supermarket.

Here’s a list of bottles to get you started. We think they all look pretty cool, and they’ll pay for themselves in no time.   

Get an idea of your current plastic use 

It can be difficult to know exactly how much plastic you’re using until you sit down and give it some proper thought. This process can be as simple as creating a checklist and listing the things you regularly buy under relevant sections, for example:

  • Food
    • Plastic bags
    • Plastic-wrapped produce
  • Toiletries
    • Shampoo bottles
    • Shower gel
  • Cleaning products
    • Surface cleaner
    • Sponges
  • Electronics
    • New DVDs
    • New CDs

Listing things out this way gives you a better picture of the amount of plastic you purchase or dispose of on a daily basis, and helps you to think laterally and identify opportunities to cut down that are achievable and specific to your situation. You might, for example, look at the above list and find that it’s more environmentally friendly (and friendlier to your wallet) to invest in a reusable wooden dish brush, rather than buying new sponges over and over again. You’d be right.

Pay your bills online

Most companies will now allow you to manage your payments online. It’s often as easy as clicking a button, and you’ll be reducing your carbon footprint while eliminating the need for the plastic sheets and wrapping that so often accompanies bills.

Start streaming

If you’re constantly buying new DVDs and CDs, you’re both wasting money and using more plastic than you need to. Streaming services are far more cost-effective than buying movies and albums individually, and doesn’t necessitate the use of plastic cases, wrappers and tags.  

Next steps: More active changes

The above steps are just the basics. They’re valuable, and if they are the most you can do then you shouldn’t feel that your contribution isn’t helping, but there are many, many more changes you can make if you’re able to. Here are some of the most useful and popular if you’re keen on becoming a plastic-free guru.  

Change the way you shop

While supermarket chains are attempting to clean up their act, shoppers still find themselves faced with mountains of plastic when buying produce. If there’s one near you, consider visiting a farmer’s market. There’s a common misconception that farmer’s markets are more expensive than chain shops, but as it turns out the produce is usually the same price, and it’s even cheaper when you’re buying organic. 

If there isn’t a market near you – or if you’re a dedicated online shopper – there are plenty of food box services that will deliver organic produce to your door. Look for businesses that send their fruit and veg in plastic-free packaging, and you’ll be on your way to eliminating the material from your weekly shop.

Bulk stores are another fantastic option, as they let you bring your own containers and shop by weight. They’re becoming increasingly popular, so even if you don’t have one near you just yet, there might be one on the way.

Change the way you clean 

Cleaning products are notorious culprits when it comes to single-use plastics, so addressing your approach to washing up is vital if you want to commit to a plastic-free lifestyle. While this area requires more committed change than some of the others on the list, there are some easy, quick wins you can achieve in the reusability department. A few products worth investing in are:

  • Washable cotton cloths for cleaning surfaces
  • Loofah sponges to replace the plastic alternatives
  • A wooden-handled dish scrubber with eco-friendly bristles
  • Reusable spray bottles

When it comes to the products themselves, it’s easier to cook up homemade alternatives than you might think, and experts say that they do just as good a job as store-bought cleaners. There’s a homemade cleaning product craze online, which means that there’s no shortage of recipes and examples for you to draw from. In most cases, making your own also means saving money. Most formulas only require three to four natural ingredients, all easily found in the supermarket.

For some inspiration – and to get an idea of how easy it is to DIY your cleaning liquids – check out this list of basic recipes. For even more recipes, it’s well worth following blogs like Zero Waste HomeTrash is for Tossersand Reusable Nation. They’re also great resources for plastic-free living in general, featuring regularly updated blogs full of tips and tricks. 

Change the way you wash

Toiletries are just as easy to ‘hack’ as window cleaners. Plastic-free advocates recommend getting your hands on bar soap rather than shower gel, as it’s often sold without plastic packaging, lasts longer and isn’t too extreme a change. It also looks a lot cooler! Here are some other toiletry tips and tricks:

  • Instead of tossing out plastic toothbrushes every couple of months, look for bamboo-handled versions. They’re compostable, so have a fraction of the environmental impact that plastic brushes do.
  • If you’re on board with bar soap, plastic-free bar versions of shampoo and conditioner exist, too. They’re also incredibly cost-effective.
  • Invest in a permanent straight or double-edged razor. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but once you’ve got the hang of it you get a closer shave and spend lot less money replacing blades.
  • Try making your toothpaste at home.

Start with some of the above suggestions and you’ll be well on your way to a plastic-free bathroom.

Join a zero-waste community

If you find yourself enjoying the plastic-free lifestyle and wanting to become more engaged, there are plenty of communities – both online and in-person – that are great sources of inspiration and motivation.

You’ll find groups of like-minded people with a wealth of tips and tricks to help you on your way to dropping your reliance on plastic, and likely run into members of the ‘zero waste’ movement, who take the daily commitment to environmental friendliness to the next level.

Journey to Zero Waste is a popular Facebook page with an active, friendly community, and meetup.com will likely dig up local environmental groups that you didn’t even know existed. It’s all about finding a supportive group of people that are on the same journey as you and learning from them. Get involved!

Moving forward

With far less than half of the UK’s plastic currently being recycled, going plastic-free can, at times, feel like a drop in the ocean. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that our collective use of plastic is gaining increasing media attention, and it’s having a real effect. Supermarkets are being pressured to reduce their use of the material and are committing to concrete plastic-free timelines for the next few years.

This has all come about thanks to increased awareness, and the positive example set by early adopters of the plastic-free lifestyle. If you feel that your contribution is too small to count, change the way you think about it. You’re showing others that it’s not as daunting as they may think to make a few changes, and in doing so will likely convince friends and family to join you. It may start small, but a few easy, cost-effective changes could have a massive ripple effect in your community.

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