Here are this week’s headlines! We have edible landscapes, pet bees, Canada’s strategic maple syrup reserve, parasites, escalating food price, and more…
TED Talk: How Can We Eat Our Landscapes? “What should a community do with its unused land? Plant food, of course. With energy and humor, Pam Warhurst tells at the TEDSalon the story of how she and a growing team of volunteers came together to turn plots of unused land into communal vegetable gardens, and to change the narrative of food in their community.”
Farm Use of Antibiotics Defies Scrutiny – “Eighty percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States goes to chicken, pigs, cows and other animals that people eat, yet producers of meat and poultry are not required to report how they use the drugs — which ones, on what types of animal, and in what quantities. This dearth of information makes it difficult to document the precise relationship between routine antibiotic use in animals and antibiotic-resistant infections in people, scientists say.”
Study Questions Advantage of Organic Meat and Produce – “They concluded that fruits and vegetables labeled organic were, on average, no more nutritious than their conventional counterparts… Conventional fruits and vegetables did have more pesticide residue…” Read in light of the article linked above.
Experts Issue Warning as Food Prices Shoot Up – “The directors of three major United Nations food and agriculture programs sounded the alarm both on the immediate problem of high food prices and the “long-term issue of how we produce, trade and consume food in an age of increasing population, demand and climate change.”
Record 46 Million Americans on Food Stamps – “Those receiving benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program numbered 46.37 million, the government said in a report that hit just days ahead of the monthly nonfarm payrolls report, which the Labor Department releases Friday.” Again, read in context with the above linked article.
If We Want Food to Remain Cheap, We Need to Stop Putting it in Our Cars – “Coverage of the US drought and the run-up in corn, soybean, and wheat prices has been extensive and welcome. It has also been prone to the repetition of falsehoods and the perpetuation of myths about the causes of the food crisis – and the solutions. A recent Guardian article, “The era of cheap food may be over,” is a case in point. Specifically, it perpetuates the myth that the main driver of food price increases is demand for meat in fast-growing developing countries. This effectively downplays the full impact of biofuels and ignores two problems underlying price volatility: financial speculation and the lack of publicly held food reserves.”
A Chinese City Moves to Limit New Cars – “The crackdown by China’s third-largest city is the most restrictive in a series of moves by big Chinese cities that are putting quality-of-life issues ahead of short-term economic growth, something the central government has struggled to do on a national scale.”
Once Banned as a Dangerous Animal, NYC Bees Are Now Popular Pets – “When Guillermo started beekeeping, it was an illegal activity in New York City and bees were “listed on a big list of dangerous animals, including tigers and snakes which was absolutely silly. One in three bites of food we eat are pollinated by bees. We really need bees.” In March of 2010, the ban on keeping bees was lifted, and since then, the number of beekeepers in New York City has quadrupled. Membership for NYCBeekeeping (Guillermo is a member), has grown from around 325 to more than 1,300 people.”
Why Does Canada Have a Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve – It might sound like the beginning of a joke about Canadians, or a great Onion headline, but it’s actually business.
Parasites are Good for You – “So begins An Epidemic of Absence, Velasquez-Manoff‘s new book about a tantalizing hypothesis for a modern medical mystery: Why autoimmune diseases, in which a person’s immune system attacks their own body, are becoming more common, even as infectious and parasitic diseases are beaten back. (Read an excerpt from the book) According to Velasquez-Manoff and the scientists he writes about, it’s no coincidence. A fast-growing body of research suggests that immune systems, produced by millions of years of evolution in a microbe-rich world, rely on certain exposures to calibrate themselves. Disrupt those exposures, as we have through modern medicine, food and lifestyle, and things go haywire.”
Elephants Slaughtered in Ivory Poaching Frenzy – “Africa is in the midst of an epic elephant slaughter. Conservation groups say poachers are wiping out tens of thousands of elephants a year, more than at any time in the previous two decades, with the underground ivory trade becoming increasingly militarized.”
Mustard’s Spiciness Related to its Hardiness – “What seems like a very slight difference in the genes alters the spice-building pathway in a wild mustard plant, according to the report, which appears in the journal Science. This produces different enzymes in different plants that keep away specific insects.”
US Accuses BP of Gross Negligence – “The U.S. Justice Department is ramping up its rhetoric against BP PLC for the massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, laying out in a new court filing examples of what it calls “gross negligence and willful misconduct.”