Thursday, December 24
Wednesday, December 23
In a new book, two scientist claim "yes" - and it comes down to the particulars of the ecology of food and trophic levels. ABC News reports that the new book "Time to Eat the Dog? the Real Guide to Sustainable Living" is causing a stir, but environmentalists like Lester Brown explain:
"Dogs and cats are carnivores so they consume meat, which means they live rather high on the food chains." "Much higher than the typical person in the sense that most of us -- even those who are omnivorous -- eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and cereals and other things."
Of course, being critical of "man's best friend" can cause its own controversy:
"I think the first instinct should be to look at our own diet and not push off the global warming causes to domesticated animals," Pacelle told ABCNews.com. "If this is their primary thesis, it's an example of over magnified concern and we need to look to our own behaviors, not just energy consumption and transportation, but also our diet."
But isn't our diet their diet? We are co-domesticates, after all.
Of course certain nasty and daft habits increase that carbon footprint even more...!
Tuesday, December 15
Here is a little NY Times blurb on it
Monday, December 14
On a recent trip to Switzerland I cam across this flyer advocating citizens to vote "yes" on a referendum that calls for a ban on Swiss arms exports, which is a significant part of this politically neutral country's economy.
Shaped like a tank, this block of "Swiss cheese" points to the fact that the Swiss have other things they can notably export for income( Although to be fair, they could just sell the cheese to rounds and I'm sure it'd still be popular? ) :)
Saturday, December 12
The kawaii girls are going to make farming cool again!
"Shiho Fujita, a 24-year-old model, has led a group of kawaii (cute) 'gal farmers' to do their bit to revitalise rural Japan, where many farms have closed as their owners have aged and their children have run off to the cities.
Her biggest problem so far: she didn't like the clothes. "
I guess there's hope after all!
My roommate says that she can do a better job with the clothes. :)
-- georgi p
Thursday, December 10
Wednesday, December 9
Tuesday, December 8
Friday, December 4
Thursday, December 3
BBC News: Changing Evolution
I peeked over at my neighbor's RedEye in the El today. A man-made Chicago waterway was poisoned to get rid of the invasive Asian carp species (remember them?).
"The fish has entered the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal — a man-made link between the Mississippi River system and the Great Lakes — and is knocking on the door of Lake Michigan. Once inside a Great Lake, the carp would have free rein in the world's largest freshwater ecosystem, imperiling the native fish of the lakes and a $7 billion fishing and recreation industry."
But so far, all the dead fish (90 tonnes expected) that have floated to the surface of the water have been native carp and shad. The toxin used is a naturally-occurring toxin that prevents fish gills from absorbing oxygen. The dead fish will be collected and dumped in a landfill. I imagine that it must be a horrible sight.
While it seems like a necessary step to remove the Asian carp from the system, I wonder if the disappearance of the other native fish in this canal will have any effects on the ecological system.
Sunday, November 22
Friday, November 20
Ok, so that was a good debate in class! But clearly we didn't have the proper amount of time to discuss it all as we should together, which is a shame the GM food issue is so critical.
So: I want us to continue the conversation over the next two weeks on our blog! How would you address the resolution yourself personally?
I am asking everyone to post their personal reflection on the issue here. In the comment line of this post.
You can come down one side or another, but you can also be undecided or less black and white. Wither way, please say what you are thinking and WHY. What arguments and rationales in the debate do you find most or less compelling? If you are Pro or Anti, what concerns on the other side might be legitimate (but in the end may be of low priority to you or perhaps fixable?)
Or, perhaps the resolution itself is poorly formulated and leads us to oversimplifying conclusions? What is a better way to think about the issue? What questions still remain that need to be answered?
Write to out here thoughtfully and drawing from all the various forms of arguments and evidence we've come across (I'd say a minimum of 150 words). Please sign your name too so we know who's thoughts we are reading!
As a consumer, voter, and cultural producer it is important to have a point of view on GM as it is likely to only between a larger issues in the years to come in our daily lives and globally....
The risks of GM foods outweigh the purported benefits and should not be allowed to be sold and planted.
Meanwhile, feel free to continue posting to blog items of relevant and interest!
Thursday, November 19
In the past few years there has been a mysterious and devastating decline in global amphibian populations. Among the major factors, scientists have identified infective fungus ("chytrid') as one. But how has this devastated different populations worldwide at the same time? Some belive it is linked to the food trade in...frog legs.
I $40 million dollar industry, the global movement of their meat might be spreading the pathogenic fungus. If true, it is a fascinating case of how food ecology and animal ecology are interacting in complex ways. Go here for an article.
Wednesday, November 18
Monday, November 16
With Atlantic tuna population estimated to be at only 15% of its pre-industrial levels and worries are that our favorite fish is reaching the end of its (fishing) line according to a recent report.
The organization that is responsible for protecting this valuable fish stock, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, has apparently wimped out on the best strategy for preserving them: rather than put a temporary ban on the catching of this lovely and tasty fish, ICCAT decided to go the route of lowering catch quotas by 1/3, a measure many say is not only largely unenforcible, but will likely increase illegal fishing of prized catch.
This report dovetails with the class reading on the USDA ruling on Monsanto's new GM soybeans that make omega-3 fatty acids, and which they claim may take pressure off of already overfished species like tuna. But is it the insatiable nutritive lust for omega-3's driving the appetite for big game fish? Seems somewhat of a fishy bit of reasoning considering our growing global love for sushi, and in Japan in particular. Not only has ICCAT been criticized for a while now as supporting unsustainable fishing practices that may drive tuna to extinction.
Indeed, if you go to the world's largest fish market Tsukiji, in Tokyo, the haul is evident. They move over 4 million pounds of seafood a day, and the tuna auction is the biggest there is.
Here is a video I took this last summer of some tuna staying cool in the July heat under smal blocks of dry ice, post-auction, at a smaller retailer at the emarket:
Friday, November 13
this movie related somewhat to the food industry and biochemical engineering / GM foods, and the corruption in agricultural industries.
"Mark Whitacre has worked for lysine developing company ADM for many years and has even found his way into upper management. But nothing has prepared him for the job he is about to undertake - being a spy for the FBI. Unwillingly pressured into working as an informant against the illegal price-fixing activities of his company, Whitacre gradually adopts the idea that he's a true secret agent. But as his incessant lies keep piling up, his world begins crashing down around him." Written by The Massie Twins
Thursday, November 12
Wednesday, November 11
Sunday, November 8
“We're kind of a popular punching bag,” said Marilyn Wann, author of “Fat! So?”
As of yesterday, a truly sweeping and historic bill overhauling the US health system narrowly passed the House of representatives (now on to the Senate).
Among all the controversy and concern over health right now and our own class discussions and readings on nutrition, obesity, and health, one important thing to consider is the generalized association of "fat" with "unhealthy."
For example, in an article this week Peggy Howell, the public relations director for the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, says: “We believe that fat people can eat healthy food and add movement to their lives and be healthy. And healthy should be the goal, not thin.”
As the Times article continues:
"That idea is gaining strength and popularity among a segment of the overweight population that feels as though traditional dieting to lose weight does more harm than good, ultimately benefiting the $30 billion weight loss industry, not the public"
Knowing that not only body weight itself, but susceptibility to weight related diseases is a complex interaction between environment and genetics, it is interesting to consider the categories of health that we use and their powerful, but perhaps also prejudicial and oversimplifying, extent.
Saturday, November 7
Friday, November 6
Thursday, November 5
Kendall Bess, right, reaches for a toaster pastry as Ameenah Saleh, left, maneuvers the breakfast line with her donut at Faraday Elementary School on the West Side. The girls. both 6, passed up the apples. (Chris Walker, Chicago Tribune / October 27, 2009)
An article in the Chicago Tribune this past week examines the food options given to Chicago Public School students, and nutritionists are a little concerned. Offering free breakfast to the students is a new policy to be lauded on many levels, but does the nutrition add up?
CPS says, hey, we are follwing USDA guidelines!
Chicago schools' food service director Louise Esaian defended the breakfasts, saying: "All of the menus served in Chicago Public Schools meet the requirements established by the (U.S. Department of Agriculture). In the majority of our schools, students are offered a choice at breakfast." She, however, did not mention that those choices include sugary pastries.
And here the ecology of information, consumer choice, and semantics rolls right in:
In fact, Chicago parents could be forgiven for not knowing doughnuts are ever served in school. That's because the word doughnut never appears on any city school breakfast menu the Tribune examined. Instead, the menus say MVP Breakfast, the product's brand name. City school officials did not respond to questions about why they use such an unrecognizable term on the menu.
But Kimberly Schwabenbauer, dietitian and marketing manager for the manufacturer, Pittsburgh-based Super Bakery, made it clear that she doesn't like to use the d-word when referring to her company's product: a round, sweet, cakey pastry with a hole in the middle. When she absolutely had to say "doughnut," she prefaced it with "quote unquote."
What does this say about education, much less nutritional education? The doublespeak is worrisome if we are trying to teach kids to be smart and critical thinkers, as well as healthy.
Wednesday, November 4
This month they have posted Sustainability as one of the themes.
From the site:
For this photo challenge we want to see what strides people are making toward becoming sustainable. Whether it's a big change in your community or a small tweak to your daily routine, photograph something that has the goal of sustainability.
This challenge will close on Thursday, November 12th.
How rad is this? I think its brilliant. Go check out the site and see what other people have submitted as their ideas of Sustainability.
**Check out this image of a Wave Power Generator. (Andy can you explain how this thing works?)
In our ongoing conversation about food labeling the the ecology of information, consider the "Smart Choices program" of select nutritional labels that food manufacturers have designed and prominently posted on the front of many foods.
Selling the sense of nutrition? Food companies say they are trying to do their part in helping consumers eat according to USDA nutritional guidelines; critics say they are trying to play with the visual language and authority of quantitative data to make things like Fruit Loops seem healthy for you. As one NYU nutritionist put it:
"The point of this program is to make processed foods look healthy when what you want is people to eat foods that have been as minimally processed as possible"
The companion video segment sums it all up quite well.
As it turns out, six weeks after first being reported on widely, federal regulators have stepped in and shut the program down saying that such systems could mislead consumers, which indeed seems like the whole point of the scheme...
Tuesday, November 3
Saturday, October 31
Friday, October 30
FRESH ORGANIC PRODUCE
Newleaf Natural Grocery is dedicated to providing an affordable alternative to overpriced organic produce by offering weekly organic produce boxes at the lowest cost available.
In each produce box, you can expect a wide variety of the freshest produce. From new lady peaches, to sunburst squash, to savory spinach, our boxes are bursting with flavor and affordability. They start at just $15 pickup and home delivery!
THINK SUSTAINABLE, BUY LOCAL
We are strong advocates of local family owned farms, and strive to fill our produce boxes and our shelves with as many local goods as possible - a practice which strengthens the sustainability of our community.
Because we're independently owned and operated, we're free to promote and support the organic movement by keeping our community and customers informed and involved through petitions, newsletters, and lively conversation. And we enjoy the same! Our customers keep us updated daily on new issues and events.
The contents of our boxes change weekly, but to give you an idea of the quantity, listed below is a sample $25.50 box.
4 Minneola Tangelos
3 Small Mangoes
4 Medium Fuji Apples
1 Romaine Lettuce
2.5 lbs Gold Beets
4 Medium Red Onions
1 Bunch Swiss Chard
1 lb Carrots
2.5 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes
New Leaf Grocery
Thursday, October 29
The greatest peer pressure threat may be how and what we're eating.
Try telling your friends that you don't want to drive to Wendy's at midnight. It's a battle.
WIRED: Infectious Obesity
....so claim this recent study. Not clear what the biochemical mechanism for this could be, but intriguing!
Recall, Type 1 Diabetes is the kind in which the body no longer produces insulin (in contrast to Type II we've discussed in regards to nutrition and developing insulin insensitivity).
Wednesday, October 28
This guy Mark Sisson blogs all about the paleolithic diet (and why he thinks it's still important).
He's a knowledgeable dude, though I don't know anything about his credentials.
He's in crazy shape for his age though, so I've wasted a few good hours reading the blog.
Is there are middle way between the often conflicting concerns of food systems, safety, and satisfaction?
In the Gulf of Mexico a fight is brewing over their $500 million oyster industry. New guidelines for treating oysters to remove a potentially deadly bacteria are raising the hackles on many small oyster fishers, who claim the new measures are unnecessary, but also so costly that it may run them out of business.
Some 15 people die of bad oysters a year, but some see the whole thing as needless governmental intervention on food production and consumption:
Some oyster sellers say the FDA rule smacks of government meddling. The sales ban would take effect in 2011 for oysters harvested in the Gulf during warm months.
"We have one man who's 97 years old, and he comes in here every week and gets his oyster fix, no matter what month it is," said Mark DeFelice, head chef at Pascal's Manale Restaurant in New Orleans. "There comes a time when we need to be responsible. Government doesn't need to be involved in this."
Tuesday, October 27
When fed a diet of high-fat, high-calorie food, the "pleasure centers" in the brains of mice apparently become less sensitive, feeding into (pun intended) a feedback lop of over-eating. So says research just released on the topic.
"Not only did we find that the animals' brain reward circuits became less responsive as they continued to overeat and become obese," said senior author Paul J. Kenny, PhD, of the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Fla., "but that decrease in responsiveness was similar to what our laboratory has seen previously in rats as they become addicted to cocaine or heroin. The data suggest that obesity and addiction may result from common neuroadaptations," he said.
The implication that food can act as a kind of drug (biochemically as well as metaphorically) is clear...
Seems like a lot more work would need to be done, but an interesting finding. I am wondering why in the experiment they seem to make the healthy food option "unpalatable"? Perhaps I am reading this wrong, but sems like that is the fundamental assumption that healthy good dones't taste good needs to be challanged more even in this reasearch(?)
Operating systems and Burger King Cheeseburgers?
If you don't see the obvious connection, perhaps you need to fly over to Japan and eat this 7-patty burger in honor of the release of Windows 7.
The advertisement mentions that the 13cm "American Size Buns" the patties are perched on (!)
For a little more, go here.
(funnily enough the blurb mentions their editor "Andy Yang"- I assure you, no direct relation)
Monday, October 26
I want to make a Dagwood. Yes, a sandwich piled so high you can't see the top slice of bread. Roast beef, pastrami, and freshly cooked honey ham. Bacon, eggs, and hash-browns. Two types of peanut butter four types of jam. Three types of lettuce, and twelve types of cheese. I want tomatoes, pickles, onions, carrots, olives, and peppers. Green peppers, yellow peppers, red peppers, and orange, banana peppers, jalapeno peppers, chili peppers, and more. That's right if its a sandwich ingredient, please slap it on. I want a steak section, vegetarian section, vegan section, and glutton free section. My sandwich will be a sandwich to top all others, and I want it to be named after its height and weight. Four feet six inches twenty two pounds. Using three freshly baked loaves of bread, end pieces and all. And most of all I want to eaten without worry. No more weight gain, or money loss fears. No my sandwich will supersede that.
But... until I can make my Dagwood the way I want, success is yet to come.
As of late my sandwiches average out at 1.5 inches and 2.2 ounces. They are usually mistaken for two slices of bread smashed together. A slim sandwich.
Nobody likes a slim sandwich, but its the price you pay for being poor. Or rather, the price you don't pay for being poor. Scrounging around to set something, anything on that stale bread sucks. I'm lucky if I find chicken or turkey, but usually its just peanut butter and jelly. The worst part is the rationing. Trying to figure out how many toppings I have until my next pay check, makes me terribly depressed. Remember, I lust after that four foot six inch twenty two pounder. In reality, I end up with one slice of turkey some mustard and maybe a tomato if its not molded yet. Assembled, its barely a sandwich.
So what do I do. I dream.
Yes I too have a dream. I have a dream, that one day, this nation will rise up, and live out the true meaning of its creed. We hold these truths self evident that all sandwich toppings should be created with grade A quality and affordable price. I have a dream that the presence of the sadwich, the slimwich, the cheaply made wich will be eradicated. As ludicrous as this may sound , Im standing up for sandwich rights. I want to bring forth a day of the manwich, the megawich, the überwich, the dagwood. I envision the world having a quality sandwich pandemic. Too many sandwiches.
But how is this done? With global food prices and shortages only rising, will we ever see a day of the überwich? There are skeptics that say no. There are people that say we must limit our intake. But I disagree. Once again lets just beat science. Lets put our brains together not to deflect the inevitable but rather bypass it. Science has saved us in the past, and in the name of sandwiches Im calling on science to save us again. Yes I'm almost positive, if we can design a Dagwood that is ecologically, and environmentally friendly, with an exemplary price, healthful outlook, and wonderful taste, I can promise you we will be well on our way to solving the worlds problems. Stop sending your money to save the rain forrest and the ice caps and please start sending it to save the sandwiches. Together we can make one hell of a good sandwich.
Signed yours truly,
The most gluttonous glutton.
P.S. For some good sandwich resources please refer to a blog i wrote previously on the definition of a sandwich. And here is a great resource for scouting out sandwiches in New York.
And please let me know if you have suggestions on how to create an überwich.
Saturday, October 24
On the issue of nutrition, who might be a better resource than the American Academy of Family Physicians? Some are beginning to doubt....
The organization just accepted grant money from Coca-Cola to develop educational web content. As ABC News reports:
Dr. Lori Heim, president-elect of the AAFP, said in a statement that the organization was looking forward to working with the soda maker "and other companies in the future on the development of educational materials to teach consumers how to make the right choices and incorporate the products they love into a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle."
Critics are calling the deal a "embarrassing conflict of interest," and I think I may ageee. Clearly there should be some place for food companies to make a positive contribution, but I wonder if that could be as much in the food they design, rather than the marketing angles they may be working through other organizations and the audiences they have acess to...
Along these lines, consider Tom Colicchio, the guru of Top Chef, who is also collaborating with Coke in an :Eat Tastefully: campaign:
“Great taste doesn’t need to be overly complicated. For me, it’s always been about keeping it simple and adding personal touches that create a lasting impression,” said Chef Colicchio. “Sometimes, that means simply pairing the right meal with a straightforward flavor you enjoy – like a Diet Coke, which has a distinctive taste without the calories.”
Fine food is just a soda away!
You can see Tom work it on YouTube as par tof the campaign.
Friday, October 23
i remember reading this fascinating article in the nyt a long time ago. its about growing meat artificialy in a lab from stem cells. imagine, ground beef, grown on your counter in a bread-box like machine.
i also learned about this cool australian art colaborative who made a small frog steak for their project 'disembodied quinine'. they work on other cool proects like victimless leather, etc.
and, in 2008, PETA offered a $1,000,000 prize for the first reasearch group to develop a comercialy viable artificial meat.
its coming. just imagine the implications!
i find these developments both disturbing and fascinating. i dont know if i would be comfortable eating artificail meat. but it is very likely that i will at some point in my lifetime. and you probably will to.
This article discusses how the lunches don't restrict the calorie intake or match up with the government's dietary suggestions (food pyramid). I think this is interesting to think about along with the article we read about German schools encouraging water. Obesity in Children is a bigger issue than most think. The second link I am going to post is a great alternative,and happening in a public school.
Free Lunch Program
A Healthy Alternative
Apparently they pretty healthy peeps.
Why are the lessons from the Ikaria, Greece Blue Zone so important? Our team has discovered that over one-third of everyone in the northeastern end of Ikaria reaches age 90. They suffer 20% less cancer and half the rate of heart disease. And there’s virtually no dementia. In other words, they’re living the good years many of us are missing. Years we could possibly have by just adjusting a few simple habits, including:
- Wild Greens - Greens are abundant in fields and roadsides, Ikarians frequently eat wild green salads and pies. Some contain more antioxidants than green tea or wine.
- Herbal Teas - The common herbal teas consumed here contain compounds that lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of heart disease and dementia.
- Low sense of time urgency - Feeling less obligation to one’s schedule and day is shown to lower heart-harming stress hormones.
- Daily naps - Taking a 30-minute nap at least five times a week can decrease the risk of heart attack by 35 percent.
- Mountain living - Here, every trip out of the house occasions a mini workout. People get their daily exercise without thinking about it. Studies show the mountain people have lower cardio vascular disease.
- Strong sense of community - Family and village support create strong social connections, which are proven to promote longevity.
- Goat's milk - 80 percent of all people over 90 have consumed goat’s milk many times per week throughout their life. It is rich in blood-pressure lowering tryptophan and antibacterial compounds.
- Ikarian diet - The Ikarian variation of Mediterranean Diet is high in vegetables, beans, and low in meat and sugar. Uniquely, though, it’s lower in grains and fish, but high in potatoes.
Mom, I want muscles like Popeye,
but spinach is just too darn expensive.
The Romantic, Impractical,
Making of a Food Revolution
(a book i started reading...)
"a chronicle that begins with the seat-of-the-pants opening night of the "counterculture" venture in 1971, and ends 35 years later with Waters's restaurant an American institution--one credited with birthing California Cuisine, a style devoted to simplicity, freshness and seasonality. The book also limns, with tasty gossip, the ever-evolving Chez Panisse family, including the cook-artisans uniquely responsible for dish creation; follows the attempts, mostly failed, to put the restaurant on sound financial footing; shows how dishes and menus get made; and of course pursues Waters as she broadens her commitment to "virtuous agriculture" by establishing ventures like The Edible Schoolyard and The Yale Sustainable Food Project."
A new study in mice sheds light on the insulin resistance that can come from diets loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, a sweetener found in most sodas and many other processed foods.
The report in the March issue of Cell Metabolism, a Cell Press publication, also suggests a way to prevent those ill effects.
The researchers showed that mice on a high-fructose diet were protected from insulin resistance when a gene known as transcriptional coactivator PPARg coactivator-1b (PGC-1b) was "knocked down" in the animals' liver and fat tissue. PGC-1b coactivates a number of transcription factors that control the activity of other genes, including one responsible for building fat in the liver."There has been a remarkable increase in consumption of high-fructose corn syrup," said Gerald Shulman of Yale University School of Medicine. "Fructose is...
"Water is probably one of the most precious resources and vital for everyone’s everyday life. In spite of this obvious fact, people use large amounts of water: drinking, cooking and washing, but even more for producing things such as food, paper, cotton clothes, etc. One of the most important research papers in this field is Chapagain, A.K. and Hoekstra, A.Y. (2004), »Water footprints of nations«, Value of Water Research Report Series No. 16, UNESCO-IHE, Delft, the Netherlands. Designer Timm Kekeritz created a poster, visualizing parts of their research data, to make the issue of virtual water and the water footprint perceptible. The water footprint of a person, company or nation is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the commodities, goods and services consumed by the person, company or nation. The idea of the water footprint is quite similar to the ecological footprint, but focussing on the use of water."
Thursday, October 22
More broadly, we see the USDA on the federal level is also taking notice of this issue.
Projects are trying to address food deserts on various levels, one of them being vegetable gardening with raised beds in abandoned lots in Washington Park. Public participatory engagement, reduction of food miles, and nutrition all issues that come up in this video segment:
For more interviews on this topic, go here.
Though community gardens are a wonderful way to address this issue in part, many point out it may never be enough in terms of general access to more nutritious low cost food, or to certain kinds of jobs. To this, many argue allowing "big box" stores like Wal-Wart into the Chicago market, and especially the South Side, would address economic issues as well as that of its food deserts. Indeed, Wal-Mart & it supporters are very well-organized in their campaign. But issues of workers' rights and living wages are the other side of the story. This NPR piece gives a short synopisis; and this one is the follow-up.
What is the right balance between urban living, social justice, nurtition, and the issues of food systems in the context of chain distributors like Wal-Mart?
Related: work on photodocumenting the lives of rural black farmers in the US