Thursday, December 24

Sorry, Vegans: Brussels Sprouts Like to Live, Too

An article from the NY Times online, starting off as a musing about ethical eating but getting into some interesting facts about plant defenses. Brings back the food web mapping we did on the tree video.

Article: here.


Wednesday, December 23

Pets worse than SUVs for the environment...?

Border Collie looking "sheepish" about riding shotgun in a gas-guzzling pickup.

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 "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

"Oh Lardy!" - NY health ad show us soda

The Department of Health in New York has gone all the way in helping us understand how our daily diet practices contribute to our overall and long-term health. It is one of those things you simply have to watch - a picture is worth a thousand words, after all:

Here is a little NY Times blurb on it


Monday, December 14

"We have better things to export!"

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

"Gal Farmers"

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

Hello Food Class!
I couldn't remember if we watched this video or not or I just watched it before
Thought I would post it just in case. This is a very different take on the the Milk issue. Our readings we read mostly said milk was good for us but this guy thinks other wise...Just another opinion. I love milk even if it isn't good for me I don't think I could stop drinking it. This is an interesting video tho.


40 year old pound cake!

Food engineering knows no bounds!


Wednesday, December 9

New food labeling

A consumer advocacy group is proposing new rules to American food labels (see link):


Tuesday, December 8

Friday, December 4

imperial monsanto

what i've come to realize is that any major multi billion dollar company is a sign that SOMETHING is wrong. sure, it's what capitalism strives for, what every company dreams of, creating an empire and reaching a level of power. however, that should not be the main driver for a company, especially a company that engineers the world's food. understood that it did start out as making pesticides and moved on to engineering crops, i think monsanto's corporate identity is more imperial than anything else. it seeks to make monetary profits from their clients as a priority rather than providing the best of service to ensure satisfaction with their clients. and taking something so powerful in an culture such as agriculture and turning it into a major source to gain profit is perverse. however, monsanto's research has certainly opened new doors to many possibilities in genetic modification. however this technology should focus more on environmental impacts and how it affects the overall picture. for instance the creation of super weeds and pesticides. how can these gm products affect the species around it? i feel these questions need to be answered thoroughly before we go on to mass produce them.

So about the GM crops....I have a very hard time with all this. I am generally against the GM crops. Mostly because Monsanto is so shady about their way of doing business. If they laid everything out on the table and were honest with the farmers then I think I could accept these GM crops more. I am also scared of the whole idea that Monsanto is controlling so much already, what does that mean for the future? I don't like when we become so dependent on one company. I feel that distribution IS something the world needs to work on more rather than making all these hormones and GM crops. The Jamaica documentary made me so depressed seeing all those farmers with so much to give and they cant export. Seeing how much better their cows seem to be treated and all the milk going to waste. Their are so many hungry people in the world that they wouldn't care if the veggies didn't meet the size requirement. Just sickening. I think GM crops are more trouble than they are worth. Having to have more irragation and pesticide and causing bug resistance. I don't think we really realize what we are getting into. The scientists and companies know that they can do these GM things and see the good reasons why and see money but I think maybe they get a bit blind from they other side of things the negatives. I am worried about what will happen in the long run if GM crops keep being used. I wonder and worry if we will have mutations and ailments from consuming GM crops for generations. I worry about the dependency on large corporations like Monsanto. 
I think there needs to be more research done on GM crops if they are going to continue but I would like to see better distribution and economic reform in developing countries that could be an active and vital player in the global economy.


Thursday, December 3

That Birdhouse Isn't So Innocent

Scientists believe that bird-feeders put out in home gardens alter the "evolutionary path" of birds. The article talks about "reproductive isolation" - in reference to the birds mating with birds in the same area. The scientists think this is a positive change, it seems.

BBC News: Changing Evolution

- George

Monsanto debate response

In the debate on Friday, many good points were raised, but even the judges couldn't decide because if it was an easy issue there wouldn't be such tension. My biggest worry in the Monsanto debate is the future; this might mean that all of our future food is owned by one company. As an artist, it is hard to say they should not be rewarded by for their progress, but that is way too much control for one company. The most reasonable response would be for the government to buy the patent and then distribute it to privatized companies. If Monsanto was to keep the patent it would be too much domination for a privatized company. I recently saw a commercial in which Monsanto tried to portray themselves as a farmers organization and very pure. Monsanto can mean great things for the future, but first their needs to be much more honesty and work on food regulation. The population is expanding, but there are third world countries that need job production and have accurate climates to do so. If the government would regulate things better than there would be enough food and people would be sustained with jobs and food. I think there needs to be honesty to the people growing the food and on the labels. If Monsanto is so proud of their work creating genetically modified items than what would be the harm in sharing that with the world. Most people have no idea that they are eating genetically modified food, and with food allergies that could be seriously dangerous. If people knew that what most of they consume was modified and that is made food more sustainable and cheaper than they might change their impression of it. I think there is a meeting point for these issues, if people stopped being so greedy alot of these issues could be resolved. I think after watching Life and Debt, my impression changed greatly. On one side you are hearing that these hormones are needed to produce enough milk and on the other you're seeing these Jamaican dairy farmers dump gallons of milk. There needs to be a great deal of reform, and it definetly needs to start with the USA, because of their economic position.

Ghastly! Poisoning the river to rid Asian Carp

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.

More here

-georgi p