Tagfood

Resilient Disobedience: Guerrilla Grafting

urban tree grafting

Today, Hui is the force behind Guerrilla Grafters, a renegade band of idealistic produce lovers who attach fruit-growing branches to public trees in Bay Area cities (they are loath to specify exactly where for fear of reprisal).

Their handiwork currently is getting recognition in the 13th International Architecture Biennale in Venice, Italy, as part of the U.S. exhibit called “Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good.” Closer to home, however, municipal officials have denounced the group’s efforts.

Even the urban agriculture movement is torn when it comes to the secretive splicers, outliers in a nascent push to bring orchards to America’s inner cities. While many applaud their civil disobedience, others fear a backlash against community farming efforts. And few believe their work will ever fill a fruit bowl.

LA Times: In San Francisco, a secret project bears fruit

(via John Robb)

Don’t Blame Cats for Toxoplasmosis

The Oregonian reports:

“Our concern is that because it has been sensationalized and interpreted as, ‘Your cat can make you sick,’ that really is missing the most dangerous part of toxoplasmosis and human infestation,” says Dr. Theresa Cornwell of Cat Care Professionals in Lake Oswego. “You’re much less likely to get toxoplasmosis from your cat as you are from fruits and vegetables or meat that is contaminated.”

“People tend to forget that the consumption of uncooked or partly cooked meat can be perhaps a more significant source of infection for toxoplasmosis,” agrees state public health veterinarian Dr. Emilio DeBess.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cite toxoplasmosis as the third-leading cause of food-borne illness and death. Half of the 750 deaths attributed to toxoplasmosis each year are believed to be caused by eating contaminated meat, according to the CDC.

Full Story: Oregon Live: The truth about toxoplasmosis: the kitchen more likely source than your cat

The Portland Food Truck Incubator

Portland is known for its food truck scene (we call ’em “carts” here though), and that culture has spread to other cities like San Francisco and New York. Now we’ve also got an “incubator,” a concept I’ve usually seen attached to tech startups, for food vendors:

Montiel is in the first class of Hacienda Community Development Corp.’s Latino Food Vendor Incubator. The class includes four would-be tamaleros, or tamale vendors, and one Colombian who makes arepas, flat corncakes that are often filled. The participants will prepare food in a shared commercial kitchen and sell it at Portland-area farmers markets this summer. Next year, they’ll learn the catering business, and the third year work on a soft launch of their own businesses. […]

“I need to know everything,” Montiel says through an interpreter. She feels a responsibility to share the cuisine she grew up with in Puebla, but before she’s ready to set out on her own she needs to expand her English fluency, figure out financing options, establish relationships with organic food providers, get comfortable with restaurant technology and learn sustainable business practices.

Oregon Live: Vendor incubator nurtures dreams of Latino entrepreneurs

Welcome to the Acid Age

From a press release issued by the United States Geological Survey:

Human use of Earth’s natural resources is making the air, oceans, freshwaters, and soils more acidic, according to a U.S. Geological Survey – University of Virginia study available online in the journal, Applied Geochemistry.

This comprehensive review, the first on this topic to date, found the mining and burning of coal, the mining and smelting of metal ores, and the use of nitrogen fertilizer are the major causes of chemical oxidation processes that generate acid in the Earth-surface environment.

These widespread activities have increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, increasing the acidity of oceans; produced acid rain that has increased the acidity of freshwater bodies and soils; produced drainage from mines that has increased the acidity of freshwater streams and groundwater; and added nitrogen to crop lands that has increased the acidity of soils.

The United States Geological Survey: Earth’s Acidity Rising – Major Causes and Shifting Trends Examined to Guide Future Mitigation Efforts

(via Doc Searls)

You can find the study here (I’ve not read it).

A few thoughts, assuming this study, and the description of i, is accurate:

1) I’ve argued for a while that even if global warming isn’t real, or if humans aren’t causing it, most of the tasks associated with trying to slow or stop it are still worth while (see: What If We Created a Better World for Nothing?). This study seems to confirm that.

2) I was skeptical about the value of organic farming, but this essay by Manuel Delanda convinced me that there is value there, if nothing else, in reducing dependence on external sources for fertilizers, therefore creating more resilience for organic farms (but I still think it’s an overhyped, poorly defined term mostly used by large corporations to bilk customers into paying more for food). This study presents another reason to reduce the use of nitrogen fertilizers.

The Vegan Body Building Movement

vegan body builder

“Is it possible to be a good bodybuilder and be a vegan? Yes,” said Jose Antonio, the chief executive of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. “But is it ideal? No.”

Vegan bodybuilders may face challenges getting sufficient amino acids, found in meats, Antonio said, adding that although protein can be found in vegetables and nuts, they must be consumed in greater quantities to get the same amount as their counterparts in meat. “The amount of rice and beans you need to eat would fill up a Mexican restaurant,” he said.

Other nutritionists and bodybuilders have argued that a disciplined vegan diet, consisting of things like hemp-based protein supplements, peanut butter, nuts, vegetables and legumes, can yield similar, if not better, results than a meat- or dairy-filled diet. Carefully monitored, vegans can get the same amount of protein with less fat or toxins, they argue. (For a midafternoon snack, Sitko sometimes eats 10 bananas.)

New York Times: Sculptured by Weights and a Strict Vegan Diet

(via Roope Mokka)

Junk Food May Be As Addictive as Drugs

Judge Dredd - Sugar bust

Bloomberg reports:

The idea that food may be addictive was barely on scientists’ radar a decade ago. Now the field is heating up. Lab studies have found sugary drinks and fatty foods can produce addictive behavior in animals. Brain scans of obese people and compulsive eaters, meanwhile, reveal disturbances in brain reward circuits similar to those experienced by drug abusers.

Twenty-eight scientific studies and papers on food addiction have been published this year, according to a National Library of Medicine database. As the evidence expands, the science of addiction could become a game changer for the $1 trillion food and beverage industries.

If fatty foods and snacks and drinks sweetened with sugar and high fructose corn syrup are proven to be addictive, food companies may face the most drawn-out consumer safety battle since the anti-smoking movement took on the tobacco industry a generation ago.

Bloomberg: Fatty Foods Addictive Like Cocaine in Growing Body of Scientific Research

(via Abe1x)

See also: Lab Rats Always Pick Saccharin Over Cocaine

Jail Time for Gardening in Canada

Becker Farm

Grist is calling this a trend, but doesn’t it take three times to make a trend?

Hey, remember the woman threatened with 93 days in jail for growing a garden in her front yard? She could have a cellmate! Dirk Becker of Lantzville, British Columbia turned his scraped-dry gravel pit of a property into a thriving organic farm, so of course he’s facing six months of jail time. Why? Well, the thing is, this farm was full of DIRT. You can’t have dirt in a yard! It’s unsanitary.

The Beckers were cited under Lantzville’s “unsightly premises” bylaw, for having piles of dirt and manure on the property. As the Beckers wryly point out, the letter came on the same day that 8,000 compost bins were distributed to residents in their region. So, to recap: Gravel pit: not unsightly. Beautiful farm with dirt in it: unsightly. Fertilizer in bin in kitchen: civic responsibility. Fertilizer actually out fertilizing: filth!

As it turns out, Lantzville has a bylaw that residentially zoned plots can’t grow food at all — even the no-dirt kind! — whether or not they’re farming commercially. The Beckers’ 2.5-acre property is zoned as residential, so they essentially are not allowed to eat anything that comes out of their garden. Ah, local government, always improving lives.

Grist: Jail time for gardening: Now officially a trend

Video: Vegan Black Metal Chef

(Thanks Ian!)

The Rise of Farmpunk

Farmpunk

Mr. Jones, 30, and his wife, Alicia, 27, are among an emerging group of people in their 20s and 30s who have chosen farming as a career. Many shun industrial, mechanized farming and list punk rock, Karl Marx and the food journalist Michael Pollan as their influences. The Joneses say they and their peers are succeeding because of Oregon’s farmer-foodie culture, which demands grass-fed and pasture-raised meats. […]

The problem, the young farmers say, is access to land and money to buy equipment. Many new to farming also struggle with the basics.

In Eugene, Ore., Kasey White and Jeff Broadie of Lonesome Whistle Farm are finishing their third season of cultivating heirloom beans with names like Calypso, Jacob’s Cattle and Dutch Ballet.

They have been lauded — and even consulted — by older farmers nearby for figuring out how to grow beans in a valley dominated by grass seed farmers.

But finding mentors has been difficult. There is a knowledge gap that has been referred to as “the lost generation” — people their parents’ age may farm but do not know how to grow food. The grandparent generation is no longer around to teach them.

New York Times: In New Food Culture, a Young Generation of Farmers Emerges

(via Eric Schiller)

New Evidence Suggests Neanderthals Cooked and Ate Vegetables

Neanderthal

Researchers in the US have found grains of cooked plant material in the teeth of the remains.

The study is the first to confirm that the Neanderthal diet was not confined to meat and was more sophisticated than previously thought.

The research has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The popular image of Neanderthals as great meat eaters is one that has up until now been backed by some circumstantial evidence. Chemical analysis of their bones suggested they ate little or no vegetables.

BBC News: Neanderthals cooked and ate vegetables

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