Foraged vegetables are always more fun to cook. So Food52's resident forager, Tama Matsuoka Wong, is introducing us to the seasonal wild plants we should be looking for, and the recipes that will make our kitchens feel a little more wild.
If you’ve ever found a blueberry or a black raspberry on the side of a trail and popped it in your mouth, you’ve been foraging. Although it’s more convenient to “forage” farmers markets or grocery aisles for cultivated berries, I love the intense flavor of wild berries, as well as the fun of picking them in their natural habitat. Here is a rundown of some of the summer season’s most common wild berries:
Back on National Doughnut Day (the holiday we all know and love), I mentioned that there were three major-company holdouts -- Cargill, IOI Loders Croklaan, and Bunge -- that were still buying palm oil from people cutting down rainforests.
Now Cargill has come around, committing to insure that its palm oil supply chain is traceable, transparent, and not causing deforestation.
There's real momentum here -- Cargill is a major player. And it's just the latest to join this parade. In June, I quoted Glenn Hurowitz, chair of the Forest Heroes Campaign:
The vegetable oil industry is in the midst of a revolution away from deforestation. Last December, the Asian agribusiness giant Wilmar International instituted a no deforestation policy, and since then there’s similar commitments coming in from companies every couple of weeks," said Hurowitz.
Close your eyes. Think fish. Do you envision half a ton of laminated muscle rocketing through the sea as fast as you drive your automobile? Do you envision a peaceful warrior capable of killing you unintentionally with a whack of its tail? These giant tuna strain the concept of fish.
When most of us think tuna, the image we conjure is more along the lines of a friendly looking tin of Starkist than a voracious top predator. But Atlantic bluefin -- not actually the tuna you'd likely find in a can, but the type that ends up as expensive sushi -- are just that. Because sushimongers' insatiable appetites for bluefin are wiping the fish out of oceans, some scientists hope that aquaculture can relieve the pressure from the wild stocks. Turns out, that's a hard thing to do.
Why? Well, think about it for a second: Would it ever sound like a good idea to farm tigers?
A few months ago, the international food manufacturing giant General Mills was branded a "clear laggard" by climate activists for not doing enough to cut its carbon footprint. Oxfam International accused the company of dragging its feet on reducing so-called "scope 3" greenhouse gas emissions -- those not directly controlled by the company, but essential in making its products; for example, emissions from a farm contracted by General Mills to grow the oats that eventually wind up in your cereal bowl. Oxfam also faulted the company for not using its clout to engage directly with governments to "positively influence climate change policy."
General Mills' worldwide sales total $17.9 billion, and it owns familiar consumer brands like Cheerios, Old El Paso, and Pillsbury.
I wasn't going to write about this at first: It's just so far out there, so beyond the fringe, that I assumed it wasn't worth anyone's attention. But Natural News articles pop up on my Facebook feed so frequently that I figured it might be a valuable public service to publish a post about the site for future reference.
My friends who share stories from Natural News aren't nuts. They just don't realize how crazy the site is. They'll see something that aligns with a pet peeve and assume that it must have some basis in reality. (The thinking goes something like this: Aha! I knew antidepressants were bad. I should let my friends know ...)
Natural News has 1.2 million followers on Facebook, and it publishes on themes that appeal to people who (like me) worry about effects of technological disruption of natural systems in our bodies and in the environment. But the site is simply not credible. It's filled with claims that vaccines are evil, that HIV does not cause AIDS, and that Microsoft is practicing eugenics -- see this Big Think post, or this Slate article, for a pseudoscience rundown.
The health-science stories have a surface-level gloss of technical language, which make them seem plausible unless you read them carefully. But if you look at some of the articles on politics it becomes a little more transparent: This is nothing but a conspiracy-theory site.
Few things are more unappealing than a lumpy, bruised potato covered in sprouts. But leave it to the French to make it look sexy.
A campaign by the French supermarket chain Intermarché is on a mission to make shoppers see the inner beauty in scarred, disfigured, or otherwise odd-shaped fruits and vegetables. The message: Why throw away perfectly good produce just because it doesn’t meet arbitrary cosmetic criteria -- especially when so many families can’t afford to eat the five daily portions of fruits and vegetables recommended by nutritionists?
“Now, you can eat five ‘inglorious’ fruits and vegetables a day. As good, but 30 percent cheaper,” says an Intermarché promotional video, trumpeting the virtues of the “the grotesque apple, the ridiculous potato, the hideous orange, the failed lemon, the disfigured eggplant, the ugly carrot, and the unfortunate clementine.” Here's an English version of the video:
I know what you’re thinking, but Skyfarm is not the latest Tom Cruise sci-fi failure. Skyfarm is one possible solution to a lot of the problems with high-density urban living.
Concieved by the folks at Aprilli Design Studios for Seoul, South Korea, the Skyfarm would be a massive techno tree rising amongst the skyscrapers. The concept would provide arable space to grow crops in a tightly packed city while also providing public green spaces, producing energy, purifying water, and cleaning the air -- and the structure’s great height will get that air cleaning up where it’s needed most.
The issue keeps coming up when I write about genetic engineering, or local food systems, or decreased farm yield due to climate change: How do we avoid starvation as populations grow, and how can we allow people to feed themselves equitably and sustainably? The question seems to lurk in the background of every story I do, and this makes me uncomfortable, because I don't know enough to answer. So I'm diving into the debate, blogging as I go.
I recently attended a debate on this topic put on by the Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program at UC Berkeley, and it quickly became clear that there are several contentious issues flying crosswise here. We really have a lot of work ahead of us. This was supposed to be a debate over solutions, but there was no agreement over what the problem is.
When presented with a plate of delicious food, do you eat all of it? Every last bit? Is the plate pristine at the end of your eating session? Yes? Well, OK, you are a liar.
A recent study in the International Journal of Obesity found that, on average, we eat 92 percent of the food on a plate. Good news (or bad, depending on how you look at it): If the food is unhealthy, that figure goes down to 81 percent.
What does 92 percent of a meal look like? The friendly staff at Grist have compiled a very helpful guide using your -- yes, YOUR -- diet as an example!
Hey, remember the dinosaurs? Yeah, neither. All it took was one massive asteroid, and all the dinos were wiped off the face of the planet. Well, there’s a new asteroid in town: us.
New research published in the journal Science lays out the scope of the destruction we've wrought -- and suggests that it's going to come back to bite us. Not only will the so-called sixth extinction make that wildlife safari you’ve always wanted to take a lot less interesting, it could increase disease and make it even harder to feed our own ever-growing population. Happy weekend!
Similar to previous extinction events, the large, cute animals (like elephants and polar bears) are disappearing the fastest: since 1500, more than 320 land-based vertebrates have gone extinct. Which isn't just bad news for wildlife junkies; their loss translates into a shift in the whole ecosystem. Scientists found that areas in which the big guys disappeared quickly became infested with rodents – who bring all of their disease-carrying parasites with them.
“Where human density is high, you get high rates of defaunation, high incidence of rodents, and thus high levels of pathogens, which increases the risks of disease transmission,” lead author Rodolfo Dirzo says. “Who would have thought that just defaunation would have all these dramatic consequences? But it can be a viscious cycle.”