Stressed cows produce less milk. The solution? R.E.M.’s hit “Everybody Hurts,” at least according to a study by the University of Leicester. It’s not just the perfect song for an angsty ’90s montage; it helps cows relax and release more oxytocin, which is central to milk production. Slow jams boosted milk output by 3 percent, researchers found, which might not sound like a lot -- but every little bit helps, right?
In light of the news that “consistent and calming” tunes help cows most, Modern Farmer compiled a suggested playlist to loosen up your livestock:
The journalist Jon Mooallem has an exceptional talent for writing about strange animal stories, and his new story (on This American Life and in a e-book for the Atavist) is really surprising: Turns out that early in the last century, two guys thought it would be a great idea for Americans to farm hippopotamus meat.
The idea was to import hippopotamuses from Africa, set them in the swamplands along the Gulf Coast, and raise them for food. The idea was to turn America into a nation of hippo ranchers. …
One Agricultural Department official estimated that an armada of free-range hippos, set moping through the bayous of Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana, would easily yield a million tons of meat a year. …
Apparently, the animals tasted pretty good, too, especially the fatty brisket part, which could be cured into a delicacy that a supportive New York Times editorial was calling, euphemistically, “lake cow bacon.”
One booster apparently tried to influence reporters by feeding them hippo jerky.
Part of the problem was that, unlike now, Americans weren't eating enough meat, and they needed a new source, one that wouldn't take up prime farming land.
We're sure that Williston, N.D., used to be a lovely little town, perched as it is near the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers. But you wouldn't want to live there anymore. It's at the epicenter of a fracking boom that's tapping the Bakken shale formation for its incendiary crude. That means the streets are choked with trucks and the water and air are polluted. "I have to wash my dishes after taking them from the cupboard, they’re so coated in dust," one rancher in the area told OnEarth last year.
But here's what's really crazy: You probably couldn't afford to live there, even if for some strange reason you actually wanted to.
Tourists admire the beauty of the region, but life is hard as hell on the plantations. Undernourished workers, including children and the elderly, toil from dawn until dusk for pittances, often spraying industrial pesticides with little protection and enduring unsanitary conditions. They retire at night to overcrowded homes.
It is suffering such as this, which was chronicled a year ago in a complaint filed by three Indian nonprofits, that now has the World Bank investigating a company called APPL, which supplies tea to Tetley and other brands. APPL operates 24 tea plantations and is 41 percent owned by Tetley parent Tata Global Beverages, with the World Bank’s main lending body and some other shareholders also holding stakes.
"We want the company to comply with the labor laws and upgrade the working and living conditions," Jayshree Satpute, an official with Nazdeek, a nonprofit that helped draft last year's complaint, told Grist. "This investment of [the World Bank] was done also to benefit the workers -- but there have been no real positive changes."
“I’m in my outside office,” he said. “I’m standing here looking out over this: It’s just idyllic, there’s hoop houses, there’s chickens. They make apple cider, there’s an orchard, and a field, and there's trumpeter swans on the field.”
I’d wanted talk to Crosby because he’s interested in growing regional food systems. In this series, I’m looking for pragmatic steps that can make regional agriculture more sustainable. Crosby does much the same thing: He searches for farmers who could grow or improve their businesses if they just had the financing; then he connects them with foundations, banks, or investors.
Q.I wrote recently about a project to improve rangeland with compost, which seems to help, both environmentally and financially. But it costs a lot of money initially to bring the compost in. Do you find that there are farmers who could be better stewards of the land if they were able to invest with an eye to the next 100 years, rather than just scraping by for the next year?
A. The embedded notion is that farmers are not good stewards of the land. I would say that farmers are the closest to the stewards of the land we have -- they just can’t make money doing it in our economic system. But if they lose their soil, they lose their livelihood, and they know that better than anyone.
Our market-driven, capitalistic structure insures that the lowest price wins. When the market says you have to lower the price per unit -- as happened in the 1970s, the terminology was “get big or get out” -- guess what, you’re going to have to grow. You’re going to have problems if you try to internalize the environmental costs and take care of the soil. It’s going to be more expensive, and you can’t sell your products as easily.
But it’s the right thing to do, and farmers will do it. It’s becoming more attractive as the cost of fossil fuels goes up. And farmers are coming to me saying, we need to try something else. Now they see a chance to make money doing the right thing, where they couldn’t before. And they would like to be able to do that. The question is, in the end, can they pay their bills?
Tyrone Hayes doesn’t sound like a swashbuckling agitator as he walks slowly across the broad stage of a UC Berkeley lecture hall. There’s no outrage in his voice. In fact, he’s cracking jokes, often at his own expense. His movements are contained, measured.
“I often like to describe myself as a little boy that likes frogs,” he says.
And that’s really what he sounds like: some delighted, preternaturally intelligent kid who insists on using the Latin name for every slimy thing in your backyard.
Pizza Hut knows you like pizza. A lot. Maybe you even love pizza. Pizza Hut knows what we all want from those that we love: commitment. And Pizza Hut's finally ready to settle down. So, Pizza Hut joined OKCupid. It's serious: "We’re going to skip the whole dating part and go right to the proposal."
The Greatest Proposal Ever.
Here’s how we see this going down:
1. First, you’ll send @pizzahut an Instagram video or tweet@pizzahut a Vine tagged #CommitToGreatness by Feb 21st. Tell us your most creative proposal idea. Ninjas? Unicorns? Professional babies? Don’t let reality hold you back. Let your Greatness flag fly. It’ll feel good.
2.We’ll contact the three (3) most creative suitors via Twitter or Instagram, and take you on a trip to get to know you better.
3. If we decide you’re The One, we’ll surprise you with the Greatest Proposal Ever. Obviously, that means free pizza for life.
Are you ready to #CommitToGreatness?
But let's be real here. No one goes on OKCupid looking for real commitment. It's all about sleeping with the person on the first date. (Or so we hear, hi Mom.) Maybe they actually want Pizza eHarmony?
Besides, Pizza Hut’s profile is no more trustworthy than any other profile on that site -- like other online daters, Pizza Hut is willing to change its self-presentation drastically in order to give you what it thinks you want.
Food with a certified organic label MEANS something (namely, that the producer followed certain standards for soil, plants, and processing, among other things). Whereas food companies use the word “natural,” and sometimes an illustration of a barn, to sell any old thing, even GMOs, confusing shoppers with a term that sounds good but is ultimately meaningless.
This frustrating paradox gets the comedic treatment in this spoof ad from Only Organic:
The food movement's success so far has come, in large part, from its ability to link rural and urban interests. It brought together people who wanted to help farmers and the environment with those who wanted to fight hunger and provide healthier food.
That powerful partnership persuaded governments (notably the federal government) and nonprofits to put some of its ideas to the test. We’ve now reached a critical moment where we can see the results of those tests -- and decide what’s working.
The effort to create a market to support alternative agriculture is really working: Organic sales have grown 25 times over since 1990. But the attempts to bring good food to the poor have had mixed results.
Journalist Heather Gilligan recently took a steely-eyed look at these results and determined that the idea that we could improve health by bringing food into poor neighborhoods has failed.
But there's a gaping hole in his green cred: He's beholden to his state's poultry industry, which sends huge amounts of phosphorous-rich chicken crap out into the Chesapeake Bay, triggering dead zones. As Tom Laskawy reported in Grist in 2012, O'Malley is particularly cozy with officials from chicken giant Perdue.
That explains his threat last week to veto a recently introduced bill that would impose a new tax of 5 cents per chicken on the state’s poultry producers to help fund efforts to protect and clean up the bay.
“I will tell you this — read my lips — if that chicken tax bill passes I will veto it,” O’Malley said Thursday night at a dinner hosted by the Maryland Agriculture Council.