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America could be vegan by 2050, says lady totally out of touch with America

Jack Lyons

First: I don’t hate vegans. I like vegans. I sleep with vegans. But the idea that America could go from 3 percent to 100 percent vegan in the next 36 years is the biggest pile of tempeh I’ve smelled in a while.

According to Ecorazzi, Kathy Stevens of Catskill Animal Sanctuary thinks the U.S. could be totally vegan by 2050. Here’s her reasoning:

  1. Meat consumption is on the decline, while interest in vegan food is on the rise.
  2. Supermarkets are adding new vegan products.
  3. Restaurants are becoming more responsive to vegans.
  4. The rich and powerful are throwing their money behind vegan startups.

Sure, 2014 might be, as some are decreeing, “the year of the vegan.” Jay-Z and Beyonce tried it. People are googling “vegan” more. Two years ago, U.S. beef consumption hit a 50-year low.

Read more: Food, Living


Forget bikes — get your lunch delivered by parachute


Sure, bike messengers and delivery cyclists are cool, but what if your lunch floated down from the sky, Hunger Games­-style? Thanks to Jafflechutes, eaters in Melbourne recently got their sandwiches delivered by parachute, and the pop-up, float-down eatery is headed to New York City next.

The triangular ("jaffle") sandwiches come in cheese and tomato ($5) or ham and cheese ($6), although word is they’ll make you a vegan one if you ask nicely. After placing your order via Paypal and selecting a time, you stand on a taped X outside a certain address and wait for your sammie to gently float down from the building where it was made.

It doesn’t always work -- a test run got lost in a tree. (Thankfully, it was a Murakami novel, not an actual sandwich. WHEW.) The Jafflechute team discourages sandwich recoveries, but one hungry person climbed halfway up a pole to rescue a jaffle anyway:

Read more: Cities, Food, Living


Want to go back to the land? Read this farm confession about pig sperm first

That's some pig.

Have you recently found yourself humming "Wide Open Spaces" and looking up vacant farmland? Before you ditch your one bedroom for room to make a big mistake, you might want to read Modern Farmer’s section Farm Confessional. Think of it as a rural version of xoJane's “It Happened To Me” (known for being both salacious and eyeroll-worthy), but instead of stripper librarians and fake cancer, you hear from manure haulers and hesitant ranchers.

This week's Farm Confessional takes a seedier turn when we hear from a pig semen catcher. Sabrina Estabrook-Russett was a vet student getting experience in pig husbandry, and although she’d inseminated pigs before (as one does), she'd never witnessed the, er, receiving end of things. What happened next nearly took Estabrook-Russett from Farm Confessional material to "It Happened To Me" territory:

A few months ago I spent one of those beautiful Scottish summer mornings watching a 450 kilogram pig ejaculate into a coffee Thermos that was being held at an appropriate ‘catch-all’ angle by a bearded Slovenian man. ...

None of the ejaculating took me by surprise, but what happened after the release was uncharted territory. Emerging victorious with the cheesecloth-lined Thermos, the Slovenian brought it to me, proud of his harvest, bursting at the seams to tell me all about it ...

“We test by ALL the senses: see, touch, smell, taste. You want taste?”

Read more: Food, Living


When in drought, Californian salmon take to the road


Spring is typically the time when salmon in Northern California hightail it to the Pacific via freshwater streams. But now that the usual thoroughfares are starting to dry up, thanks to this winter's epic drought, U.S. Fish and Wildlife suggest the salmon do what Californians do best: Take the freeway.

Despite the recent storms, the state’s snowpack is still critically low, and unless this year's April showers are more like April monsoons it’s likely that rivers will still be too warm and shallow for salmon to make it from hatchery to sea for their seasonal spring migration. To get them over this hurdle, as many as 30 million fish will be loaded up on tanker trucks and driven the three hours between hatcheries near Red Bluff to San Pablo Bay.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Food


Un till: An Iowa farmer finds that less (plow) is more (profit)

Nate Johnson- Grist-11a

In writing about the next steps needed to build a more sustainable food system, I’ve been focusing on local and regional agriculture. But if we’re interested in sustainability, we should also be interested conventional farming. Because conventional ag is conventional -- that is, the norm -- improvements there have a big and immediate effect. So when the Iowa Soybean Association invited me to come talk with farmers in Des Moines, I got on a plane to see what people in that part of the world were doing to improve the environment.

On my first day in Iowa, I drove to the small town of Jefferson to meet David Ausberger, who has taken a special interest in conservation. Ausberger met me at the door of his three-story Victorian with a pair of ski pants and a bulky Carhartt jacket to supplement my thin California layers.

Ausberger grew up on the farm, but he had no obvious affinity for farming.  “I was never one of those guys wearing seed-corn hats and playing with tractors,” he told me, as we rumbled out of town in his big black truck, between fields of broken cornstalks patched with snow.


Ask Umbra: Is it OK to reuse biodegradable plastic spoons?


Send your question to Umbra!

Q. We get cute, colorful, (supposedly) biodegradable plastic spoons at a local frozen yogurt joint. They would be perfect to reuse for my 2-year-old son, except that I'm worried about the chemicals they may be releasing, especially in response to the high temps of the dishwasher. Should I steer clear or is it OK to reuse this biodegradable product?

Jess W.
St. Louis, Mo.

A. Dearest Jess,

Read more: Food, Living


“More fish in the sea” is not a reason to keep overfishing

NOAAYum, elongated bristlemouth. Bristlemouth à la beurre. Miso-seared mola mola. Lanternfish tartare. If you’ve never seen these things on a menu, that’s probably because humans don’t generally catch or eat the denizens of the mesopelagic zone, that slice of sea about 656 to 3,280 feet below the ocean surface (also known as 200 to 1000 meters, which is much easier to remember). Lying just below the pelagic, the top layer of the open sea where most of the fish we’re familiar with live, the mesopelagic is apparently much more lively than we thought. A paper published last month in the journal Nature Communications revised …


Wish you could fertilize crops with pee? Urine luck

Seth True of Best Septic Service, LLC, pumps urine from a 275-gallon tank for transfer to the farm. A family of three can produce this much urine in eight months.
Abe Noe-Hays, Rich Earth Institute

“When are you going to start bringing pee out to the farm?” Jay Bailey, a local farmer, asked Abe Noe-Hays when they ran into each other at the hardware store in Battleboro, Vt. “Um, how about now? Noe-Hays had just teamed up with Kim Nace to form the Rich Earth Institute, an organization that separates out pee to use as fertilizer for local farms --  "peecycling" to those in the know. All they needed was a test field. “[Using urine as fertilizer] is such low-hanging fruit in terms of sustainability,” Nace says. ”There’s so much energy wasted at fertilizer plants …

Read more: Food, Living


This invasive worm could wipe out escargot

Hold on for one more day.
Philippe Gillotte
Hold on for one more day.

A slimy worm has invaded France from Southeast Asia, and it has a taste for snails. Merde! Experts are warning that if the invasive New Guinea flatworm (Platydemus manokwari) isn’t stopped, escargot could go extinct pretty quickly. This sucker is so lethal, it’s basically on the animal version of America’s Most Wanted, making the top 100 most dangerous invasive species worldwide. The fate of hoity-toity appetizers is at stake here, people!

Read more: Food, Living


This depressing animated map shows Walmart taking over America

Here’s an unsettling look at the Walmart-ification of the U.S., starting in Arkansas in 1962 and ending with total domination more than 3,000 stores across the country. First the chain spreads throughout the state, then the Southeast. Then Walmart crawls north and west, looking for all the world like an invasive species:

Daniel Ferry
Read more: Cities, Food, Living