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Airbnb thinks your apartment would make a great illegal bistro


Airbnb, the outfit that brought you strangers-sleeping-in-your-bed-while-you’re-at-your-cousin-Maura’s-wedding-in-Connecticut is at it again! This time, the company wants you to make people you don’t know dinner, and pay Airbnb for the privilege. Where do I sign up?

Reuters’ Gary Shih summed it up this way:

Airbnb is encouraging hosts to throw dinners for strangers as part of a new pilot program in its home city. The company would take a cut of the proceeds, similar to how it makes money from its core business of letting people list spare bedrooms or homes on its website.

The startup began inviting hosts in San Francisco to participate in the dining pilot on Tuesday. A listing for one of the pilot dinners charged $25 per person for a three-course meal.

Marissa Coughlin, an Airbnb spokeswoman, said the company is "always experimenting with new ways to create meaningful experiences" and declined further comment.

Why did she decline to comment, you wonder? Maybe because the whole set up is completely against the law.

Read more: Cities, Food, Living


Fish are great at fighting climate change. Too bad we’re eating them all.

Hallie Bateman

Climate change may be screwing with your seafood, but it turns out your seafood has been fighting back.

Fish, like Aquaman, might not seem to have a lot of relevance in the world-saving department. Never mind that the world is 99 percent ocean by habitable volume: We're up here in the 1 percent of living space we care about the most, and they're stuck breathing through gills and riding around on sea-ponies.

But in a DC Comics-worthy plot twist, a new study shows that fish have been doing a lot more world-saving than we thought, by way of sequestering carbon to stave off climate change -- which on the danger scale is up there with supervillain plots like blocking out the sun or moving the moon. The catch (har) is that we can't eat all our fish and have them save the world, too.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Food


The Meat-inators

Move over, Avatar: Suzy Amis-Cameron (James’ wife) fights environmental disaster with vegan school lunches

Monkey Business Images

In the debate over healthy school lunches, it turns out that all you need to do to change the system is be a former movie star -- or be married to the guy who directed the two biggest flicks of all time. Or both: Former actress and model Suzy Amis-Cameron – James Cameron’s wife – is putting her ducks in line to see that the Carlsbad, Calif.-based school she founded will soon become the first to go completely vegan.

Such a bold move shouldn't be surprising coming from a school that was established out of a loathing for M&M’s. Amis-Cameron decided to start MUSE School CA in 2005, when she picked up her 4-year-old daughter from school and discovered that the girl had spent the day learning math with colorful, saccharine pellets.

“The school she was going to – that touted itself as an environmental school – was teaching my child to count with M&M’s,” Amis-Cameron tells NPR. “And everything in my life came to a screeching halt.”

Read more: Food, Living


Dan Barber is an Olive Garden man, and other insights from the smartest celeb chef you know


Last week, Dan Barber stopped by the Grist offices as part of a whirlwind tour for his recently released book, The Third Plate. Barber is the co-owner and executive chef of Blue Hill, in New York City, and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, just up the Hudson River in Pocantico Hills, N.Y.

Read more: Food, Living


The gas is almost greener

Here’s a new way to keep cattle burps from toasting the planet

cattle feed and climate change

Telling cows to eat more slowly and avoid cola won't do much to curb their incessant belching. But the Dutch company DSM has developed a more bovine-appropriate solution for the climate-wrecking problem of cattle gassiness.

Staff scientists and academic researchers funded by the company have developed a powder that can be mixed in with cattle feed, interfering with the microorganisms that produce methane. Newsweek reports:

Read more: Climate & Energy, Food


now you seafood, now you don't

Six ways climate change is screwing with your seafood (and what to do about it)

This tuna is worried about climate change as well as the hook in its mouth.

Have you not finished reading the latest IPCC report? The definitive summary of what we're doing to the Earth's climate is only 1,552 pages long -- that's like a single George R. R. Martin novel, right?

Well, sushi-loving non-speedreaders are in luck, because a new report by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL for short -- pronounced, I assume, "sizzle"), along with the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, turns the IPCC tome into the SparkNotes version of climate change's impact on the seafood biz.

Annnnd if that's not good enough for you busy bumble bee gobies, I’m going to shrink that down into even tinier chunks. I bring you the six ways that climate change is affecting your fish -- and for bonus points, a few things you can do about it.

Think of this as your bare bones climate-change-and-seafood study guide, and be ready for the pop quiz next week.

1. Climate change is, drumroll please ... bad for fish. Warmer water holds less oxygen, which will lead to smaller fish on average. Less oxygen means more dead zones, especially in near-shore areas where nitrogen-laced runoff contributes to algal blooms. Plus, ocean acidification is putting a lot of pressure on the small organisms which make up the base of the food chain. As a result of these stresses, in most parts of the world, fish catches will decrease by 40 to 60 percent. Meanwhile, catches at higher latitudes may actually increase, as equatorial fish flee warmer waters -- but plenty of fish in tropical or enclosed seas may just flat out go extinct. Plus, food webs don’t necessarily migrate intact, so predators and prey are likely to lose track each other in the shuffle.

2. Like $17 to $41 billion bad. That's how much climate change is going to cost the fishing industry by 2050, according to the IPCC. Furthermore, some 3 billion people get at least a fifth of their animal protein from the sea, and 400 million of those people depend critically on it -- so less fish means a lot more hunger. Meanwhile, efforts to adapt to climate change is likely to cost the fishing sector somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 billion a year from now until 2050.


The Milkweed Factor

Blame industrial ag for those monarch butterfly declines

Randy Robertson

I've written before on the connection between modern farming techniques -- especially the widespread use of glyphosate associated with genetically engineered crops -- and the precipitous decline of monarch butterflies.

But we've never known for sure exactly what was driving the butterfly deaths. The top suspects were climate change, logging in Mexico, and the aforementioned advances in ag. A new study published in the Journal of Animal Ecology suggests that the primary culprit is farming. Farmers are doing such a good job of eliminating weeds from their fields that they've wiped out most of the milkweed that monarchs depend upon.


Mmmm! Doughnuts. Not-mmmm: Palm oil

Lisa Bunchofopants

Since June 6 is National Doughnut Day, let’s start with a definition. Doughnut: An ineffectively slow means of killing oneself to end the torture of interminable office meetings.

But it turns out that doughnuts are so much more efficient than I assumed, because they are coated with palm oil. Palm oil is often the second ingredient, after flour. Which means that, in addition to killing you, they also kill orangutans and tigers, while emitting tons of greenhouse gases!

Actually this may have started when doughnut makers were trying to kill you a little less. Doughnuts used to be fried in trans fats, but after the FDA cracked down on those last year, many companies have started using palm oil instead.

That may seem a bit tough on those bakers who just want to fry their dough in something deliciously artery-clogging. Are we setting the maple bar a little too high?


The next front in the GMO war: Synthetic biology

Z33 Art centre

The New York Times recently revealed that some soap companies were replacing the palm oil in their products with a substitute made by yeast algae. The controversial part is that the yeast algae are genetically altered -- they're the product of a new discipline known as synthetic biology.

I got a crash course in synthetic biology recently, and it looks to me as if it will be the next front in the never-ending GMO war. So let’s get up to speed.

Basically, synthetic biology refers to creating genes from scratch. Instead of cutting and pasting DNA from, say, a strawberry into yeast, you type in the DNA that you want, print it out, and splice that into yeast -- or whatever else you like. Here’s a great video explainer:


These exterminators want you to have a tasty, free lunch — of bugs

"Something's different about my Hoppy Meal..."
D. Kucharski K. Kucharska

There are lots of reasons to eat bugs: They're a lean protein source, they're easy on the environment, they're a fun way to freak out your friends and family. Heck, they're even delicious. But you probably shouldn't eat the insects you find crawling around your house, despite what you might assume based on the pest-control-sponsored bug-fest that went down in D.C. today.

The Occidental Grill restaurant on presidential Pennsylvania Avenue hosted a free bug lunch, courtesy of Ehrlich Pest Control. This was just one of a number of entomophagy events that went down on pesky parent company Rentokil's dime -- pop-up "Pestaurants" in 16 different countries.

The company claims it wants "to promote the health benefits of an insect rich diet already enjoyed by billions across the globe." We're guessing they're also hoping to capitalize on the ick/cool factor:

In addition to sampling the edible insects, visitors can take pest selfies, compete in a cricket eating contest and vote for DC’s worst pest. The event is free and a number of professionally trained Ehrlich experts will be on hand to discuss the edible pests being served, answer any pest questions from members of the public and to pass on their ‘top tips’ for avoiding pest problems.

Read more: Food, Living