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Articles by Stephen Hale

Stephen Hale is a marine ecologist who has written about global warming skeptics, running rivers in Alaska, the ecology of Block Island, and the theater of food in Barcelona. He’s working on a novel about a young oceanographer on an expedition to the deep-sea hot springs of the North Atlantic. Hale lives in Rhode Island with his wife and catboat.

Featured Article

Breakfast of polyvore champions: The first meal of the day is likely to contain dozens of species.

There is nothing more fundamental about our relationship with Nature than the species we eat.

One evening, while trying to discern exactly what was in the bean casserole my traveling wife had kindly left in the fridge, I wondered: What is the biodiversity of my diet? How many plant and animal species do I consume regularly? And where did they come from?

Later, I compiled a species list from one typical day for four meals: breakfast (cereal and toast), lunch (yogurt and a wrap), afternoon snack (cookie and tea), and dinner (scallops, broccoli, salad, and a brownie). Then, using food labels and knowledge of where I bought the food, I tracked down their origin and ecological niche. I looked up scientific names and kingdoms in the Integrated Taxonomic Information System. I knew where the local food came from, and for other items, where the food label did not specify the source, I determined foreign ones by knowledge of what does not grow in the U.S. (e.g., cacao) and presumed the rest were of U.S. origin.

I calculated that in 24 hours, I ate 53 species span... Read more