Friday’s StoryCorps on NPR was the sweetest, did you hear it? A Boise couple waxed on about how cute and loving all the rats at their rat sanctuary are, and hurray the whole lefty, NPR-loving world heard about it! Tune in for your dose of heart-warming and adorbs for the day.
Foreign consumption of quinoa is good for Bolivia, say actual Bolivians »
Hopefully putting an end to the great quinoa controversy of 2013, NPR reports that while foreign consumption of quinoa has increased the domestic price of quinoa in Bolivia, it’s also increased Bolivians’ income, so “they’re able to now afford [foods such as] tomatoes and salads and veggies, and foods that they weren’t able to afford before,” Eduoard Rollet of Alter Eco told Allison Aubrey.
"It’s not true that due to an increase in the price of quinoa, less and less is being consumed" in Bolivia, The Associated Press quoted [Bolivian President Evo] Morales as saying in an article in February.
In fact, Morales pointed to a threefold increase in domestic consumption of quinoa over the past four years.
That means we can continue to eat quinoa without “stomaching the unpalatable truth” about it, right? Considering the truth about quinoa sounds pretty palatable to me, and more importantly, to the people producing the quinoa for us. If they say their experience is positive, then that’s what counts.
[summer fruit salad with quinoa by Typical Domestic Babe]
Scientists finally get off their butts to study the effects of farm runoff on our goddamn water »
It’s not that they don’t care! It’s that the extreme weather has increased runoff to a degree so alarming that scientists thought, Gosh, maybe now is the time to see what the effects of like seven decades of industrial agriculture has had on our waterways. NPR has some pretty delightful (horrifying) quotes:
Agriculture is the nation’s leading cause of impaired water quality, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
"It’s been happening for years," says [Bob Broz, a water quality specialist with the University of Missouri Extension]. "The problem is now we seem to be seeing more of these more intense rainfalls. And that, in turn, creates a huge amount of nutrient loss."
"There’s the direct impact on the aquatic ecosystem," says [Bob Lerch, a USDA soil scientist]. "And then there’s the downstream impacts on say, drinking water, or a reservoir, or a recreational [body of water]."
Want to freak the fuck out about whether the next generation will even understand the concept of “tap water”? (Potable water from … the government? Available to all of us citizens for a nominal fee? Go on, old person, tell me another ridiculous story about life before you ruined the planet for us.) Read the article at The Salt blog.
[photo by Penn State News via Flickr]
Turns out educating consumers about the nastiest parts of the agricultural industry, then providing them with slightly less disgusting alternatives, kind of works.
For more information on the latest studies on the chickens who have to lay the cage-free eggs (which term I kind of hate, by the way—like the cage ever affected the egg), check out the May 2013 issue of Egg Industry magazine, and the October 2012 report prepared for the International Egg Commission. Yes, both those things actually exist.
Produce: for growing, eating, and portraiture! Giuseppe Arcimboldo painted these crazy portraits/still lifes/reversible portraits that were simultaneously still lifes in 16th century Italy, including a series of the four seasons. Those four paintings were later turned into massive sculptures by Philip Haas, and they are now on display through October 27 at the New York Botanical Garden. Just look at Summer!
Amazing, right? Apparently some of the vegetables—like the eggplant and the corn, and is that an artichoke?—were brand-new to Europe at the time. Get more details at The Salt blog, and let’s go visit them and appreciate their massive scale for ourselves. When the rain lets up, of course.
[Photo courtesy New York Botanical Garden via NPR]
It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! »
Big news in Tennessee: The state attorney general ruled yesterday the ag-gag bill is “constitutionally suspect.” The bill is still awaiting the governor’s signature or veto.
Other big news: The Pennsylvania state senator who announced he was going to introduce an ag-gag bill decided yesterday that he in fact won’t introduce it at all.
Politico had a big story on the beef and pork industries’ aggressive campaign to kill federal legislation to ban barren battery cages for egg-laying hens. One agribusiness spokesperson quoted in the piece says they oppose the bill so strongly that they’d fight to kill the entire farm bill (which gives them massive subsidies) if the legislation to improve laying hen welfare were included in the bill.
On a more optimistic note, meat giant Tyson Foods reported a 42 percent drop in net income this quarter…
Video of the week: Ever seen a pig and cat play cat and mouse?
Can’t see the video? Watch it on Vegansaurus.com!
Bonus article: If you’re as psyched about the cicadas as I am, enjoy!
Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use »
It’s Paul Shapiro's Animal News You Can Use! Yay, Paul! Yay, Animals!
Big week, so buckle up!
First, the Sunday New York Times had a cover feature about the meat industry’s efforts to ban investigations by HSUS and fellow animal protection groups. It even included a full-color HSUS photo of a crated pig on A1 of the paper. As well, the NYT editorial board condemned the industry’s effort, noting “the ag-gag laws guarantee one thing for certain: increased distrust of American farmers.”
(Another interesting NYT story)
Speaking of pigs, remember last year’s major HSUS investigation into a then-Tyson supplier gestation crate confinement facility? Well, we announced this week that several of the people caught on the video were convicted of criminal animal cruelty.
Finally, I did a half-hour segment on Miami’s NPR affiliate this week about the need to reduce per capita rates of meat consumption.
Have a great weekend!
P.S. Video of the week
P.P.S. Live in Mass? Hope to see you Sunday!
Why are tens of thousands of pigs dying in China? »
NPR investigates, but fails to find out why 18,000 pigs died during January and February in the Zhejiang village of Zhulin, or why nearly 3,000 dead pigs were found in the Huangpu River last week. The Huangpu supplies Shanghai with drinking water.
Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post quoted Zhejiang villagers saying farmers dumped pigs in the river because there were too many for government disposal areas. In addition, villagers said some farmers may have dumped pigs because of a crackdown on selling diseased pigs for human consumption.
Pork is the most popular meat in China. Half the world’s pigs live there, as The Salt has previously reported. China’s state media reported this week that 46 people have been jailed in Zhejiang for selling diseased pigs. Last year, police in the province confiscated about 11 tons of meat from sick pigs, according to the state-run China Daily.
The only things we know for sure is that those pigs lived terrible lives, and that they didn’t deserve whatever awful death came to them. Better check the sources of all your pork products, omnivores.
[Photo by Wolfgang Staudt via Flickr]
Science says you will die if you eat processed meat! »
Delicious “meats” from Gutenfleischers vegan deli
Remember that palindrome you learned in fifth grade, “Go hang a salami. I’m a lasagna hog”? Besides being fucked up and unethical, this sentence is also hiding a not-so-secret truth about salami: it’s a major people killer. According to a new international study of 500,000 Europeans, you can pretty much consider yourself dead if you eat processed meat.
"Go hang yourself if you ate a salami because you helped kill a hog," doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but I believe kids should know the truth! Gosh. Per NPR, this study says eating processed meat ups your chances for cancer and heart disease by, like, a bijillion. Apparently the toxic combo of salt, smoke, and nitrate used to preserve these processed dead animal carcasses masquerading as food is the WORST. Need another reason not to eat salami? I conducted an independent study by myself and found that 100 percent of the time it contributes to non-human animal deaths.
[Photo by Jon via Flickr]
What, we’ve wrecked wild bees now, too? »
Two fun studies show that bees are having more troubles thriving in the age of modern agriculture than we thought.
First, honeybees aren’t the best crop pollinators; per a study published in Science, they get a lot of help from bumblebees and carpenter bees.
Second, wild bees hate monocultures, and don’t like to pollinate in single-crop areas.
Claire Kremen, a conservation biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who’s a co-author of the first study in Science, says one of the biggest problems for wild bees is the agricultural specialization that has produced huge fields of just one crop.
The almond groves of California, for example, are a sea of blossoms in February. It’s a feast, as far as the eye can see, for honeybees that come here from all over the country.
"But for the rest of the year, there’s nothing blooming," she says.
That means there are no bees. “In fact, in places where we have very large monocultures of almond, we don’t find any native bees anymore,” Kremen says.
So what does that mean for us? Will the fact that large-scale monoculture is bad for bees force us to change the way we farm? Is smaller-scale, more diverse farming financially feasible for modern farmers?
Home gardeners, at least, could learn to plant a variety of flowers and food plants together. As for commercial agriculture, we’ll see.
[Photo by Jimmy Smith via Flickr]