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]
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]
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]
Technology is so amazing, it lets J.Viewz here cover Massive Attack on eggplants, strawberries, mushrooms, a bunch of grapes, a kiwi, and a carrot!
NPR wants to “crack the code” of vegan cheese analogs! »
Rachel Estabrook at NPR’s The Salt blog gets into the science of vegan cheese analogs, and poses some interesting questions. Why are we so obsessed with making some vegan cheeses behave exactly like casein-ful animal’s milk cheese? How are food scientists working on replicating this “hold onto itself and then lightly let go and then hold onto itself” action that makes dairy cheese melt? Which company has been the most successful so far, and who else is trying?
That answer is illustrated by this photo of Easy Vegan Info’s mac & cheese pizza with Daiya (here’s her recipe, I know what you really want). Yes, according to vegan cheese code-crackers, Daiya makes the best meltable vegan cheese on the market. Being a hardcore Follow Your Heart fan, I take issue with this assertion as nonsense, but also Daiya is a total gutbomb for me and I don’t eat it.* To each her own!
Maybe this new line of shredded vegan cheeses from Galaxy Natural Foods will be the melting vegan cheese that unites us on such a divisive subject. Has anyone tried it yet? It was supposed to be out in April and it’s already May! Give us our new toy, already.
If you want to discuss your most beloved/despised vegan cheeses here, please feel free. Category is: It melts!
*OK I might make an exception for this beauty.
[photo by Kelly Garbato via Flickr]
Celebrate fake meats for the Meatout! »
In honor of today’s Meatout, NPR’s The Salt blog got all excited over the rise in vegan meat analogues. According to the Global New Products Database, “110 new meat substitute products were introduced in 2010 and 2011,” and in 2011, sales of frozen meat substitutes hit $267 million.
I know not everyone loves the fake meats, but they’re so tasty. Do you know how many omnivores I’ve turned into Golden Era superfans? SO MANY, is the answer. So many superfans.
What are your favorite supermarket fake meats? I love Gardein’s chipotle lime crispy fingers, and basically every “mock” animal they sell at Asian groceries. (Also Soy Curls, but those don’t count here.) And I don’t think you can beat a sandwich with peppered Tofurky, spicy mustard, pickles, and lettuce. Though Janet Hudson’s Oklahoma sandwich does look insanely good.