Meat consumption in China has been on a dramatic rise for the last three decades, with one-third of the world’s meat now produced in the country and more than half the world’s pork. Most of it comes from factory-style systems of farming, with large numbers of confined animals fed on grain. A lot of grains.
“We’re heading towards a new era…as the majority of the world’s feed crops are destined for China’s pigs,” predicts Mindi Schneider, an agribusiness researcher at the International Institute of Social Studies in the Netherlands. Read more
People crowdfund all kinds of projects these days–art shows, T-shirt businesses, indie rock bands. Emily Weisburg is crowdfunding a sustainable kosher restaurant. The 26-year-old Wisconsin native, who now lives in the Riverdale neighborhood of the Bronx, New York, has plans to open Moss Café, an eatery that, according to her Kickstarter project page, is “committed to community, sustainability, quality, and creativity”—and also happens to be certified kosher. Read more
Ellen Gustafson’s We the Eaters: If We Change Dinner, We Can Change the World, may have a clumsy title, but the book takes a trenchant and well-researched look at America’s high tech farming and the denatured food it produces. The food activist goes further, by laying out how processors take that food and fill it with sugar, fat, salt, and additives while draining out the nutrition.
And Gustafson goes further still, describing how fast food corporations and junk food convenience stores are muscling out indigenous farming practices and wholesome food not only in our country, but around the world. Developing nations are getting a double whammy, she says, as nutrient-deficient junk food creates growth-stunting hunger in children, and she documents how this results in obesity later in life. Read more
Editor’s note: A “Right to Farm” amendment is up for a vote in Missouri this August, and while the Missouri Farm Bureau says the bill will “permanently enshrine and protect the rights of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices,” many worry that it could also make it impossible to criticize or regulate controversial farm practices, regardless of their impact. The Kansas City Star published an editorial calling the amendment a “concerted effort to shield factory farms and concentrated agricultural feeding operations from regulations to protect livestock, consumers and the environment.” A similar amendment passed in North Dakota last fall and there are two more coming up in Indiana and Iowa.
The United States seafood supply is a marvel to behold in its illogic. In spite of the fact that we control more ocean than any country on earth, more than 85 percent of the fish and shellfish we eat is imported. But drill down deeper and it gets even weirder. Here are 10 things that you may not know about the fish on your plate.
1. Some Alaska salmon make a round trip to China. Read more
Last weekend, nearly 200 participants inhabited the Manhattan workshop space General Assembly for a weekend-long marathon of hacking solutions to the dilemmas facing dining today. Called Hack//Dining NYC, the event was the latest in the series of hackathons hosted by Food+Tech Connect, founded by Danielle Gould. Previous hackathons have focused on Meat (Hack / Meat) or the Farm Bill (Farm Bill Hackathon). Through these and other events, Food+Tech Connect has garnered a following from both the tech and food communities eager to find more advanced ways to address today’s food system challenges. Read more
This weekend, at a high profile “hackathon” in New York City, tech blog Food+Tech Connect and design thinking service Studio Industries will lead a 48-hour event designed to “re-engineer the future of food.”
Sponsored by Google, Chipotle, and Applegate Farms, the event is part of a growing trend of software engineers, food entrepreneurs, and angel investors that believe a properly “disruptive” information technology can revolutionize how food is produced, valued, and experienced. To promote the event, the organizers have solicited short editorials from selected food innovators to answer the question: “How might we use technology and design to hack a better future for dining?” Read more
Imagine an ad campaign for organic food as ubiquitous as “Got Milk?,” “Pork. The Other White Meat,” and “Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner.” That’s the idea behind a proposed federal program that would collect money from organic producers and put it in a single pot for promotion and industry research for the whole organics sector. Read more
When I was in high school, a science teacher took questions from the room about what factors contributed to the demise of grass lawns. When someone raised a hand and said, “weeds,” she let out a shrill laugh and wrote on the chalkboard: “Weeds = Plants Where People Don’t Want Them.” Years later, attending an edible foraging tour of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park with “Wildman” Steve Brill, I asked our guide why hedge mustard isn’t harvested wild like ramps in the spring. He didn’t so much as laugh, but let out a frustrated exclamation: “Because people don’t think of it as food.” Read more
Is it possible to “unsell” bad food choices in favor of selling more healthful and environmentally friendly ones? That was the topic of a recent panel at the Sustainable Food Institute at Cooking for Solutions, sponsored by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, earlier this month.
“Consumer demand is not static. It’s constructed. And it can be shifted,” said author and sustainable food advocate Anna Lappé, who spoke on the panel. She noted that thoughtful messaging campaigns in media are apt to go viral–specifically short videos–which are proving to be a way to do just that. Read more