bankbryan + agriculture   72

This Army of AI Robots Will Feed the World
"On Reed’s field we notice a lot of blue-spattered cotton plants, while the weeds next to them are untouched. The machine is getting confused because some of the cotton is runty and withered—not as healthy as the cotton See & Spray is programmed to recognize. The robot needs to be fed first hundreds, then thousands, and eventually millions of images of cotton to learn the many variations of the plant, how its leaves change shape and texture over time, how they look when they’re sickly and healthy, and during all stages of growth. The robot’s ability to draw from this image archive and make distinctions and decisions is 'deep learning'. The Blue River team built the memory of See & Spray by going to a cotton farm in Australia, hitching a video camera to a modified shopping cart, and spending three months pushing it around different fields, uploading about 100,000 images of cotton. But the Arkansas cotton, struggling in a wet, cold spring, isn’t looking enough like the Australian cotton for 100 percent accuracy. Each day for a fortnight, Heraud’s team will take tens of thousands of new cotton images, and each day the robot will become more accurate."
a:Amanda-Little  p:Bloomberg-Businessweek★★  d:2018.01.11  w:3500  robots  agriculture  machine-learning  from instapaper
11 weeks ago by bankbryan
With a Sniff and a Signal, These Dogs Hunt Down Threats to Bees
"On a recent Friday morning, on the green slopes behind her home here in Jarrettsville, Ms. Preston tossed a toy around for Tukka, a young springer spaniel she had just adopted. At first glance, it didn’t look like a workday. But that toy had been sealed in a plastic bag with foulbrood, and Ms. Preston was in the early stages of training Tukka on the scent. With any luck, he will join her team before the end of the year. 'You want Foulbrood Bunny?' she asked, throwing the fuzzy gray toy across the field."
a:Tejal-Rao★  p:The-New-York-Times★★  d:2018.07.03  w:1500  dogs  agriculture  from twitter
july 2018 by bankbryan
Can Dirt Save the Earth?
"When it comes to mitigating climate change, soil scientists are most interested in what Silver calls occluded carbon — organic material, often in the form of dead microbes, trapped in clods of dirt. This type of carbon can potentially stay locked away for centuries. (Another carbon type, called labile carbon, continuously cycles among the atmosphere, plants and organisms in the soil.) It was precisely this more durable carbon, Silver discovered, that increased in the treated plots. In the years that followed, Silver’s analyses of soil cores indicated that the treated land kept taking in carbon. Computer simulations suggest that it will continue to do so for decades. It also retained more moisture and grew about 50 percent more grass. One dose of compost ignited what Silver calls a state change: The plants and the soil — and everything that inhabited it — moved toward a new equilibrium in which the soil ecosystem pulled in and retained greater amounts of carbon."
a:Moises-Velasquez-Manoff  p:The-New-York-Times-Magazine★★  d:2018.04.18  w:7500  agriculture  climate-change  environment  nature  California  from instapaper
june 2018 by bankbryan
The Strange History of the “King-Pine”
"As the Enlightenment period made the rich richer, the landed aristocracy began to engage in a frenzy of new hobbies, including gambling, boozing, and time-consuming, expensive pineapple cultivation. Pineries needed care around the clock, custom-built greenhouses, and mountains of coal to keep the temperatures high. The fruit took three to four years to bloom. The cost of rearing each one was equivalent to eight thousand dollars in today’s money. The sheer expense meant it was considered wasteful to eat them, and they remained, as during Charles II’s reign, dinnertime ornaments. A pineapple would be passed from party to party until it began to rot, and the maids who transported the pineapples placed themselves in mortal danger should they be accosted by thieves. For those who did not have the funds to grow their own, a bevy of pineapple-rental shops sprung up."
a:Nina-Sophia-Miralles  p:The-Paris-Review★★  d:2018.04.25  w:1500  history  food  agriculture  class  from instapaper
june 2018 by bankbryan
The Gambler’s Ruin of Small Cities (Wonkish)
"I’m not saying that there weren’t patterns of success and failure. Small cities were and are more likely to fail if they have miserable winters, more likely to come up with new tricks if they’re college towns and/or destinations for immigrants. Still, if you back up enough, it makes sense to think of urban destinies as a random process of wins and losses in which small cities face a relatively high likelihood of experiencing gambler’s ruin. Again, it was not always thus: once upon a time dispersed agriculture ensured that small cities serving rural hinterlands would survive. But for generations we have lived in an economy in which smaller cities have nothing going for them except historical luck, which eventually tends to run out."
a:Paul-Krugman★  p:The-New-York-Times★★  d:2017.12.30  w:1000  cities  history  economics  agriculture  from instapaper
january 2018 by bankbryan
How the Netherlands Feeds the World
"The Netherlands is a small, densely populated country, with more than 1,300 inhabitants per square mile. It’s bereft of almost every resource long thought to be necessary for large-scale agriculture. Yet it’s the globe’s number two exporter of food as measured by value, second only to the United States, which has 270 times its landmass. How on Earth have the Dutch done it? Seen from the air, the Netherlands resembles no other major food producer—a fragmented patchwork of intensely cultivated fields, most of them tiny by agribusiness standards, punctuated by bustling cities and suburbs. In the country’s principal farming regions, there’s almost no potato patch, no greenhouse, no hog barn that’s out of sight of skyscrapers, manufacturing plants, or urban sprawl. More than half the nation’s land area is used for agriculture and horticulture."
a:Frank-Viviano  p:National-Geographic  d:2017.09  w:4000  agriculture  food  sustainability  future  from twitter
december 2017 by bankbryan
Every Apple You Eat Took Years and Years to Make
"Once they have selected a tree they like, they harvest bud sticks and start making copies. Apples don’t grow true to seed, meaning that if Brown and Maloney plant the seeds of that favored tree they’re unlikely to match the magic of the chosen apple. The apples that show up in stores—Red Delicious, Granny Smith, McIntosh, Macoun, Cortland, Honeycrisp, Empire, Gala—are all produced by clones of the first tree that produced each variety. 'If you get a McIntosh apple, it derives from the apple in the 1700s,' says Brown. 'That’s what’s neat. Clonal propagation freezes it in time.'"
a:Sarah-Laskow★  p:Atlas-Obscura★  d:2017.10.20  w:2000  agriculture  genetics  from twitter
december 2017 by bankbryan
The Mad Cheese Scientists Fighting to Save the Dairy Industry
"Trimming all this fat is the job of the chief food innovation officer, Liz Matthews, and a 40-person team of chefs, food scientists, nutritionists, microbiologists, chemists, and even one entomologist (he does food safety). Observers have unironically called this crew fast-food 'disruptors'. In the past five years, Matthews’s team has trotted out such blockbuster menu items as the Doritos Locos Taco (in Nacho Cheese, Fiery, and Cool Ranch varieties), a breakfast taco with a waffle for a shell, and a chalupa with fried chicken in place of its usual flatbread. Until a year and a half ago, however, one simple idea had foiled them: a fried tortilla full of oozing, molten cheese. 'Having this fabulous taco with melty cheese in every single bite was something we started dreaming about 10 years ago,' Matthews says."
a:Clint-Rainey  p:Bloomberg-Businessweek★★  d:2017.07.19  w:3000  agriculture  food  government  from instapaper
october 2017 by bankbryan
Vikings Razed the Forests. Can Iceland Regrow Them?
"The soil conservation service took over the farm in the 1920s and has used it as an outdoor laboratory to study ways to improve the soil and enable vegetation to grow. The process usually begins with lyme grass, which grows quickly and can stabilize the soil. Lupine, with its spiky purple flowers, is often next. The trees come later."
a:Henry-Fountain  p:The-New-York-Times★★  d:2017.10.20  w:1500  nature  agriculture  climate-change  from instapaper
october 2017 by bankbryan
Gardening
"Can I have mineral rights?"
"I suppose?"
"Mineral rights extending as deep as I like, all the way down to the core, in the shape of an enormous spike?"
"I don't see it coming up."
a:Zach-Weinersmith★★★  p:Saturday-Morning-Breakfast-Cereal★★★  d:2017.08.04  comic  agriculture  from iphone
august 2017 by bankbryan
The Vertical Farm
"The interior space is its own sealed-off world; nothing inside the vertical-farm buildings is uncontrolled. Countless algorithm-driven computer commands combine to induce the greens to grow, night and day, so that a crop can go from seed to shoot to harvest in eighteen days. Every known influence on the plant’s wellbeing is measured, adjusted, remeasured. Tens of thousands of sensing devices monitor what’s going on. The ambient air is Newark’s, but filtered, ventilated, heated, and cooled. Like all air today, it has an average CO2 content of about four hundred parts per million (we exceeded the three-fifty-p.p.m. threshold a while ago), but an even higher content is better for the plants, so tanks of CO2 enrich the concentration inside the building to a thousand p.p.m. The L.E.D. grow lights are in plastic tubing above each level of the grow tower. Their radiance has been stripped of the heat-producing part of the spectrum, the most expensive part of it from an energy point of view. The plants don’t need it, preferring cooler reds and blues. In row after row, the L.E.D.s shining these colors call to mind strings of Christmas lights. At different growth stages, the plants require light in different intensities, and algorithms controlling the L.E.D. arrays adjust for that. In short, each plant grows at the pinnacle of a trembling heap of tightly focussed and hypersensitive data."
a:Ian-Frazier  p:The-New-Yorker★★  d:2017.01  w:5500  agriculture  environment  sustainability  future  from instapaper
april 2017 by bankbryan
Why Should a Melon Cost As Much As a Car?
"It wasn’t until later, back home in New York, that I fully appreciated the fruit I’d been served. I was at the grocery store, standing in front of a pile of lumpy, gray, misshapen orbs that, according to the sign in front of me, were cantaloupe—the closest most Americans will get to a muskmelon. They were scratched and asymmetrical, and looked borderline grotesque in a way I’d never considered before. I thought back to Sembikiya’s stand of muskmelons; the spheres’ skin—a soft, tan mesh over a mint-green smooth surface—reminded me of needlepoint, and I could understand why the French described them as 'embroidered'. Like so much in Japan, something that initially seemed nonsensical, even trivial, had altered my definition of beauty. Even fruit could become art."
a:Bianca-Bosker  p:Roads-&-Kingdoms  d:2017.03.26  w:2000  food  pricing  agriculture  Japan  from twitter
april 2017 by bankbryan
A Fish Out of Water
"The Nelsons were betting on math. They knew that one pound of beef can require six pounds of grain and 1,800 gallons of water to produce; a pound of pork might take four pounds of grain and about 600 gallons of water. But one pound of barramundi requires just one pound of grain and up to seven gallons of water. Because the fish's native rivers in Australia frequently dry up, the barramundi have also adapted to survive close together in billabongs with low levels of oxygen—as if primed to prosper in tanks. When fully grown, they fetch $4 to $5 a pound, while ground beef averages $4.20 and pork averages $3.70. 'You look at that stuff and it's like, okay, this is a good way to go if we're going to continue to feed the world,' says Mark."
a:Maddie-Oatman  p:Mother-Jones★  d:2017.01  w:2500  agriculture  food  sustainability  environment  Australia  from instapaper
april 2017 by bankbryan
How to Grow a Weetabix
"It’s surprising that we treat this epic, continual, land-defining endeavour as if it were both inevitable and eternal. The colliery tunnels have fallen in, the steel furnaces are winking out, the fishing fleets have gone for scrap; Britain’s trains are Japanese, its cars German, its clothes from China. And yet Britain still produces three-fifths of its own food. Farmers still raise livestock, plough fields, sow and harvest crops, at the mercy of the weather. They use technology unrecognisable to their forefathers, but the deep processes go back to the Stone Age and the first farmers. How is this possible? How have so many thriving practices fallen to the globalisation formula of ‘other countries do what you do better/more cheaply, so you might as well give up,’ while farming, an activity thousands of years old, continues to have mastery of the British lowlands, at a time when the world is awash with cheap (at least for rich countries) food?"
a:James-Meek  p:London-Review-of-Books★★  d:2016.06  w:13000  agriculture  UK  immigration  Brexit  history  class  Europe  environment  climate-change  from twitter
september 2016 by bankbryan
Splat goes the theory
"The question of which tomato production systems are most sustainable is a matter of defining your goals. Greenhouses win on efficiency of resource use – though, notwithstanding the technical drawbacks, you might just prefer your vegetables without fertiliser and so opt for the organic ones. Sustainability, in other words is always a trade-off between incomparable dimensions. That is not to say that there are no real differences: greenhouse tomatoes are definitely better for the environment, just as high-tech packaging systems are. If we want to continue small-scale agriculture and food processing, we must recognise the price it entails in terms of costs to consumers, access to food, food safety and space. Small is neither sustainable nor beautiful in itself. We might not want to admit it, but a nostalgia for a romantic agrarian past is essentially conservative, even Luddite. It blocks creative thinking."
a:Louise-O-Fresco  p:Aeon★★  d:2015.11.10  w:3000  food  sustainability  agriculture  logistics  cities  nostalgia  from instapaper
january 2016 by bankbryan
Remove Your Cap and Bow Your Head, For It is I, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
"I was appointed by President Barack Obama to attend to the agricultural needs of the nation. I oversee the forests and the grasslands, I oversee the safety of food production. I oversee the food stamps program. From my hand issues form 'DDI – 17: Dealer Notice to Dairy Farmer of Intent to Stop Purchasing Milk'. And the same hand may take it away. I provide guidance and wisdom. So it has always been. So it will forever be, until the end of the fiscal year."
a:James-Folta  p:McSweeney's★★★  d:2015.12.10  w:1000  satire  government  agriculture  from twitter
december 2015 by bankbryan
Corn Wars
"FBI investigators soon got the explicit evidence they needed to make arrests. Over a listening device installed in an Enterprise rental car, the surveillance team recorded a bizarre and inept conversation between two of Mo’s associates from DBN Group, Lin Yong and Ye Jian. In the translated transcript, submitted as part of the government’s case, the two men are consumed by worry that they are being followed and about the charges they could face if caught. So, as they drive around rural Illinois looking for DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto test fields from which to steal, they begin making a list of the crimes they have committed. After some back and forth, they come up with trespassing for every time they have slipped onto private property, larceny for the seeds and ears they have been stealing from the fields, and multiple violations of intellectual property protections. 'These are actually very serious offenses,' Lin says. 'They could treat us as spies!' Ye interjects. Lin, exasperated, responds: “That is what we’ve been doing!'"
a:Ted-Genoways  p:The-New-Republic★★  d:2015.08.16  w:7500  agriculture  espionage  China  Cold-War  from twitter
november 2015 by bankbryan
Death Is Optional
"I don't want to give a prediction, 20 years, 50 years, 100 years, but what you do see is it's a bit like the boy who cried wolf, that, yes, you cry wolf once, twice, three times, and maybe people say yes, 50 years ago, they already predicted that computers will replace humans, and it didn't happen. But the thing is that with every generation, it is becoming closer, and predictions such as these fuel the process. The same thing will happen with these promises to overcome death. My guess, which is only a guess, is that the people who live today, and who count on the ability to live forever, or to overcome death in 50 years, 60 years, are going to be hugely disappointed. It's one thing to accept that I'm going to die. It's another thing to think that you can cheat death and then die eventually. It's much harder. While they are in for a very big disappointment, in their efforts to defeat death, they will achieve great things. They will make it easier for the next generation to do it, and somewhere along the line, it will turn from science fiction to science, and the wolf will come."
a:Yuval-Noah-Harari  a:Daniel-Kahneman  p:Edge  d:2015.03.04  w:6000  interview  death  medicine  future  technological-singularity  history  agriculture  technology  aging  self-driving-cars  from twitter
october 2015 by bankbryan
Unhealthy Fixation
"If you’re like me, you don’t really want to wade into this issue. It’s too big, technical, and confusing. But come with me, just this once. I want to take you backstage, behind those blanket assurances about the safety of genetic engineering. I want to take you down into the details of four GMO fights, because that’s where you’ll find truth. You’ll come to the last curtain, the one that hides the reality of the anti-GMO movement. And you’ll see what’s behind it."
a:William-Saletan  p:Slate★★  d:2015.07.15  w:10000  agriculture  public-health  genetics  food  Chipotle  science  safety  from twitter
september 2015 by bankbryan
Why salad is so overrated
"The corollary to the nutrition problem is the expense problem. The makings of a green salad — say, a head of lettuce, a cucumber and a bunch of radishes — cost about $3 at my supermarket. For that, I could buy more than two pounds of broccoli, sweet potatoes or just about any frozen vegetable going, any of which would make for a much more nutritious side dish to my roast chicken. Lettuce is a vehicle to transport refrigerated water from farm to table. When we switch to vegetables that are twice as nutritious — like those collards or tomatoes or green beans — not only do we free up half the acres now growing lettuce, we cut back on the fossil fuels and other resources needed for transport and storage. Save the planet, skip the salad."
a:Tamar-Haspel  p:The-Washington-Post★★  d:2015.08.23  w:1500  food  nutrition  environment  sustainability  agriculture  health  from twitter
august 2015 by bankbryan
GMOs: Myth vs. Fact
"Myth: Most reserach on the topic is funded by megacorporations that stand to gain financially from pro-GMO results
Fact: Megacorporations stand to gain financially from every possible outcome"
p:The-Onion★★  d:2015.08.12  satire  agriculture  food  health 
august 2015 by bankbryan
How Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, and Slow Food Theorists Got It All Wrong
"Without historical perspective, it was easy to assume that delicious foods in the past reserved for the wealthy (tasty sauces, sweets, fresh fruits) or available only seasonally (tomatoes, milk, eggs, fruit) had been the norm. And since they had been made by hand or appeared to be only lightly processed, then down with industrial processing and cheap calories. And it was easy to forget that many delicious foods, chocolate and wine spring to mind, are among the most highly processed of foods. So industrial processing became a shorthand for bad food. Another example of how language can lead astray. Artisanal versus industrial does not map on to good versus bad food. And in my opinion, the way to solve what are now seen as problems—too high a consumption of highly refined fats, sugars, and oils, for example—is not to reject industrial processing but to turn it’s extraordinary resources to make higher quality foods available. And that’s happening."
a:Todd-Kliman★  a:Rachel-Laudan★  p:Washingtonian★★  d:2015.05.29  w:4500  interview  history  food  cooking  class  agriculture  from twitter
july 2015 by bankbryan
Have You Eaten Your Last Avocado?
"If the most dire climate predictions for California prove prescient — those that foresee, for example, a 30-, 40-, even a 100-year drought — the avocado is not the agricultural product most likely to disappear from the state. (That would be dairy, which is water-intensive and not geographically dependent.) It’s not the food most likely to be permanently priced out of your diet. (That would be almonds — 99 percent of which come from California, and the wholesale price of which has more than tripled since 2001.) But if you draw a Venn diagram with 'West Coast drought-affected agriculture' in one circle and 'East Coast foodie-fueled manias' in the other, smack-dab in the ovoid intersection of these circles would sit the avocado. And so, having only just recently become a tattoo-worthy symbol of foodie obsessiveness, the avocado could become the symbol of a pre-climate-change era, when we could reasonably expect anything, from anywhere, at any time, to appear on our dinner plate."
a:Adam-Sternbergh  p:Grub-Street★★  d:2015.04.20  w:4000  food  future  agriculture  sustainability  climate-change  from iphone
july 2015 by bankbryan
Justin Warner
"One of my dream goals is to open a ramp import business, and get an entire town in West Virginia to focus on ramps at one time, and I’ll just drive the truck to New York and sell them for $12 a pound."
a:Alton-Brown★  a:Justin-Warner  p:The-Alton-Browncast  d:2013.08.02  podcast  food  agriculture  from twitter
june 2015 by bankbryan
Apocalyptic Schadenfreude
"What the Times piece explicitly suggests is that California has been living beyond its means environmentally. That’s the point of those extraordinary overhead photographs of lush estates, teeming with greenery, bordering arid desert. You see those images and it’s impossible not to feel that something shameful is happening here. And yet, picture a comparable view of Manhattan sometime in the depths of January, with a thermal imaging filter applied. The boundary between Man and Mother Nature would be just as stark: frigid air surrounding artificial islands of heat. It’s true that New York City distributes that artificial heat much more efficiently than the rest of the country, thanks largely to its density, but it’s still artificially engineering your environment, whether you want to make a dry place wet, or a cold place warm."
a:Steven-Johnson★★  p:Matter★  d:2015.04.07  w:1500  California  agriculture  environment  NYC  climate-change  from twitter
april 2015 by bankbryan
The Top-Secret Food That Will Change the Way You Eat
"Although the costs are not yet competitive and the flavor is a work in progress, Impossible Foods expects to have its meat going head-to-head with ground beef next year. 'Livestock is an outdated technology,' says Patrick Brown. Considering the speed of change, the money and smarts being thrown at the problem, and the desperate need, it seems likely that sometime in the next decade, Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods or another rival will perfect vegetarian beef, chicken, and pork that is tastier, healthier, and cheaper than the fast-food versions of the real thing. It will be a textbook case of disruptive technology: overnight, meat will become the coal of 2025—dirty, uncompetitive, outcast. Our grandchildren will look back on our practice of using caged animals to assemble proteins with the same incredulousness that we apply to our ancestors’ habit of slaughtering whales to light their homes."
a:Rowan-Jacobsen★  p:Outside★★  d:2014.12.26  w:4000  food  future  animals  agriculture  environment  climate-change  from instapaper
april 2015 by bankbryan
The Soviet Collapse
"Already in 1970, Western Siberia was considered a large oil region by international standards. During the next twelve years, the Soviet Union increased oil production there twelvefold. There was intensive debate among the Soviet leadership about how to best exploit the Western Siberian oil. The oil industry experts warned the CPSU leadership and government State Planning Committee that it would be impossible to increase the production at such a rapid pace in the future without facing serious technical problems. Yet the Soviet leadership told the oil ministry there was no other choice. The Soviet premier, Aleksey Kosygin, used to call the chief of the Tyumenneftegaz, Viktor Muravlenko, and explain the desperation of the situation: 'Dai tri milliona ton sverkh plana. S khlebushkom sovsem plokho' [Please give three million tons above the planning level. The situation with the bread is awful.]"
a:Yegor-Gaidar  p:American-Enterprise-Institute  d:2007.04  w:3500  Russia  Cold-War  history  agriculture  from twitter
march 2015 by bankbryan
Hollywood Prospectus 2.2.2015
"Do you remember the one at EPCOT, where it was just like, 'The Land'?"
"The Land is the one where you smell the oranges, right?"
"They're like, 'Here's how *food* is made, by putting *seeds* in the earth.'
"You're nine, and you're like, 'Yesssss! This is awesome!'"
"But here's the sad thing: I was like, 'Is this *true*?? This is blowing my mind! I thought things grew at the Acme.' This is how divorced I am from humanity."
a:Andy-Greenwald★★  a:Chris-Ryan★★  p:Grantland/Hollywood-Prospectus★★  d:2015.02.02  podcast  agriculture  from twitter
february 2015 by bankbryan
We Don't Need No Education
"Fin chafed at every second of his perceived captivity. Crayons were broken and launched at innocent walls. Pages of extremely expensive paper were torn to flaky bits. Bitter tears were shed, even a few by our son. It was an unmitigated disaster. It was also a watershed moment for our family. Because as soon as we liberated ourselves from a concept of what our son’s education should look like, we were able to observe how he learned best. And what we saw was that the moment we stopped compelling Fin to sit and draw or paint or write was the moment he began doing these things on his own. It was the moment he began carving staves of wood into beautiful bows and constructing complex toys from materials on hand: an excavator that not only rotated, but also featured an extendable boom; a popgun fashioned from copper pipe, shaved corks, and a whittled-down dowel; even a sawmill with a rotating wooden 'blade.' In other words, the moment we quit trying to teach our son anything was the moment he started really learning."
a:Ben-Hewitt  p:Outside★★  d:2014.08.12  w:4500  education  children  nature  agriculture  from instapaper
september 2014 by bankbryan
The Dark Side of Almond Use
"The only state that produces almonds commercially is California, where cool winter and mild springs let almond trees bloom. Eighty-two percent of the world’s almonds come from California. The U.S. is the leading consumer of almonds by far. California so controls the almond market that the Almond Board of California’s website is almonds.com. Its twitter handle is . (Almost everything it tweets is about almonds.)"
a:James-Hamblin  p:The-Atlantic★★  d:2014.08.28  w:1000  food  California  nutrition  agriculture  from twitter
september 2014 by bankbryan
How to choose?
"‘What lotteries are very good for is for keeping bad reasons out of decisions,’ Stone told me. ‘Lotteries guarantee that when you are choosing at random, there will be no reasons at all for one option rather than another being selected.’ He calls this the sanitising effect of lotteries – they eliminate all reasons from a decision, scrubbing away any kind of unwanted influence. As Stone acknowledges, randomness eliminates good reasons from the running as well as bad ones. He doesn’t advocate using chance indiscriminately. ‘But, sometimes,’ he argues, ‘the danger of bad reasons is bigger than the loss of the possibility of good reasons.’"
a:Michael-Schulson  p:Aeon★★  d:2014.07.14  w:3000  agriculture  gambling  politics  figure-skating  from twitter
august 2014 by bankbryan
The Pacific's wayward child
"California's water needs pricing more realistically—for city dwellers as well as farmers. The basic block rates need setting low enough to ensure users of modest means do not go without essential supplies. But beyond that, water use reflects discretionary choices about life-style, says Robert Glennon, professor of law and public policy at the University of Arizona. 'Anyone who wants to create a tropical landscape, or grow a lush lawn in the arid West, would have to pay for that choice.'"
p:The-Economist/Babbage  d:2014.07.28  w:1500  environment  California  agriculture  future  from twitter
august 2014 by bankbryan
How We Can Tame Overlooked Wild Plants to Feed the World
"Domestication made humans the first species on earth to have a secure, reliable food supply, enabling the development of culture and technology and medicine. Every facet of modern society is built on its back. Yet somewhere along the way, we stopped innovating. When European settlers came to North America, they looked out on a vast, edible landscape … and mostly ignored it, passing over the potato bean, mesquite, and yucca fruits for the seeds they brought from home. Those settlers knew that their seeds would deliver reliable nutrition, and domestication is, frankly, hard work. But we need new crops. Thousands of years of breeding and decades of genetic modification have made the crops we sow predictable, easy to harvest, and capable of feeding more than 9 billion people. But they are also vulnerable to disease, pests, and the whims of weather. That's troubling, because global warming is bringing more disease, more pests, and more whimsical weather."
a:Hillary-Rosner  p:Wired★★  d:2014.06.24  w:3000  history  agriculture  climate-change  future  weather  from twitter
july 2014 by bankbryan
Enter halophytes
"The greatest opportunity for halophytes, both commercially and environmentally, is fuel. But bringing halophyte biofuel up to commercial scale would require the support of big energy – and perhaps big agribusiness – corporations. ‘The oil companies would have to become agriculturalists instead of hole drillers,’ says NASA’s Bushnell. This, of course, would take them a long way out of their comfort zones. ‘We have had contacts with several big corporations,’ says Bushnell. ‘And my impression of the big energy companies is they’re trying to squeeze the last dollops of profit out of their sunk costs and investments. However, in the back room they’re like the duck, paddling like hell underwater, trying to make sure they’re on to the next thing. So they are looking at this.’ Air travel might just be the factor that forces the issue. In 2015, the world’s airplanes are projected to consume 75 billion gallons of jet fuel, and consumption is expected to keep growing some 3-4 per cent per year through the next two decades. At NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, Bilal Bomani runs the Green Lab, a research and teaching lab that investigates both halophyte- and algae-based biofuels in aviation. He guesses that actual shortages will drive the industry to look to new resources. ‘We do not have fuel that will sustain us for the next 50 years,’ Bomani says. ‘You’re either going to do it now, or you’re going to be forced to do it later.’"
a:Mark-Anderson  p:Aeon★★  d:2014.06.10  w:2500  agriculture  future  climate-change  energy  aviation  from instapaper
july 2014 by bankbryan
High Tech
"This is a vaporizer you can be proud of. You don’t have to hide it in the back of a closet. You want to show it off; among the liberal-minded tech crowd, it’s already a status symbol. Gizmodo called it 'portable perfection' and 'hands down, the best portable vaporizer.' Business Insider dubbed it 'the Tesla of toking up.' But imagine if Tesla couldn’t advertise that its cars ran on electricity. While laws are changing at the state level, the federal government still classifies marijuana as a schedule 1 drug. So you can build all sorts of products and services around pot, but you often can’t talk openly about their intended functions—in your marketing materials or on your website—if you want to sell them in all 50 states or import them into the US (if, say, you had a factory in China cranking them out). You can’t trademark anything intended for marijuana consumption. You can’t effectively advertise your product in today’s most common manner: Google, Facebook, and Twitter have banned marijuana keyword advertising. And these problems all assume you operate a business that never comes in contact with the actual plant or its derivatives. 'We call that touching the sun,' says Justin Hartfield, an investor with the cannabis-focused Ghost Group, a Newport Beach, California, firm that is raising $25 million in investment capital. 'If you’re manufacturing a schedule 1 narcotic—growing it, infusing it with other products—you’re touching the sun.' And you’re liable to get burned."
a:Mat-Honan★  p:Wired★★  d:2014.04.18  w:5000  marijuana  regulation  future  business  design  agriculture  recreational-drugs  from instapaper
june 2014 by bankbryan
A Race to Save the Orange by Altering Its DNA
"Florida is the second-largest producer of orange juice in the world, behind Brazil. Its $9 billion citrus industry contributes 76,000 jobs to the state that hosts the Orange Bowl. Southern Gardens, a subsidiary of U.S. Sugar, was one of the few companies in the industry with the wherewithal to finance the development of a 'transgenic' tree, which could take a decade and cost as much as $20 million. An emerging scientific consensus held that genetic engineering would be required to defeat citrus greening. 'People are either going to drink transgenic orange juice or they’re going to drink apple juice,' one University of Florida scientist told Mr. Kress."
a:Amy-Harmon  p:The-New-York-Times★★  d:2013.07.27  w:6000  agriculture  genetics  regulation  food  Florida  Brazil  from instapaper
june 2014 by bankbryan
The Most Soviet Park in Russia
"Other Soviet symbols have been spared this uncertainty. The Moscow Metro and Stalin’s 'Seven Sisters' towers are too functional to be interrogated for meaning; they’re simply a form of transport or the home of a government ministry. By contrast, because VDNKh is the most bricks-and-mortar monument to the Soviet past, it is also the most vulnerable. It houses its most obscure and emblematic buildings, dedicated to ideas, territories, and social groups that no longer exist, such as Friendship of the Peoples, the Uzbek SSR, and Young Naturalists and Scientists. In fact, some of the pavilions (such as Rabbit-Rearing or Peat) are almost mockingly irrelevant; their earnestness, not their agrarianness, being their most outdated and Soviet quality. Perhaps the barbarity of their destruction, the recklessness of the alterations, and the callous neglect can be explained by a sublimated revulsion against a historical mistake that was all the more tragic because it was self-induced."
a:Charles-Shaw  p:The-Appendix  d:2014.03.24  w:3500  Russia  government  agriculture  economics  from twitter
may 2014 by bankbryan
American Aqueduct: The Great California Water Saga
"When you look at what’s happening on a local level, California's intractable water problem turns out to be Riverside's solvable water problem and Fresno's solvable water problem and Oakland's solvable water problem. There's a structure to the individual changes going on beneath the roiling chaos of the surface. And the political impasse has opened up space for people to come up with smart ways of making the system a little better and a little smarter. What all this means for the tunnel plan is clear: If there are small-scale alternatives that reduce the risk of systemic collapse and strengthen urban self-reliance, then why spend $15 billion on two risky tunnels? Lund doesn't expect a grand bargain. 'It's hard to ask us to value things explicitly,' he told me. Everything has to at least *seem* like a win-win for everybody. Who wants to look farmers in the face and tell them that it's *their* land that should be fallowed? Or tell the farmworkers who labor for that farmer that it's *their* jobs that are going to go? Or tell the urban poor that *their* water bills are going to go up? 'It's most likely we'll just let things fail,' Lund said. 'And if something fails that we really value, then we'll go back and try to fix it.'"
a:Alexis-Madrigal★★  p:The-Atlantic★★  d:2014.04.24  w:12500  infrastructure  California  environment  agriculture  disaster  from twitter
april 2014 by bankbryan
One of the most beautiful tourist destinations in England
"Components of the national diet race around the building on conveyor belts high above the ground: thirty cartons of crisps for Northfleet, 1,200 chicken drumsticks for Hams Hall, sixty crates of lemonade for Elstree. Time is of the essence. At any given moment, half the contents of the warehouse are seventy-two hours away from being inedible, a prospect which prompts continuous struggles against the challenges of mould and geography. Clusters of tomatoes still attached to their vine, having ripened to maturity in fields near Palermo on the weekend, are exchanging the destiny seemingly assigned to them by nature to try to find buyers for themselves on the northern fringes of Scotland before Thursday."
a:Richard-Baker  p:The-Philsophers'-Mail  d:2014.01  w:1000  food  logistics  UK  agriculture  from instapaper
april 2014 by bankbryan
How Did Zimbabwe Become So Poor—And Yet So Expensive?
"Mugabe is 89 years old, the world's second oldest living head of state. No one knows what will happen when he dies or retires. Since the election, he hasn't said anything publicly about reintroducing the Zimbabwe dollar. But that, everyone tells me, doesn’t mean it won’t happen. 'Just because they would have to be mad to do it, doesn't mean they won't,' Colin says. 'People said they'd never take over every commercial farm because it would destroy the economy, and they did it. People said they wouldn't take over companies and they did it.'"
a:Michael-Hobbes★★  p:The-New-Republic★★  d:2014.01.05  w:5000  Africa  money  manufacturing  food  agriculture  work  infrastructure 
march 2014 by bankbryan
Swiss cows and the environmental future
"It bears repeating that we are living in a strange time for that planet. It took all of human history up till 1800 for our numbers to break a billion. Each successive billion has arrived faster and faster, with the seventh and latest billion accruing in little over a decade. We will be 8 billion in another 11 years, according to UN statistics. But population growth is slowing overall at the moment, rising in some countries and declining in others. It’s possible that we’ll come to an equilibrium eventually, of a stable, yet dense, human population spread around the world. The flying cow might be a presentiment of that time, when the realisation that we are all encased together in a single, small snow-globe of a planet has sunk in, and we have, in a best-case scenario, learned to deal with it gracefully. To this American’s eyes, the Swiss have gotten there before the rest of us."
a:Veronique-Greenwood  p:Aeon★★  d:2013.12.17  w:3500  agriculture  environment  animals  nature  incentives  sustainability  United-States 
february 2014 by bankbryan
The True Story Of The Great Marijuana Crash Of 2011
"The Colorado marijuana industry — which is responsible for thousands of new jobs, and is projected to raise $130 million in taxes for the state next year alone — has accomplished something not seen in this nation since the passage of the 21st Amendment. It has taken an illegal product and legitimized it in the eyes of the government. The last time something similar happened, 96.5% of the United States population hadn’t even been born yet. What’s going on in Colorado is an outstanding case study in what happens when a black market becomes a legal one, and it’s something we probably won’t see again in any of our lifetimes."
a:Walter-Hickey  p:Business-Insider★  d:2013.09.25  w:3500  marijuana  agriculture  business  regulation  from instapaper
november 2013 by bankbryan
A Seven-Month Wait for Lunch
"The U.S. is not only one of the richest countries on the planet, but also a preeminent food producer. Even as the U.S. has shipped scores of non-farm jobs overseas, it continues to enjoy a $32.4 billion agricultural trade surplus. So, for the past 60 years, we have followed that logic to its apparent conclusion: relying on transportation to get food from the bountiful U.S. to countries where hunger is widespread. Those food giveaway programs, organized primarily under the U.S. government’s 'Food for Peace' initiative, have developed into a $1.4 billion-a-year industry. Yet something is clearly not working."
a:Jonathan-M-Katz  p:Nautilus★  d:2013.07.25  w:2000  food  logistics  agriculture  from instapaper
october 2013 by bankbryan
Meet Vaclav Smil, the Canadian polymath whose books Bill Gates is racing to read
"I like planes. As a guy who thinks about systems, this is one of the ultimate systems things. You have to have perfect materials, you have to have aluminum and steel, you have to have a prime mover—the beautiful engine. I wrote a whole book about the prime movers of globalization, about jet engines and about diesel engines. To fly them, you have to have these electronic controls, and you have to check the weather, and you need satellites and communication. It’s amazing. It’s a super system. Plus, you have to have the airport with the runways built from heavy concrete. It’s a beautiful system."
a:Ritchie-King  a:Vaclav-Smil  p:Quartz★  d:2013.08.08  w:1500  interview  agriculture  food  manufacturing  energy  infrastructure  from instapaper
september 2013 by bankbryan
Healthy Eating Plate and Healthy Eating Pyramid
"A picture is worth a thousand words, and that’s why nutritionists use symbols and shapes to answer the question, 'What should I eat?' For nearly two decades, the U.S. government distilled its nutrition advice into pyramids. These efforts didn’t accurately show people what makes up a healthy diet. Why? Their recommendations were based on out-of-date science and influenced by people with business interests in the messages the icons sent. This year, the U.S. government scrapped its MyPyramid icon in favor of the fruit-and-vegetable rich MyPlate—an improvement, yet one that still doesn’t go far enough to show people how to make the healthiest choices. There are better alternatives: the new Healthy Eating Plate and the Healthy Eating Pyramid, both built by faculty members in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, in conjunction with colleagues at Harvard Health Publications. The Healthy Eating Plate fixes the flaws in USDA’s MyPlate, just as the Healthy Eating Pyramid rectifies the mistakes of the USDA’s food pyramids. Both the Healthy Eating Plate and the Healthy Eating Pyramid are based on the latest science about how our food, drink, and activity choices affect our health—and are unaffected by businesses and organizations with a stake in their messages."
p:The-Nutrition-Source  w:1000  instructional  food  nutrition  agriculture 
september 2013 by bankbryan
Ant farm
"The word ‘parasite’ comes from the Greek for ‘person who eats at someone else’s table’. It’s a fitting etymology, given that we lose 40 per cent of the plants destined for our dinner tables to parasites — including viruses, bacteria, fungi, worms and insects. The fungi alone are capable of catastrophic damage. Writing in Nature last year, the Imperial College epidemiologist Matthew Fisher calculated that if severe fungal epidemics simultaneously struck the five most important crops — rice, maize, wheat, potatoes and soybean — they would leave enough food to feed only 39 per cent of the world’s population. The chance that all five crops would be hit at once is unlikely, but even now these diseases consume enough food to feed 9 per cent of the globe. And the problem is hardly confined to food production; history tells us that when pestilence brings famine, then war and death follow shortly behind. Plant diseases offer all four horsemen rolled into one."
a:Ed-Yong★  p:Aeon★★  d:2013.07.30  w:5000  agriculture  future  disaster  biology  nature  science  food  history  from instapaper
september 2013 by bankbryan
The American cloud
"The spatial structure of this American edifice is surprisingly simple: a bicoastal surface that is mostly human-habitable bazaar, and a heartland that is mostly highly automated infrastructure cathedrals. In this world, the bazaars are the interiors of cities, forming a user-interface layer over the complex tangle of pipes, cables, dumpsters and loading docks that engineers call the last mile — the part that actually reaches the customer. The cities themselves are cathedrals crafted for human habitation out of steel and concrete. The bazaar is merely a thin fiction lining it. Between the two worlds there is a veil of manufactured normalcy — a studiously maintained aura of the small-town Jeffersonian ideal."
a:Venkat-Rao★★  p:Aeon★★  d:2013.07.11  w:4000  infrastructure  food  retail  logistics  cities  agriculture  United-States  from instapaper
september 2013 by bankbryan
Why Your Supermarket Only Sells Five Kinds of Apples
"By the 1800s, America possessed more varieties of apples than any other country in the world, each adapted to the local climate and needs. Some came ripe in July, some in November. Some could last six months in the root cellar. Some were best for baking or sauce, and many were too tannic to eat fresh but made exceptional hard cider, the default buzz of agrarian America. Bunk called this period the Great American Agricultural Revolution. 'When this all happened, there was no USDA, no land grant colleges, no pomological societies,' he says. 'This was just grassroots. Farmers being breeders.' As farms industrialized, though, orchards got bigger and bigger. State agricultural extension services encouraged orchardists to focus on the handful of varieties that produced big crops of shiny red fruit that could withstand extensive shipping, often at the expense of flavor. Today, thousands of unique apples have been lost, while a mere handful dominate the market. When Bunk lays out his dazzling apple displays, it's a reminder that our sense of the apple has increasingly narrowed, that we are asking less and less from this most versatile of fruits—and that we are running out of time to change course."
a:Rowan-Jacobsen★  p:Mother-Jones★  d:2013.04.26  w:3000  food  agriculture  history  from instapaper
august 2013 by bankbryan
Arid Lands: An Interview with Ross de Lipkau
"Aligning the boundaries of governance units—say, states—with hydrologic units makes a great deal of sense to facilitate coherent management policies. Having a state line go through the middle of an agricultural area that is irrigated from a single drainage basin is a recipe for dispute."
a:Geoff-Manaugh★★  a:Nicola-Twilley★  a:Ross-de-Lipkau  p:Venue★  d:2012.06  w:3500  interview  Las-Vegas  environment  law  agriculture  from instapaper
july 2013 by bankbryan
Forgotten Benefactor of Humanity
"Environmental lobbyists persuaded the Ford Foundation and the World Bank to back off from most African agriculture projects. The Rockefeller Foundation largely backed away too—though it might have in any case, because it was shifting toward an emphasis on biotechnological agricultural research. 'World Bank fear of green political pressure in Washington became the single biggest obstacle to feeding Africa,' Borlaug says. The green parties of Western Europe persuaded most of their governments to stop supplying fertilizer to Africa; an exception was Norway, which has a large crown corporation that makes fertilizer and avidly promotes its use. Borlaug, once an honored presence at the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, became, he says, 'a tar baby to them politically, because all the ideas the greenies couldn't stand were sticking to me.' Borlaug's reaction to the campaign was anger. He says, 'Some of the environmental lobbyists of the Western nations are the salt of the earth, but many of them are elitists. They've never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for fifty years, they'd be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them these things.'"
a:Gregg-Easterbrook★  p:The-Atlantic★★  d:1997.01  w:5000  profile  agriculture  Africa  environment  future  from instapaper
april 2013 by bankbryan
The oil we eat
"It is no accident that no matter where agriculture sprouted on the globe, it always happened near rivers. You might assume, as many have, that this is because the plants needed the water or nutrients. Mostly this is not true. They needed the power of flooding, which scoured landscapes and stripped out competitors. Nor is it an accident, I think, that agriculture arose independently and simultaneously around the globe just as the last ice age ended, a time of enormous upheaval when glacial melt let loose sea-size lakes to create tidal waves of erosion. It was a time of catastrophe. Corn, rice, and wheat are especially adapted to catastrophe. It is their niche. In the natural scheme of things, a catastrophe would create a blank slate, bare soil, that was good for them. Then, under normal circumstances, succession would quickly close that niche. The annuals would colonize. Their roots would stabilize the soil, accumulate organic matter, provide cover. Eventually the catastrophic niche would close. Farming is the process of ripping that niche open again and again. It is an annual artificial catastrophe, and it requires the equivalent of three or four tons of TNT per acre for a modern American farm. Iowa's fields require the energy of 4,000 Nagasaki bombs every year."
a:Richard-Manning  p:Harper's-Magazine★  d:2004.02  w:5500  agriculture  food  energy  nature  history  future  vegetarianism  from instapaper
april 2013 by bankbryan
The Arrow of Disease
"The one-sided exchange of lethal germs between the Old and New worlds is among the most striking and consequence-laden facts of recent history. Whereas over a dozen major infectious diseases of Old World origins became established in the New World, not a single major killer reached Europe from the Americas. The sole possible exception is syphilis, whose area of origin still remains controversial. That one-sidedness is more striking with the knowledge that large, dense human populations are a prerequisite for the evolution of crowd diseases. If recent reappraisals of the pre-Columbian New World population are correct, that population was not far below the contemporaneous population of Eurasia. Some New World cities, like Tenochtitlán, were among the world’s most populous cities at the time. Yet Tenochtitlán didn’t have awful germs waiting in store for the Spaniards. Why not?"
a:Jared-Diamond★  p:Discover  d:1992.10.01  w:6000  history  health  animals  cities  agriculture  evolution  from instapaper
january 2013 by bankbryan
Twelve Easy Pieces
"Rozin assured me repeatedly that he personally enjoys biting into a big apple. He enjoys it very much, in fact. But he immediately intuited why others wouldn't and why, after snacking, we're increasingly more comfortable holding a spent plastic bag than an apple core. 'Because the bag doesn't have any of you in it!' he shot out, as though it were obvious. 'The core is an extension of your tongue and your mouth, and the bag is not.' We, it turns out, are the thing we find most disgusting. 'As the world gets more and more cleaned up of these things, and as you get highly sensitive to disgust, a bitten piece of food in your hand is not too nice,' he posited. An eater of the whole apple must, with each bite, readdress his mouth to 'the unsavoriness of the bitten edge in front of you.' But eating apple slices means treating yourself to a clean, unspoiled, appealingly geometric shape every few seconds."
a:Jon-Mooallem★  p:The-New-York-Times-Magazine★★  d:2006.02.12  w:5000  food  time  manufacturing  agriculture  from instapaper
january 2013 by bankbryan
Life Beyond Writing Q&A: Kevin Fanning
"9. What do you like to grow?
kfan: I live in the city, eat at restaurants, and value my time, so I guess I mainly grow non-attachment to the idea that spending time in a garden is at all useful."
a:Dennis-Mahoney  a:Kevin-Fanning★★★  p:Giganticide  d:2012.12.20  w:1000  interview  food  agriculture  animals  teens  color  restaurants 
december 2012 by bankbryan
State of the Species
"The ship is too large to turn quickly. The world’s food supply cannot be decoupled rapidly from industrial agriculture, if that is seen as the answer. Aquifers cannot be recharged with a snap of the fingers. If the high-tech route is chosen, genetically modified crops cannot be bred and tested overnight. Similarly, carbon-sequestration techniques and nuclear power plants cannot be deployed instantly. Changes must be planned and executed decades in advance of the usual signals of crisis, but that’s like asking healthy, happy sixteen-year-olds to write living wills. Not only is the task daunting, it’s strange. In the name of nature, we are asking human beings to do something deeply unnatural, something no other species has ever done or could ever do: constrain its own growth (at least in some ways). Zebra mussels in the Great Lakes, brown tree snakes in Guam, water hyacinth in African rivers, gypsy moths in the northeastern U.S., rabbits in Australia, Burmese pythons in Florida—all these successful species have overrun their environments, heedlessly wiping out other creatures. Like Gause’s protozoans, they are racing to find the edges of their petri dish. Not one has voluntarily turned back. Now we are asking Homo sapiens to fence itself in."
a:Charles-C-Mann★  p:Orion-Magazine  d:2012.11  w:8500  biology  environment  history  nature  future  gender  gay  animals  agriculture  evolution  violence  war  society  energy  United-States  from instapaper
november 2012 by bankbryan
The Hadza
"Onwas himself, though he's scarcely ventured beyond the periphery of the bush, senses that profound changes are coming. This does not appear to bother him. Onwas, as he repeatedly told me, doesn't worry about the future. He doesn't worry about anything. No Hadza I met, in fact, seemed prone to worry. It was a mind-set that astounded me, for the Hadza, to my way of thinking, have very legitimate worries. *Will I eat tomorrow? Will something eat me tomorrow?* Yet they live a remarkably present-tense existence. This may be one reason farming has never appealed to the Hadza—growing crops requires planning; seeds are sown now for plants that won't be edible for months. Domestic animals must be fed and protected long before they're ready to butcher. To a Hadza, this makes no sense. Why grow food or rear animals when it's being done for you, naturally, in the bush? When they want berries, they walk to a berry shrub. When they desire baobab fruit, they visit a baobab tree. Honey waits for them in wild hives. And they keep their meat in the biggest storehouse in the world—their land. All that's required is a bit of stalking and a well-shot arrow."
a:Michael-Finkel★  p:National-Geographic-Magazine  d:2009.12  w:6500  nature  time  animals  food  environment  war  relationships  agriculture  from instapaper
november 2012 by bankbryan
Harvest Blues.
"And then all that Iowa corn comes up in perfectly straight, perfectly tall, perfectly perfect rows that look like a painting through the window of your Corolla. Like Martha Stewart encouraged every plant in her low, soft monotone and then hired Bob Villa to trim them with scissors. Every acre would be a state record anywhere else, but it’s hard to impress Iowans. 'Oh, you averaged 350 bushels per acre this year? Oh congrats, our nanny did that on the roof of her condo in downtown Des Moines.' To keep it interesting, the Iowa governor pairs up farms by drawing names out of a hat and whichever has the highest yield gets to keep the other family’s 9th son. Crazy tradition, but I guess it keeps things interesting. I’m completely joking. It’s the 11th son. Who would risk a top-10 child like that? Not an Iowan."
a:Matthew-James★  p:McSweeney's★★★  p:2012.10.19  w:2000  agriculture  work  weather 
october 2012 by bankbryan
The Truck Stops Here.
"Not only are there extensive regulations, but they vary by state and by the size of your truck and probably a dozen more classifications of which I am thankfully unaware. Which is why the truck driver’s joke about leaving his load a few hundred pounds light in case he wanted to pick up a rotund female passenger is at least relevant, if also tasteless and sexist and not meant to leave a shack full of bright-colored buttons, two miles from a paved road. What the youth pastor-looking driver really meant was, 'Leave it a few hundred pounds light because you look like you’re absolutely unqualified for this simple job, and if your scale hasn’t been calibrated in forever, I won’t get a ticket and can still afford to take my wife of 40 years to dinner this weekend.' You can see how that isn’t quite as much fun to say."
a:Matthew-James★  p:McSweeney's★★★  d:2012.10.03  w:2000  agriculture 
october 2012 by bankbryan
The Feeling We ARE in Kansas.
"Every pass over every acre is automatically downloaded and recorded to a computer back at the farm. See that spot where you’re standing? A farmer can tell you how much phosphorus went right there the last five years and how many bushels per acre of soybeans it produced. Farmers aren’t grinning because the price of corn is $8, it’s because they play video games for a living. The days of overalls and straw hats are long gone because the growers are all techy nerds. The seed meetings look like BlizzCon. Of course I’d heard about GPS in tractors years ago. Hell, I have a GPS watch. But I also know of childbirth, the planet Neptune, and that Kirstie Alley wears bikinis. A general awareness doesn’t necessarily lessen the first-hand shock. I’ve seen it with these eyes. Tractors that drive themselves. The bread basket has gone sourdough soft."
a:Matthew-James★  p:McSweeney's★★★  d:2012.09.12  w:1500  work  agriculture  technology  Starbucks  cities  GPS 
september 2012 by bankbryan
1491
"Indian agriculture long sustained some of the world's largest cities. The Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán dazzled Hernán Cortés in 1519; it was bigger than Paris, Europe's greatest metropolis. The Spaniards gawped like hayseeds at the wide streets, ornately carved buildings, and markets bright with goods from hundreds of miles away. They had never before seen a city with botanical gardens, for the excellent reason that none existed in Europe. The same novelty attended the force of a thousand men that kept the crowded streets immaculate. (Streets that weren't ankle-deep in sewage! The conquistadors had never heard of such a thing.) Central America was not the only locus of prosperity. Thousands of miles north, John Smith, of Pocahontas fame, visited Massachusetts in 1614, before it was emptied by disease, and declared that the land was 'so planted with Gardens and Corne fields, and so well inhabited with a goodly, strong and well proportioned people ... [that] I would rather live here than any where.'"
a:Charles-C-Mann★  p:The-Atlantic★★  d:2002.03  w:17000  history  environment  health  animals  food  nature  engineering  agriculture  United-States 
august 2012 by bankbryan
10 Timeframes
"The time you spend is not your own. You are, as a class of human beings, responsible for more pure raw time, broken into more units, than almost anyone else. You spent two years learning, focusing, exploring, but that was your time; now you are about to spend whole decades, whole centuries, of cumulative moments, of other people’s time. People using your systems, playing with your toys, fiddling with your abstractions. And I want you to ask yourself when you make things, when you prototype interactions, *am I thinking about my own clock, or the user’s*? Am I going to help someone make order in his or her life, or am I going to send that person to a commune in Vermont?"
a:Paul-Ford★★★  p:Contents-Magazine  d:2012.04.18  w:3000  time  user-interface  software-design  agriculture  self-quantification  from twitter
july 2012 by bankbryan
Craig Venter’s Bugs Might Save the World
"When we think about technological change, most of us view progress through a narrow lens: we imagine new gadgets and devices that will streamline our modern lives, bringing the most technically advanced civilization in history to new heights of technical advancement. Yet the innovations that really matter in the long term may not have much to do with advancement at all. They may have less to do with improving our own standards of living than with extending those standards around the world. As the global population continues to rise, the greatest technological challenge we face may be to avoid leaving large tracts of the earth behind. The synthetic biology that Venter proposes, using a minimal genome as a platform to make advances in food, fuel, medicine and environmental health, could backfire into a biological calamity, but it could also offer the most transformative approach to a medley of problems with no apparent solution."
a:Wil-S-Hylton★  p:The-New-York-Times-Magazine★★  d:2012.05.30  w:7000  future  agriculture  environment  biology  synthetic-biology  genetics 
july 2012 by bankbryan
The Perfect Milk Machine: How Big Data Transformed the Dairy Industry
"No matter how you apportion the praise or blame, the net effect is the same. Thousands of years of qualitative breeding on family-run farms begat cows producing a few thousand pounds of milk in their lifetimes; a mere 70 years of quantitative breeding optimized to suit corporate imperatives quadrupled what all previous civilization had accomplished. And the crazy thing is, we're at the cusp of a new era in which genomic data starts to compress the cycle of trait improvement, accelerating our path towards the perfect milk-production machine, also known as the Holstein dairy cow."
a:Alexis-Madrigal★★  p:The-Atlantic★★  d:2012.05.01  w:4500  agriculture  biology  animals  history  genetics 
june 2012 by bankbryan
The Serious Eats Guide to Bourbon
"Kentucky is central to bourbon distillation for three main reasons. The first is corn, which is abundant in Kentucky and its surrounding states. The second is the limestone on which Kentucky is built; water that arises through limestone is iron free. Iron is bad for whiskey; it discolors the product (like a nail left in water) and introduces off flavors. Finally, the climate: Kentucky's hot summers and cold winters are ideal for efficient aging of bourbon."
a:Michael-Dietsch  p:Serious-Eats★★  d:2012.03.29  w:3000  history  alcohol  agriculture 
may 2012 by bankbryan
I'm just a cheese byproduct
"Are you eating cheese while answering my prayer?"
"I'm sorry. But this Stilton is *to die for*."
a:Zach-Weinersmith★★★  p:Saturday-Morning-Breakfast-Cereal★★★  comic  food  religion  agriculture  animals 
april 2012 by bankbryan
Can wine become an American habit?
"No matter how cheaply foreign wine is dumped in this country, California should be able to undersell it. And by underselling it, to get a market for its product during the next five years when demand will far outweigh supply. Perhaps before five years are up the gentlemen from California will have set a more realistic value upon their product. But California has had three or four bad years and nobody should begrudge it its killing. It is the privilege of industry to make a killing once in a while."
p:Fortune★  d:1934  w:6500  alcohol  business  history  California  Europe  agriculture  wine 
april 2012 by bankbryan
The Smart Way to Play God with Earth's Limited Land
"People’s desire to eat more meat as they get more wealthy is so deeply embedded in most cultures (and getting lots of protein may even be a biological impulse inherent in all of us) that it is not something that is amenable to outside influence. As with climate change, the only pragmatic option is to concentrate efforts to fulfil people’s desires and demands in a way that protects natural ecosystems as far as possible – not to try to challenge patterns of consumption per se by insisting that they are unsustainable, even if this appears to be the case in the short term. Such an approach has failed in the past and will continue to fail in the future."
a:Mark-Lynas  p:Scientific-American  d:2012.01.20  w:3500  environment  sustainability  history  agriculture  future  cities  instructional  food  family  nature  animals 
february 2012 by bankbryan
Spaces of Banana Control
"The most popular shades are between 2.5 and 3.5, but much depends on the retailer’s size and target market. The grocery chain Fairway, which sources its bananas from Banana Distributors of New York, expects to hold bananas for a couple of days, and will therefore buy greener bananas than a smaller bodega that turns its stock over on a daily basis. 'Street vendors,' Rosenblatt notes, as well as shops serving a mostly Latin American customer base, 'like full yellow.' Personally, he eats only a couple of bananas each week, and favours fully ripe 'sevens'."
a:Nicola-Twilley★  p:Edible-Geography★  d:2011.11.29  w:2000  food  logistics  NYC  agriculture 
january 2012 by bankbryan
Why Americans Won't Do Dirty Jobs
"It’s a hard-to-resist syllogism: Dirty jobs are available; Americans won’t fill them; thus, Americans are too soft for dirty jobs. Why else would so many unemployed people turn down the opportunity to work during a recession? Of course, there’s an equally compelling obverse. Why should farmers and plant owners expect people to take a back-breaking seasonal job with low pay and no benefits just because they happen to be offering it? If no one wants an available job—especially in extreme times—maybe the fault doesn’t rest entirely with the people turning it down. Maybe the market is inefficient."
a:Elizabeth-Dwoskin  p:Bloomberg-Businessweek★★  d:2011.11.09  w:3500  work  food  agriculture  immigration  business  economics  United-States 
january 2012 by bankbryan
Hungry for the Truth: An Interview With Michael Pollan by Anne E. McBride
"There's a set of rules for the food system, and those rules are written into the Farm Bill. We unwittingly made a set of choices, without any of us really being consulted about how we would eat. It's no accident that this is a fast-food nation."
food  interview  nutrition  politics  writing  McDonald's  agriculture  a:Michael-Pollan  United-States 
march 2007 by bankbryan
The World's Agricultural Legacy Gets A Safe Home
"If the looming fences, motion detectors and steel airlock doors are not disincentive enough for anyone hoping to breach the facility's concrete interior, the polar bears roaming outside should help."
science  agriculture  p:The-Washington-Post★★ 
june 2006 by bankbryan
The Way We Eat Now
"One explanation for our slide into overconsumption is that 'the character of modern Americans is somehow inherently weak and we are incapable of discipline,' says Ludwig. 'The food industry would love to explain obesity as a problem of personal responsibility, since it takes the onus off them for marketing fast food, soft drinks, and other high-calorie, low-quality products.' Personal responsibility surely does play a role, but we also live in a 'toxic environment' that in many ways discourages healthy eating, says Ludwig. 'There’s the incessant advertising and marketing of the poorest quality foods imaginable. To address this epidemic, you’d want to make healthful foods widely available, inexpensive, and convenient, and unhealthful foods relatively less so. Instead, we’ve done the opposite.'"
a:Craig-Lambert  p:Harvard-Magazine  d:2004.05  w:7500  food  nutrition  McDonald's  marketing  television  advertising  cities  walking  agriculture  evolution  economics  health  United-States 
december 2004 by bankbryan

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