Summary of “Can we ditch intensive farming”

Intensive farming has already had a huge effect on biodiversity and the environment worldwide.
The most obvious alternative to industrialised intensive farming in the developed world is organic farming.
Rob Percival, head of policy at the Soil Association, says organic farming can feed the world, if consumption patterns are adjusted to encourage those who can afford meat to eat less of it.
For many farmers, the investment and time needed to meet organic standards may be a stretch, but there are ways to move towards more sustainable farming without organic certification.
Agroecology is the name given to a broad range of farming techniques that seek to minimise the environmental impact of farming.
Urban farming can deliver food – or at least some fresh produce – efficiently to dense populations without the greenhouse gas emissions and nutrient loss associated with transporting it across long distances.
Already, urban farming produces about a fifth of the world’s food.
Our reliance on artificial fertiliser and intensive farming techniques did not happen overnight, but took decades.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Foodie Localism Loves Farming in Theory, But Not in Practice”

A few years ago, as the co-owner of a direct-market vegetable farm, my life revolved around harvests and freeze dates, farmers’ market sales and enrolment numbers for our Community Supported Agriculture programme.
The economic realities for farmers still sit uncomfortably alongside the practice of many farmers’ markets.
A fellow farmer and I began composing an op-ed under the working title ‘No More Fucking Farmers’ Markets’.
The USDA’s aforementioned Trends in US Local and Regional Food Systems: A Report to Congress confirms this: ‘While the growth in farmers’ markets signals increased consumer interest, for some local food farmers, marketing food in multiple locations can increase marketing and transportation costs, reducing overall net farm income.
During the years in which farmers’ markets took off, the US lost 4.3 per cent of its farms, continuing a downward trend that began in the 1950s.
Net farm income is projected to go down, as are farm asset values.
While local food has emerged as an alternative to industrial food, many people have simply transferred their expectations from the grocery store to the farmers’ market.
Obvious options include expanding Individual Development Accounts for beginning farmers and adding farmers to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness programme through the Young Farmer Success Act.

The orginal article.

Summary of “‘Ugly Produce’ Subscription Boxes Have Ignited a Food War”

Depending on who you ask, ugly produce is either the salvation or destruction of America’s food system.
Last week on Twitter, the crop scientist Sarah Taber wrote a long thread arguing that ugly produce isn’t the problem or solution.
“The food system is a hot mess but using ugly produce is one thing it’s actually really good at,” she says in the thread. In her estimation, my carrot nuggets are proof of concept: Odd produce might not go to Whole Foods, but much of it still does go to stores that serve working-class people, or gets sent to processors who turn it into salsa or apple juice.
The vast majority of American produce does indeed make it to a packinghouse for processing and distribution, but farmers point out that efficiency varies wildly depending on what kind of producer you are.
According to David Earle, the business manager for the farm collective Tuscarora Organic Growers Cooperative, in Pennsylvania, around 20 percent of the produce from his organization’s small growers doesn’t meet stringent grocery-store or restaurant standards.
Tuscarora has started distributing its excess produce through the ugly-produce-box company Misfits Market, and Earle says it’s been a boon to the business.
In an interview with The New Republic, Imperfect Produce, the start-up that serves Terra Organics’ former community, conceded that it works with industrial-scale producers like Dole to source food, which critics say can make these start-ups an ally of exactly the food system that creates waste and hunger in the first place.
If affluent consumers can feel as if they’re making ethical purchases while enjoying the savings and convenience of wonky vegetables delivered from commercial producers, they might be less likely to buy from local producers and cooperatives.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Plant-based diet: why we might need it to survive as a species”

A few researchers and doctors have also quibbled with some of the details in the dietary advice, and whether we really know what a healthy diet for all humans looks like.
Why the EAT-Lancet Commission is pushing a plant-based diet After three years of reviewing what they say was “The best evidence available for healthy diets and sustainable food production,” the Lancet authors came up with a set of targets for shifting diets on an average intake of 2,500 calories a day.
He cited Predimed and the Lyon Diet Heart Study, two randomized controlled trials of the Mediterranean diet that showed benefits for cardiovascular disease risk or overall mortality.
Of course, the planetary health diet is not just about human health.
In a piece for Psychology Today, Georgia Ede, a psychiatrist and nutrition consultant, writes that “Animal foods are essential to optimal human health” and describes the various ways she thinks the EAT-Lancet Commission authors fail to provide adequate scientific evidence for the nutritional value of a plant-based diet.
“For those of us with insulin resistance whose insulin levels tend to run too high, the Commission’s high-carbohydrate diet – based on up to 60 percent of calories from whole grains, in addition to fruits and starchy vegetables – is potentially dangerous,” Ede notes.
The report notes that many of the 1 billion of the world’s population who are malnourished need more animal products in their diet, not less.
Instead, we would need a wide range of policies – everything from restricting certain foods to guiding food choices with incentives.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Sugartime”

“A spoonful of sugar,” as Mary Poppins croons, is a bribe, something to help “The medicine go down.” Sugar is leisure and celebration – what British birthday would be complete without the stickiness of cake frosting on fingers? It is, according to Roland Barthes, an attitude – as integral to the concept of Americanness as wine is to Frenchness.
In the 1958 hit song “Sugartime,” to which Barthes was referring, the sunny, smiling McGuire Sisters harmonize sweetly, filling their mouths with honey: “Sugar in the mornin’ / Sugar in the evenin’ / Sugar at suppertime / Be my little sugar / And love me all the time.”
The artist Kara Walker tackled a profoundly different collision of femininity and sweetness than Katy Perry on a candy cloud when she conceived of a 35-foot sugar sphinx inside the former Domino Sugar Refinery in 2014.
The sugar sphinx, the artist wrote in the work’s full title, was “An Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant.”
In a review of Cotton’s 2011 show at the Kohn Gallery in Los Angeles, Leah Ollman wrote: “Exhausting familiar sexist correspondences between women and fantasy, desire, indulgence and consumption, the work exploits a single gimmick to the point of sugar shock.” What’s more, the young, white, limber women draped over Cotton’s candy clouds raise an important question: In a world where sweetness is innocence, and innocence is whiteness, who is allowed to be sweet?
To my mind, it is a paradox: Its crouch is both submissive and the precursor to a deadly pounce; in all those tons of pure white sugar is a grandeur at odds with the meek honeys, sugars, and sweethearts we’re used to.
Stuart Hall alluded to this shared history of blackness and sugar when he famously wrote, “I am the sugar at the bottom of the English cup of tea.” A black, Jamaican-born theorist living and working in London, Hall could feel – even taste – the legacy of the enslaved black people who bled for Britain’s colonial wealth.
The sugar industry has been accused of complicity in forced labor in the U.S. as recently as 1989, and in the Caribbean in 2001, with the UN’s International Labour Organization describing the treatment of Haitian sugar workers in the Dominican Republic as “One of the most widely documented instances of coercive labour contracting over the past two decades.” A report by Verité found that workers in the Dominican Republic were often kept – through the prohibitive cost of transport compared to the meagerness of the wages, and thanks to their undocumented status – within workers’ compounds of the plantations there, not given the liberty to move freely.

The orginal article.

Summary of “What It’s Like to Be Allergic to Corn”

Becca, who writes Corn Allergy Girl, also gets a lot of her produce from local farms.
The diet of someone with a severe corn allergy is in some ways the ideal diet for a certain type of foodie: fresh, local, free of preservatives and processed foods, the provenance of every ingredient intensely cataloged.
Knowing how to avoid foods with corn is one thing; knowing how to navigate social situations where danger lurks in every corner is another.
Cassandra Wiselka, whose 5-year-old is allergic to corn, has written about the problem of Halloween.
Virtually all mass-produced candy contains high-fructose corn syrup.
It’s hard to say exactly why, but Wiselka noticed that “In Germany, things are a lot less processed, food-wise. At least not processed as much with things like corn.”
When she dives, she has to watch out for a few specific things-that her wetsuit has not been washed with a corn-containing detergent, that her dive partners have not been eating corn chips.
Sure, scuba diving can kill you if you aren’t careful, but she can be sure there is no corn in water.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Instagram Food Is a Sad, Sparkly Lie”

For the young women who constitute Instagram’s target demographic – the desired audience of both for the corporations that sell products and the influencers who pretend not to be advertising them – even eating something as innocuous as a sad desk salad at work can come along with casual policing from whoever happens to be within view, and I can’t think of a single category of food that, in my 31 years on earth, I haven’t been warned about by some busybody whose opinion I haven’t asked for.
That’s not only because Instagram is a widely used and intensely visual medium, but also because its emergent aesthetic tropes are as essential to the zeitgeist as baby tees and brown lipstick were to the 90s. Food thrives on social networks because of its easy, graphic appeal and pan-demographic interest – we all have to eat, right? But while Facebook has become a repository of time-lapse recipe videos for quick weeknight dinners that often prominently feature, for some reason, canned biscuit in dough, and Pinterest traffics largely in mason jars, do-it-yourself projects and the protein-packed simplicity of an egg baked inside half an avocado, Instagram has thrown its lot in with spectacle.
In the most successful of Instagram food operations, the posting of a particular item signals both affluence and leisure.
Instagram food has almost nothing to do with consumption as a gastronomic endeavor; instead, consuming Instagram food means acquiring it, and sharing proof of your acquisition.
As far as I can tell, it’s nearly impossible be popular in the world of Instagram food maximalism if you actually look like a person who eats the things you post; otherwise, your probably fat hand might appear in a photo of an ice cream cone held out in front of a brick wall.
The easiest way to create context for an over-the-top food purchase is to show it next to a body that has not succumbed to fatness, the prospect of which is regarded with as much horror on influencer Instagram as it is in the rest of celebrity culture.
Iturregui told me she’s seen plenty of food thrown away at influencer-focused food events, a claim backed up by my friend Eric Mersmann, who has made the rounds as an ice cream Instagrammer in New York.
For the others, watching their timelines fill up with food feels more transparently performative, like a present-day version of Paris Hilton in the early 2000s, remaining impossibly thin and toned while regularly being photographed acquiring fast food.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why Do Dieters Succeed or Fail?”

Overall, dieters in both groups lost a similar amount of weight on average – 11 pounds in the low-fat group, 13 pounds in the low-carb group – suggesting different diets perform comparably.
Over the last week, I’ve spoken to Dawn, Denis, Elizabeth*, and Todd – two low-fat dieters and two low-carb dieters – about their experiences of succeeding or faltering in trying to slim down.
While these four DIETFITS enrollees are not necessarily representative of the 600-plus people who participated in the research, their stories can teach us a lot about why diets fail and succeed.
Elizabeth didn’t shift her diet much for the study, she says.
Dawn Diaz lost 47 pounds following the low-fat diet for the study, from a starting weight of 215 pounds.
In the study, Dawn Diaz was assigned to the low-fat diet, which initially disappointed her.
That leads us to one of the burning mysteries of diets: how to explain why some people fail where others succeed – or the extreme variation in responses.
Science doesn’t have compelling answers, but the unifying theme from the four study participants should be instructive: The particulars of their diets – how many carbs or how much fat they were eating – were almost afterthoughts.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Mysterious, Stubborn Appeal of Mass-Produced Fried Chicken”

In many ways, fried chicken seems antithetical to mass production.
At most fast food fried chicken places, the chicken shows up fresh, and it’s brined, dredged, and fried on site.
“Even KFC uses fresh chicken,” says Edward Lee, chef and owner of 610 Magnolia in Louisville and Succotash in Washington, D.C. “There’s no way to pre-fry chicken. It has to be fried to order, or at least fried in batches.”
Ashley Christensen named her fried chicken restaurant in Raleigh, North Caorlina Beasley’s Chicken and Honey as an homage to her parents.
“What I take from the fast food experience is how meaningful fast food fried chicken is to people. You’ll see people roll up to a family event with a box of Popeyes fried chicken, and everyone’s going to go, ‘Hell yeah.’ If they rolled up with a bag of McCheeseburgers, they’re going to be like, ‘Who invited that guy?'”.
A restaurant not dedicated to fried chicken might be frying their chicken in a Dutch oven or a wok or a cast iron pan, or even an electric countertop fryer, in which the oil will break down a lot faster.
This kind of mental and resource drain for fried chicken is why Adkins serves fried chicken only on Wednesday nights at Sally’s Middle Name.
As good as fried chicken can be, bad fried chicken can be especially unpleasant.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Scientists Have ‘Hacked Photosynthesis’ In Search Of More Productive Crops”

Scientists Have ‘Hacked Photosynthesis’ In Search Of More Productive Crops : The Salt Scientists have re-engineered photosynthesis, the foundation of life on Earth, creating genetically modified plants that grow faster and bigger.
There’s a big molecule, a protein, inside the leaves of most plants.
Plants have a whole complicated chemical assembly line to carry out this detoxification, and the process uses up a lot of energy.
They inserted some new genes into these plants, which shut down the existing detoxification assembly line and set up a new one that’s way more efficient.
The scientists now are trying to do the same thing with plants that people actually rely on for food, like tomatoes and soybeans.
The USDA has applied for a patent on plants that are engineered in this way.
It will be many years before any farmers plant crops with this new version of photosynthesis.
Researchers will have to find out whether it means that a food crop like soybeans actually produces more beans – or just more stalks and leaves.

The orginal article.