Sample #2

Edited by Marc Brazeau

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•  FAFDL contributor and University of Wyoming weed prof, Andrew Kniss kicked off the hashtag #actuallivingfarmer on the Twitter Machine and it immediately blew up. A tsunami of farmer selfies.

•  The New York Times reports on California farmers who voted for Trump feeling more than a little buyer’s remorse as they realize Trump was dead serious about reducing the number of immigrant laborers available to work in the fields, compounding the labor shortages they’ve already been facing. They are more than a little nervous now about the impact Trump’s promised trade wars will have on their export markets as well. Meanwhile, Politico Morning Ag reports on efforts by Texas legislators to calm farmer’s newly stoked fears of what the Trump admin has in store for them, but the Western Growers Association is warning their members to get ready for a crackdown from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE}.
(The FAFDL discussion on the piece has been well worth following as well.)

• Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal looks at the beating American farmers will take as Trump bails on TPP and if he makes good on his promise to start trade wars with China and Mexico. [Non-paywalled, but weirdly non-formatted version at MarketWatch]


  • U.S. is expected to export $134 billion in agricultural goods, from pork to nuts to corn and much more.
  • Exports contribute about 20% of U.S. farm income
  • U.S. agriculture ran a $19.5 billion global trade surplus in 2015
  • Trump carried 11 of the top 15 exporting states, including Iowa, Nebraska, Indiana and Texas.
  • Some 72% of U.S. tree nuts are exported, and roughly half of all rice, soybeans and wheat.
  • Rice is grown in solid Republican states such as Arkansas, Louisiana and Missouri; soybeans are cash cows for Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota.
  • Root plants like ginseng are exported from Michigan and Wisconsin, mainly to China.
  • Of the top 11 U.S. export destinations, seven are in Asia and Japan and Vietnam are part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership that Mr. Trump abandoned in his first week. The
  • Farm Bureau estimates TPP would have raised U.S. farm incomes by $4.4 billion.
  • Japan, with its high incomes and 19% average tariff on U.S. farm goods, is a particular lost opportunity.
  • In 2015 China bought nearly $21 billion in U.S. agricultural goods, up 200% since 2006 and almost 15% of total U.S. farm exports.
  • Dairy exports to Mexico alone support some 30,000 American jobs, according to the U.S. Dairy Export Council, and many are manufacturing jobs in rural areas•  Maybe the biggest bombshell this past week in the foodist universe was news of an exposé of rockstar researcher Brian Wansink’s lab for fraudulent research coming from his research lab and really sketchy management practices by Wansink. Wansink, a behavioral economist,  is the author of the book Mindless Eating and has done a series of revealing experiments showing the ways that hidden psychological cues can profoundly affect what and how much we eat. He is best known for the secretly bottomless soup bowl experiment, but the most impactful work he has done has been on school cafeteria design. It will be a shame if that good work become damaged goods due to hubris.This scandal hits as the field of psychology research has been casting a pall over the entire scientific project as high profile researchers in the cognitive sciences have crossed the line repeatedly in the scrum to produce increasingly Gladwellesque results in their research.•  Too Sweet At Any Speed? – While people have been arguing over whether sugar is the new tobacco, it turns out that sugar is the new Sporty Corvair with reports that Mexican soda tax advocates have been under shadowy attacks of the kind Ralph Nader was subject to in the wake of his 1965 book Unsafe At Any Speed on the attempt by the auto industry to avoid the cost of safety regulations.• NPR has a fascinating, longish piece on how naturogenic climate change contributed to the demise of a Mississippian civilization during medieval times.  Royale with Cheese comes to NYC.  Meanwhile, Yum Brands is trying to figure out how you say, “Quiero Taco Bell” in Chinese. (HInt: 我想塔克貝爾)•  Thrillist has a #longreads piece on the maniacal loyalty of Wegman’s shoppers.

     The Washington Post has a great piece on different efforts to highlight the cuisines of countries on the Trump travel ban, including Detroit’s Peace Meal Kitchen featured below. 

    In Detroit, Peace Meal Kitchen hosted a pop up fundraiser for the ACLU of Michigan featuring food from Iran.

    ” Founder Mana Heshmati has lived in two countries, six U.S. states and nine U.S. cities and she’s noticed “most people did not know what Iranian culture or food entailed,” she said in an email. “Iran tends to get grouped together with the Middle Eastern food and culture of the countries surrounding it in the Levant region, but it is actually very distinct and unique.” 

    Ghormeh Sabzi

    Flavored with herbs and limes, this is a Persian stew with kidney beans and spinach.

    Ingredients for Cooking Ghormeh Sabzi:

    • 2 cup finely chopped parsley
    • 2 cup finely chopped chives
    • 1 cup finely chopped dill leaves
    • 1 cup finely chopped spinach (when not available, use chard’s leaves instead)
    • 1 cup finely chopped cilantro
    • 1 tbsp. dried, crushed fenugreek leaves
    • ½ cup red kidney beans, pre-soaked over night
    • 500 g stew meat (lamb)
    • 1 big onion, finely chopped
    • 1 tsp. turmeric powder
    • 4-5 Dried limes
    • Cooking oil
    • Salt and hot pepper powder

    Directions to cook Ghormeh Sabzi:

    1– Mix the prepared herbs. Fry them over medium heat with 2 tablespoon oil in a nonstick pan for about 10 minutes.
    2– Add dried, crushed fenugreek leaves to the pan. Continue heating just for 5 minutes, and then set the pan aside.

    •  As noted above, the FAFDL discussion on the reaction of California farmers and farm workers to the Trump administration’s immigration policy is well worth checking out. One of the most import bits to come out of that conversation was this USDA chart shared by Riot Piechart (nom de plume for a USDA economist).

    •  Kasey Morrisey shared an old Grist post by Tom Philpott on how synthetic Nitrogen destroyed soil health that got off to a rocky start but found its footing.

    ASK A FARMER with Carolyn Olson – Minnesota organic corn, soy, wheat and conventional hogs – the discussion thread is here.

    [You can subscribe to the  Food and Farm Discussion Lab Dispatch with an  ongoing contribution of $1, $2, $3, $5 or $10 a month on Patreon.]

    Invisible Irrigators: How Small-Scale Tanzanian Farmers Are Making a Difference

    New research has revealed that Tanzania’s official statistics on irrigation often don’t include initiatives set up and run by individual farmers. This is either because they’re not aware of it, or because they don’t consider it to have much potential.

    Mind the Gaps: Reducing Hunger by Improving Yields on Small Farms

    There are tremendous opportunities to increase yields throughout South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Increasing yields through new farming practices could triple maize production in sub-Saharan Africa and increase wheat and rice production in South Asia by about 50 percent. Gains on this scale could dramatically reduce hunger and food insecurity in some of the most vulnerable nations in the world.


    Why One Wet Winter Won’t Solve California’s Water Problems

    It will take many years of consistent, above-average rainfall to fully recover from the drought, and that seems unlikely given the variable nature of the state’s climate. Convoluted water policies, patchwork regulations and burdensome water politics perpetuate the problems, causing imbalances in the way water is managed.


    From Grocery Stores to Labor Unions, Cooperatives Were the Answer

    Worker-ownership economics catch on in Ohio, Nevada, and North Carolina.

    Why nature restoration takes time

    ‘Relationships’ in the soil become stronger during the process of nature restoration. Although all major groups of soil life are already present in former agricultural soils, they are not really ‘connected’ at first. These connections need time to (literally) grow, and fungi are the star performers here. A European research team led by the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) has shown the complete network of soil life for the first time. This Wednesday, the results of the extensive study are published in Nature Communications.


    Agricultural systems research and global food security in the 21st century: An overview and roadmap for future opportunities

    The works highlighted in this special issue show several innovations in the use of agricultural systems research to look at food security questions and may provide some guidance for the future. Of immediate note is the incorporation of a host of food security metrics beyond crop yields into agricultural systems models in many of the papers. These include dietary diversity, micronutrient availability and child anthropometric status. These metrics provide important insights into understudied relationships between yields and food security and seem increasingly feasible with better data collection within agricultural systems research projects.
    via Alexander Stein

    Climate Change: What Effect Will It Have On Plants?

    Researchers at Washington State University have been working on a system to direct measure the effect of increasing temperature on plant growth, along with a number of other conditions. The hope is to be able to quantify the effect with a vast variety of seedling types.

    The device they have constructed is called the LemnaTec Scanalyzer Discovery Platform. While it is an in-lab experimental system, it can simulate natural light conditions and a number of other environmental effects to see how crops do under specific circumstances.

[You can subscribe to the Food and Farm Discussion Lab Dispatch with an ongoing contribution of $1, $2, $3, $5 or $10 a month on Patreon.]


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