Graham Strouts takes critical look at whether the forest gardens championed by many permaculture enthusiasts can produce food in yields significant enough to compete with traditional orchard and farming systems outside of tropical climates.
Alison Van Eenennaam explains how the Washington Post recently conflated organic with grass fed in an exposé of Aurora Dairy a massive organic dairy in Colorado.
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil has frozen Goodhope Asia Holdings palm oil operations on seven concessions in Indonesia. The company had been linked to various cases of environmental and human rights abuses in the archipelago country, including allegations of grabbing land from an indigenous community in Papua province, on the heavily forested island of New Guinea, where the industry is quickly expanding.
Agronomist Andrew McGuire looks at too opposite problems in managing soil and then lays out a few principles for staying away from two extremes.
Manitoban dairy farmer Matt Plett explains the benefits to dairy farmers of the Canadian system of supply management.
Kevin Folta takes you through, step by step, how the anti-GMO smear machine of US Right to Know works to vault their propaganda and character assassinations into the mainstream press.
Companies have said they need more support from governments of tropical forest nations to make their Zero Deforestation Commitments a reality, citing a maze of administrative and regulatory frameworks across palm oil producing countries as hampering their efforts.
The new HCS Approach Toolkit might help address this very issue, however, as it is intended to standardize the methodology for protecting tropical forests and identifying suitable landscapes for the sustainable production of palm oil.
Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley of Gastropod cover the history of calorie measurement and the ways calorie counting is inaccurate and unhelpful. They then look at a number of proposed alternative to nudge people towards successful weight loss.
While crop probiotics offer an ecologically friendly option for farmers looking to improve and protect their harvests, the Australian market is far from reliable.
Our research group was asked to evaluate commercial crop probiotics. Over a year of experimentation on a sugarcane farm, we tracked the supposedly beneficial bacteria and fungi of two Australian probiotics products from soil to crop.
DNA analysis didn’t detect changes in root-associated bacteria, but the composition of root-associated fungi changed.
Farmers around the world have come to depend on manufactured inorganic fertilizers containing key plant nutrients phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium to enhance soil fertility, especially in the otherwise poor soils of most tropical settings. But while all three are relatively abundant in nature, commercially viable sources of phosphorus to make these fertilizers could be exhausted just a few decades from now. That prospect, which remains a source of heated debate, has spurred a drive to recover the significant quantities of this element that disappear in the waste streams of cities and farms.
Graham Strouts deconstructs the meaning and definition of permaculture and exposes the lack of data, rigor, and evidence to support any claims for superior productivity or environmental impact to the modes of production it is meant to serve as an alternative to.
When all is said and done, any contribution permaculture has to make will be practices that work will work independent of the whole edifice. Just as “alternative medicine” that works is just called “medicine” so anything that could be shown to work in what is called “permaculture” is simply “good farming”, “good design” or “good engineering”.
Wisconsin farmer Chris Holman sorts out the issues in the dairy industry laid bare by Grassland Dairy Products announcement that they were dropping 75 farms as suppliers and the finger pointing by the Trump administration as it tries to deflect attention away from domestic troubles towards Canada.
Jim Dula of the National Farmers Union and Glassier Gardens, a 14-acre shared land use cooperative in Basalt, CO discusses a little bit of the history of co-ops and some of his experience exploring co-ops as part of the NFU’s College Conference on Cooperatives.
When scientists gather to march for science, we want them to know about this body of research. In addition to carrying signs, they can take up the toolbox of effective communication known as the rhetorical tradition. Rhetoricians will be marching by their side, allies in the battle to protect science from politically motivated attacks on one of the greatest treasures of the nation.
Wild coffee exhibits much greater genetic diversity than commercial varieties, which increases its chances of adapting to new challenges and reduces the possibility of extinction. It represents an insurance policy for plantation coffee, in case commercial strains are ever badly damaged.
Dietitian and science communicator Leah McGrath lays down ten tell tale signs you are watching a food related shockumentary. Plus, we’ve got Shockumentary Bingo cards ready to print!
As I was at the Portland, OR March for Science today, I walked past a woman who had cornered me at a March Against Monsanto rally a few years back. She had very misinformed, conspiratorial views about biotech in agriculture and when she spied my I ♥ GMOs sticker on my shirt today, she gave me a side eye and I could see her trying to decide whether to challenge me again. It was a little jarring, but not at all surprising to bump into someone who I knew rejected the scientific consensus on more than one issue at a March for Science. This essay looks at why that’s the case and how to process that fact and try to put it to some productive use.
In honor of Earth Day, I thought it would be a good opportunity to gather together some of our most salient pieces on the environment and the food system. The pieces are grouped into three main sections: agriculture, food waste, and oceans. – MB
Food historian Rachel Laudan unpacks the historical differences between gardening and farming and the important roles they have played in different cultures. The “digging stick” vs the “plough”.
Kevin Folta unpacks the problems with Wild Turkey’s decision to source non-GMO corn. It increases the environmental impact of the popular whiskey, while playing on an ignorant health claim for … whiskey of all things.