What FoodAnthro is Reading Now, April 11th Edition

A brief digest of food and nutrition-related items that caught our attention recently. Got items you think we should include? Send links and brief descriptions to dberiss@gmail.com or hunterjo@gmail.com.

Firstly, why don’t you grab a cup of coffee… how about one made in South Africa and newly available in the U.S., with insane amounts of caffeine? The idea that this is a South African product is itself interesting, as the robusta beans were grown in Rwanda, Brazil, Ecuador and Guatamala. Still, I am excited to see robusta beans being publicly headlined (usually they’re an embarrassing footnote), because they are much easier to grow– they can be grown in a broader set of climates, and are much hardier than Arabica beans. In fact, I have ten robusta trees, which is enough for … not very much coffee.

When we go foraging for mussels, it is just a matter of remembering to show up at low tide (and making sure there’s no red tide). This beautiful in-depth NYTimes story of mussel gathering in Quebec evokes a totally different image of gathering mussels:

The mussels are a welcome winter treat these days, but at one time they were a lifesaving source of food during the lean frozen months. Raw meat, with its abundance of vitamins, has allowed the Inuit to live for centuries on a diet almost devoid of fruits and vegetables. The only preparation for the mussels is pulling off their beards, the strings of protein that mussels make to cling to rocks, and then rinsing them.

Perhaps this story won’t come as a surprise, but the BMJ just published a commentary in which Pat Thacker describes covert funding from Coca-Cola to fund an obesity conference for journalists:

Some months after the event, Hill emailed a Coca-Cola executive and described the conference as a “home run,” adding, “The journalists told us this was an amazing event and they generated a lot of stories.” Hill continued, “You basically supported the meeting this year . . . I think we can get many more sponsors involved next year.”

If Girl Scout Cookies are genuine Girl Scout Cookies, but they are being sold on Amazon, are they still authentic? Such is the question we must ask ourselves before buying any Thin Mints on Amazon:

It’s not about the sales. It’s costing the girls the opportunity to grow, which is what the program’s actually about.

Check out the recently released Global Food Policy Report from the International Food Policy Research Institute.

If you missed it: The Hippies have won. Wait. Really? Sorry, no, only in the world of food, and even then only a little bit. Still, this article made for interesting reading:

“I think people are now more likely to turn to açai bowls than a bacon cheeseburger for their hangover,” he said. “For a lot of people who gravitate toward this lifestyle, it’s not hypocritical.”

Another reason to feel like we’re living in an alternate universe: Here’s a (super interesting) dissertation about Space Food!

For a few South African stories: Here’s one about some new tractors that did seemingly little to help emerging farmers.  I’ve shared stories about South African chicken before– first Brazil outcompeting on whole chickens, now Europe dumping legs and thighs. The constraints on the poultry industry are profound.

Lastly, for some denser reading: check out this report on food waste  Their key finding:

As it turns out, our definition illustrates how the quantity of food waste is overstated by most definitions.



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