What Foodanthro is reading now, February 27, 2018

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.

Got some coffee on hand? It’s hard for me to imagine spending $18 on a cup of coffee, but still, growing coffee in California under a canopy of avocadoes is a really happy image. As we move into new food territory with climate change, it’s interesting to hear of how people experiment, adapt and also push the fringes of what can be grown where.

Science recently published an article about the alleged “sugar conspiracy”, suggesting that the jostling of different nutrition ideas evolved over time in the context of postwar nutrition. It highlights the social forces that shaped discourse at the time, in a way that seems to suggest introspection, as well as a degree of humility and openness (which seems to be what foodanthro is all about):

But ahistorical accounts thwart our ability to critically evaluate the often long and zigzag process of scientific conjecture and refutation. They provide spurious cover for changes to policy by suggesting that old ideas are illegitimate. And, they advance a false impression that doing the “right” kind of science will somehow avert the messy business of making policy based on incomplete evidence, public values, and democratic politics

Another article from The Atlantic asks us whether the planet can feed 10 billion people, talking about the “moonshots” of the wizards (interested in technological fixes) and the prophets (interested in ecological sustainability):

Although the argument is couched in terms of calories per acre and ecosystem conservation, the disagreement at bottom is about the nature of agriculture—and, with it, the best form of society. To Borlaugians, farming is a kind of useful drudgery that should be eased and reduced as much as possible to maximize individual liberty. To Vogtians, agriculture is about maintaining a set of communities, ecological and human, that have cradled life since the first agricultural revolution, 10,000-plus years ago.

Over at EcoWatch, one farmer , growing hydroponically in containers, says that the way you feed a growing population is:

to make millions and millions of people into successful farmers.

This food interview over at the Guardian was just fun, and worth reading for the comments, and this description of soup:

like an enormous vat of what appeared to be water with one chicken claw in it.

I appreciate this column of everything the Guardian loves “about food right now,” for what it says about what is currently perceived as cool, and how distant all these places feel from here in South Africa. I followed a link on the column and learned about Kaki tree project, which sends persimmon saplings of a tree that survived the Nagasaki bombing to sites around the world). It also led me to Ruby Tandoh’s  slightly dated Guardian article, where her baking for an eating disorder outpatient ward was heartfelt:

Those with eating disorders feel the significance of this junction all too clearly, and a mouthful can easily become a transgression. Every single bite opens us up to the world. No woman is an island, as long as she eats.

Big news in global food systems (?): Unilever is sharing it’s supply chain for palm oil. There’s a move towards greater transparency and fewer middle men in a lot of supply chains, it seems.

Lastly, this article about eating pigeons. I appreciated how theoretically the one farmer should be getting lots of pigeons… and wasn’t.

Still, it’s clear that some of squab’s inconveniences are also a part of its charm. Because it’s hard to produce and familiar primarily to foodies, it’s treated with more reverence than a chicken. While this keeps squabs out of the mouths of the masses, it’s actually great for business.

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