This has been a sad week in food with the death of Anthony Bourdain, who I feel I know and admire after his death. There’s been an outpouring of grief from the food community, and far beyond it. I especially appreciated this interview with Gustavo Arellano, who discussed how Bourdain considered the experiences to Latinos in all parts of the food system:
By far the most exploited class, from the fields to the slaughterhouses to the lines to the people who are waiters to the people who wash dishes every night, he spoke again and again about their dignity.
This interview said something that came up over and over again: of someone humble enough to learn, and brave enough to speak up. Here are few more articles worth reading: The purpose of eating is to relieve pain, Anthony Bourdain’s extreme empathy, and the 1999 New Yorker article that propelled Anthony Bourdain’s career in television.
Check out this article on Popular Science to learn about growing food in Space. The idea of long space voyages with onboard farms is mindblowing, right?:
Space gardening will be essential someday if space travelers are to go beyond low-Earth orbit or make more than a quick trip to the moon. They can’t carry on all the food they need, and the rations they do bring will lose nutrients.
As the Russian world cup draws near, we can expect to learn about many aspects of food in Russia, and apparently some teams are bringing vast quantities of food along with them to the competition (Sports Illustrated thinks this is a demonstration of how long Argentina is hoping to stay in the competition…).
Instead of farming food, can we farm carbon? It can be hard to measure, so a company is figuring out how to make carbon farming profitable through tech. Carbon farming is a subject of interest in South Africa, where growing spekboom could be extremely profitable if carbon taxes are widespread.
We’ve been psychologically preparing for the Bayer-Monsanto merger for a while now, as it was provisionally approved in competitions tribunal South Africa at the beginning of 2017. The merger was finalised recently by the U.S. Department of Justice. The resulting company will sell 29% of the world’s seeds and 24% of its pesticides. The ruling did mean that the new company must sell certain parts of their portfolio to BASF, though I’m not entirely reassured by that. At The New Food Economy, Joe Fassler reflects on the merger, and in particular the choice to get rid of the notorious Monsanto brand:
Ironically, though, the company that came to symbolize our lack of say also became an excuse to avoid more difficult conversations. It’s that abdication of responsibility—a refusal to take, as a culture, a thorough inventory of the difficult choices we face about how to feed ourselves—that has weakened the American consumer more than any individual company could.
Slow food weighed in on the importance of this merger for global agriculture:
This $66 billion deal is the latest in a global process of consolidation that has already witnessed the merger of DuPont and Dow Chemical, and ChemChina’s acquisition of Syngenta. Now, three multinational corporations control more than 60% of the seed market and 75% of the pesticide and fertilizer market.
Bayer argues that the merger is in the best interest of feeding an increasing global population. The Guardian tells the story of a farmer trying to preserve seed diversity in the face of these mergers. Many people believe that cheap food is facilitated by large corporations. While this is not necessarily true, in South Africa, there’s a desperate need to better match wages to food prices, as demonstrated by recent protests.
Over at Civil Eats, they have an interview with Marion Nestle on the event of her official retirement…. If you missed it, Marion Nestle was also on the Daily Show talking about Raw Water. Yes, it’s a thing apparently. In Cape Town the queues for “raw water” (we don’t call it that) have been getting longer and longer over the course of our long drought (we’re happily starting to get winter rain).
Lastly, here are some pictures of hospital food from around the world!