By Elliott Brennan
Food Tank has collected 20 of the best new books in food and agriculture to celebrate spring. Our favorite reads this season cover critical topics including the paradox of obesity and malnutrition, building strong communities through socially-conscious food systems and the essential link between food and health.
Travel from Italy to Puerto Rico and Australia and learn how people all over the world grow, harvest, sell and eat food—and why it's important to the future of this planet. Then, bring your new knowledge about food to the kitchen with various cookbooks and guides that will inspire environmentally-conscious, healthy and creative cooking.
The days are getting longer and the air is getting warmer, so take advantage of the weather for reading outside and dig into the season's best reads.
1. Bread is Gold by Massimo Bottura
Michelin-Star Chef Massimo Bottura's new cookbook takes a holistic look at food waste, focused on creating extraordinary meals from ordinary and sometimes overlooked ingredients. Committed to helping others eat and live well, Bottura's cookbook presents over 150 recipes from 45 of the world's top chefs creating inspiring dishes from everyday ingredients, encouraging readers to reduce home food waste.
2. Eat a Little Better: Great Flavor, Good Health, Better World by Sam Kass
In his new book, Sam Kass, the former White House Chef for the Obamas and the senior white house policy advisor for nutrition, shares his philosophy on food as well as practical solutions for making decisions in the kitchen that are good for nutritional health and the health of the environment. From shopping and organizing your kitchen, to cooking and reducing waste, Kass' book provides a wealth of knowledge for the dedicated home cook and 90 simple recipes from his time cooking for the president.
3. The Faces of Local Food: Celebrating the People Who Feed Us, by Charlotte Caldwell
In her latest book, Charlotte Caldwell provides readers with an intimate look into the lives of local producers supporting the food system. Through a collection of personal vignettes, readers can step out of the grocery store and into the shoes of the fishers, farmers, ranchers, chefs and many other food system contributors, and hear their stories. The Faces of Local Food paints a vivid picture of the meaningful contributors to the food system, and is a powerful reminder of the power of food to inform, transform and bring people together.
4. Food from the Radical Center: Healing Our Land and Communities by Gary Paul Nabhan, Forthcoming September 2018
Food from the Radical Center is a message of hope in the face of very challenging political and economic realities in the U.S. Nabhan presents food production as a unique opportunity to unite estranged communities divided by political ideologies. Through stories from around the country, Nabhan illustrates his belief that "the restoration of land and rare species has provided—dollar for dollar—one of the best returns on investment of any conservation initiative."
5. Food Is the Solution: What to Eat to Save the World by Matthew Prescott
Prescott's cookbook features an eclectic collection of infographics, photographs, essays and over 80 recipes that help protect the planet. Featuring original essays from James Cameron, Jesse Eisenberg, Chef José Andrés and many more, this book is full of recipes and ideas that are good to eat and good for the earth.
6. The Fruit Forager's Companion by Sara Bir, Forthcoming May 25, 2018
The Fruit Forager's Companion is a how-to-guide covering foraging, gathering and preservation techniques. Seasoned chef, forager and gardener Sarah Bir believes foraging is a "small act of civil disobedience" and encourages readers to look outside their front door to find unexpected ingredients for over 100 recipes, spanning from familiar fruits to less known treasures.
7. Fruitful Labor: Deep Ecology of a Small Farm by Mike Madison
Dive into the life of Mike Madison on his small farm in the Sacramento Valley of California. Experienced farmers and eaters alike will relate to Madison's story as he describes the ecology of his land, the agroecological challenges he faces and his personal understanding of sustainability. This book is a wonderful glimpse at local food production within the complexity of the larger food system.
8. How to Feed the World by Jessica Eise (editor) and Ken Foster (editor)
Eise and Foster tackle the pressing question of how to feed the 10 billion people projected to be living on the earth by 2050. Bringing together experts from various sectors of the global food system, How to Feed the World provides a foundational look at the modern food system, diving deep into the issues surrounding food and agriculture and presenting information in these complex questions in a way accessible for all readers. The book includes chapters on land use, climate change, trade policy, food loss and waste, nutritional health and social equity.
9. Knowing Where It Comes From: Labeling Traditional Foods to Compete in a Global Market by Fabio Parasecoli
Parasecoli's book tells the story behind the labels on food products from around the world. Knowing Where It Comes From provides a comparative analysis of food labeling systems giving a unique look at food production in different countries, including Italy, France, Costa Rica and Thailand. Parasecoli discusses how these systems affect consumers and producers and how cultural heritage and indigenous knowledge are integrated into food systems through regulatory and judicial processes as well as through activism.interventions by activists.
10. The Lost Crops Of Africa by National Research Council (National Academies Press)
The Lost Crops of Africa is composed of three volumes focused on grains, vegetables and fruits. Each volume explores African indigenous crops seemingly forgotten in today's modern era such fonio, tef, amaranth and carissa. Commonly overlooked by scientist, politicians and policymakers, this set delves into the potential of forgotten foods as cash crops and a way to build climate resilience and food security for communities in Africa.
11. The New Farm: Our Ten Years on the Front Lines of the Good Food Revolution by Brent Preston
In this personal memoir of farming and contemporary living, Preston tells his family's story of leaving behind their city life and careers as human rights activists to start an organic farm in rural Ontario. The book covers their decade-long journey, describing their path to living on a small sustainable farm that is healing the land, supporting their family and nourishing their community. As an active member in the Good Food Revolution, Preston demonstrates what it takes to change the food system through hard work and perseverance.
12. A New Global Agenda: Priorities, Practices, & Pathways of the International Community by Diana Ayton-Shenker (editor)
A continuation of the annual series A Global Agenda: Issues Before the U.N., this book provides a detailed overview of the cross-sectoral ideas and multi-stakeholder partnerships connected to the mission of the UN. Readers gain a deeper understanding of the evolution of international policy, academia, businesses and civil societies as a result of United Nation's work.
13. No One Eats Alone: Food as a Social Enterprise by Michael S. Carolan
In a society increasingly dining alone, whether at work or in the car, the connections and community ties inherent in breaking bread together are eroding. Carolan dives into the importance of being food citizens and caring about the welfare of the people growing, harvesting and producing food. He also explores the impact of food on global health, regardless of economic class or race. No One Eats Alone teaches the importance of community and affirms that "real change only happens when we start acting like citizens first and consumers second."
14. Nourished Planet: Sustainability in the Global Food System by Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition and Danielle Nierenberg (editor) Forthcoming in June 2018.
Drawing on the diverse experiences and knowledge of renowned international experts, Nourished Planet charters a map for growing and consuming food sustainably now and in the future. Featuring essays and interviews from global food sustainability leaders such as Hans Herren, Vandana Shiva, Alexander Mueller and Pavan Suhkdev, among many others, Nourished Planet offers a global plan for food for sustainable growth, health, culture and most importantly, for all.
Going beyond honey production, Embry's book takes a look at the diverse variety of bee species native to North America. Our Native Bees offers a offers a wide-ranging, entertaining survey of various bee species that function at the center of the food system, and play a fundamental role in the natural ecosystem through their contribution as pollinators. Embry presents a wealth of stories and a cast of characters to bring his story to life.
16. A Precautionary Tale: How One Small Town Banned Pesticides, Preserved Its Food Heritage, and Inspired a Movement by Philip Ackerman-Liest
A Precautionary Tale tells the story of the people of Mals, Italy, in their quest to protect their lands and agricultural heritage against the influx of pesticide use by big agriculture. Ackerman-Liest highlights the power of citizen science and community action in this town's dedication to food, health and culture; which allowed them to ban pesticides through a referendum vote—the first community in the world to do so—providing a road map for others to follow.
Gabriel's book puts forward the argument for a transformative system of agriculture based on an old idea: the integration of forest, cattle and grazing land in one space. By combining these separate operations together, the silvopasture system promises benefits for the farmer and society through ecological regeneration. Silvopasture provides a comprehensive background on this systems approach to farming as well as engaging examples of its use across the U.S.
We Fed an Island takes readers along with a group of chefs who fed hundreds of thousands of Puerto Rican people in the devastating wake of Hurricane Maria. Andrés' story highlights his efforts to address the humanitarian crisis through the power of food, and emphasizes the impact of community kitchens to activate change and rebuild hope in the midst of disasters. A portion of the profits from the book will be donated to the Chef Relief Network of World Central Kitchen.
19. What's Making Our Children Sick?: How Industrial Food Is Causing an Epidemic of Chronic Illness, and What Parents (and Doctors) Can Do About It by Michelle Perro and Vincanne Adams
Veteran pediatrician Dr. Michelle Perro and medical anthropologist Dr. Vincanne Adamstake a hard look at the links between genetically modified foods, glyphosate, gut health and the increasing number of children suffering from chronic health disorders such as gastrointestinal dysfunction and Autism Spectrum Disorder. What's Making Our Children Sick? explores the ability to improving children's health through food and offers insight to the current medical resources available to help heal affected children.
Wild-plant expert and forager, Pascal Baudar, guides fermentation fans, home brewers and adventurous eaters interested in concocting unique drinks from herbs, wild plants and other natural materials. Going beyond the typical ingredients of barley, hops and yeast, this book offers an expert look at using local terroir to create country wines, natural sodas, meads and regional drinks like Russian kvass. This guide not only covers the practical aspects of wildcraft brewing, but digs down into the history and philosophy of these traditional drinks, leaving readers with the knowledge to create their own brews using their local ingredients.
Elliott Brennan is a farmer and a Research & Writing Fellow at Food Tank. His research interests include global food security and the role of agriculture in economic development. He has a B.A. in English from Yale University.
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Material Revolutions: Shirts Made from Shellfish, Biodegradable Rum Bottles and Reusable Fast Food Containers
In the age of consumption, sustainability innovations can help shift cultural habits and protect dwindling natural resources. Improvements in source materials, product durability and end-of-life disposal procedures can create consumer products that are better for the Earth throughout their lifecycles. Three recent advancements hope to make a difference.
1. Allbirds Shirts Made From Shellfish<p>Sustainable sneaker start-up <a href="https://www.allbirds.com/pages/apparel" target="_blank">Allbirds</a> is known for its thoughtfulness for consumers and the environment. The four-year-old shoe company has become hugely popular by creating comfortable shoes made from responsibly sourced materials like tencel and wool, reported <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/90565358/allbirds-new-clothing-line-includes-t-shirts-made-from-discarded-crab-shells" target="_blank">Fast Company</a>.</p><p>Recently, Allbirds launched its debut apparel line with garments for men and women made with eco-friendly materials that have a low carbon footprint, the report said.</p><p>Introduced along with the line is a new t-shirt material called "TrinoXO," which is made from wool and discarded snow crab shells from Canada's seafood industry, reported <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2020/10/20/sustainable-sneaker-start-up-allbirds-is-selling-sweaters-t-shirts.html" target="_blank">CNBC</a> and <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/20/business/allbirds-sustainable-apparel/index.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">CNN</a>. The shells are the "number two discarded resource on earth," Allbirds claims, reported <a href="https://www.menshealth.com/style/a34427585/allbirds-apparel-clothing-line-review/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Men's Health</a>.</p><p>"Discarded material is the holy grail when it comes to sustainable fibers," Jad Finck, Allbirds head of innovation and sustainability, told Fast Company. "It's far better for the environment than getting raw materials from scratch."</p><p>The shells have antimicrobial properties that keep clothes fresh even after hours of wear, without the need to add "extractive" materials like zinc or silver, Men's Health reported. This allows for longer periods of wear between washes, reducing clothes' environmental footprint.</p><p>"We knew we wanted to be a real brand, and had this vision that we'd be an innovation company first, and a product company second," co-founder Joey Zwillinger told <a href="https://www.vogue.com/article/allbirds-launches-clothing" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Vogue</a>. "And our products would solve problems for people in a natural way, and show the world that you don't have to compromise on the planet for amazing products."</p>
2. Bacardi Biodegradable Rum Bottles<p>By 2023, <a href="https://www.bacardi.com/us/en/" target="_blank">Bacardi</a> rum will be sold in 100% biodegradable bottles, <a href="https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201021005281/en/Bacardi-First-in-Fight-Against-Plastic-Pollution-With-100-Biodegradable-Spirits-Bottle" target="_blank">Business Wire</a> reported.</p><p>The alcohol giant is collaborating with Danimer Scientific, a leading developer of biodegradable products, to create the new bottles using the natural oils of plant seeds such as palm, canola and soy, the report said.</p><p>According to <a href="https://sports.yahoo.com/bacardi-to-make-100-biodegradable-spirits-bottle-124436841.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAE1Wl8ONNdph3ID8reylzGM8dbX575Mk96Jw6z3kHZaGjKCz_UgQgxH0Q1n3RNCzhOMBEZ7fAIf8iiOXLRtY9VVHNZsmb-w1VOJnGlzIbuwhmoBo_KOV4dba8FoWrkgmmwwCyQZnRoTL0Uda6HQ4pE5ewGWh2pwQzjS3gKAe1ynm" target="_blank">Yahoo Finance UK</a>, the new bottle will biodegrade in a wide range of environments, including compost, soil, freshwater and seawater. After 18 months, the bottle will disappear completely without leaving microplastics.</p><p>"Nodax PHA is one of the most promising eco-friendly materials in the world today because it delivers the biodegradability that consumers demand without losing the quality feel they receive from traditional plastic," said Danimer Scientific chief marketing & sustainability officer Scott Tuten, reported <a href="https://www.thrillist.com/news/nation/bacardi-biodegradable-spirits-bottle-plastic-free-packaging" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Thrillist</a>. "The material provides the best of both worlds, and we look forward to working with Bacardí and incorporating PHA into their iconic packaging."</p><p>Bacardi is also creating a sustainably sourced paper bottle, Yahoo reported.</p><p>The manufacturing of both new bottle types will save energy over petroleum-based plastic ones. Bacardi plans to share the technology with competitors to help in the global fight against <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/plastic-pollution" target="_self">plastic pollution</a>, and aims to be 100% plastic-free by 2030, reported Thrillist.</p>
3. Burger King Reusable Fast Food Containers<p>Fast food giant <a href="https://www.bk.com/" target="_blank">Burger King</a> plans to launch reusable Whopper boxes and soda cups by next year. Partnering with TerraCycle's zero-waste packaging division Loop, Burger King will nudge customers to return the specialized packaging for hygienic washing and reuse, similar to how milk bottles used to be returned, reported <a href="https://www.marketwatch.com/story/can-burger-kings-reusable-packaging-change-fast-food-forever-11603392581" target="_blank">MarketWatch</a>.</p><p>"During COVID, we have seen the environmental impact of <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/air-pollution-food-delivery-plastic-waste-2648454324.html" target="_self">increased takeaway ordering</a>, which makes this initiative by Burger King all the more important," said Tom Szaky, TerraCycle and Loop CEO, according to MarketWatch.</p><p>Customers who don't feel comfortable can opt-out of the service, <a href="https://www.abc10.com/article/entertainment/television/programs/the-buzz-burger-king-to-test-reusable-packaging-in-2021/77-f01f1b70-05b7-436d-9971-a7dd6081249b" target="_blank">ABC News</a> reported. Those who are willing to try will be charged a small deposit upon purchase, and when the packaging is returned, they will receive a refund, reported <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/22/business/burger-king-reusable-packaging-sustainability/index.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">CNN</a>.</p><p>Burger King and TerraCycle are aiming for a container that can be used at least 100 times, reported <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/90566995/burger-kings-new-whopper-packaging-isnt-greasy-cardboard-its-reusable" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Fast Company</a>.</p><p>"The benefit is, you're able to serve your guests without having to create that single-use item in the first place," Matt Banton, global head of innovation and sustainability at Burger King, told <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/90566995/burger-kings-new-whopper-packaging-isnt-greasy-cardboard-its-reusable" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Fast Company</a>. "This product is durable enough to go through the system multiple times, so it's ultimately reducing our environmental impact, and minimizing the amount of single-use packaging that we have to produce as well."</p><p>Burger King has also committed to sourcing 100% of its customer packaging from renewable, recycled or certified outlets, and recycling all customer packaging at its restaurants in the United States and Canada by 2025, reported CNN.</p>
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The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.
"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."
The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.
They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.
They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.
But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.
"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.
What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.
It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.
To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.
First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.
Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.
University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.
"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."
Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.
"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.
There are many different CBD oil brands in today's market. But, figuring out which brand is the best and which brand has the strongest oil might feel challenging and confusing. Our simple guide to the strongest CBD oils will point you in the right direction.
In 'Road Map for a More Sustainable Future,' NY Regulator Tells Banks to Consider Climate Risks in Planning
By Brett Wilkins
Regulators in New York state announced Thursday that banks and other financial services companies are expected to plan and prepare for risks posed by the climate crisis.
A NASA spacecraft has successfully collected a sample from the Bennu asteroid more than 200 million miles away from Earth. The samples were safely stored and will be preserved for scientists to study after the spacecraft drops them over the Utah desert in 2023, according to the Associated Press (AP).