Hello, Thursday! We’ve got a quick wrap for you…tasty stuff!


Canada: linking the rising price of cauliflower to the falling price of oil.  In a story demonstrating the interconnectedness of the global food system, we learn how the falling price of oil, the declining value of Canadian currency and California’s drought have led to a surprising situation. Today a head of cauliflower will set a Canadian back about eight dollars; last year, that head would have cost around $2.50. This case study highlights larger economic issues facing our neighbor to the north. Ian Austen, Canadian correspondent for the New York Times, reports. A really #goodread.


California: UC researchers test a possible drought solution by flooding almond orchards during El Niño. In what may seem a counterintuitive move, UC researchers (Davis and ANR’s Cooperative Extension) are partnering with almond growers in an experiment to replenish overdrafted groundwater supplies by irrigating…NOW, during what is shaping up to be an epic rainy season. The researchers have an interesting hypothesis that “runs counter to how many growers care for their trees in winter, how irrigation districts operate, how water rights are managed, and how state and federal authorities have controlled floods for a century.” Geoffrey Mohan reports for the Los Angeles Times. This is an absolutely fascinating read on a number of levels, including the way in which Mohan has sussed out how applied research works, who is involved…and how it can drive change in both practice and public policy.


Sustainability: oceans and seeds. 

Oceans: Per a report released this week, the “world’s oceans may have more plastic debris than fish by the year 2050.” The report was published by the World Economic Forum, which is meeting this week in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. The study estimates that up to 32 percent of all plastic packaging ends up in natural ecosystems. Aljazeera provides a brief but excellent summary, with some depressing (but important to know) facts about plastic waste. You can access the full report here. Conclusion: This is a crisis and we need to do better.

Seeds: A thoughtful piece about why consolidation in the seed industry matters as we face and adapt to climate change. The story appears in Civil Eats and is written by Doug Gurian-Sherman, director of sustainable agriculture and a senior scientist at the Center for Food Safety. Some key takeaways? Mergers in the seed industry (consolidation) threaten the crop diversity we need to respond to a changing climate. And small farms and indigenous farmers are key to preserving biodiversity.

ICYMI: learn more about food and crop biodiversity by reading our Q&A with Simran Sethi, author of Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love.


Opportunities. Food and Farming Journalism Fellowship: The UC Berkeley-11th Hour Food and Farming Journalism Fellowship is accepting applications through March 15th, 2016. The fellowships are part of a new program established by Michael Pollan and are offered through the UC Berkeley Graduate School. Ten $10,000 postgraduate awards are available. An amazing opportunity. Film contest: Real Food Films is accepting films for its 2016 contest (the third annual!). You can share your short films (four minutes or less) on food, farming and sustainability…deadline is March 1st, 2016.


See you tomorrow!