We hope you’ve having a great day. On the menu, in no particular order:
Caffeine. It’s a drug…and the drug of choice for many. I’m consuming it as I write this post. And simultaneously, I’m listening to a new episode of Gastropod; it explores the fascinating history and complex science behind this “miracle of plant chemistry.” If you’re new to Gastropod, be prepared for an exquisite and tasteful experience learning about the world of food through the lens of science and history. Gastropod features excellent visual curation, superb writing in the form of episode notes and a fine podcast (it’s a good length). This episode features Murray Carpenter and food scholar extraordinaire Harold McGee, among others. The episode notes include links to some interesting pieces, including Jenna Wortham’s article on data-driven diets (including “bulletproof” coffee. This is a #mustread, ICYMI).
Why Saudi Arabia is buying up U.S. farmland. As a drought in the American West continues, there’s growing controversy around ongoing land acquisitions in California and Arizona by Saudi interests. A recent purchase of 14,000 acres by Almarai Co. (Saudi Arabia’s largest dairy company) will be used to grow alfalfa to feed 170,000 cows. “It’s not easy to completely grasp the business model of the Middle East, but it may not be about business at all,” said John Szczepanski, director of the U.S. Forage Export Council. “The primary focus is food security, and the means to that end lie in acquiring the land and resources to ensure long-term supply.” The piece raises important and challenging questions about a variety of issues in the global food system, including national food security strategy in a time of declining resources, water law in the American West, cropping patterns, and environmental sustainability. Elliott Spagat and Aya Batrawy of the Associated Press penned this important article; it appears in the Christian Science Monitor. The Q&A accompanying the article is invaluable.
Research on global ocean management offers hope. New groundbreaking research indicates that “improved fishing approaches” could enable the majority of the world’s wild fisheries to recover to healthy levels in as few as 10 years and that global fish populations “could double by 2050.” The research was conducted by a team from UC Santa Barbara, the University of Washington and the Environmental Defense Fund; it appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“This research shows that we really can have our fish and eat them, too,” said lead author Christopher Costello, a professor of environmental and resource economics at UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management. “…we show that we can have more fish in the water, more food on the plate and more prosperous fishing communities — and it can happen relatively quickly.”
Related: Q&A with fisherman Brett Tolley. Brett Tolley works as a community organizer for the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA). Tolley comes from a four-generation commercial fishing family out of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He has worked in the fishing industry hanging nets, crewing boats of various gear-types and commercially shellfishing. He received a degree in International Relations from Elon University with a focus on Social Justice and International Trade. The UC Food Observer met Tolley at the 30th Anniversary of Farm Aid. And as he explained to us then – and in this Q&A – the experiences and interests of family fishermen and family farmers are truly aligned in many ways.
Have a great day!