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How The Taste Of Tomatoes Went Bad (And Kept On Going) : NPR

Scientists have discovered that the gene that makes tomatoes uniformly ripe and red also makes them less tasty. But it's going to take consumer education and a willingness to pay more before the industry makes a change.

 

The researchers discovered that this natural tomato gene, when it works properly, produces those green shoulders on tomatoes. The darker green color comes from the chlorophyll in plant structures called chloroplasts, which is what converts sunlight into sugars for the plant. In fact, those dark green shoulders were making those old tomatoes sweeter and creating more flavor.

 

The uniform-ripening mutation disabled this gene.

 

But consumers may have to change their expectations, Klee says. "They're going to have to go in and say, 'That one's got that little discoloration at the top; that means it must be good!"

 

And, the only way they're likely to show up in your local grocery store is if consumers can recognize them and are willing to pay a bit more for them.

 

Still, for the best flavor, you might want to grow your own.

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Can't we all just work together?: Q&A with Ecoagriculture Partners - GlobalPost (blog)

Can't we all just work together?: Q&A with Ecoagriculture Partners - GlobalPost (blog) | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

What was happening for many decades is that the agricultural investments weren’t paying attention to those watershed issues, they weren’t paying attention to the wildlife issues, and they weren’t even paying attention, often, to soil degradation issues. And they started to have a serious decline in production.

 

They’ve been really trying to turn that around in recent years by increasing growing agroforestry, by using conservation farming techniques, by having community plans that will protect certain areas near the water sources. In the places where they are doing these things agricultural production is going up, it’s much more secure and much more drought resistant. At the same time, they are improving the cover of the soil, and they are also providing a much better habitat for species. So it’s really showing an example of a win, win, win, strategy for changing food security.

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Aquaponics: Something's fishy in Baltimore backyards

Aquaponics: Something's fishy in Baltimore backyards | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

The aquarium in the living room of Meir and Leah Lazar's home isn't just for decoration. The tilapia and bluegills packed into the 50-gallon glass tank are waiting their turn to wind up on dinner plates.

 

Out back, Meir Lazar is putting the finishing touches on a bigger new home for the fish inside a plastic-covered greenhouse. There, he hopes, the waste from the fish he's tending will help him raise enough lettuce, tomatoes and other produce to feed his family of five year-round.


Sustainability is more than a buzzword for Lazar, 32, a computer systems administrator and teacher who's pursuing aquaponics in his small suburban backyard off Greenspring Avenue. He said he's inspired in part by news reports about food tainted by pesticides, bacteria and even radiation from the Japanese nuclear disaster last year.

 

"I think it's incumbent on every person to start growing their own food so they can take back some of the control over their health, over what's in their food," he said. "Plus, you have a deeper appreciation of what you've grown and what you're about to eat."

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Dairy Day highlights organic farm - Superior Telegram

Dairy Day highlights organic farm - Superior Telegram | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

The TePoel farm is one of the dozen dairy operations in the county today. Of those, Anklam said, half are organic. While that may be a buzzword today, the TePoels chose the organic route back in 1982, long before it was “cool.”

 

Doing away with antibiotics and giving the cattle room to roam greatly improved herd health, Jon TePoel said. Cows are smarter than many people give them credit for, he said, and they pick the outdoors when they have a choice. Once the farmer opened the barn doors he saw cases of mastitis as well as hoof and feet problems fade away.

“The vet doesn’t come here anymore,” TePoel said.

 

By rotating crops and using natural additives like manure and lime, the land has become more productive. Letting nature take care of itself is the key.

 

“Once you get it, it’s easy,” he said.

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Time for a re-think on GM crops?

Time for a re-think on GM crops? | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
What would it take to break the impasse on GM crops?

 

After the bruising rows of the 1990's - culminating in a series of public debates under the banner GM Nation, and the biggest open air experiments ever undertaken in the shape of the farm scale trials of genetically modified crops - an uneasy standoff has held sway. Although not illegal, to date no GM crops have been grown commercially in the British countryside.

 

But while this de facto moratorium has persisted the pressure to adopt a technology that is widely employed elsewhere around the world has intensified.

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Eat less meat and improve farming efficiency to tackle climate change

Eat less meat and improve farming efficiency to tackle climate change | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

New research from the University of Exeter shows that if today's meat-eating habits continue, the predicted rise in the global population could spell ecological disaster. 

 

Published today (20 June 2012) in the journal Energy and Environmental Science, the research suggests that in order to feed a population of 9.3 billion by 2050 we need to dramatically increase the efficiency of our farming by eating less beef, recycling waste and wasting less food. These changes could reduce the amount of land needed for farming, despite the increase in population, leaving sufficient land for some bio-energy. To make a really significant difference, however, we will need to bring down the average global meat consumption from 16.6 per cent to 15 per cent of average daily calorie intake – about half that of the average western diet.

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International Scrutiny of Pesticide Link to Honey Bee Deaths ... - eNews Park Forest

International Scrutiny of Pesticide Link to Honey Bee Deaths ... - eNews Park Forest | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

The Canadian governmental authority responsible for pesticide registration has expanded its re-evaluation of neonicotinoid pesticides to include two additional compounds linked to honey bee deaths and Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) announced on June 12 that it has added clothianidin and thiamethoxam and their associated products to its ongoing re-evaluation of imidacloprid. The re-evaluation of these pesticides will focus on resolving issues related to environmental risk and specifically the potential effects of neonicotinoids on pollinators. The re-evaluation will consider all agricultural uses of neonicotinoid insecticides, including soil applications, seed treatment, as well as foliar and greenhouse uses. The Canadian announcement follows France’s decision earlier this month to initiate its own review for thiamethoxam that could result in the cancelation of allowances for using the pesticide.

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Vertical Farming: Can Urban Agriculture Feed a Hungry World? - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Vertical Farming: Can Urban Agriculture Feed a Hungry World? - SPIEGEL ONLINE | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Agricultural researchers believe that building indoor farms in the middle of cities could help solve the world's hunger problem.

 

... high-rise farms still only exist as small-scale models. Critics don't expect this to change anytime soon. Agricultural researcher Stan Cox of the Kansas-based Land Institute sees vertical farming as more of a project for dreamy young architecture students than a practical solution to potential shortages in the global food supply.

 

The main problem is light -- in particular, the fact that sunlight has to be replaced by LEDs. According to Cox's calculations, if you wanted to replace all of the wheat cultivation in the US for an entire year using vertical farming, you would need eight times the amount of electricity generated by all the power plants in the US over a single year -- and that's just for powering the lighting.

 

... it will be some time before vertical farming is implemented on a commercial scale in South Korea. Choi's colleague Lee Hye Jin thinks that five more years of research are needed. "Only then will our vertical farm be ready for the free market," he says.


Via Alan Yoshioka
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Farming, Biodiversity Can Coexist, Say Stanford Researchers - Patch.com

Farming, Biodiversity Can Coexist, Say Stanford Researchers - Patch.com | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Although bird species disappear with intensive agriculture, research in Costa Rica shows that forest intermingled with cultivated land rescues biodiversity.

 

To keep up with projected demand, farming output will need to double in the next few decades. This inconvenient fact is bad news for the environment as a whole, and biodiversity in particular. Large-scale, high-intensity agricultural production, scientists say, dramatically reduces variation between bird communities of different areas.

But Stanford scientists say there may be a way to increase agricultural land without substantially impacting biodiversity.

 

A new paper by biology graduate student Danny Karp, with Stanford biology professors and Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment fellows Gretchen Daily and Paul Ehrlich, shows that low-intensity tropical agriculture can maintain regional species differences at levels similar to those of intact forest. The study appears in today's issue of the journal Ecology Letters.

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Current Events: Drought returns to threaten North Korean food

Current Events: Drought returns to threaten North Korean food | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Drought has returned to threaten precarious food supplies in North Korea, the head of a German aid agency said on Friday after a rare visit to the countryside in the isolated state.

 

Wolfgang Jamann, the head of the German NGO Welthungerhilfe, said he saw children using bottles and buckets to water crops by hand in the absence of large-scale irrigation systems in two southern provinces.

 

"We were repeatedly confronted with the statement that we are in a drought, the most severe drought in 60 years," he told the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China, after getting back from an almost week-long visit to North Korea.

 

North Korea suffered famine in the 1990s that killed an estimated million people and has continued to endure chronic food shortages, which many experts say reflect systemtic failings in the country's heavily centralised economic system, which has sapped farmers' productivity.

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Urban gardening returns to its roots - Atlanta Journal Constitution

Urban gardening returns to its roots - Atlanta Journal Constitution | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Starting over is never easy, but after Hurricane Katrina forced Tina Perrin to relocate from the Gentilly section of New Orleans to Atlanta, she hoped to make a smooth transition. Perrin had emotional baggage as a displaced person, but she would soon learn her adopted community of Pittsburgh had baggage as well: it was a food desert: an area of America with limited access to affordable and nutritious food, according to the Agriculture department.

 

When she heard the Pittsburgh Community Improvement Association (PCIA) was planning a community garden, she claimed one of the 24 plots. The Welch Street Community Garden opened last year, providing Perrin with enough lettuce to last through December, pole beans for the taking, and three varieties of her beloved eggplant.

 

Nationwide, stories like Perrin's are becoming more common gaining in frequency as urban farming and community gardens have hit an up cycle. More than 150 such gardens are active in the Atlanta metro area, having spread dramatically over the past five years. While enthusiasm and support for urban gardening has waxed and waned since the 1890s, local enthusiasts see this particular upswing as something more permanent, a return to the way things used to be when communities were built around food.

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EC Contributes ?5 Million to Help Farmers Maintain Crop Diversity - AllAfrica.com

EC Contributes ?5 Million to Help Farmers Maintain Crop Diversity - AllAfrica.com | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

The European Commission is contributing more than €5 million (6.5 million dollars) towards the Benefit-sharing Fund of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, FAO announced today, at a high-level ministerial meeting on the plant treaty at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

 

The Benefit-sharing Fund helps farmers in developing countries manage crop diversity for food security and climate change adaptation.

 

This is the single largest contribution made to the Benefit-sharing Fund since it was established in 2008. It will help to increase the capacity of smallholder farmers to manage traditional crops like potato, rice, cassava, wheat and sorghum.

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Nano-pesticides: Solution or threat for a cleaner and greener agriculture?

Nano-pesticides: Solution or threat for a cleaner and greener agriculture? | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Nano-pesticides encompass a great variety of products, some of which are already on the market. ... Innovation always results in both drawbacks and benefits for human and environmental health. Nano-pesticides may reduce environmental contamination through the reduction in pesticide application rates and reduced losses. However, nano-pesticides may also create new kinds of contamination of soils and waterways due to enhanced transport, longer persistence and higher toxicity.

 

The current level of knowledge does not allow a fair assessment of the advantages and disadvantages that will result from the use of nano-pesticides. As a prerequisite for such assessment, a better understanding of the fate and effect of nano-pesticides after their application is required. The suitability of current regulations should also be analyzed so that refinements can be implemented if needed. Research on nano-pesticides is therefore a priority for preserving the quality of both the food chain and the environment.

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An Incredible Skyscraper That Breeds Insects for Food

An Incredible Skyscraper That Breeds Insects for Food | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Could future generations live on a diet of exoskeleton inside this self-sustaining cricket hive?

 

Let's all take a moment to pray it doesn't come to this.

 

What you see above is a dystopian or delicious vision (depending on how much you like to eat bugs) of a skyscraper infested with crickets, given creepy life by Royal College of Art student Christopher Green.

 

With food sources possibly stretching thin on an overpopulated planet, futurists are looking with hunger upon insects, which can be eaten whole in some cases or ground up into delightful-sounding "insect flour" to use for baking cakes that nobody wants. It may sound gross, but anything is better than starving to death, and the protein load would make a fitness buff totally ripped.

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Soil from ENTIRE town of Middleport New York to be dug up and carted away in ... - Daily Mail

Soil from ENTIRE town of Middleport New York to be dug up and carted away in ... - Daily Mail | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

The Department of Environmental Conservation has proposed removing and replacing nearly an entire town's soil feared contaminated with arsenic.

 

Citing 181 properties with elevated levels in the 576 acre town of Middleport, New York, the state's DEC suggested lifting and replacing the soil contaminated by a local pest control plant to an off-site location.

 

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The buzz on beekeeping and urban agriculture - Denver Restaurants and Dining - Cafe Society

The buzz on beekeeping and urban agriculture - Denver Restaurants and Dining - Cafe Society | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Above the heads of passersby, James Bertini's bees are flying in circles around the entrance to their new home: a small tube set in the red brick wall at Denver Urban Homesteading. Though the bees are still orienting themselves with the ins and outs of their glass-windowed beehive, soon they'll "be coming in like airplanes going onto a landing strip," says Bertini.


In celebration of National Pollinator Week, Denver Urban Homesteading has installed a new observation beehive so customers can watch honeybees at work and learn about them and other native pollinators.

 

Bertini, who owns urban agricultural center and local market Denver Urban Homesteading with his wife Irina, promotes beekeeping as a way to save and protect honeybees as well as develop food resources. More and more urbanites are discovering beekeeping as a means of making their own food, says Bertini, who also keeps bees at his home three blocks from the market. In Denver residential areas, two hives may be kept per lot; a typical hive is home to 25,000 to 50,000 bees -- and one queen bee.

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The end of the family farm? 72% of family farms don’t earn enough to support the family on them

The end of the family farm?  72% of family farms don’t earn enough to support the family on them | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Small family-owned and managed farms are struggling for survival in the face of corporate and large-scale agriculture.

 

Research released yesterday by the Australian Farm Institute, entitled Will Corporate Agriculture Swallow The Family Farm?, found that in Victoria last year, only 28% of family farms were of sufficient scale and profitability to earn enough income to support the families owning them.

 

Only half of this group was classed as likely to achieve the same success in the future and more than one-third of all family farms relied on adults living on the farm to earn wages elsewhere, reinforcing the stereotype that many farm wives have to work as local doctors, hairdressers and teachers for their families to survive.

 

Another 39% of farmers earned so little from trying to grow and produce food that their family income was below the median of all Australian households.

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How Whitby fell victim to potash fertiliser fury - The Independent

How Whitby fell victim to potash fertiliser fury - The Independent | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

"There's potash in them thar hills" might lack the potency of the Klondike's rallying cry, but the discovery is causing passions to run high in the North York Moors. Deep beneath the protected national park landscape between the tourist towns of Whitby and Scarborough resides the world's largest deposit of agricultural fertilizer. The estimated 1.3 billion tonne treasure trove could help solve the globe's emerging food crisis.

 

But getting it out of the ground is no easy matter. Laid down nearly a mile underground by the evaporation of a Permian-age sea stretching from England to Poland 250 million years ago, the polyhalite from which potash is processed is inconveniently situated in one of Britain's best-loved and fiercely guarded environments.

 

International mining conglomerate Sirius Minerals is keen to exploit the reserves over the next 50 years and meet the burgeoning demand for the high-quality mineral currently fetching around $500 a tonne on world markets, but many locals are vehemently opposed.

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Campaign for pesticide residue-free food - Times of India

Campaign for pesticide residue-free food - Times of India | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

The farm fresh vegetables that you hand-pick from markets everyday are in most cases deceptive. As much as you try to pick the ones with no pests or rotten edges, they may be much more toxic within.

 

According to the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA), out of the top 15 most-consumed pesticides in India, 11 figure in the list of 67 globally-banned pesticides. ASHA launched 'India For Safe Food' campaign on Monday, to raise awareness among consumers about the health impacts of consuming pesticide laced vegetables and urged the government to ensure safe food for all.

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Superbug vs. Monsanto: Nature rebels against biotech titan — RT

Superbug vs. Monsanto: Nature rebels against biotech titan — RT | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Western corn rootworms have been able to harmlessly consume the genetically modified maize, a research paper published in the latest issue of the journal GM Crops & Food reveals. A 2010 sample of the rootworm population had an elevenfold survival rate on the genetically modified corn compared to a control population. That’s eight times more than the year before, when the resistant population was first identified.


Experts are also noting that this year’s resistant rootworm populations are maturing earlier than expected. In fact, the time the bug’s larvae hatched was the earliest in decades.

 

Studies in other states have also revealed that the rootworm population is becoming increasingly resistant to genetically modified corn. Last year, Iowa State University researcher Aaron Gassmann noted that a number of farmers reported discovering, much to their dismay, that a large number of rootworms survived after the consumption of their GM crops. Gassmann branded these pests “superbugs.”

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Calif. rice farmers helping migratory birds - The Seattle Times

Calif. rice farmers helping migratory birds - The Seattle Times | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

The hundreds of vast, flooded rice paddies that cover miles of interior northern California may seem like an unlikely safe haven for shorebirds, but changes occurring in the state's rice country may help improve the outlook for dozens of species in decline in recent decades. So far, more than 165 rice farmers have signed up for an incentive program that will build a system of islands and other habitat improvements in their paddies, and provide birds like the avocet a place to rest, feed and breed throughout the year.


The incentive, funded by $2 million from the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service, helps defray the costs of building the islands or of new equipment needed to make levees and other farm infrastructure more amenable as habitat.

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CLIMATE CHANGE: Cassava key to food security, say scientists ...

CLIMATE CHANGE: Cassava key to food security, say scientists ... | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Andy Jarvis, a climate change scientist at the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and CGIAR’s Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) Research Programme, told the conference that a study published in February in the journal Tropical Plant Biology revealed that temperatures in East and West Africa – two major cassava growing regions – are expected to rise by around 1.8 degrees Celsius by 2030, but that the cassava plant will thrive.

 

“While this [rising temperature] poses problems for the suitability of food staples like bean, banana and sorghum, cassava suitability is likely to be the exception to the rule… Research shows that it will brush off the higher temperatures,” he said. “Its potential is tremendously exciting. But now we have to act promptly on the research, as more pests and diseases are manifesting themselves because of climate change.”

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Whoever Controls the Food System Controls Democracy: Vandana Shiva’s Take on the Profit-Driven Food System

Whoever Controls the Food System Controls Democracy: Vandana Shiva’s Take on the Profit-Driven Food System | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
By Ronica Lu On Thursday, June 28, the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet project and the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition will release Eating Planet–Nutrition Today: A Challenge for Mankind and for the Planet in New York City.

 

According to Shiva, the rising number of hungry people, water scarcity, loss of biodiversity, climate change, and the loss of soil fertility are being caused by a profit-motivated model of farming. This model, which is practiced all over the world, tends to forget, she says, “the nutrition of the soil and nourishment of the people, and essentially produces non-food,” such as maize and soybeans. This non-food, according to Shiva, becomes junk food which perpetuates obesity and chronic disease and contributes to environmental problems.


Developing countries should act now to prevent climate change and disease from getting worse by treating small farmers as valuable social capital, according to Shiva. Small farms produce a large share of healthy food, she says, including indigenous vegetables and grains. If small-scale farmers imitate the large scale industrial farming of the West, says Shiva, livelihoods of farmers will be destroyed along with food security.

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Garden pops up at abandoned Walnut Street lot - Philadelphia Inquirer

Garden pops up at abandoned Walnut Street lot - Philadelphia Inquirer | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Zagat (blog)Garden pops up at abandoned Walnut Street lotPhiladelphia InquirerUntil two weeks ago, 1905-1915 Walnut St. was a place of weedy abandon wildly out of sync with the rest of the neighborhood.

 

Until two weeks ago, 1905-1915 Walnut St. was a place of weedy abandon wildly out of sync with the rest of the neighborhood.

 

Located diagonally across from Rittenhouse Square, the city's most popular park, the lot's been vacant since 1994, when the old Eric movie theater complex burned down. Nothing's happened since, unless you're counting negatives: graffiti on the adjoining buildings, soil cut with old bricks, insulation and junk, and death-defying tufts of what purists call native plants and the rest of us know as weeds.

 

All of it fenced and forbidding. Now comes relief — delight even — if only for four months.

 

For the second year in a row, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has designed a temporary "pop-up garden" to bring color, activity, and visitors to a place that, as the society's president Drew Becher puts it, "people might think has a curse on it."

 

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Some corn, hay, oat crops in Pennsylvania facing threat from armyworms, farmers say

Some corn, hay, oat crops in Pennsylvania facing threat from armyworms, farmers say | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

MANSFIELD, Pennsylvania, June 18, 2012 (Associated Press) – Dairy farmer Terry Wilson said his corn, hay and oat crops were coming up like they should until a week ago when he noticed one field full of young corn that looked like it was only half there. Closer examination revealed it had been eaten down to the ground by pseudaleta unipuncta, or armyworms.

 

Investigation of the rest of his fields in Richmond Township - 28 acres of oats, 240 acres of hay and 40 acres of corn - showed varying degrees of damage, Wilson said. ...

 

Wilson said he never has seen this kind of infestation during a lifetime of farming, and that of his father and grandfather before him.

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