developing the grape cultivars of the future

posted December 31, 2015

With a focus on disease resistance and hardiness, researchers are hard at work developing the grape cultivars of the future.

Through a multidisciplinary collaborative project called VitisGen, researchers are are working to decrease the time, effort, and cost of developing these new grapes.

According to the VitisGen website, the project “incorporates cutting-edge genomics technology and socioeconomic research into the traditional grape breeding and evaluation process, which will speed up the ability to identify important genes related consumer-valued traits like disease resistance, low temperature tolerance and enhanced fruit quality.”

To learn more about VitisGen, click HERE!

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good example of citizen science

posted December 31, 2015

The Practical Farmers of Iowa have released their latest study on the effects of apple cider vinegar supplementation in feeder pigs.

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Apple cider vinegar is held to being a health tonic that promotes beneficial gut bacteria, improves digestion of feedstuffs, enhances performance, and helps decrease parasite load. PFI cooperator, Tom Frantzen, supplemented three groups of pigs with apple cider vinegar and measured feed intake, average daily gain, feed efficiency and return over feed costs compared to pigs not supplemented.

Key findings

  • Pigs supplemented with apple cider vinegar were observed to have a sleeker coat, improved vitality and looked healthier than those not receiving apple cider vinegar.
  • Pigs supplemented with apple cider vinegar tended towards increased feed intake and average daily gains, higher carcass yields, better feed efficiency, and higher profits.

To read the full report, click HERE!


accessing data in genebanks

posted December 31, 2015

DivSeek aims to unlock the potential of crop diversity stored in genebanks around the globe and make it available to all so that it can be utilized to enhance the productivity, sustainability and resilience of crops and agricultural systems. This will help to bridge the gap between the information requirements of genebank curators, plant breeders and more targeted upstream biological researchers, to support applied germplasm curation, forward-looking breeding programs and strategic research.

The DivSeek initiative will work with existing, emerging and future initiatives to characterize crop diversity and develop a unified, coordinated and cohesive information management platform to provide easy access to genotypic and phenotypic data associated with genebank germplasm.


global action plan for agricultural diversification

posted December 30, 2015

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From over half a million plant species on the planet, we currently rely on just four crops (wheat, rice, maize and soybean) for more than three-quarters of our food supply. These `major’ crops are grown in a limited number of exporting countries, usually as monocultures, and are
highly dependent on inputs such as fertiliser and irrigation. Over 7 billion people depend on the productivity of these major crops not just for their direct food needs but increasingly as raw materials for livestock and aquaculture feeds and bioenergy systems.
A global population approaching 9 billion people, living in a hotter world with scarce water and energy resources represent a `Perfect Storm’ for humanity. In these circumstances, the major crops alone may not be able to meet the world’s food and nutritional requirements. Even if crop yields can meet the food demands of a growing population, they may not provide
adequate nutrition. The double-burden of over and under-nutrition (Hidden Hunger) is a major concern. Nutrient-poor and energy-rich diets are linked with lack of dietary diversity

how to decolonize your diet: the importance of indigenous foods

posted December 30, 2015

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After Dr. Luz Calvo was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, she and Dr. Catrióna Esquibel, her partner, searched for an explanation.

Drawing on their experience as ethnic studies professors—and as Chicanas—they started examining the effects colonization has on a culture’s diet. Their findings? The all-American combination of carbs, sugar, and processed foods was making Latino immigrants sick, and repeating a harmful pattern they could trace throughout history.

Latin American food culture has been eroded by colonizing forces: Spanish missionaries forcing Mexicans to start eating bread and cheese instead of corn and beans, to white reformers in the 1920s who told immigrant Mexican mothers that feeding their children tortillas would lead to a life of crime, to Coca-Cola’s current obsession with marketing toward Latino youth. All has been to the detriment of both Latino health and culture.

I talked to Calvo and Esquibel talked about their new book, Decolonize Your Diet, the Latino Paradox, and what we can learn from Mesoamerica when it comes to agriculture. To read more by Shelby Pope, click HERE!



monsanto cancels building new industrial plant

posted December 30, 2015

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The Gazette, and Iowa City newspaper, recently published a story mentioning the “struggling farm economy” being the cause of the cancellation of a $90,000,000 Monsanto seed corn plant. The story can be found here, but one must ask the question: Is consumer awareness prohibiting the expansion of these GMO giants? Keep putting your money where your ethics are, dear shoppers.

As a supplement, take a look at the USDA’s Economic Research Service and you’ll see that the value of net production per acre for organic is nearly three times that of conventional.

Organic: $366.27 (Yield: 121 bushels per acre)

Conventional: $139.05 (Yield: 159 bushels per acre)

 

 

 


tech gentrification of san fransisco

posted December 30, 2015

San Francisco 2.0 is a documentary made by San Fransciscan, Alexandra Pelosi. She explores what gentrification has done to this wonderful and historically eclectic city.

What does gentrification create for the people of any city? What does it distract from? Watch this and think about it!

This is the free version of the documentary. You can watch more on HBO.


rockstar of southern california

posted December 28, 2015

Evan Marks – Local Legendz

We all have a vague sense that humans have a negative impact on the environment, but many of us push the thought to the backs of our minds and continue on with our days. When Evan Marks made that realization, he decided it was time to do something about it. Once he started getting involved in things like Surfrider Foundation, he learned that agriculture is a leading cause of pollution in the ocean and that’s when he got into sustainable agriculture. In this video, he takes us on a tour of The Ecology Center, his farm and resource “hut” in Orange County. He shows us that amazing things can happen when you “plant a seed of good intention,” and for that, he’s a Local Legend.

After you watch the video, head on over to theecologycenter.org to learn more about what they do and get involved in some of their upcoming events.