Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday Food Link-straveganza

Image sourced from Wikipedia

Well, we know bees are having a difficult time of it. And now its looking like neonicotinoid pesticides have a lot to do with it. Canada and Britain are both resisting the call to ban the neonicotinoids. The UK  Parliament’s  report on neonicotinoid pesticides and their effect on bees can be accessed here. The BBC commentary is here.

Source: Wikipedia

Over at, there's some comment on the new Ontario Medical Association report that looks at the link between antibiotic-resistant microbes and intensive livestock production. From localfoodplus:
According to the OMA’s report, “antibiotics are not as effective as they once were because bacteria are adapting to them … these resistant bacteria are germs that cause infections like pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and skin infections.”
“Patients are at risk of becoming sicker, taking longer to recover, and in some cases dying from previously treatable diseases,” said OMA president Doug Weir in the report’s press release.
This alarming medical regression poses a rising threat over both patients’ health and the healthcare system. Pointing to already visible Health Care expenses, the OMA cites the increasing costs of MRSA (which Mother Jones defines as “an often-deadly, antibiotic-resistant staph infection”)  at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.
In 2001, the presence of MRSA across Canada was estimated to cost $50 million; in 2010, the National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCCID) estimated that the costs would reach between $104-$187 million annually due to escalating  antibiotic resistance – more than double in approximately 10 years.
While the report lays some culpability upon individuals to use antibiotics more “responsibly” and doctors to “keep better track of [their] patients’ antibiotic histories,” the OMA points a looming finger in the direction on Ontario’s agri-business complex.
Currently, it’s standard practice in Ontario’s agricultural industry to administer antibiotics to healthy animals for the purpose of ‘disease prevention’ and ‘growth acceleration’ – a practice that the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF) defines as “intensive, non-therapeutic” antibiotic use.

Algeria famine 1869. Source: Wikipedia

The BBC has been reporting that the only thing we learn from the history of famnine is that we learn nothing from the history of famine--as detailed by the new report from UK think-tank Chatham House:
Famine early warning systems have a good track record of predicting food shortages but are poor at triggering early action, a report has concluded.
The study said the opportunity for early action was being missed by governments and humanitarian agencies.
It said the "disconnect" was starkly apparent in Somalia where no action was taken despite 11 months of warnings.
Up to two million people are estimated to have died in drought-related emergencies since 1970.
The report by UK think-tank Chatham House, Managing Famine Risk: Linking Early Warning to Early Action, looked at the issue of drought-related emergencies on a global scale but focused on the Horn of Africa and the Sahel regions.
"The regions are quite unique in a way because you have these droughts, where there are normally successive failed rains; then you have a process whereby you have subsequent harvest failures then people adopt coping strategies," explained report author Rob Bailey.
Hand of Fatima, Mali. source: Wikipedia

 At Foodfirst, Camille Vignerot and Tiffany Tsang  wrote a piece about the current food crisis in Mali.
Food crises have plagued Mali in recent years due to drought and recurring political conflicts.
The January 2012 massacre of Malian soldiers by armed Tuareg fighters in the far north precipitated the Malian coup in March of 2012 by the National Committee for Recovering Democracy and Restoring the State (NCRDRS). That and the subsequent struggle in the north of Mali involving two groups of Tuareg (Ansar Dine and the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad), both followed a severe drought in the 2011-2012 season.
In 2011, Mali received only one month of rain, compared to the usual three. As a result, only 11% of Mali’s farmers were able to save seed for the following year’s planting season. This cut the country’s 2012 seed supply by half, severely affecting the rice-growing area in the Mopti region. The drought forced pastoralists to move their animals north six months earlier than usual that year because of a lack of floodplain pasture along the Niger River. This led to overgrazing in northern pastures as usual staggered migrations were disrupted. Those pastoralists who did stay in the southern region were trapped between the sparse floodplains and the violent north. The increased grazing pressure on the land led to conflicts with farmers, especially in the Mopti region.
Leaving famine behind for the land of MOAR!, Michael Pollen is interviewed for the Center for Consumer Freedom.

Saltspring Island via Wikipedia
 Mussels are sustainably raised near here on Saltspring Island by Saltspring Island Mussels. (warning! site contains recipes!)
Also local are the ICC:
The Island Chefs Collaborative (icc) are a liked-minded community of chefs and food and beverage professionals with a common interest in regional food security, the preservation of farmland and the development of local food systems.
And of course if you haven't seen it yet, Bill Gates cracks me up with his Food is Ripe for Innovation essay over at
I’ve gotten to learn about several new food companies that are creating plant-based alternatives to meat through some monetary investments I’ve made with Khosla Ventures and Kleiner Perkins. Their products are at least as healthy as meat and are produced more sustainably.
But what makes them really interesting is their taste. Food scientists are now creating meat alternatives that truly taste like — and have the same “mouth feel” — as their nature-made counterparts (see two recipes below, for example).
Flavor and texture have been the biggest hurdles for most people in adopting meat alternatives. But companies like Beyond Meat, Hampton Creek Foods and Lyrical are doing some amazing things. Their actual recipes are secret, but the science is straightforward. By using pressure and precisely heating and cooling oils and plant proteins (like powdered soybeans and vegetable fiber), you can achieve the perfect flavor and texture of meat or eggs.
I tasted Beyond Meat’s chicken alternative, for example, and honestly couldn’t tell it from real chicken. Beyond Eggs, an egg alternative from Hampton Creek Foods, does away with the high cholesterol content of real eggs. Lyrical has drastically reduced fat in its non-dairy cheeses. Even things like salt are getting a makeover: Nu-Tek has found a way to make potassium chloride taste like salt (and nothing but salt) with only a fraction of the sodium.
All this innovation could be great news for people concerned about health problems related to overconsumption of fat, salt and cholesterol. It’s important too in light of the environmental impacts of large-scale meat and dairy production, with livestock estimated to produce nearly 51% of the world’s greenhouse gases.
The man should be doing stand-up....

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