Brainfood: Food shift, Food footprint, Periodic Table of Food, Nutritious food, Diverse food, Food seed kits, Food meta-metrics

Giving a fig

Jeremy’s latest newsletter is out, with a medium-deep dive on a deep dive on figs. There’s more on FIGGEN here. And FYI, Genesys shows about 1500 fig accessions in genebanks.

AramcoWorld is a glossy publication from the Saudi oil giant that covers all sorts of topics generally linked to the Muslim world. In the latest issue a deep dive into fig diversity. For the scientifically inclined, FIGGEN is a cooperative effort to collect figs wild and cultivated and decode links between DNA and desirable qualities. The heart of the story, however, is the Tunisian farmers working to keep ahead of the climate emergency by changing the varieties they grow and the ways they grow them.

Read it, and you too will be able to speak knowledgeably about caprification, and if you can find an etymology beyond something like goat figs, do let me know.

An award for conserving seeds

Did you have to develop new methods to clean the seed? Is it one of the longest cleaning or dormancy breaking processes? Was it the first time your species was germinated in a collection and unique germination methods had to be found?

The catch is that the “you” has to be a botanic garden, but I do like the idea of the Global Seed Conservation Challenge Awards. The above is just one of six different categories. A few more days only for nominations, so get cracking.

What IS wrong with biofortification?

Well, it all started with a paper with more or less that title from Maarten van Ginkel & Jeremy Cherfas last year. Their answer was that biofortification doesn’t work, costs yield and risks genetic uniformity. Ouch. So what to do? Diversify diets, of course.

That was followed by a rebuttal from Prasanna Boddupalli, Jill Cairns and Natalia Palacios-Rojas of CIMMYT. Unfortunately, their letter is not open access, but if you want to know what van Ginkel and Cherfas think of their arguments, they’ve just published a counter:

In conclusion, the charges raised by Boddupalli et al. are exactly those we would expect to be motivated by concerns about funding rather than by an interest in scientific research to benefit farmers and consumers. This emphasis on biofortification as even part of the solution to the continuing problem of hidden hunger inhibits the alternative we presented; a holistic approach based on diversified, nutritious, nutrient dense, sustainable, affordable diets that can address hidden hunger effectively to deliver better health.

This will run and run.