Olive oil spreads

There’s increasing recognition around the world that olive oil, as a key component of the so-called Mediterranean diet, is really good for you. The latest news is about its effect on ulcers. So obviously the traditional growing countries are trying to expand cultivation and production. But as this article points out, that’s not always so easy. Pity there’s nothing in the piece on varieties, though.


This story is not particularly agricultural, but I couldn’t resist it. Brazilian researchers extracted the essential oils from a Piper sp commonly eaten by bats and then smeared the stuff on plastic fruits, which they then distributed in areas of damaged rainforest. The bats were attracted to the fake fruits, though they wouldn’t normally fly in degraded forest. Why go to all this trouble? Because the bats spread lots of seeds via their faeces, and could thus be used to restore the vegetation.

Core blimey!

I spent the last few days in Portesham, Dorset (thanks, Lorna and Geoff!), which made it all the more weird to come across this article reprinted in a newspaper in Dubai, where I had to transit for a few hours on the way out there. But it does show that you can still discover (or re-discover) new things even in such a well-researched crop as apples in the UK. Of course, for every upbeat story, there’s a depressing one.

A hymn to horticulture

A web site in Pakistan carries an extended article in praise of horticulture for poverty alleviation. While one might quibble with some of the ideas in the article (is growing hydroponically for export really a good idea for poor marginal farmers?) one cannot argue with the general thrust of the piece: that growing fruit and vegetables can enrich peoples’ lives in more ways than money. Maybe the authors already know about the Global Horticulture Initiative, which seeks to promote horticulture around the world. If not, we’re pleased to effect an introduction. Just let us know what, if anything, comes of it.