Brainfood: 100 plant science questions, Biodiversity data, Cropland expansion double, CC & yields, Crop diversity & stability, Nutritious crops double, Feminist markets

Nibbles: Robert Chambers, Zero Hunger, China genebank, Spanish bacteria, Harnessing diversity

  1. There’s a celebration of the thinking of Robert Chambers over at IDS Bulletin. He’s been advocating for participation in development and the importance of Indigenous knowledge, among other things, for 50 years.
  2. The Center on Global Food and Agriculture has a report out called “Defining the Path to Zero Hunger in an Equitable World” which basically tries to add humanitarian assistance to the old food-climate-biodiversity nexus. Crop diversity is nowhere to be found among the “catalyzing ideas,” but one of those is investing in “force multipliers,” and that includes agricultural research and development. Participatory agricultural research and development, presumably?
  3. Meanwhile, China has collected 124,000 crop diversity samples.
  4. And a Spanish microbiologist has collected 3,600 bacteria.
  5. The PNAS Special feature: Harnessing crop diversity, organized by Susan McCouch, Loren Rieseberg and Pamela Ronald, got a nice write-up in the latest Plant Science Research Weekly. But what would Robert Chambers say? Anyway, should I do a special Brainfood on it? Let me know in the comments, as the cool kids say.

Nibbles: Wild tomatoes, Ghana genebank, India livestock census, USDA coffee breeding, Native Americans & their horses

  1. It’s pretty rare to have a mainstream media piece on the use of crop wild relatives for climate change adaptation but here we have an example with tomato, so make the most of it. There’s an interesting wrinkle though, so more to come, time permitting.
  2. It’s even rarer to see a mainstream media piece on genebank staff getting trained. What’s going on out there?
  3. Not exactly mainstream media, but how many times have you seen an official government press release on its livestock censuses? Anyway, India’s last one was carried out in 2019 and covered 184 breeds of 16 species. Wonder where the data is.
  4. Speaking of government press releases, here’s one from USDA announcing that it has joined a coffee breeding network. Well, I for one think it’s important.
  5. And staying in the USA, you know how you read in mainstream textbooks that Native Americans got horses from retreating Spanish colonists after the Pueblo Revolt? And you know how Native Americans have been saying that’s not what they think happened? How rare is it that a scientific paper involving Indigenous authors overturns a mainstream historical narrative and is splashed all over the mainstream media? Very rare, that’s how rare.

Nibbles: Food tree, Wild chocolate, Cacao, Cassava in Africa, Indigenous ABS, Abbasid food, Valuing trees

  1. Gastropod episode on The Fruit that Could Save the World. Any guesses what that might be?
  2. Atlas Obscura podcast on an apparently now famous wild-harvested chocolate from Bolivia. But how wild is it really?
  3. BBC podcast on cacao for balance.
  4. Forbes touts an African cassava revolution. What, no podcast?
  5. Very interesting piece from the ever reliable Modern Farmer on how a small seed company called Fedco Seeds designated a bunch of maize landraces as “indigenously stewarded,” and are paying 10% of what they make from the sale of their seeds to a pooled Indigenous fund which goes to support a local, multi-tribal project called Nibezun. A sort of mini-MLS? Definitely worth a podcast. Any takers?
  6. A long but rewarding article in New Lines Magazine describes medieval cookbooks from the Abbasid caliphate. The recipes make up for the somewhat stilted podcast.
  7. BGCI publication on how the Morton Arboretum works out whether it should be growing a particular population or species of tree. The trick is to quantify 5 types of “value”: environmental, evolutionary, genetic diversity, horticultural, conservation. Though one could also consider hostorical/cultural, educational and economic value as well. I suspect in the end it comes down to whether it looks nice in an available gap. If I were to do a podcast on this, I’d test it out with the tree in the first of these Nibbles.

Brainfood: Human diversity, Wild rye, Caribbean cassava, Three Sisters, Old beer, Old apples, Feral crops, Crop resynthesis