Africa and China Agriculture: The New Breadbasket?

While America’s great food debate rages on—Organic? Sustainable? Traceable? Local?—mass agriculture’s technological future might not lie in our hands at all, but in the potential new-breadbasket alliance between China and African nations.

At the African Union Summit, which ended its session on Friday, the theme was “Agriculture and Food Security in Africa.” Africa has 60 percent of the world’s land capable of growing crops, and at a time when farmland is disappearing, such a statistic is particularly interesting to a country with a rapidly expanding economy, cash to invest, and a need for more space. At the World Economic Forum on Africa

Can Farms Reduce Antibiotic Use? Dutch Farms Did

Routine antibiotic use—giving meat animals small doses of antibiotics every day of their lives—is a cornerstone of modern livestock raising.

That has been true since the 1950s, the very beginning of the antibiotic era, and it’s only in the past decade that the practice has been seriously called into question as a matter of agricultural policy.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration struggled for decades to remove the smallest antibiotic doses—known as “growth promoters” because they cause animals to reach market weight faster—from meat production. It never succeeded. Last year, the agency took a different tack, creating voluntary restrictions whose primary impact is on veterinary-pharma ...

Teresa Ocampo: The “Julia Child of Peru”

Peru gave the world potatoes. It also gave us ceviche, quinoa, and pisco, a high-octane brandy made from grapes.

Tinged with Incan influences as well as Spanish, Chinese, and Italian, Peruvian food reflects the Andean country’s multicultural past. It reflects the landscape too—mountains, coast, desert, and rain forest—and, because of this diversity, Peru is gaining recognition as the home of one of the world’s most important cuisines.

This comes as no surprise to a woman named Teresa Ocampo. A native of Cusco now in her 80s, Ocampo has spent her life making Peruvian food accessible to countless home cooks. She is a culinary icon in her country, so beloved ...

Big-Government Programs for Small Farmers

Sometimes I love being a taxpayer; ok, sometimes I don’t mind.

The United States Department of Agriculture earlier this year rolled out a series of programs aimed at supporting small-scale farmers and farmers who are part of their local food system. We can all imagine a thousand reasons (most political) that such program are implemented. But let’s assume positive intentions and focus on the reasons and effects that involve a sincere government attempt to mend a broken food structure that cannot healthily feed a planet growing to 9 billion by 2050.

Back in April, USDA announced $20 million annually ...

José Andrés: Man vs. Lionfish

Scuba diving has changed my life. There, I said it.

I always thought I was a man of the sea, having traveled the oceans with the Spanish Navy on the most beautiful tall ship in the world, the Juan Sebastián de Elcano.  But it wasn’t until I put on the mask, the tank, the flippers, and headed way down into the water, was I able to truly see a world I never knew existed. (more…)

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Agrihood

The irony is not lost on me: 200 years ago my ancestors subsistence farmed, and now I’m spending $400 to send my 6-year-old to a week of farm camp to pick lettuce under the hot sun.

As modern humans become increasingly removed from the production and preparation of meals, more people go to extremes to satisfy their cravings for community through food. For those for whom a chicken rental (if you don’t care to commit to a permanent coop in the backyard) simply doesn’t scratch the itch, companies are now creating entire housing developments centered on farming.

Is Fat Our Friend?

One day, not long after we got together, my husband opened the refrigerator after I had carried in some groceries. He leaned in to reach for something; stopped, arrested by something else he had spotted; frowned; and picked up a bottle of milk.

He put it on the counter. He called to me in my office. The conversation went something like this:

Him: “What is this?”
Me (puzzled at what seems self-evident): “It’s milk.”
Him: “It’s skim milk.”
Me (even more puzzled): “That’s what I said. It’s milk.”
Him (taking a deep breath): “Skim milk… is not milk.(more…)

Can a Computer Cook?

Computers, it seems, have been edging up on us ever since the early 1800s, when Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace collaborated on the Difference Engine, the first mechanical computing machine.

In the 1957 movie Desk Set, brainy Katharine Hepburn trounced a version of ENIAC, the world’s first electronic general-purpose computer—she was far better than it at recalling the names of Santa’s reindeer—but since then it seems to have been all downhill for the human race. (more…)

Will Online Shopping Be the Death of Grocery Stores?

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: New technology is the death knell for a pillar of society’s infrastructure and will disrupt an industry worth billions of dollars.

Wherever you vacation this summer, there’s likely to be a grocery store. Until recently food delivery technology has remained relatively stagnant, with large stores’ services like Peapod remaining unchanged.

Recent developments in smart appliances and the internet of things, alongside digital natives aging into their years as primary household food shoppers, is attracting a flood of venture capital into food technology. New money is nurturing a bumper crop of fresh grocery ...

Show More Stories