What a ‘Tree of 40 Fruit’ Tells Us About Agricultural Evolution

Compass, Mirabelle, Long John, and Early Golden—they’re not a fleet of ships headed for the high seas. These are actually a few of the plum varieties artist Sam Van Aken worked with while creating his “Tree of 40 Fruit,” which as its name suggests, bears 40 varieties of stone fruit, including plums, peaches, nectarines, apricots, and cherries.

At its core, this tree is art. Van Aken was inspired by the idea of a hoax, which he says “transforms reality.” He hopes, as he explains in the video, that people would stumble upon the tree and wonder. “Why are the leaves shaped differently? Why are they different colors?” In ...

Want to Know if Your Food Was Tested on Animals? Good Luck.

Animal rights activists are warning consumers that foods advertised as healthy might have something else surprising in common: animal testing. What’s more, there’s almost no way to know for sure.

Experimenting on animals has become more common for food companies in the last decade, says Justin Goodman, director of the laboratory investigations department at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a group actively engaged in ending animal testing. And those tests, he says, are “almost exclusively to establish marketing claims.”

As reported by National Geographic earlier this month, pasta company Barilla banned animal testing after being criticized for contracting out experiments to assess whether consumption of durum wheat ...

Grain Farmers Join Forces With Suburbanites, Both Flourish

Crops don’t grow under concrete. And fescue won’t feed people.

Development is a problem facing American food growers. According to one report, farm and ranch land is disappearing at a rate of 50 acres per hour.

But in central Washington, one family has found a way to use rural development to its advantage. Sam and Brooke Lucy own Bluebird Grain Farms, a company that plants and harvests 280 acres. But they don’t own their own farmland. They lease it from second homeowners. Here's how it works:

The Methow Valley is a vacation spot for Seattleites. In the ...

A Craft Booze Boom Begins in Minnesota

I wasn't expecting cocktails when I climbed out of my car on an industrial side street on the Northeast side of Minneapolis. I wasn't, in fact, thinking about drinking at all: I was on my way to my favorite knife shop, and booze and sharp edges don't mix. But as I glanced across the street to check for traffic, an unfamiliar scent drifted past me. It wasn't truck exhaust or road tar, the normal smells for that part of town. It was yeasty and sweet, with an undertone of burnt sugar and a top note of evergreens and lemon. I swiveled, wondering what the source might be, and ...

A Cut By Any Other Name: Secrets of the Butcher

Butchery is a skill as old as hunting itself, but now, butchers are undergoing a PR renaissance. And it virtually removes animals from the picture.

TV shows and articles about butchery are usually pretty devoid of actual meat cutting, focusing rather on charcuterie aging, butchery restaurants, or cooking techniques.

The thing is, the thoughtful creation of cuts of steak to maximize taste and value and use every part of an animal can vary widely among talented people around the world, from Korea to Uruguay, and even across America. Every butcher will tell you her way is the best.

Last month I had to feed a crowd on a dime. Pam ...

Syrian Refugees Find Comfort, Humanity in the Ritual of Cooking

Before fleeing his hometown in Northern Syria, Ghalib* sat down to enjoy one final home-cooked meal: a chicken, potato, and tomato dish known as galaya. Ghalib, in his early twenties, now lives as a refugee in Jordan, where he works illegally as a construction worker and a doorman.

In Syria, Ghalib had managed to temporarily avoid trouble during the conflict by serving in Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian Army. That all changed when one night, when Ghalib, from his watch post, saw a stranger take out a knife and kill a local woman. Ghalib shot and killed the man. But it turned out the man Ghalib shot was a ...

Your Shot: Rice, From the Paddy to Your Plate

If you’re not a rice farmer, chances are you give little thought to how the grains accompanying your curry, gumbo, or stir fry ended up on your plate. But humans have been growing rice for thousands of years on mountaintops, hillsides, and plains across the globe. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that there’s no scientific consensus on where the crop was first domesticated, with competing claims coming from India, China, and Southeast Asia.

Wherever it came from, rice is one of the planet's most important staple foods, along with corn and wheat. Billions of people eat rice at least once a day, either as whole grains or as noodles, ...

The Chemistry of Barbecue and You

According to the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association (HPBA), about 80 percent of American households own barbecue grills. Most popular days for grilling, says the HPBA, are Labor Day, Memorial Day, and the Fourth of July—though a good 60 percent of grill owners grill steadily year-round, undeterred by snow, rain, heat, or gloom of night. Real enthusiasts even cook their Thanksgiving turkeys and Christmas dinners on the barbecue grill. And Americans are not the only ones who love a flame-broiled meal (see Getting Our Global Grill On.)

So what is it about grilling that makes food so yummy? Why is boiled beef so blah, but its ...

Let Go My Krembo: 4 Snacks to Bring an Israeli Childhood Back

When it comes to junk food, memory can play a big role in taste. For example, there are certain snack foods I’ve found recently in the U.S. that take me right back to my childhood on the Mediterranean Coast, in a small town 30 minutes south of Tel Aviv.

As kids, my friends and I would drop by the neighborhood grocer to fill up on sweets and snacks after school, or in between jumping rope in the street. And it’s these memories I think of when I see Krembo, Bamba, and others on the shelves of a market in the States.

Many Americans may be unfamiliar with these exotic-sounding treats, so here’s a ...

Your Shot: Hot Dog Photos From a Former Hot Dog

Thursday is National Hot Dog Day.

As a photo editor, I figured the best way to promote it is with pictures...pictures of hot dogs.

I feel like I have an obligation here, and it goes beyond my current occupation. When I was in college, my roommate interned at a local television station. She told me I could make $20 an hour if I dressed up in an Oscar Mayer Wiener costume and hung out in front of the Wienermobile. We spent many hours at amusement parks, fairs, and mini-golf courses. Fortunately (for me), I don't have any photos from this time to share with you. But fortunately (for all of us), ...

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