How Corn—and the People Who Grow it—Will Change With the Climate

There's a paradox when you consider farming and climate change. Climate change may actually benefit some plants by lengthening growing seasons and increasing carbon dioxide, the lifeblood of anything that roots in the ground. Yet it's important not to get distracted by these changes, which researchers think would be marginally beneficial at best. The other effects of a warmer world, such as more pests, droughts, and flooding, will be far less benign. A 2013 study published by Science magazine says, "The stability of whole food systems may be at risk under climate change because of short-term variability in supply."

Trying to understand what that means for farmers requires an equation ...

Why There’s No Such Thing as Local Food

For anyone who looks for unsolicited advice about the food we eat, there is no shortage of suggestions. There are the people who say we should eat organic, or only natural crops, or foods never corrupted by genetic modification. There are the local foodists, the raw people, and the prehistoric dieters. Food sage Michael Pollan  says that if you want to be extra prudent, only eat the foods that your great-grandparents ate.

But when it comes to eating local, there’s really no such thing. The rationale for choosing food produced nearby chiefly refers to food miles—the long distances most food is shipped before arriving in your supermarket and, ultimately, your stomach (see 

Why Your Bloody Mary Tastes Better on a Plane

Who among us has never complained about airplane food?

Today’s in-flight offerings tend to be so common, so bland, so offensively inoffensive. The gluey chicken or the dense pasta? If the plastic tray offerings weren’t so good at breaking the monotony on an hours-long flight, the answer for most people, on the ground at least, would be "no thanks." Unless, oddly, it involves tomatoes. More on that in a minute.

But airline food has a deeper story. There’s a reason every item served on board, from ginger ale to a dinner roll, was chosen to fly. Each one tells a story about the history of flight and of human taste.

Take ...

Thanks to America, We’ve Reached Peak Avocado

Of all of Mexico’s contributions to the world that will be feted on Cinco de Mayo Tuesday, one is a fluke that owes its existence to elephants and rats.

Avocados are a strange anomaly that shouldn’t exist, and might have gone extinct thousands of years ago. Fruits evolved based on their ability to be spread, and avocados seeds are relics of a past era when giant elephant-like creatures would eat the seeds and poop them out. For the next two million years, avocados survived on the backs of rodents, just long enough for the Aztecs to come along and invent guacamole.

Most of the world’s avocados are grown in Mexico, ...

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