food systems & design

Kick-off!

This was a first for me: witnessing first-hand a Kickstarter project cross the line and go live. The happy guy with the phone [in Claire Hartten’s garden in Brooklyn] is Tyler Caruso, joint founder [with Erik Facteau] of Seeing Green: The Value of Urban Agriculture. Their project is a year-long research effort to measure the […]

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Alternative trade networks and the coffee system

Every day 1.5 billion cups of coffee are drunk somewhere in the world – quite a few of them in this house – but few of us in the North know much about the 25 million families that grow and produce this valuable bean. After reading a new book called Confronting The Coffee Crisis I […]

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You can’t grow food with an iphone app – –

– – but Tana Sprague *can* sample the sounds of Caciocavallo cheese maturing. I was curious, when I first heard about it, as to the meaning of ‘’Rurality 2.0′ – the theme of the Interferenze festival in Italy last week. So now I know. It would miss the point to ask “why?” – and besides: […]

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The big chill

Shopping for a snack in central London yesterday evening I counted an extraordinary 78 metres (256 feet) of chiller cabinets in one small central London branch of Marks and Spencer. Marks and Spencer have made a laudable commitment to make all it UK and Irish operations carbon neutral within five years. “We’ll maximise our use […]

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Fish systems and design

A grim new film, The End of the Line, reveals the impact of overfishing on our oceans. It exposes the extent to which global stocks of fish are dwindling; features scientists who warn we could see the end of most seafood by 2048; and includes chefs and fishers who seem indiferent to the ecocidal consequences […]

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Whole, whole on the range

My toughest work this year has been serving on the jury of this year’s Buckminster Fuller Challenge. Our work has been demanding because we’ve had to assess high quality entries that range from the use of social media to organize urban food systems, and transforming Chicago into a giant water treatment machine; to helping Indian […]

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Eating animals

If Requiem for a Species (below) is shocking at an existential level, Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals hits you at the level of lunch. It’s no less gruelling for that. Among the in-your-face statements that pepper the text: “When we eat factory farmed meat we live literally on tortured meat..and put it into the mouths […]

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From FarmVille to TransitionVille

If I were a PsyOps specialist at Monsanto, I’d have invented FarmVille. More than 62 million people have signed up to play the Facebook game since it made its debut in June, with 22 million logging on at least once a day. It’s quickly become the most popular application in the history of Facebook. FarmVille […]

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Melons we can believe in

Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), told the US Congress last week that Japan’s debt path was out of control. Simon warned of “a real risk that Japan could end up in a major default”. [The IMF expects Japan’s gross public debt to reach 218pc of gross domestic product (GDP) […]

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