food systems & design

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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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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How much is a school garden worth?

One in nine Americans already relies on federal food stamps to help buy groceries – a startling number that will grow as unemployment rises. At the same time, medical spending on obesity – a major cause of diabetes, stroke and heart attacks – reached $147 billion in 2008, an 87 percent increase in a decade. […]

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From permaculture punks to anaerobic digesters

I came across a fascinating essay about permaculture and energy descent in Mexico that introduces me for the first time to the existence of so-called permaculture punks in Mexico City. Its author, Holger Hieronimi, has spent the last seven years developing a permaculture based homestead there- so he knows the difference between theory and practise. […]

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Urban farming: the new dot com?

In September a new event called Agriculture 2.0 will introduce a select group of alternative agriculture entrepreneurs to investors. SPIN-Farming LLC, together with NewSeed Advisors will co-host Agriculture 2.0 in New York. Roxanne Christensen, co-author of the SPIN-Farming online learning series, says a wave of innovators is developing profitable models for sustainable alternatives to industrial […]

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Dodo and chips

Before my recent visit to Helsinki, I was told by one of its members, Päivi Raivio, that I needed to know about an environmental organisation there called Dodo. And so it transpired that I was taken in conditions of some secrecy to this guerilla potato planting event. Given the generous volume of soil the team […]

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