[…] it’s almost impossible to believe the scale and complexity of the systems that undergird our lives. But just imagine opening your freezer and being able to see the true narrative of the foods inside. The story isn’t solely one of agriculture, of farmers picking the food, and tossing it in the back of the truck. There’s so much technology and transportation embedded in those frozen peas, all of which Twilley excavates.
And it’s not just the stuff in the freezer! “At least 70 percent of the food we eat each year passes through or is entirely dependent on the cold chain for its journey from farm to fork, including foods that, on the surface, seem unlikely candidates for refrigeration,” [Nocola] Twilley writes in introducing her show [Perishable: An Exploration of the Refrigerated Landscape of America]. ”Peanuts, for example, are stored between 34 and 41 degrees Fahrenheit in giant refrigerated warehouses across Georgia (which produces nearly half of the country’s peanut harvest).”
Or take potatoes. “An astonishing 80 percent of the nation’s potato output is cut, processed, frozen, bagged, and distributed as French fries,” she writes. Put another way, “Of the 36 lbs of potatoes eaten by the average American every year, 29 lbs are in the form of frozen French fries.” So, hypothetically, a change in the electricity markets, say, could require new ways of freezing potatoes, which could spark the search for new types of plants, and eventually lead to large-scale genetic differences between the potatoes we used to grow and the potatoes of the future. (Or as we would have written it in the 1950s, “THE POTATOES OF THE FUTURE.”) We didn’t get jetpacks, in part, because we were too busy building and refining the “artificial cryosphere,” as Twilley calls it.
These systems, by design and necessity, exist away from the cities, and even when they’re within cities, away from where the people are. You don’t see them unless you work there, and if you work there, you generally don’t get to tell the stories of the landscape in the popular press.
The best reason imaginable to grow your own food.
Foodspotting has been acquired by OpenTable, which looks like an amazingly smart pairing. Foodspotting will remain a separate website and application, but will be integrated into the OpenTable strategic direction:
Rest assured that Foodspotting will continue to live on as a standalone product, as OpenTable deeply values the Foodspotting community and your contributions. You’ll still be able to spot food anywhere in the world, from street food stalls to seven course meals. But you can also look forward to smarter recommendations, better restaurant information and a more visual, social and design-driven dining experience as we bring the best of Foodspotting to OpenTable.
Interesting that this happened just as the backlash to taking pictures in restaurants has reached a high pitch. Perhaps Foodspotting was seeing a slight decrease in use?
Mobile technology is changing the lives of farmers everywhere, which will play a fundamental role in the 70% increase of food production that is needed to support the projected 9 billion people by 2050.
Deanna Krinn via Seedstock
‘Connected Agriculture,’ the title of a recent report by Vodafone and Accenture seeks to highlight the growing importance of farmers’ access to mobile communication in isolated areas of some of the world’s poorest countries.
The report found that making mobile data services such as weather forecasts, commodity market information and mobile banking available to farmers in the developing world could potentially increase world farmers’ wages by an additional $138 billion by 2020. Such technology is especially important to farmers in these areas as they often lack the tools necessary to obtain accurate weather information for planting and harvesting, do not have access to information that would enable them to keep up-to-date with the most recent farming techniques, and are often confronted with the challenge of having to traveling to and from larger urban areas in order to complete simple banking transactions like obtaining micro-loans.
Check out the Hacking The Food System series on Food+Tech Connect:
Ellen Gustafson on Hacking the Food System: Eat Your Veggies
The food system is inextricably interconnected. The same companies that we buy our typical American dinner food from are involved in production and marketing of foods all around the world. Using technology and hacking the hard data of the global food trade, production, and consumption is absolutely essential for us to be able to understand how our own eating habits ARE effecting the world around us. Externalties in the environment, consequences of consolidation, and the human cost of trade need to be assessed in deeper, more meaningful ways so that we can really be confident that our food choices are good for both our health and the world around us.
Nicola Twilley on Hacking the Food System: Crowdsourcing What & Where Angelenos Eat
It takes millions and millions of tons of food to feed a city. Somehow, enough milk and produce and soda makes its way to, say, Los Angeles; somehow it all gets distributed — frequently unevenly. But no one actually knows where all that food comes from, who’s buying it, and from where.But now, for Foodprint LA, the Foodprint Project has teamed up with the Los Angeles Food Policy Council (convened by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa with the goal of creating a sustainable and equitable regional food system for Los Angeles) and Kullect (a new, free app that makes it easy and fun to organize and participate in mobile data collections), to use technology to learn more about what food Angelenos are buying, and where.
Emilie Baltz on Hacking the Food System: Story Corps for Food
My hope is to slowly bring to light the personal and unique flavors of the American culture and, in doing so, not simply create a more authentic narrative of our food culture, but also create awareness of the unique flavors, habits and emotional connections within communities. It is, in a sense, a metaphorical meal, a “Story Corps for Food”, around which we can gather, exchange and listen to diverse points of view.
Stowe Boyd on Hacking the Food System: Social Food- Taking Food Back From Corporations
I believe that we will start to see a new factor: social food cooperatives. Social tools will lead to an alternative food system to the extent that people choose to spend more time involved in the production and distribution of food. This does not mean that everyone will become a full-time farmer, but average people will begin to dedicate more time to local food production and distribution than they have in the past 50 years. This could entail growing food in a greenhouse with five other families, working at a food coop, or keeping chickens on the roof of your New York City brownstone and trading eggs for produce with neighbors.
Anthony Nicalo: Eliminating Information Asymmetry
We live in a backward world. A world where it is strange to know where our food comes from. Foods that are grown and processed without adulteration have to prove it, while the use of chemicals and manipulation do not have to be disclosed. Information and technology on the other hand can contribute to a better food system by eliminating information asymmetry. It only takes a couple of times choosing something you know the provenance of to remind you that it is actually bizarre to NOT know the source of your food.
Michael LaValle: Buckle Your Seatbelts
Much like the Arab Spring spreading across the Middle East, a youth driven movement has emerged in the United States dedicated to bringing the consumption of food back into the home. These new change-makers are smart, moving fast and having a real impact. From web-focused solutions harnessing the power of digital information to rooftop gardens creating uber-local produce, an assault on the entrenched food status quo is gaining momentum.
Elizabeth McVay Greene: Farm Profitability & Affordability of Food
To make lasting change in the agriculture and food sector, we need to prioritize two things: farms’ profitability and the affordability of food for households. We need to shift the balance of the consumer dollar to the farmer – the participant in the food system that serves the most critical function, takes on the most risk, and makes the choices that have the largest influence on the environmental, nutritional, flavor, and quality profile of the food we eat. The best way to do that is to give farms a way to sell their harvest directly to individuals.
John Bailey: The “Interoperability” of Data Systems
his “interoperability” between data systems is the key to hacking the food system, since GS1 standard data formats are used between proprietary systems where agricultural products are marketed. This does not require adding a second barcode, like a QR code, to the product packaging.
John Reinhardt & Bob Wall: Going Viral [Graphic]
This year we witnessed first hand the power of open source tools to quickly spread the word about food system policy and planning. When Sedgwick, Maine passed the first food sovereignty ordinance, Grown in the City created a map so that others could track this trend and see the start of a growing movement. We were surprised at how quickly the story spread, revealing the power of online tools to share knowledge in ways that delight users and inspire others to take action. The “food” crowd is definitely ready for more interaction with the “tech” crowd in the years to come.
Jamie Leo & Destin Layne: Hack Your Diet
By cultivating local connections among consumers and producers of fresh, sustainable food, Eat Well Guide helps you hack your diet through access to healthy locally grown food. Together with the spirit of independent farmers, businesses and other socially responsible partner organizations, Eat Well Guide’s collaborative technology harnesses the power of the web to effect social, environmental and economic change, mapping the route to a more sustainable food system.
Karl & Cara Rosaen: Find Food & Feel Good
People are increasingly aware of the pitfalls of our current food system. The question is, how do we fix it? One of the most powerful things we can do is change the way we eat. Everyday, we are given the opportunity to change the food system by voting with our wallets and our forks.
A ‘new’ freshwater fish is getting a buzz in South Florida, the Paiche, or arapaima, is popping up in hip restaurants and being toured as a sustainable alternative to sea bass and other fish.
Paiche is an air breathing fish, which makes it susceptible to harpooning, because they tend to remain near the water’s surface, where they hunt and emerge often to breathe with a distinctive coughing noise. I am hoping that the claims of sustainable farming are true:
Ina Paive Cordle, Seafood Sensation
A new freshwater fish has landed at select South Florida restaurants, offering diners a rewarding taste sensation and chefs a delectable and sustainable alternative to rival the popular Chilean sea bass.
The Amazone paiche (pronounced pie-ché) gives the health and environmentally conscious a farm-raised option for an endangered wild, prehistoric Peruvian fish, considered one of the largest river fish in the world.[…]
Artisanfish is the exclusive importer for the Americas of the Amazone brand of paiche. Amazone, which is part of a privately held Peruvian business group, is the only company aqua farming the fish, free of chemicals, hormones or contaminants, and with an aim to restore the species, Burstein said.
While paiche is just making its debut on plates locally, it is already a hit in France, the biggest market so far for Amazon paiche, he said.
Restoring the species because people have been hunting it to extinction, and it has been protected by International law for 20 years. I worry that the fish becoming the new hot thing will lead to a new wave of overhunting.
A sensible trend: farm-to-restaurant-table, where the farm is owned by the restaurant:
Liza de Guia via HuffPo
At Egg, the word “comfort” isn’t taken lightly, and diners who want a taste of the South done authentically and simply know to come, and keep coming back here. They’ve got homemade buttermilk biscuits & gravy, heaping servings of the tastiest grits, juicy fried chicken, Carolina kale, pulled pork, hot ham, pimento cheese and, of course, eggs, lots of eggs. Up until three years ago, the restaurant worked closely with local farmers to provide the fresh produce featured on their seasonal menus. Now, they are able to provide almost all the vegetables they need for their dishes from their own 6-acre farm, Goatfell Farm, located 2.5 hours from the restaurant in upstate New York - a personal, passion project that George [Weld, owner/chef] had been thinking about for many years.
I bet we will see hundreds of farm-to-table restaurants in NYC alone, in the next few years.
No CSA distribution this Wednesday - Hurricane destroys New Paltz area farms by Bed-Stuy Farm Share on Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 6:41pm
I am writing with some very unfortunate news from Hector Tejada, the farmer at Conuco Farm. While Hurricane Irene made its pass through NYC with little harm, it has and continues to wreak havok on the Hudson Valley. Conuco Farm, your vegetable producer for Bed-Stuy Farm Share’s Wednesday shares, is completely underwater due to flooding of the Wallkill River. It is unclear when the water will recede. We do not know the status of the produce that is underwater, but we hope that once the water goes down there will be some produce that is salvagable. That said, there will definitely be no Farm Share distribution this Wednesday, August 31st, and it is possible that there will not be farm share distribution for several weeks.
We will have a discussion with our fruit and egg farmers shortly to see if there is another way to bring their products into the city. Up to this point, Conuco Farm has graciously transported your eggs and fruit to the city each week. Considering their current situation, it is not possible to have them spend the gas money and time to transport a small delivery of fruit and eggs to us.
Thank you for your membership to this community supported agriculture (CSA) project. As you know when you signed your membership agreement, CSAs support farms for the full year. We always hope that our investment in these farms will help them have a great, bountiful year; but unfortunately sometimes Mother Nature or global warming or whatever you want to call it has a bigger impact that can be devastating. Thank you for your patience and understanding as CSA members to Conuco Farm. If you have any questions, please email email@example.com or call (646) 389-1783. We will get back to you as soon as possible.
Lauren Melodia, Core Member
Bed-Stuy Farm Share
I think that all of the most successful companies of the next 20 years will be software-driven, and will act like software companies, not like energy, media, or finance companies of the last economic era.