Forego a hamburger, feed a person

Steaks by Robert Burns of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service via Flickr.

I eat meat. More specifically, I eat feedlot beef from major supermarket chains and generally enjoy it. Nonetheless, the implications of a recent study have me questioning whether I will eat meat in the future. In their paper, Redefining agricultural yields: from tonnes to people nourished per hectare, Cassidy et al. present the case that we could feed an additional 4 billion people by growing food for people rather than for livestock. We could do this because feeding crops to livestock is inherently an inefficient way to feed people. In the U.S. (worst case country in this paper), only 1/3

Menu Overhaulin’

parfait

I just graduated this spring from UW-Madison’s Dietetics program. For three years while I was in school, I worked for the Kids Center at the Madison Veterans Affairs Hospital. Back in February 2013, I was given the authority to completely revamp the menu at the VA Kids Center. You must understand that this decision was momentous! For the past seven years, the Kids Center had been operating with a menu inspired by the Great Depression era and pre-World War II rations. Mmmm, there’s nothing like a warm bowl of white rice for breakfast. There was an incredible amount of eggs

Q&A with Haven Baker on Simplot’s Innate™ Potatoes

Potatoes-brown800

There’s a new genetically engineered potato in town that doesn’t brown when cut or fried, nor does it make acrylamide. J. R. Simplot Company petitioned the USDA to deregulate their Innate™ potatoes, and the public comment period has just been opened up on that petition. We sent Simplot some questions about their new potatoes and the technology used to make them, and their Vice President of Plant Sciences, Haven Baker, was happy to respond. Here is that interview, and if you have more questions about it feel free to ask more, as we have asked Haven to stick around

Growing Plants on the Moon and Mars

frank-lunar

Gene Giacomelli brought his research group’s Lunar Greenhouse to the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) 2013 Convention at McCormick Place in Chicago. Built in Arizona, this greenhouse can be set up underground on the Moon or Mars to grow food, cycle nutrients, and produce oxygen. It can produce one salad per day and also provide a place for astronauts to de-stress. One is currently being used by the scientists who live in Antarctica to grow fresh veggies! Frank also got to go inside to take a look.

Saving coffee from a serious plant disease

A Brazillian coffee farmer

Some of the world’s best coffee comes from the tropical highlands of Central and South America.  Recently these regions have experienced heavier rainfall.  This is probably due to climate change, but in any case it fosters severe epidemics of the Coffee Leaf Rust pathogen, Hemileia vastatrix.   This disease has a long history of disrupting coffee production around the world.  One reason the English drink tea is that the Ceylonese and Javan coffee plantations which once supplied them were devastated by this same fungus in the late 1800s.  Coffee production was moved to the Americas (among other places) and it wasn’t