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California grows a mind-boggling amount of the nation’s produce: 99 per cent of artichokes, 97 per cent of kiwis, 97 per cent of plums, 95 per cent of celery and on and on. That’s why the record-breaking drought in the US (yes, it’s finally raining — no, it won’t help much!) can affect shopping bills, even if people live nowhere near California. But with almonds — the state’s most lucrative agricultural export — the effect could reverberate for years.
You have never seen a menhaden, but you have eaten one. Although no one sits down to a plate of these silvery, bug-eyed, foot-long fish at a seafood restaurant, menhaden travel through the human food chain mostly undetected in the bodies of other species, hidden in salmon, pork, onions and many other foods.
In the days before Home Depot paint departments, people splashed colour onto their walls the old fashioned way: using a mixture of pigment, lime and milk. Now, one Northern California farm is reviving this ancient tradition with the help of its resident goat herds.
To grow mushrooms is to let things rot, so something’s a lot of things are rotten in the US state of Pennsylvania. The Atlantic’s deep dive into the dark side of truffles last week got us wondering about their more prosaic cousins: the portobellos and white buttons you find shrink-wrapped at the supermarket.
And, yes, we do mean “literally.” But, before getting into the physics of it, let’s take a minute to imagine what a maple syrup farm today looks like. Tall maples, snowy woods — pretty much an idyllic New England scene. A recent scientific discovery, however, means that forests of mature trees could be replaced by fields of dense saplings, much like the row crops of Big Ag. No longer would maple syrup be a product of the wild. No longer would it have to abide by the rhythms of nature.
Among the things I found mortifying about my parents when I was a teenager was their habit of leaving buckets of pee in the bathroom. Instead of flushing all that phosphorous- and nitrogen-rich urine down the toilet, they saved it for our backyard vegetable garden. Pee as fertiliser has since — contrary to everything my teenage self wanted to believe — become a hip idea among some eco-minded backyard farmers.
At first, it’s kind of charming. Look how well the Swiss treat their cows! A helicopter is dispatched just to carry an injured bovine stuck in the mountains! It’s not an uncommon sight in the Alps, either: in Switzerland, insurance that covers helicopter evacuation for your family also includes your cows.