When faced with something overwhelming, terrifying, or incomprehensible, the human mind can get pretty creative. This week on Sea Change Radio, we speak to author Frederick Kaufman about the common threads running through pandemics, money, and food systems: namely, conspiracy theories. First, we look at the parallels between the COVID-19 pandemic and the yellow fever that swept through this newly formed country in the 1790s, and how it contributed to some wild theories at the time, including the Illuminati. Then, we get a sneak peak at Kaufman’s upcoming book, “The Money Plot,” where he describes how frustration in trying to grasp the complexity of financial systems can also lead to unsubstantiated explanations, sometimes with very bloody outcomes. Lastly, we discuss how the corporate food industry has orchestrated a bit of a panic in order to maximize profits, taking advantage of this global pandemic.
For many, along with all that good cheer, the holidays bring a bunch of food-related conundrums: what to bring to the pot luck, what to eat and not eat at the company party, what gifts to buy for our culinary-focused friends and family, and how to be ecologically responsible without compromising taste. This week on Sea Change Radio, we speak with a food expert who can help solve these holiday food puzzlers. Gigi Berardi is a professor of food studies and geography at Western Washington University. Her new book, FoodWISE lays out ways to make better decisions about what we eat. We discuss the differences between frozen and canned foods, take a look at “Big Organic,” and examine how the food industry’s misuse of the word “healthy” has warped its meaning.
You’re walking the aisles of your local grocery store, picking out fresh ingredients for dinner — you get to the counter, pay for it, bag it, and you’re off. Pretty simple, right? Well, that little mindless exchange was the product of thousands of years of human development. There was a time, not that long ago, when acquiring what you needed to survive entailed far more individual effort. This week on Sea Change Radio, we speak to Kevin Walker about his new book, The Grand Food Bargain, to learn about the ups and downs of all this food abundance. We take a look back at how we got here, some of the unforeseen outcomes from this grand bargain, and what we ought to do moving forward. You may just take a step back in wonder the next time you go to the store for a loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter.
Food. It is as necessary as air and water. But the systems around food production and distribution have created a good deal of distance between ourselves and our food sources. Our guest today on Sea Change radio believes that food represents a wonderful, if somewhat untapped, opportunity for human connection. Colorado State University sociology professor Michael Carolan joins us to discuss food as a social enterprise and his new book, “No One Eats Alone.” We discuss how human connection is often lacking in modern food movements, talk about what it means to be a better “food citizen,” and define and explore what Carolan calls “foodscapes.”
When life gives you lemons they say to make lemonade. And what if life gives you sewage released into an enclosed bay, what can you make? Certainly not lemonade, right? Our guest today on Sea Change Radio is NASA scientist and UC Santa Cruz professor, Jonathan Trent. He has figured out how to use algae to turn wastewater pollution into biofuel. This ambitious project, called Offshore Membrane Enclosures for Growing Algae (or OMEGA) not only places algae where it can consume waste and excrete oils for fuel, it also creates spaces for low-impact aquaculture, captures CO2, and cleans pollutants out of bays.
The technology also converts wastewater to drinking water, which, with a little lemon and sugar could even be used to make, you guessed it, lemonade. Listen now as host Alex Wise talks with Dr. Trent, an inventor, pioneer, and visionary whose OMEGA project offers hope for fuel, food, water, and a cleaner world.
Here’s a little exercise: take a pen and a blank piece of paper and write down everything you know about nano-technology. If you do this, you may find your essay to be pretty brief. You could take comfort to know you’re not alone in your ignorance of nano-technology. But perhaps you should not be feeling so comforted. In a 2013 Orion Magazine article, “Pandora’s Boxes,” this week’s guest on Sea Change Radio, journalist Heather Millar, points out that nanoparticles are ubiquitous.
They are used in everyday products: making hair dryers hotter, toothpaste whiter, sunscreen more transparent, and clothing more stain-resistant. They are also, of course, in the food we eat as additives, pesticides and other hidden ingredients. But what exactly are nanoparticles? Are they harmful or beneficial? Are you wearing some right now? Millar shows us that while there are not adequate answers to many of these questions, they need to be asked. Still, at the end of her discussion with host Alex Wise, you may remain unsure about whether to be afraid of nanoparticle technology or not. In the words of Marie Curie: “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”
Cruelty free products abound in our 21st Century market place, from cosmetics to fake fur. But can you imagine a cruelty free filet mignon? It sounds like an oxymoron, or the stuff of a wacky sci-fi flick. But, as this week’s guest on Sea Change Radio explains, lab-grown meat is here and could hit the shelves within your lifetime. Continue reading
Remember when President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, and “empathy” was transformed by some political commentators into a dirty word? This week on Sea Change Radio, we talk to two giants in their respective fields who think empathy is probably pretty important, especially when it comes to policy.
First, host Alex Wise talks to Marion Nestle, a noted nutritionist and author whose latest book digs into the power of cartoons to drive home complex arguments for fighting food insecurity issues in this country. Next, progressive linguist extraordinaire George Lakoff discusses how liberals need to improve their messaging to convince people that policies that help people are actually a good idea.
Back in 2010 we had entomologist John Hafernik on Sea Change Radio to explain what was going on with the honey bees and colony collapse disorder. Today’s guest, Hannah Nordhaus, picks up where Dr. Hafernik left off, with her new book, “The Beekeeper’s Lament.”
In the book, Nordhaus profiles an industrial beekeeper, examines the close tie between almond cultivation and the honeybee population, and details the current research on colony collapse disorder. Later on in the show, host Alex Wise speaks with the founders of a new company called Earth Starter who have developed an easier way to grow your own food that can turn even an inattentive gardener into a successful producer of fruits, vegetables and complementary flowers.
[amazon-product align=”left”]0470631929[/amazon-product]We often hear about the resource curse in developing countries in terms of oil or precious minerals — most of us don’t associate the concept with food. But as this week’s guest on Sea Change Radio, food journalist Frederick Kaufman, has chronicled, in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa the resource of fertile land is being exploited in a way that is reminiscent of how other marketable resources have been appropriated.
Multinational companies and foreign governments are buying up mass tracts of land in poorer nations, growing food on that land, but then shipping all of it off elsewhere, depriving the populations of those countries both the resource and the profit it garnered. Kaufman explores how this reflects a change in global food security patterns, and offers his take on how enormous financial institutions like Goldman Sachs are reaping profits while others starve.