Modern Farmer http://modernfarmer.com Farm. Food. Life. Fri, 24 Apr 2015 20:45:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.2 The Furniture Farmer http://modernfarmer.com/2015/04/the-furniture-farmer/ http://modernfarmer.com/2015/04/the-furniture-farmer/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 20:45:58 +0000 http://modernfarmer.com/?p=35569

The 39-year-old calls it “botanical manufacturing” and it’s happening right now in a 2.5-acre field in Wirksworth, Derbyshire, England. There, willow, oak, ash and other tree varieties are being coaxed via a complex system of molds into taking on various shapes that will end up as furniture made without nails, glue or joins of any [...]

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Imagine a forest where trees turn themselves into chairs, lamps and mirror frames in a sustainable system that doesn’t leave a gaping hole in an old-growth forest, or a barren field after the trees have been harvested. Gavin Munro did, and then he made it a reality with his company Full Grown Ltd.

British furniture maker Gavin Munro stands with a lamp he grew.

British furniture maker Gavin Munro stands with a lamp he grew.

The 39-year-old calls it “botanical manufacturing” and it’s happening right now in a 2.5-acre field in Wirksworth, Derbyshire, England. There, willow, oak, ash and other tree varieties are being coaxed via a complex system of molds into taking on various shapes that will end up as furniture made without nails, glue or joins of any type—they will be connected via tree grafts.

Munro says they discovered early on “that an unhappy tree won’t do what you want, just because you want it to,” and will send offshoots in the direction it wants to grow, which is usually toward the light, or sprout a shoot near a graft. In order to keep them happy, he says they “nourish and nurture the trees, employing as many natural, permaculture and organic methods as we can, as optimum nutrition means optimum growth.”

After the furniture is harvested, Munro says the trees will again sprout new shoots and “continue to have a life,” and could be used again to grow more furniture.

“We think this method is kinder and less wasteful than planting a monocultural plantation of trees (with all those implications for biodiversity), growing for a specified lifetime, then chopping down, leaving an uncared-for, cleared area, with all the additional problems like desertification,” he tells Modern Farmer in an email.

He says it “makes more sense to grow trees directly into objects” since what we desire is “the beauty of wood.” He questions the practice of “growing trees for 60-plus years only to chop them up into little bits.” By bypassing the many processes that typically go into making furniture, Munro believes his company is about 75 percent more energy efficient than the traditional model.

“It’s early days, but it certainly appears to be considerably more sustainable,” he says.

It may be more sustainable, but Munro admits it’s a lengthy and time-consuming process. His willow chairs (which grow fast by tree standards) take between four and five years to complete, while an English Oak chair could take up to a decade. With one full-time and one part-time employee and a lot of work (100 trees have 1,000 branches that need to be cared for and 10,000 shoots that need to be pruned at just the right time, he says) Munro sometimes gets friends and family to help by plying them with his chili and cornbread, recipes he mastered while living in California.

Perhaps Munro’s ability to be patient had its roots in a childhood in which he spent a good deal of time recovering in bed after corrective spinal surgery.

“There were long periods of staying still and looking between all the people and the trees out of the window and plenty of time to observe everything going on and reflect,” he says.

Munro says they currently have 3,000 trees, but believes they will eventually thin down to about 1,500. So far they have only harvested the prototypes for the chair, pendant lamp and side table, but a batch of pendant lamps and mirror frames will be coming this year and will be ready for purchase by next spring. Chairs, floor lamps and some tables will be available by the fall of 2017.

“Theres also a prototype chair we’ll harvest this fall, too, and maybe, just maybe, a few other surprises,” he tells Modern Farmer.

He sees a lot of potential for the company’s growth (pun intended), but says it’s an idea that “develops in terms of years and decades. We plan on getting a few generations out before thinking about expansion, so it will be very limited numbers for some time yet.”

The limited number of his designs means that the furniture won’t come cheap. Pre-orders range between $700 for a mirror to $4,000 for a first-edition willow chair.

He says while his company is the first to make furniture this way and on this kind of scale, there is a long history of growing furniture that goes back to the ancient Chinese, Greeks and Egyptians, through the early 1900s when John ‘Dammit’ Krubsack planted the ‘Chair That Grew’ in Wisconsin, to the 1940s, when Axel Erlandson created a roadside attraction in California. Erlandson called his creation “The Tree Circus,” and it featured a variety of trees he had shaped into intricate designs. Munro says there are other people practicing this craft today, including Christopher Cattle and Peter Cook and Becky North. Cattle directly inspired Munro’s work, he says. There’s also Richard Reames, an “arborsculptor” from Oregon who creates “living” chairs and benches from trees.

Like many innovators of the past, Munro has received his fair share of naysayers who thought he was off his rocker (yes another intended pun, but this one is furniture-related).

“Plenty of people laughed at me—a few still think I’m crazy, but more importantly, some folk have gone full-circle and are now advocates,” Munro says.

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The Best Lil’ Goat Painter In Albuquerque http://modernfarmer.com/2015/04/the-best-lil-goat-painter-in-albuquerque/ http://modernfarmer.com/2015/04/the-best-lil-goat-painter-in-albuquerque/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 14:38:04 +0000 http://modernfarmer.com/?p=35554

He's a regular Paul Goatguin. (Some other news organization already used "Van Goat.")

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Bodie, a goat at the Albuquerque Botanic Garden, has to do something to keep busy, and that something is apparently painting. He's good at it, too, earning the praise of keepers and managing not to eat any of the paintbrushes.

Bodie, a 4-year-old goat residing in Albuquerque’s ABQ BioPark, has begun painting, or at least smearing paint on a canvas with a paintbrush held between his goaty teeth. Bodie is impressive both for his painting ability and for his ability to not eat the paintbrush, paint or canvas.

Animals in various forms of captivity, especially zoos, have all their bodily needs taken care of, which is why the lifespan of most animals is much longer in captivity than in the wild. (Large mammals like elephants, walruses, and orcas are the exception.) But there’s a larger ethical issue with captive animals than just their physical well-being: are they mentally fulfilled?

The solution is typically a technique called “enrichment,” in which the keepers figure out a way to stimulate an animal’s natural instincts. The animal might not need to use those instincts to survive, but without performing them, need or not, the animal might become depressed, lethargic or obese. This is why it’s recommended that you play with a cat, giving them something to chase. But with wild animals, it can be trickier.

Often the chosen method is an attempt to replicate how an animal would find food in the wild, that being probably the most pressing wild instinct. In the Bronx Zoo, for example, squirrel monkeys are given a big block of Jell-O with blueberries inside. The monkeys aren’t familiar with Jell-O, of course, but foraging for fruit is what they’d naturally be doing in the wild, so, theoretically, having the monkeys dig through Jell-O to find blueberries can keep the animals feeling comfortable and stimulated.

For some animals, enrichment techniques can take odd forms. Painting might seem particularly questionable, but having elephants paint has long been a way to stimulate the elephants’ need to carefully manipulate objects in small motions with their trunks. We’ve never seen a goat paint before, but the idea is the same: goats use their highly dexterous lips to feed and move objects, so why not have a goat paint as well?

Bodie has become a pretty big hit in Albuquerque; KRQE News has a great time filming him painting and saying “Van Goat” repeatedly. And, amazingly, the goat’s paintings, along with a host of other animal artworks, are actually for sale over at Weems Gallery, though you can’t seem to purchase them online. Still, Bodie seems like a regular Francisgoat de Goya! Paul Goatguin! Pablgoat Picassgoat! We could go on some more, but thankfully for all of us, we won’t.

Image via KRQE

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http://modernfarmer.com/2015/04/the-best-lil-goat-painter-in-albuquerque/feed/ 0 This Goat Is The Best Little Painter In Albuquerque - Modern Farmer Bodie, a four-year-old goat residing in Albuquerque's ABQ BioPark, has begun painting, or at least smearing paint on a canvas with a paintbrush held between his goaty teeth. Bodie is impressive both for his painting ability and for his ability to not eat the paintbrush, paint, or canvas. Often the m albuquerque,art,enrichment,Goats,zoos
New Japanese Beer Claims To Make Your Skin Glow http://modernfarmer.com/2015/04/new-japanese-beer-claims-to-make-your-skin-glow-2/ http://modernfarmer.com/2015/04/new-japanese-beer-claims-to-make-your-skin-glow-2/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 23:35:04 +0000 http://modernfarmer.com/?p=35472

For Americans, collagen tends to mean one thing: an injectable substance used to make our most famous stars look even better. But in Japan, collagen isn’t injected—it’s consumed—and a Japanese beer maker is trying to capitalize on that. PopSci reports on a new beer, made by Suntory, the Japanese alcohol megabrand, to be called “Precious.” The beer will [...]

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A protein most commonly known in the West as an injectable substance has a reputation for improving skin in Japan—and one beer-maker won't let the trend go unanswered.

For Americans, collagen tends to mean one thing: an injectable substance used to make our most famous stars look even better. But in Japan, collagen isn’t injected—it’s consumed—and a Japanese beer maker is trying to capitalize on that.

PopSci reports on a new beer, made by Suntory, the Japanese alcohol megabrand, to be called “Precious.” The beer will have two grams of collagen per can.

Collagen is a protein found in abundance in our bodies, a structural element that makes up connective tissue. You can find collagen in your skin, your tendons, your teeth, and even your blood. It can be synthesized from other animals, especially cattle, and we have come up with a remarkable number of ways to use the stuff: versions of it become gelatin, found in Jell-O; it’s used for sausage casings; it’s used in cosmetic surgery, both for lip injections and for treatment of severe burns.

In Japan, though, it’s believed that drinking collagen can keep skin, especially women’s skin, taut and youthful, as well as provide other health benefits. Some health claims are somewhat dubious. Proponents often state that it has a positive effect on joint health, but a 2011 study  found that ingesting collagen is of little benefit to joints. But a 2014 study found that collagen does have a distinct, noticeable improvement on “skin elasticity level,” which is sort of a creepy way to put it, but sure! For what it’s worth, the women in that 2014 study took either 2.5 or 5 grams of collagen per week, so the amount of collagen in Suntory’s new beer seems to be right on target.

So, drink a couple beers per week, and keep your skin looking fine! At least, that’s what we assume the ad above, for the beer, is saying.

Image via Flickr user Azchael

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Kraft Macaroni & Cheese To Remove Artificial Preservatives And Colorings http://modernfarmer.com/2015/04/kraft-macaroni-cheese-to-remove-artificial-preservatives-and-colorings/ http://modernfarmer.com/2015/04/kraft-macaroni-cheese-to-remove-artificial-preservatives-and-colorings/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 12:45:06 +0000 http://modernfarmer.com/?p=35479

See this? Get a good look. Because soon it'll be different. Or similar, but with different chemicals. I don't know.

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After a prolonged battle with public opinion (and one particular besieged activist who goes by the name The Food Babe), Kraft is reworking its recipe for its iconic Macaroni & Cheese to remove artificial preservatives and synthetic colors.

Kraft’s blue-boxed Mac & Cheese is a beautiful distillation of the past century of American cuisine, a classic, arguably home-grown dish beloved by none other than Thomas Jefferson that mutated into a strange, soupy, neon-orange, shelf-stable packaged good. (It is also eaten in Canada, where it’s known as Kraft Dinner, or KD). But it’s about to undergo a substantial change, which may or may not be noticed by anyone at all: the artificial preservatives and synthetic colors are being removed.

“We know parents want to feel good about the foods they eat and serve their families,” Kraft spokesperson Lynn Galia told the Globe and Mail. After many years of experimenting with new ways to color and preserve the par-cooked pasta and bright orange cheese powder, Kraft thinks it has finally come up with a new method that still tastes just like the original we all love after we’ve been drinking or are feeling homesick.

Vani Hari, who runs a blog-based empire known as The Food Babe, has long had a vendetta against the artificial ingredients in Kraft Mac & Cheese, especially the dyes Yellow #5 and #6. A Change.org petition contains a multitude of complaints about the harm caused by these dyes, connecting the dyes to cancer, asthma, ADHD, migraines and more. Kraft does not specifically cite Hari’s petition, saying this change has been in the works for years. It’s worth noting that Hari has no background in nutrition, food science, or any related field and is often scorned by those who do. Regardless, she’s treating this as a personal victory.

Kraft says the dyes will be replaced with naturally-occurring dyes, like paprika, annatto, and turmeric, which have been used for centuries, but also typically impart some flavor. The changes will be in effect by January 2016, according to Kraft, so we’ll be able to try it for ourselves then.

Image via Flickr user Ginny

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Whole Foods and Xerces Society Work to Help Pollinators at Risk http://modernfarmer.com/2015/04/whole-foods-and-xerces-society-work-to-help-pollinators-at-risk/ http://modernfarmer.com/2015/04/whole-foods-and-xerces-society-work-to-help-pollinators-at-risk/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 18:42:22 +0000 http://modernfarmer.com/?p=35485

Many of the ingredients in popular dishes would become scarce or totally unavailable without pollinators like bees, hummingbirds and hawk moths. Pollinators are responsible for one in three bites of food people take, and with the threats these small flying friends face on a daily basis, many species are in danger.

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Many of the ingredients in popular dishes would become scarce or totally unavailable without pollinators like bees, hummingbirds and hawk moths. Pollinators are responsible for one in three bites of food people take, and with the threats these small flying friends face on a daily basis, many species are in danger.

Insecticides are threatening both honey and bumble bees. Habitat loss is threatening the monarch butterfly and hummingbirds. Even light pollution harms pollinators, threatening hawk moths and fireflies, who communicate by their own light and don’t tend to make an appearance near lights even as small as the one you might have on your porch.

Last week, Whole Foods and The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation kicked off their two-week “Share the Buzz” campaign, aimed at educating and mobilizing consumers to help protect pollinators and their habitats. Take a look at what the salad bar at Whole Foods and what it would look like without pollinators:

Salad_bar_with_pollinators

With Pollinators

Salad_Bar_without_pollinators

Without Pollinators

Lack of pollinators would not just affect the fruits and vegetables in our diet—beef and dairy options could be scarce as well. The crops that cattle consume are pollinated by creatures like bees and hawk moths, so fewer pollinators could mean less yogurt, cheese, and beef.

The Xerces Society, which recently reported that monarch butterflies in the U.S. are vulnerable to extinction, aims to plant 100,000 acres of pollinator habitat within the next 12 to 18 months.

“With nearly one-fourth of America’s bumblebee species now at risk for extinction, it’s time to get serious about saving our pollinators,” Eric Mader, pollinator program co-director for The Xerces Society, says in a press release. “But it’s not too late. With the support from Whole Foods Market and its shoppers, our organization is working to turn this situation around. We’re creating and improving thousands of acres of pollinator habitat in the U.S., reducing the use of agricultural pesticides and training people in pollinator conservation techniques that can save these unsung heroes of our food chain.”

Through April 28, part of the proceeds from several products, such as High Mowing Organic Sunflower Seeds and the limited edition 365 Everyday Value® Pollinator-Friendly Almond Butters will go directly to the Xerces Society’s planting initiative. “We sell a lot of almonds,” says Errol Schweizer, Whole Foods Market’s global executive grocery coordinator, who has been leading the charge on developing more pollinator-friendly products, in a press release. “Most people don’t realize that almond trees can’t produce nuts without pollinators, or that there aren’t enough bees to sustain the demand on their own.”

Along with partnering with the Xerces Society and the Nevada Ranch in Le Grande, California, where the almonds for the new almond butter are coming from, Whole Foods is educating patrons on lesser-known pollinators and encouraging them to plant wildflowers.

The idea is to keep the pollinator communities thriving, and as a result, keep food available on our plates.

Photos via media.wholefoodsmarket.com.

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http://modernfarmer.com/2015/04/whole-foods-and-xerces-society-work-to-help-pollinators-at-risk/feed/ 0 Whole Foods and Xerces Society Work to Help Pollinators at Risk - Modern Farmer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfNwsBSufNU Insecticides are threatening both honey and bumble bees. Habitat loss is threatening the monarch butterfly and hummingbirds. Even light pollution harms pollinators, threatening fireflies, who communicate by their own light and don’t tend to make an appeara Almonds,Bees,butterflies,Education,pollinators,whole foods,xerces society Salad_bar_with_pollinators Salad_Bar_without_pollinators
Happy Earth Day! http://modernfarmer.com/2015/04/happy-earth-day/ http://modernfarmer.com/2015/04/happy-earth-day/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 12:40:53 +0000 http://modernfarmer.com/?p=35481

Forty-five years ago today, millions of Americans demonstrated in the streets, began discussing environmental issues, and started trying to tackle a problem that hadn’t even been on most folks' radars at the time—and certainly wasn’t the hot-button political issue it is today.

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Forty-five years ago today, millions of Americans demonstrated in the streets, began discussing environmental issues, and started trying to tackle a problem that hadn’t even been on most folks' radars at the time—and certainly wasn’t the hot-button political issue it is today.

Earth Day, which began in 1970, was the inspiration of Gaylord Nelson, who at the time was a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. Nelson had been deeply affected by the damage caused by a massive oil spill off the California coast the year before and believed he could harness the same energies he saw in the anti-Vietnam War student movement to shine a spotlight on environmental issues. Thanks to Nelson (and the efforts of many others, including Denis Hayes, who coordinated the first Earth Day and several others), such landmark legislation as the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts came into being, as did the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Today, Earth Day is a global phenomenon and this year there are events from tree-planting in Armenia to a conference featuring astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson in Madison, Wisconsin, in honor of the occasion. This year’s theme is “It’s Our Turn to Lead,” so get out today and join with others to raise awareness for environmental issues, or just grab some friends and clean up the trash in your neighborhood.

Here’s a comprehensive list of Earth Day activities happening around the world.

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Cleanliness Is Next To Goatliness http://modernfarmer.com/2015/04/cleanliness-is-next-to-goatliness/ http://modernfarmer.com/2015/04/cleanliness-is-next-to-goatliness/#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 16:50:19 +0000 http://modernfarmer.com/?p=35448

How to Encourage Good Hygiene in Goats: Hoof, udder and intestinal health form the holy trinity of goat hygiene.

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Hygiene is the foundation of healthy livestock. Despite romantic notions of free-range animals staying fit on fresh air, sunshine and lush forage, the fact is that they sleep in the same barn every night and drink from the same trough every day, which inevitably leads to a build-up of pathogens that must be managed by the farmer, even in the most ideal settings. Goats are notoriously robust, but there are a few pitfalls that often catch new goat owners off-guard—until one of their animals is suddenly deathly ill. Hoof, udder and intestinal health form the holy trinity of goat hygiene.

Hoof Care

Frequency: Monthly

Goat nails grow fast and need to be trimmed regularly to prevent nasty infections and avoid long-term joint problems. In the rocky mountain crags where their wild ancestors dwelled, the constant scraping of hoof against rock kept goat hooves in good shape. In the barnyard, however, goats need our help to care for their hooves. If left untrimmed, goat hooves become long, curved and pointy, impacting their gait, leading to arthritis and possibly lameness and even death. Soil and feces become packed into the center of the hooves, causing festering sores and hoof rot, a potentially fatal disease.

  1. Restrain the goat on a milking stand and distract it with a bucket of its favorite food. Kid goats can be restrained in the lap of a helper until they are big enough to use a milk stand.
  2. Gently place one hand near the top of a leg and slide it slowly down to the bottom, so the goat is not startled by the contact.
  3. Pick up the leg so the bottom hoof is facing up and use the tip of the trimming shears to dislodge compacted soil and feces from the center of the hoof.
  4. Cut off the portion of the hoof that extends beyond the flat, fleshy sole at the center of each toe, removing a thin strip with each cut until the nail and sole are flush with each other. If the cut surface of the hoof becomes pink (instead of white) as you cut, it’s a sign that you are getting close to active blood vessels and the hoof should not be trimmed further.
  5. Repeat the process with the other hooves.

Some goats are calm and cooperative during the trimming process, but most will resist it, especially those that are not accustomed to a high degree of contact. It’s important to work quickly while they are distracted by the food, but it may be necessary for a second person to restrain the goat’s movement during the trimming process. If your goat barn is not lit up like a laboratory, wear a head lamp while trimming so you can see exactly what you’re doing.

The tissue beneath the hoof, called the ‘quick,’ contains blood vessels that don’t easily clot if they are cut, so a clotting agent should be kept on hand when trimming.

Udder Love

Frequency: Daily

A little disinfectant and bag balm go a long way to prevent teat problems. Following a simple hygiene protocol before and after milking promotes healthy, productive udders and keeps mastitis and other serious infections at bay.

  1. Clean the teats before milking with a solution of warm, soapy water, such as Dr. Bronner’s all-purpose soap. Dry with a paper towel.
  2. Disinfect the teats after milking with an iodine or chlorohexadine-based teat dip or teat spray.
  3. Check the teats and udders for signs of chapped, cracked or irritated skin and, if necessary, massage with udder balm after milking.

There are as many theories on how to care for goat udders as there are goat farmers. But there is no question that disinfection is an important component, whether you favor chemical or all-natural udder care products.

Parasite Prevention

Frequency: Daily, Weekly and Monthly

Intestinal parasites are the most common source of poor health in goats. They are highly contagious and once they invade a herd, they’re hard to exterminate. Goat feces should be in the form of firm pellets—if runny poop is observed, the sick goats must be treated quickly as severe, ongoing cases of diarrhea can cause death in just a few weeks.

The more widely your goats can roam, the more space they have in the barn and the more varied their diet is with wild plants, the fewer parasites they will have. Low levels of parasites are unavoidable; your job is to manage the herd to prevent an unnatural buildup of parasites to the degree where illness occurs.

  1. Position water and food troughs at the correct height—there’s only a few inches difference between low enough to eat or drink from versus high enough to prevent fecal contamination. In other words, mount troughs at the greatest possible height that still allows the goats to eat and drink comfortably.
  2. Clean soiled troughs immediately with soapy water.
  3. Clean troughs weekly even if they are not visibly soiled.
  4. Provide clean straw and a dry, draft-free environment for bedding at all times.
  5. Rotate goats to fresh pasture as often as possible.

Some parasites don’t cause scouring (the technical term for diarrhea in goats), making it hard to know when a serious health problem is lurking. For this reason, it’s important to check your goats monthly for signs of anemia, which is the other primary indicator of parasites. There are two ways to do this:

  1. Put your thumb on the skin below the eye and draw the skin downward to check the color of the mucous membranes at the bottom of the eye—they should look bloodshot if the goat is healthy. Light pink or white eyes are a sign of anemia.
  2. Pull back the lip on the side of the jaw and press firmly into the gums with your thumb. Blood should come rushing in when you release the gums, causing them to look deep pink or red in color; if they remain pale, it’s a sign of anemia.

Seemingly minor ailments tend to progress quickly in goats without intervention. If unusual symptoms present themselves (diarrhea, gauntness, difficulty walking, discolored milk, tender udders, etc), consult with a vet for a diagnosis. By adopting a good hygiene regimen, you’ll avert the vast majority of serious goat ailments and keep the vet—and hefty vet bills—away.

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Mutant Broccoli Has Been Enhanced To Fight Cholesterol http://modernfarmer.com/2015/04/mutant-broccoli-has-been-enhanced-to-fight-cholesterol/ http://modernfarmer.com/2015/04/mutant-broccoli-has-been-enhanced-to-fight-cholesterol/#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 12:22:12 +0000 http://modernfarmer.com/?p=35412

Is there anything broccoli can't do?

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Besides being delicious, broccoli naturally contains a compound that fights the bad kind of cholesterol in the body. So what if we could just tweak the genetics, so that the broccoli becomes a cholesterol super-fighter?

A new kind of broccoli was bred back in 2011 to contain high levels of naturally occurring chemical compounds that are alleged to have all kinds of amazing properties: anti-microbial, anti-cancer, antibiotic, and even anti-cholesterol. It’s been on supermarket shelves (both in the U.K. and U.S.) for a little while now, and some scientists at the Institute of Food Research, working with the University of Reading, have finally conducted some tests to see if the broccoli lives up to expectations. Surprisingly enough, it does.

The broccoli, which goes by the name Beneforte, is bred to have very high levels of glucoraphanin, which has been linked to all the great effects listed above. Glucoraphanin is not very well understood, but is thought to fight cholesterol by retuning the way our bodies work. Typically, our bodies will naturally convert excess fats and sugars into cholesterol, but certain naturally occurring chemicals, like glucoraphanin, seem to adjust that process to reduce the amount of cholesterol our bodies produce.

Scientists used traditional breeding methods to cross-breed high-glucoraphanin plants with other high-glucoraphanin plants until they ended up with a broccoli that regularly shows about two to three times as much of the substance as normal broccoli.

Beneforte is on select store shelves (a quick search found that the closest one to my Brooklyn apartment is a Sam’s Club in northern New Jersey). Previous studies have focused on broccoli’s effect on cardiovascular illness and cancer risk, rather than specifically examining cholesterol levels. For what it’s worth, a 2013 study found no reduction in cardiovascular disease, though it did find that the new broccoli produces some changes in the body that could protect against cancer.

The researchers involved in this study, which specifically addressed cholesterol, tested 130 volunteer subjects over 12 weeks, giving half of them the Beneforte to include in their weekly diet. On average, the subjects’ LDL cholesterol (otherwise known as “the bad kind”) dropped by 6 percent.

The study isn’t just aimed at analyzing whether Beneforte is snake oil; Beneforte, unchanged from regular broccoli except in its glucoraphanin content, is a perfect subject to see what effects glucoraphanin itself actually has on the body. Yet another reason to eat broccoli!

Image via Institute of Food Research

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Distant Collisions: The Photographs of Kacper Kowalski http://modernfarmer.com/2015/04/distant-collisions-the-photographs-of-kacper-kowalski/ http://modernfarmer.com/2015/04/distant-collisions-the-photographs-of-kacper-kowalski/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 19:42:16 +0000 http://modernfarmer.com/?p=35428

Visually stunning abstract qualities in the photographs of Kacper Kowalski that are more like paintings than moments captured on film.

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What hits you first are the visually stunning abstract qualities in the photographs of Kacper Kowalski, which are more like paintings than moments captured on film.

Kowalski’s work often explores the collision of man and nature, but always from a great distance. It is this distance that is the key to reeling the viewer into the work. It takes time to realize that in one of his photographs, the veinlike shades of grey and blue and streaks of orange bleeding into a deep emerald green are in fact the effects of environmental damage seen from 1,500 feet up, not just a gorgeous abstract composition. Kowalski shoots his photographs from a paraglider or gyrocopter using a digital SLR camera and captures the effects wrought by us on the natural world.

Toxic Beauty

Toxic Beauty

This technique could seem hokey in the hands of a less talented artist, but Kowalski makes it work, thanks to his eye not just for the overall composition, but for striking details that slowly reveal themselves.

Bill Shapiro, the curator for Kowalski’s first American exhibit, which opens April 22 (Earth Day) and is being held at the Curator Gallery in Manhattan, says Kowalski’s pictures, while “often appearing abstract and without contextual clues, create an emotional tension seldom seen in aerial photography.”

The road through the ice: On the Floe #4

The road through the ice: On the Floe #4

For the series “Toxic Beauty,” in which Kowalski photographed industrial activities such as mining, the artist says it was curiosity that led him to the “forbidden spaces” that he captured on film. The only way to see and photograph the activity was from the sky, since “nobody will allow you to go there,” says Kowalski. Additionally, flying over the spaces was the only way to get a sense of the scale of the activities below. He says many of the photographs document how “everyday products” like salt and coal are produced, just on a “different scale.”

In Kowalski’s other photographs, the relationship between humanity and the natural world is less clearly defined in terms of a power struggle, but still revolves around the meeting of the two.

The green with the road: Toxic Beauty #14

The green with the road: Toxic Beauty #14

Kowalski believes it’s impossible to detach the purely visual from the underlying idea of the relationship between civilization and nature in his work, and that the border between these two worlds may be sharply defined in some instances, or “mellow and blurred” in others. In the end, the relationships between the image and the idea, as well as the relationship between man and nature, are up to the viewer to define.

“The evaluation of whether the tension between nature and civilization is positive or negative remains with the person who interprets the picture,” he tells Modern Farmer.

The show, Above & Beyond, runs from April 22 to May 30 at The Curator Gallery, 520 W. 23rd St. New York, New York. Go to the gallery’s website for more information or to Kowalski’s website to view more of his work.

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http://modernfarmer.com/2015/04/distant-collisions-the-photographs-of-kacper-kowalski/feed/ 0 Toxic Beauty Toxic Beauty Kacper Kowalski / Panos Pictures; The road through the ice: On the Floe #4 Kacper Kowalski / Panos Pictures; The green with the road: Toxic Beauty #14
Staghorn Cocktail http://modernfarmer.com/2015/04/staghorn-cocktail/ http://modernfarmer.com/2015/04/staghorn-cocktail/#comments Sat, 18 Apr 2015 13:22:19 +0000 http://modernfarmer.com/?p=35361

Here’s a recipe for a cocktail that Joel Elder created just for us, and you. Enjoy!

The post Staghorn Cocktail appeared first on Modern Farmer.

Here’s a recipe for a cocktail that Joel Elder created just for us, and you. Enjoy!

In this cocktail we’re going to recreate a classic but often overlooked ingredient, the shrub. A shrub is basically a vinegar syrup. Trust me, you want to try it. Staghorn Sumac grows wild throughout the Northeast and Midwest. It has a wonderfully tannic, bright citrus flavor reminiscent of hibiscus tea with lemon. Ask your wild-eyed outdoorsy friend to point some out to you. Here’s a good guideline for foraging sumac. Once you know what it looks like you’ll see it everywhere.

Steep destemmed sumac berries in equal parts water overnight. Strain sumac tea and add 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar and 4 tablespoons local honey per cup of tea. The honey may cause it to cloud, but let it sit for an hour or so and it should settle to the bottom. Now you’ve made a shrub from a shrub.

In a tumbler, mix 2 oz Coppersea Raw Rye Whiskey and 1 oz Sumac Shrub over ice. Add a splash of orange flower water, chill and strain into a coupe or stemmed glass. Garnish with a lemon twist. You can also make this into a refreshing long drink by serving over ice with a nice local hard cider. For brunch, ya know.

Cheers!

 

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