Posts Tagged ‘ food anthropology ’

Global Food Prices Are Rising

BBC Food Prices Report

The price of food around the world is set to rise as the Global Warming is causing draughts in many agricultural areas. Here’s a story from BBC: Global food prices set to rise due to severe weather

Tradition Versus Progress

Cindy Sui Taimanise handmade noodlesCindy Sui of BBC News wrote an article examining the economics of producing traditional food: “Calling time on Taiwan’s handmade noodles.”

Hand-pulled string noodles, called mian xian in Mandarin, have been made for around 2,000 years. … Today only about 50 noodle makers are thought to remain in Taiwan.”

The economics of producing the noodles by hand changed — a family making the noodles for 14 hours each day can make only $100. And the hand-made noodles are sold for $2 to $3 per bag. It’s too much effort for too little reward — not enough to feed a family and to provide for all the other basic needs. And so another food tradition has to die. There will still be people making noodles by hand, but it will be something very special (and very expensive) and so an average person might never taste “the real thing!”

The Fall of Great Civilizations and Bad Soil

Homeland Security News Wire published as story on correlation between the fall of civilizations and poor spoil management: Planet’s arable land rapidly degrading.

Great civilizations have fallen because they failed to prevent the degradation of the soils on which they were founded. The modern world could suffer the same fate. A new study describes how the productivity of many lands has been dramatically reduced as a result of soil erosion, accumulation of salinity, and nutrient depletion.

Soil degradation map

Cost of Chicken Presentation at the California Science Teachers Conference

California Science Teachers Association LogoI’ve presented our project at the California Science Teachers Conference on October 19, 2012, in San Jose California. The teachers gathered for an evening discussion on the use of social media in science education. I talked about our CrowdMap, Ushahidi, and how our data can be used in a classroom. Below are some photos of the event. We also watched a few Green Ninja videos — a San Jose State University project teaching kids about conservation.

My presentation is linked below.

Nick Werby at the California Science Teachers Conference

Nick Werby at the California Science Teachers Conference

Nick Werby at the California Science Teachers Conference

2012-10-18 Cost of Chicken Slide Show

2012 10 18 Cost Of Chicken Slide Show Compressed from OlgaWerby

Gathering Food Data in France

This summer, we went to France. Tim is interested in anthropology and the Dordogne Valley is a perfect place to explore some pre-historic caves and medieval castles. But this also gave us an opportunity to gather some food data from France. We did a lot of shopping at local farms, farmers’ markets, and supermarkets. These are different there…

Here we are on the train from Bordeaux to Paris, getting some time on a computer.

Nick and Tim on the train

Wasted Food

There was an amazing article on CNN today: Moldy matters: How wasted food is destroying the environment.

A third of all food products worldwide go uneaten! — from a 2011 U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization report

We’ve been collecting data on the food people buy, but it is equally important to keep track of the food people waste! Please read!

Also, we’ve entered the data in the article into our Crowdmap: https://costofchicken.crowdmap.com/

Cost of Chicken Video

So here it is: The Cost of Chicken video! This is our 2 minute video submission to the EDF Sustainable Design Challenge. All the kids you see in this video worked hard to make this project happen!

Living off the land in New York City

Sometimes, food is found in Central Park, right under our feet! Learn how to “live off the land” if you are city dweller — very cool video.

Packaged Food Makes Girls Hyper!

On March 16th, Scientific American Magazine published an article: How Packaged Food Makes Girls Hyper, by Aimee Cunningham. It’s about the chemical bisphenol A, known as BPA. In our house, we threw away all of our plastic containers, cups, and drinking bottles. We now use only glass and metal. Not only are we sure that they are BPA free, but the glass and metal lasts longer. So given that kids get hyper when exposed to BPA and it makes better conservation sense, why is anyone still use plastic?

Unstable Food Prices

Heifer International organizes school children in U.S. into buying animals for farmers around the world. When Tim and I were in Middle School, we both participated in Heifer International program and our classes bough many animals for farmer in Africa.

Stephen C. Smith from George Washington University wrote an article for Heifer International: The Triple Threat of Unstable Food Prices … and What Can Be Done About It. The article talks about the causes of recent food price instabilities: energy markets, financial markets, and speculation — meaning the price of food depends on the price of oil, the price of other everyday items and the cost of doing business, and the “nervousness” caused by possible rising prices.

One of the interesting graphs shows in the article is one depicting the proportion of total income families from around the world spend on food. Here’s the graph (you can click on it are go read the article on Heifer International):

Graph of Family Spending on Food

In U.S., a typical family spends 7% of its income on food. But in Kenya, almost half of all the money the family earns goes into feeding the family. It’s easy to see that if the food prices rise fast (and income doesn’t), families can easily go hungry or choose food over school or medical care.

I don’t know if our Cost of Chicken crowdmap can document the fluctuating costs of food around the world, but I see that it is important.