From Sara Reardon, on Nature.com
“The field is going to another level of sophistication,” says Sarkis Mazmanian, a microbiologist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. “Hopefully this will shift this image that there’s too much commercial interest and data from too few labs.”
This year, the US National Institute of Mental Health spent more than US$1 million on a new research programme aimed at the microbiome–brain connection. And on 19 November, neuroscientists will present evidence for the link in a symposium at the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington DC called ‘Gut Microbes and the Brain: Paradigm Shift in Neuroscience’. Continue reading
From Tom Laskawy, on Grist.org
“Thirty years ago, scientists figured out how to directly modify the genes in our food crops. No more of that inefficient and slow breeding! Farmers would grab plant genes by the
horns nucleotides and bend them to their will!
Now, the preeminent science journal Nature has devoted an entire issue to the question (to paraphrase that legendary IBM ad), where are the magic seeds? We were going to get seeds that would grow faster, yield more, save the environment, and be more nutritious. What we got were seeds for a few commodity crops such as corn, soy, and cotton that made their own pesticide or resisted herbicides, but otherwise provided little, if any, benefit to consumers. Continue reading
Here’s a review of a recent book from one of the latest in the long tradition of intellectuals reveling in their fresh infatuation with the charms of farming. Hey, don’t laugh; we need a lot more smart people to take up farming if we want to keep the likes of Monsanto from world domination. If this book can move us in that direction, that’s all for the good. From Stephanie P. on The Ethicurean, from a story titled “Getting Plowed: Kristin Kimball’s captivating ‘Dirty Life‘”:
Kristin Kimball on her farm in Essex, N.Y. Photo by Deborah Feingold (via The Ethicurean)
“….A self-described “snobby urban hedonist,” Kristin was lured to a completely different life and culture in a matter of months by a driven man and the appeal of the hard work of growing food. The gentle buffer offered to her in the transition is the brimming generosity of her new community, from the kinds of people she had probably previously assumed didn’t have much to offer anyone, and the enchantment of what good dirt can bring to fruition with your toil. Continue reading
Backyard gardens can offer a welcome supply of nectar and pollen for honeybees. Photo via PBS.org
While researchers probe deeper into understanding CCD, or colony collapse disorder, and beekeepers work harder to improve bee health, ordinary citizens can help the honeybee too.
Go Retro — Become a Backyard Beekeeper
Over the years, our diets have increased the demand for a constant stream of all-season fruits and veggies. Such demand hasn’t bypassed the bees.
It’s turned bee pollination into a year-round service and beekeeping into a commercial industry.
Today, there are half as many beekeepers as there were two decades ago, and the remaining beekeepers are mostly large-scale pollination services with thousands of hives and millions of bees. Continue reading
Check out this latest research on food addictions — from Sarah Klein via Health.com:
“SUNDAY, March 28, 2010 (Health.com) — Scientists have finally confirmed what the rest of us have suspected for years: Bacon, cheesecake, and other delicious yet fattening foods may be addictive.
A new study in rats suggests that high-fat, high-calorie foods affect the brain in much the same way as cocaine and heroin. When rats consume these foods in great enough quantities, it leads to compulsive eating habits that resemble drug addiction, the study found.
Doing drugs such as cocaine and eating too much junk food both gradually overload the so-called pleasure centers in the brain, according to Paul J. Kenny, PhD, an associate professor of molecular therapeutics at the Scripps Research Institute, in Jupiter, Fla. Eventually the pleasure centers “crash,” and achieving the same pleasure—or even just feeling normal—requires increasing amounts of the drug or food, says Kenny, the lead author of the study. Continue reading