High Tunnel Time

After a full week of when daytime highs rose well above forty degrees and nighttime lows remained above freezing there is quite a bit of muddy green showing in the Michigan landscape this morning. There is also still a fair amount of snow in my yard. I doubt that the areas along the curb where …

More

Pathway to Prosperity

One of my favorite thinkers/doers in the world today is British science writer and now activist, Colin Tudge. In a recent blog post on Groundhogs’ Day, Tudge comes out to show us there is a sane way out of the madness of  what he calls Neoliberal-Industrial (NI) agriculture “The Keys Ideas of Enlightened Agriculture”. In …

More

Women in Weed Science article

-E. Hill Today the Weed Science Society of America released an article about women in weed science, which is particularly relevant since there are two women professors in weed science here at Michigan State University along with two staff members and several graduate students trained in the discipline. Please take time to read the article at …

More

Food Fix Podcast

I’m involved in a new podcast called Food Fix that’s launching today. It features interviews with researchers who are figuring out how to better feed the world. It’s funded by Michigan State University’s Global Center for Food Systems Innovations. Give it a try! It should be in iTunes soon. Tweet

Paul and Anne Ehrlich

The theme for ‘food ethics icons’ month is the world hunger/population growth tangle. Our thinking has been bracketed by two opposing nostrums: On the one hand, agriculture is in a race with population growth, on the other hand, the problem is not agriculture but the distribution of food we already have. Both of these are …

More

Thomas Malthus

If Amartya Sen deserves to be called a food ethics icon for dismantling the idea that the total amount of food produced provides a good index for understanding the ethics of hunger, we should probably look the source of that idea for our next entry for “food ethics icons month”. Is there anyone out there …

More

Amartya Sen

Amartya Kumar Sen was born in 1933 in a province of what is now Bangladesh. He won the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economics for a pretty diverse portfolio of work, most of which doesn’t concern us here. Let it just suffice that Sen was a major figure in shaking economists out of a dogmatic slumber—even …

More

Plastic Houses

There’s an old saying to the effect that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Good advice for bloggers, I think. If you are “out there” and visible, you should think twice about digging in to someone for something that you could be dug into yourself. There’s also a variation on the …

More

Going to Mexico

Is there a robot out there who can help me with one of my more importunate research problems? Some time ago—maybe four or five years back—there was a particular aphorism that was circulating in sustainability studies. I wouldn’t say that it had gone viral, but I must have heard a half dozen different speakers recite …

More

The Blue Food

The late comedian George Carlin used to do a routine in which he feigned deep puzzlement in asking his audience “Where’s the blue food?” Of course folks in Michigan know blue food, and I’m here to tell you that even if they are “late” and even if, as some are saying, it isn’t a particularly …

More

It’s all in the gene: cows

Some years ago a German driver took me from the Perimeter Institute to the Toronto airport. He was an immigrant to Canada and had a background in dairy farming. During the ride he told me all about driving German farmers to buy units of semen produced by highly prized Canadian bulls. The use of linear …

More

Zucchini for Peace

I’m just back from the International Development Ethics Association meeting where I blew everyone away with my presentation on food security. Well, maybe I’m overstating it a bit, but people did seem to appreciate what I had to say. And come to think of it, what I had to say was not really all that …

More

2014 MSU Weed Tour Review

Yesterday’s 2014 MSU Weed Tour was yet another successful event, with over 230 people in attendance. Thank you to all of you whom attended and to the many people in front and behind the scenes who made it all possible. Please enjoy a few photos of the event below. The plot signs will probably remain …

More

Among the World-Feeders

I spent a couple of days last week amongst folks who are diligently at work developing new crops. They are after new varieties that do well in the dry conditions farmers may experience during climate change, and they’re working on varieties that resist disease, too. And then there are the longstanding enemies: weeds and insect …

More

Right On, Man

Since Father’s Day happens to fall on a Sunday this year, I’m dedicating this edition of the Thornapple Blog to my own personal father. Don’t laugh. Lots of people have their own personal fathers, so why should it seem strange to be talking to them on Father’s Day? By chance my own personal father (who …

More

Spring review in photos 2014

With a camera constantly at my fingertips I thought a spring review in photos would display what we have been up to lately. The cold winter was hard on wheat stands around Michigan Planting soybeans on campus Staking out the soybean plots Glyphosate resistant marestail in Gratiot county. At this location we are conducting research …

More

One Thing or Another

Diane and I have spent a chunk of the morning trying figure out where we can get a new Garden Bandit™. This can only mean one thing. The weeds are coming up and something needs to be done about them. We bought our current Garden Bandit™ in Stratford, Ontario a few years back when we were …

More

Question Authority?

So here is one of those occasions where I couldn’t get everything off my chest last week so I just have to follow up with another blog entry on food sovereignty. We’ve raised this subject at least once some time back in the Thornapple blog, but maybe it’s time to come around again and think …

More

Robert’s Stories

A bunch of us were sitting around in a circle this week talking about food sovereignty. A lot of the talk was about legal rights and obligations, but one person had something different to say. He was a big man, at least fifty and maybe older. It’s often hard to tell with someone whose daily …

More

Bad Seed

Let me set the festering minds of everyone who arrived at this website hoping to read up on supernatural horror flicks or prurient tales of some wayfaring maiden at rest immediately. This blog is about seeds, as in those little niblet things that grow into plants once they have been safely ensconced in soil and …

More

House Made

Norman Wirzba was on campus at MSU this week. He gave a rousing foodie talk to an audience of mostly undergraduates. He was encouraging them to think about where their food comes from, and since Norm is a theology professor at Duke University, he didn’t shrink from the God-talk in making his case. I picked …

More

Fertile Musings

Ever so frequently I wake up on Sunday morning with the urge to blog on a topic that has some nominal connection to the “food ethics” theme of the Thornapple blog. Then there are Sunday mornings like this one, when I’m sitting there with my coffee and thinking that I’m supposed to post a blog …

More

GMO the old fashioned way

Monsanto gives up on GMO but uses phenotype-genotype modeling to crossbreed vegetables. WIRED: … Furthermore, genetically modifying consumer crops proved to be inefficient and expensive. Stark estimates that adding a new gene takes roughly 10 years and $100 million to go from a product concept to regulatory approval. And inserting genes one at a time …

More

Artisans All

About a decade ago a wrote a little essay on what people mean when they talk about “natural food”. Now to launch right off on the obligatory tangent right from the get go, I would need to clarify: There’s really no telling what some people have in mind when they are talking about “natural food”. …

More

Elite Food

I got on an airplane last week for the first time in several months. For the first year of the blog I would routinely reflect upon my peripatetic ways, almost always from a different locale every week. 2010 was particularly dense with travel for me, and included an unplanned and enforced 3-day vacation in Rome …

More

Organic options page has added materials

-E. Hill We have put all of our extension and research findings related to organic weed management now in one place at MSUweeds.com called “Organic options“. In this section you will find: Extension materials (that have resulted from our research and work with area farmers) Peer reviewed publications relating to organic weed management Presented research …

More

Ontology

It looks like February 2014 was ontology month. That’s “on” as when Sylvia Tyson sings ‘When I woke up this morning, you were on my mind.’ It’s ‘tol’ as when Little Richard sings ‘Long Tall Sally she’s built for speed.’ It’s ‘o’ as when he sings “Oh, my soul” and gee as when Cliff Richard …

More

A Crock

We’re sitting underneath a ton of snow and cold weather here in Michigan this February. It’s a good idea to fill up the calendar with annual events to tick off during the long wait for Spring. Punxsutawny Phil, the wonderfully-fantastic excrescent bowl, the North Michigan Small Farm Conference that we talked about last week, Valentine’s …

More

The Presidents

President Obama toured the Michigan Biotechnology Institute today before signing the Farm Bill on the MSU campus. I’ll post a photo of us together when I get it from the White House photographer. I had a brief chat with the soldier carrying the football, and discussed Crossfit with the secret service guys. Favorite film: To …

More

Reality

I’m checking in this week from the Northern Michigan Small Farms Conference in Traverse City. The theme of this year’s conference is “Small Farms Are Real Farms.” I’m a bit put off that they didn’t ask me to speak at the conference because after all who would be better equipped to speak on the subject …

More

Susan George

Now if Frances Moore Lappé was the “no brainer” when it came around to naming the food ethics icons for 2014, Susan George is probably the dark horse. For no better reason than the fact that she lives in France, Susan George is all but invisible in present-day discourse and activism on the food system. …

More

Frances Moore Lappé

Well this one is kind of a no-brainer, isn’t it? Frances Moore Lappé wrote Diet for a Small Planet, published originally in 1971. Simply noticing that date should give some recent converts to the food movement pause. It’s worth recalling that sixties hippies were eating brown rice, bulgur and waxing poetic about the miraculous benefits …

More