Pseudonyms

A few weeks back I did a blog about academics and their relationships with big players in the food industry. My point was that we really shouldn’t be shocked, shocked (quoting Captain Louis Renault from Casablanca) when we learn that university scientists share the values and perspectives of major food industry firms. It was, in …

More

Corrupt

All joking aside, I am still thinking about the revelation that agricultural scientists were sending e-mails that were supportive of the food industry point of view on several sensitive issues. In all serious I want to suggest that this is less nefarious than it has made out to be. At the same time, it’s more …

More

Climate Ethics

Are you confused about the climate ethics of your diet? Me, too. I don’t doubt that humans are having a significant impact on global climate systems, but I have some limited sympathy with the climate-change skeptics. It’s going a bit too far when you claim that this is all something that Al Gore (remember him?) …

More

Dark Roll

Here I am blogging from the KLM Crown lounge at Schiphol again. The robots in Cupertino think it’s still Saturday night, but here in Holland we are well on our way to Sunday morning. So it’s time to think about the Thornapple blog. The night before last I checked in at Chino Latino in Nottingham …

More

Hospitality

It’s approaching thirty years ago that I made my one and only trip to India. Negotiating what you should and should not imbibe was an almost daily affair in those days. We drank beer because the water was a hazard for the unadapted Western gut. The bottled water at the fine hotels was reputed to …

More

Not So Sure

When I was a sophomore in college there was a good-looking fellow among my circle of friends who must have had some deep insecurity buried in his persona. He was constantly embellishing accounts of his various comings and goings with feats of amazing ability and encounters with celebrities that we all knew were very unlikely …

More

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

Connectedness

I met Gyorgy Scrinis in Melbourne a couple of years ago. He was complaining more than a little bit about Michael Pollan’s appropriation of the word “nutritionism” and with it some of Scrinis’s key ideas in Pollan’s book In Defense of Food. At the time I met him, all I knew of Scrinis’s work was …

More

Designer babies: selection vs editing

The discussion in this video is sophisticated enough to make the distinction between embryo selection — the parents get a baby whose DNA originates from them, but the “best baby possible” — and active genetic editing, which can give the child genes that neither parent had.The movie GATTACA focuses on selection — the director made a …

More

Curitiba Declaration

I ran into a character named Philip Low this week at a conference organized by Carla Molento, who runs an important research group on animal welfare in Brazil. It was the kind of week that makes the otherwise humdrum life of the peripatetic academic interesting. Philip is a brilliant neuroscientist who is currently trying to …

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

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

Power and a Response to It

Indeed the loan [$3billion] was approved by the [Obama} administration just four days before the president delivered his address to the December 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. “As the world’s largest economy and the world’s second largest emitter, America bears our share of responsibility in addressing climate change,” Obama said then. “That …

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

Genuine Article

A few years back I met a fine fellow at an international consultancy I was on who regaled the group with stories of academic ritual, on the one hand, and the trials of small farmers in India, on the other. As I recall it, the rituals had something to do with Oxford University in the …

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

Will Allen

January rolls in and it’s time for food icons month again. For those readers who picked up on the Thornapple blog after my discerning coverage of the ice storm in Lansing, the last three Januarys have been “food ethics icon” month at the Thornapple blog. All you have to do to become a food ethics …

More