We kick off this week with a great article about the fall and (hopefully) rise of apple diversity. Rowan Jacobsen reports how apples blossomed into thousands of varieties in the US but have now fallen back to just a handful in the mainstream. Through the efforts of people like “The Apple Whisperer” John Bunker many strains that were almost lost are being revived — Bunker alone may have saved up to 100 unique kinds of apple!
The decline in bee numbers has been known for some time — and the potential impact on our food supply is alarming. Although the causes may not yet be fully understood, there is some evidence to suggest certain pesticides, known as neonicotinoids, may be a part of the problem. The EU recently announced a temporary ban on neonicotinoids (not without objections), and now a pair of beekeepers in the US are suing the EPA in an attempt to have the pesticides banned there. The most remarkable part of this story is that the two specific pesticides being challenged were “conditionally registered”, and this means they have avoided proper scientific scrutiny despite being in common use now for over a decade.
While on the road in Japan, former MasterChef Australia favourite Adam Liaw goes in to bat for Fukuoka’s roadside food stalls, known locally as yatai. Liaw reports that the stalls have dropped in number from 450 in the 1960s to just 121 at the end of last year. This demise has been in no small part due to an increase in bureaucracy, including a paricularly-restricitive law which forces stalls to shut down upon retirement of the owner unless a direct descendant takes over. I think most would agree that food standards and regulation are important, but we also don’t want to live in a world so sanitised that we lose all cultural diversity. It would be a sad day if all fast food were dominated by bright, sterlised and soulless chains.
Speaking of MasterChef Australia contestants, another former favourite has just launched his new website. Alvin Quah’s new eponymous site, alvinquah.com.au, looks like it will be home to both a blog and a collection of recipes, among other things. The site has a simple, clean design, with a fun logo (see left, spot the glasses)! Content is a bit lean at the moment — to be expected this early on — but I’ll be keeping an eye on the recipes section for inspiration. The four recipes up so far are a good start — Coconut Milk Rice Pudding anyone?
Original Photo: Josh Larios (CC BY-SA 2.0).
And now, if you’ll allow me to channel Monty Python, for something completely different. Here is a short monologue. From a GMO eggplant. Yes, you read that correctly. Feasting in the Know sums it up better than I can in a single tweet:
Witty words on GMO eggplants. So cleverly written that you end up wondering who the writer really sides with. mcsweeneys.net/articles/a-few…
— Feasting in the Know (@SydRealDealFood) May 8, 2013