You Are What You Eat? The Psychology of Rice vs. Wheat...

Jun 2, 2014 by

Let’s do a quick exercise. Think about your social network–your friends, family, etc.–10 or 15 people at most. Then sketch a quick drawing on a piece of paper of that network, with you and your friends represent ed as circles connected by lines, the lines connecting people in your network who know each other. Once you’re finished, look at the circle with your name in it: Is it bigger, smaller, or equal to the other circles in the network? According to a recent article published in the journal Science, the way you draw your graph will be determined by your culture, in particular whether you come from a rice-based or wheat-based society. Americans tend to make their own circle (the one with their name in it) over a quarter-inch bigger, while in Japan people tend to make...

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The Bee Martini: Alcohol Tests for Varroa Mites...

Aug 4, 2013 by

You’re probably going to watch this video and think: What the heck? That beekeeper isn’t wearing a bee suit! Why isn’t he getting stung? And then you’re going to think: Wait a second, why is he killing all those bees? Killing bees to save bees? WHAT IS GOING ON HERE??? Allow me to explain. This is Randy Oliver, pro-beekeeper, author of many articles in the American Bee Journal and posts on his website, ScientificBeekeeping.com. Randy is a respected beekeeper and scientist who has been keeping bees since 1967. His data collection has been instrumental to other researchers trying to understand CCD and honeybees in general, and when he’s working on his commercial beekeeping, he spends his time reading scientific papers and interviewing scientists to disseminate the information to everyday beekeepers. Basically, he’s awesome. So...

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Pesticides Kill Oregon Bumblebees...

Jun 23, 2013 by

This story both deeply saddens me and gives me hope. For those of you who haven’t heard, earlier this week a blanket of dead and dying bumblebees were found on a parking lot in Oregon. The estimated loss was around 50,000 bumblebees; other insects, such as honeybees, were killed as well. Customers found the bumblebees at the base of a group of European Linden trees, which had recently been sprayed with a pesticide called Safari–a neonicotinoid pesticide produced by Valent. After the mass die-off, researchers set out to find out if the culprit was the pesticide or the tree itself; apparently linden tree nectar can be toxic in high doses. As of Saturday, the Oregon State Department of Agriculture (ODA) announced that “the bee deaths are directly related to a pesticide application on the...

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Our Supermarkets without Bees

Jun 22, 2013 by

People often ask me what will happen if all the bees die. Whole Foods (as part of their “Share the Buzz” campaign) recently posted a great photo (below) to illustrate this visually, since it’s quite hard to really comprehend the role that bees play in our agriculture. I find the photo rather haunting. When people ask about dying bees, they usually mean honeybees. But the truth is, many pollinators are responsible for the fruits in the photos, not just honeybees. And those pollinators are being affected by some of the same causes that are impacting honeybees: mites, pesticides, diseases, and lack of habitat and nutritional variety (i.e. not enough flowers). A recent devastating bumblebee die-off in Oregon (over 25,000 bumblebees were found dead in a mall parking lot) has led to research on pesticides that...

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Backyard Farming Update Part 1: How We Got Our Chickens...

May 24, 2013 by

I was just reading the post I wrote at the end of April in 2012 (over a year ago–mon dieu!) and realized I hadn’t written an update on my backyard farm dreams. Basically, my three goals were to: convert the dirt into a fall garden, get bees, and get more chickens–all of which have come true. I thought it might be fun to share  how each little dream came true. As the title suggests, this post will be about… The Hens It all started a few months ago. Henrietta was hanging out in her hen house, huddled up against the wall to fight the foggy winter cold. I felt bad for her; chickens are flock animals and very social. They constantly communicate with each other with little clucks and pecks, and keep each other warm...

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Sacrebleu! French Honeybees Produce Mysterious Blue Honey...

Nov 30, 2012 by

This is why I adore bees. According to a Time article in October, French beekeepers started finding blue and green honey in their bees’ honeycomb and were completely baffled as to why. As amazing as this story is, I have to feel bad for those French apiarists, who have been struggling to survive Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) since 2007 and fighting the French government to ban the imidacloprid insecticide, a possible culprit. On top of that, the region suffered from a particularly harsh winter that resulted in low honey production. And then suddenly, out of nowhere, they open up their hives, pull out their frames, and this is what they find: Quelle horreur! or…better yet: Sacrebleu! Okay, sorry to make fun of the situation, because this had a serious impact on French farmers, but…you’ll never guess why...

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Why I’m voting Yes on Prop 37...

Nov 4, 2012 by

In some ways, it just seems obvious: Why shouldn’t we have the right to know what’s in our food? We have the right to know how much fat’s in our food, how much sugar, and what the other ingredients are…so why shouldn’t we have the right to know if our food has GMO sources? While I have my own issues with the GM industry, it’s easy to put those issues aside and vote yes for one simple reason: Consumers have the right to know what’s in their food, period. But let’s break this down a bit and look at this issue more deeply. First of all, why aren’t GM products labeled in the first place? The short answer is because the FDA does not currently require it. In a controversial move in 2009, Obama...

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Recent Photos from Chinatown Tour...

Jan 18, 2012 by

Here are some recent photos from our field trip to Chinatown. I’m teaching a course titled: Eat Your Words, Adventures in Food Writing for the Epicurious. (See description here and check out our class blog here.) We’ll go on three food tours altogether, one to Chinatown, one to the Mission District (tomorrow!), and one to the Gourmet Ghetto in Berkeley. I highly recommend checking out our Chinatown tour company Wok Wiz Tours. You can read a write-up I wrote last year of our tour here. It was fantastic. Enjoy the photos! [Show as slideshow]   Share on...

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