A fascinating tool for exploring how, where and when diets evolve. Foodwise, what unites Cameroon, Nigeria and Grenada? How about Cape Verde, Colombia and Peru? As of today, you can visit a website to find out. The site is the brainchild of Colin Khoury and his colleagues, and is intended to make it easier to see the trends hidden within 50 years of annual food data from more than 150 countries. If that rings a bell, it may be because you heard the episode around three years ago, in which Khoury and I talked about the massive paper he and his colleagues had published on the global standard diet. Back then, the researchers found it easy enough to explain the overall global trends that emerged from the data, but more detailed questions – about particular crops, or countries, or food groups – were much more difficult to answer. The answer to that one? An interactive website.
While this seems a short and simple episode with some engaging conversation, it’s the podcast equivalent of the floating duck–things appear smooth and calm on the surface, but the duck is paddling like the devil underneath the surface. The Changing Global Diet website is truly spectacular and portends to have me losing a day’s worth of work or more over the next few days.
I’d be curious to see what some of the data overlays between and among some of these projects looked like and what connections they might show. I suspect that some of the food diversity questions may play into the economic complexities that countries exhibit as well.
If there were longer term data over the past 10,000+ years to make this a big history and food related thing, that would be phenomenal too, though I suspect that there just isn’t enough data to make a longer time line truly useful.
D. Hartmann, M. R. Guevara, C. Jara-Figueroa, M. Aristarán, and C. A. Hidalgo, “Linking Economic Complexity, Institutions, and Income Inequality,” World Development, vol. 93. Elsevier BV, pp. 75–93, May-2017 [Online]. Available: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2016.12.020
S. Ronen, B. Gonçalves, K. Z. Hu, A. Vespignani, S. Pinker, and C. A. Hidalgo, “Links that speak: The global language network and its association with global fame,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 111, no. 52. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, pp. E5616–E5622, 15-Dec-2014 [Online]. Available: http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1410931111
Burger King's new ad sets off Google Home on purpose. Mastodon is great, but it's not a Twitter killer. Facebook's $14 million investment in reputable news. How to keep from being dragged off a plane. Whatever happened to Google Books' plan to digitize all books?
Kevin Marks guests on the show and discusses Indieweb, Mastodon, and GNU Social beginning at about 1:18:00 into the show.
The Guadalupe River that flows through Texas used to be known as The River of Nuts, a fact that Wikipedia does not confirm. The nut in question is the pecan, Carya illinoinensis, and the pecan tree is the state tree of Texas. The groves of wild pecans that lined the rivers of Texas are, however, threatened by the very popularity of the nuts they bear, and in particular by the fickle global nut market. The Chinese, you see, have gone nuts for pecans, increasing their purchase of American pecans from 3–4% in 2006 to 30–40% today. And if they abandon the pecan as quickly as they took it up, the wild pecan groves might be abandoned too. All this, and much more, I learned from James McWilliams, professor of history at Texas State University. His new book is one of those delights that looks at the global sweep of human endeavour through a little lens, in this case the pecan.
Why it was the Chinese, rather than the French, the English or some other country, that chose to absorb the pecan surplus, I guess we’ll never know. McWilliams told me that Chinese people he spoke to believe the nuts prolong life; irrational as that may seem, no American grower is going to say they don’t. And while the high prices are good news for growers, they’re not so good for people who want pecan-containing industrial food.
When you’re on holiday, or just away from home, do you seek out the “authentic” local food, or look for a reassuringly familar logo? Backpackers, keen to distinguish themselves from the vulgar hordes who are merely on holiday, seek out the authentic, at least to begin with. Dr Emily Falconer has been studying women backpackers. That’s her in the photo, doing a little field research over a bowl of something exotic in Thailand. And she says that while they start out seeking the grottiest places to eat, after they’ve been on the road for a while, their thoughts stray guiltily to familiar, comforting foods. I know the feeling
Emily Falconer didn’t set out to study backpackers and food, but soon discovered that no matter what the subject, the people she was talking to sooner or later brought up food. I’m no exception, and although I’ve never been a great backpacker myself, I do prefer to seek out reasonably local eating places where I can, and I’ve had some memorable meals as a result. The most memorable of those was in Kunming, China, where I detached myself from the group I was with and went in search of something to eat. I didn’t find it at the food fair that was on at the same time, but in the end I fetched up in a place so authentic it didn’t even have photographs of the food. I indicated to the waiter that I was hungry and he brought me food. I had no idea what any of it was, and aside from one soupy dish that was almost too hot even for me, it was all delicious. Next time I might take with me a book, this book.
A bit surprised that human’s evolutionary predilection against eating foods they’re not familiar with didn’t come up in conversation, but there’s so much rich material here otherwise, I’ll wager it may have been excised for time constraints.
Words of the day: grotty and neophobia
Somehow I’ve never had a bacon sandwich (BLTs, yes, but never just bacon). Will have to remedy that.
What, really, is the point of conserving agricultural biodiversity? The formal sector, genebanks and the like, will say it is about genetic resources and having on hand the traits to breed varieties that will solve the challenges tomorrow might throw up. Thousands of seed savers around the world might well agree with that, at least partially. I suspect, though, that for most seed savers the primary reason is surely more about food, about having the varieties they want to eat. David Cavagnaro has always championed that view. David’s is a fascinating personal history, which currently sees him working on the Pepperfield Project, “A Non-Profit Organization Located in Decorah, IA Promoting and Teaching Hands-On Cooking, Gardening and Agrarian Life Skills”. I first met David 15 or 20 years ago at Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah. This year, I was lucky enough to be invited there again, and I lost no time in finding time for a chat.
David pointed out that immigrants are often keen gardeners and, perforce, seed savers as they struggle to maintain their distinctive food culture in a new land. That’s true for the Hmong in Minneapolis, Asian communities in England and, I’m sure, many others elsewhere. What happens as those communities assimilate? The children and grandchildren of the immigrant gardeners are unlikely to feel the same connection to their original food culture, and may well look down on growing food as an unsuitable occupation. Is immigrant agricultural biodiversity liable to be lost too? Efforts to preserve it don’t seem to be flourishing.
Seed saving for its own sake, rather than purely as a route to sustenance, does seem to be both a bit of a luxury and to require a rather special kind of personality. John Withee, whose bean collection brought David Cavagnaro to Seed Savers Exchange and people like Russ Crow, another of his spritual heirs, collect and create stories as much as they do agricultural biodiversity. And that’s something formal genebanks never seem to document.
There’s a lot to unpack here with respect to agricultural diversity and evolution. Mass food manufacture is a boon for the world, but this type of industrial process should be working on ways to keep some programmed diversity in the process as well. I would have been perfectly happy for this interview to have gone on for several hours and in greater depth.
YouTube TV launches in 5 US cities with a sports-heavy lineup that could end cable dominance once and for all. Google will combine Google Home and mesh Wi-Fi. Facial Recognition will end all privacy. Facebook, Mozilla, and Craigslist founders will fight fake news with new $14 million foundation. The American botnet that helps Trump take over Twitter. James Comey's personal Twitter account sleuthed.
Leo is out - Jason Howell dives into the Android O Developer Preview. Samsung announced the bezel-free Galaxy S8 today, along with a new Gear 360, Connect Home router, and virtual assistant Bixby. Google continues to confuse everyone with its messages strategy. More advertisers are boycotting YouTube. Congress kills FCC ISP privacy rules. Android's daddy has a secret new phone. And the blackest paint ever comes in spray form.
I miss the more open-ended philosophical slant that Leo puts on this series in contrast to Jason’s more news-y rundown approach. I’m sure Jason’s method stems from his prior work on C|Net’s Buzz Out Loud and Tech News Today which follow that format/style.
What's the next big foodie enthusiasm? Robust flavors, earthy scents and lusty textures from the very soil that nourishes life.
It's called Veritable Cuisine du Terroir — literally, Food from the Earth Really — and in their copper-clad kitchen in the Marais district of Paris, chefs Solange and Gael Gregoire run one of the hottest bistros in a city long celebrated for its culinary prowess.
Their restaurant, Le Plat Sal — which translates to The Dirty Plate — prepares four-star signature dishes, like Roche Dans la Croute, a rock from Mont Lachat folded into a pastry crust, and Boue Ragout, a stew simmered from the mud of the Seine River, washed down with a surprisingly delicate vintage of Du Vin d'Egout, a smoky gray wine distilled from Paris sewer water.
On April 16, 2015, police officer Jesse Kidder encountered a murder suspect named Michael Wilcox in a suburb outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. What happened next was caught on video and surprised a lot of people, including police. And the incident tells us a lot about how these videos have changed us.
Follow us on Twitter @nprembedded, follow Kelly McEvers @kellymcevers, and producer Tom Dreisbach @TomDreisbach. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
An interesting piece with some pressing questions. Though they set the race issue aside (and cleverly try to hide it at the beginning), I wonder what drastically different training might produce in these situations?
What shapes the way we perceive the world around us? A lot of it has to do with invisible frames of reference that filter our experiences and determine how we feel. Alix Spiegel and Hanna Rosin interview a woman who gets a glimpse of what she's been missing all her life – and then loses it. And they talk to Daily Show correspondent Hasan Minhaj about which frame of reference is better – his or his dad's.
I often think about frames of reference having grown up in poor, rural Appalachia and then living in affluent areas of Connecticut and later Los Angeles. I’m sure it’s had more of an effect on me than I could verbalize.
The closest I’ve come to having as significant a frame of reference change as the physician who realized she had Asperger syndrome (and how she came to know), was when I worked my way through David Christian’s Big History concept. In some sense I had some background in both science and history which helped, but I cannot possibly go back to seeing the world (and the Universe we live in) the same way again.
Incidentally, the fact that this treatment seemed so effective for this woman hopefully means that some really heavy and interesting research is continuing in these areas.
The final segment was interesting from the perspective of gradations in change of reference. I was blown down by the idea of the “skin lamp.” Just the phrase and it’s horrific meaning is enough to drastically change anyone’s frame of reference.
There's a popular idea out there that you can change from the outside in. Power posing. Fake it 'til you make it. If you just assume the pose, inner transformation will follow. We examine to what extent this is true, by following the first all-female debate team in Rwanda, a country that has legislated gender equality. We also see how an app reshaped the relationship of twin sisters. And we end our season at the beach, with a man whose life was transformed by a seagull named Mac Daddy.
The last episode of season 2. Somehow the first long segment of this episode doesn’t quite fit into the broader theme of the rest of the episodes. It felt like the producers needed to fill in the space or took a pitch from outside. The story of the twin sisters, one with diabetes, was interesting, but not exceptional.
The final piece about animals brings it all back home though.
This may be my least favorite of all of the episodes thus far, but I’m excited to hear what comes in season 3.
Thinking about how nice it would be to have stronger text-to-speech transcriptions for podcasts. I was mentioned briefly in this podcast for having bookmarked an article earlier in the week. Webmentions for audio don’t (can’t?) exist, but a transcription would have included my name (and in this case even my URL) which potentially could have sent me a webmention of the fact.
You know Borat. You know Bruno. You know Ali G. But you probably don’t know much about Sacha Baron Cohen. The man himself sits down with Marc in the garage to talk about what goes into bringing such rich comedic characters to life, why he was drawn to comedy in the first place, and what’s next, with his new movie The Brothers Grimsby on the horizon.
I haven’t heard or seen any extended interviews with Sacha Baron Cohen. While this one goes a bit overboard on some of the making of his antics and films, there is some great personal background about how he got into comedy. Interestingly, he gets into an extended conversation about the theory of bouffon and clowning. It would have been nice if they detoured into 16th century commedia dell’arte, but you can’t have everything now can you?