• Nitrogen Fertilizer Dangers

    My first reaction when I heard details of this week's deadly fertilizer explosion in Texas was horror. My second thought was, "Maybe I shouldn't have pushed to change that headline." National Geographic magazine just published in its May issue my article about how nitrogen fertilizer has shaped our planet. The article, with Peter Essick's beautiful pictures, describes fertilizer's critical role in providing our food, but also its toll on water, air and wildlife. When the article went up online, the headline read, at first, "The Curse of Fertilizer." I didn't like it. It seemed only half of the story. I complained, and the headline soon changed to "A Mixed Blessing" — just as news broke that the West Fertilizer Co. plant had caught fire and exploded, destroying much of the small town of West, Texas. The blast killed at least a dozen people — including emergency workers who were trying to fight the fire — and injured more than 100 others. >> Read the Full Article
  • Green 'Khutbah' Muslim Sermon Campaign

    Muslims have been asked to encourage their spiritual leaders, imams, to devote this Friday Khutbah or sermon (19th April 2013) to celebrate the blessings, graces and beauty of all of Allah’s creation. Muaz Nasir from Khaleafa who is leading the effort is also hoping to raise awareness amongst Muslim of the environmental challenges facing humanity. "The 'Green Khutbah Campaign' is aiming to challenge Muslims to become stewards of the environment by making changes to their daily routines," explains Nasir. "Although the evidence of environmental damage is stronger than ever, the public is starting to tune out due to the recent economic crisis and a lack of political leadership. But Muslims cannot tune out from the environmental damage – tuning out would mean that we are disregarding our moral responsibility to Allah's creation." >> Read the Full Article
  • Study Suggests Community Gardening May Produce Health Benefits

    There are many benefits to community gardens. From greening urban ecosystems, to offering education and cultural opportunities, community gardens provide a venue for people to come together and stimulate social interaction. For individuals, these gardens also provide a venue for exercise, food production, and improved diets. These potential benefits have lead to a new study that reveals those who participate in community gardening have a significantly lower body mass index and have lower odds of being overweight or obese compared to their non-gardening neighbors. >> Read the Full Article
  • Lettuce Turnip the Radish Beet and Rocket

    Permaculture is the branch of ecological design, which promotes development of sustainable and self-sufficient natural ecosystems. Focusing on twelve tenets, or design principles, that center on taking care of the earth while setting limits on consumption and redistributing surplus, the movement has yet to gain mainstream scientific acceptance. However, with help from a new album, "Permaculture – A Rhymer's Manual," Formidable Vegetable Sound System hopes to bring attention to permaculture and it's principles through their unique musical stylings. Globetrotting permaculture troubadour, Charlie Mgee has composed an entire album about sustainability, a topic most artists wouldn't think of touching without sounding too corny or too righteous. But who knew this new genre of edutainment (education and entertainment) would catch on? And who knew songs about permaculture could sound so cool and refreshing? >> Read the Full Article
  • Climate Change in the San Joaquin Valley and Our Future Food Supply

    The San Joaquin Valley is North America's most valuable farming region. The area’s crops such as carrots and tomatoes are part of large companies' supply chains. High-value crops such as stone fruit, pistachios, almonds, table grapes and pomegranates are shipped across the United States, Canada and overseas. And while this basin between the Sierra Nevada mountains and Coastal Ranges is a bastion of agribusiness, the area is awash with many family-owned farms–many of which grow the "local produce" Bay Area and southern California residents score at weekend farmers' markets. But climate change is already having its impact on the San Joaquin Valley. >> Read the Full Article
  • Horsemeat Still Showing up in EU Beef

    Up to 5% of European Union products labelled as beef contain horsemeat, according to results published by the European Commission yesterday (16 April). The results came after eight weeks of DNA testing on more than 4,000 beefs products, of which 193 were positive for horse. The Commission also found that 0.5% of the 3,000 tested horse carcasses contained traces of phenylbutazone, a potentially harmful drug which is banned from entering the human food chain, known as bute. >> Read the Full Article
  • Fungi Found to be Culprit for Horseradish Root Rot

    Horseradish grown in the Midwest of the United States has been experiencing significant yield reductions for the past 30 years due to internal discoloring and root rot. According to crop science professor Mohammad Babadoost at the University of Illinois, "If the roots are discolored, they are not accepted for processing." This affects the success of these plants and the livelihood of Illinois farmers who grown over half of the horseradish produced in the United States. >> Read the Full Article
  • Selenium deficiency 'endemic' in Malawi

    Low availability of selenium, an essential human micronutrient, in Malawian soils is responsible for its deficiency among the country's population, a study has found. Researchers from Malawi, New Zealand and the United Kingdom sought to establish both whether selenium content in different Malawian soils affects the mineral content of food crops grown in them, and its ultimate influence on the status of human health. >> Read the Full Article
  • Britain's love affair with bottled water

    Leading academic brands industry a "scam" as campaigners condemn our growing thirst for bottled water. The UK bottled water industry releases 350,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. One of Britain's leading authorities on water supplies has branded the bottled water industry a scam, backing campaigners' claims of wasted millions and environmental pollution at a time when tap water standards have never been higher. Professor Paul Younger, Rankine Chair of Engineering at Glasgow University, has highlighted growing fears that our increasing consumption of bottled water is damaging the environment while raising huge profits for the big brands, despite Britain having one of the best mains water supplies in the world. >> Read the Full Article
  • Norwegian Pinot Noir?: Global Warming to Drastically Shift Wine Regions

    In less than 40 years, drinking wine could have a major toll on the environment and wildlife, according to a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The study finds that climate change will likely force many vineyards to move either north or to higher altitudes, leading to habitat loss, biodiversity declines, and increased pressure for freshwater. Some famous wine-growing areas could be lost, including in the Mediterranean, while development of new wine areas—such as those in the Rocky Mountains and northern Europe—could lead to what the scientists describe as "conservation conflicts." >> Read the Full Article