Bookmarks, July 4, 2021
Articles you might want to read on your coffee break or bookmark for later. This week: looking to the future through food science and back to past traditions, plus Mark Bittman’s latest book, which he calls his most important work.
From fly oil to 3D-printed biscuits: the women reimagining the food of the future
A fascinating article. Women are leading many innovations in food science, a STEM field in which they actually dominate. Their inventions include 3D-printing new foods from puréed food waste, touch labels for more accurate assessment of the freshness of foods, and making protein products from fruit flies.
“Elzelinde van Doleweerd, another female pioneer with a background in design, set herself the challenge of reusing food waste, particularly bread – the most wasted food product in the Netherlands. As part of her final project in her degree in industrial design, she developed 3D-printed food products, combining ‘new technology and products that are normally thrown away, such as old bread, fruit and vegetables’. They are turned into purees and transformed into intricately designed biscuit-type snacks.” The Guardian
How farmers and scientists are engineering your food
Tomatoes are incredibly bland anymore. How strange that they were bred for traits other than flavour, and that kale might be bred to reduce its strong flavour. Maybe a case of “just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.” I’d vote for going back to real tomatoes with flavour and keeping kale the way it is, but maybe I’m an outlier on that.
“But finding truly tasty fruit and vegetable varieties can be difficult, largely due to the requirements of supermarkets…’They started demanding that varieties have a longer shelf life, so for example in the case of a tomato, it has a thicker skin, so the skins don’t split more easily; a tomato that perhaps ripens faster, that can absorb more water..So over time you breed your varieties for attributes other than flavour. The flavour attribute starts falling in importance, and as nature has it, if you breed for other traits you breed out flavour.’” BBC
Microbes and solar power ‘could produce 10 times more food than plants’
This sounds like an intriguing protein source, but maybe not the most appealing to the senses.
“‘It’s a really interesting concept – you are divorcing food production from land use, which would mean you could have all that land available for rewilding’…But he said food is not only composed of the main nutrients, like protein and carbohydrate: ‘There are an awful lot of secondary compounds that are important for your wellbeing.’” The Guardian
From nothing to something: How African-Canadians transformed ‘throwaways’ into delicacies that defined Canada’s cuisine
A look at the history of African-Canadian foods.
“(Our ancestors) led the way for people. They were trailblazers before their time and they should be thanked for what they have done, because they survived on (what people once thought was unimaginable).” Toronto Star
Cecelia Brooks uses elder teachings and science to reinvent traditional foods and medicines
Brooks uses “two-eyed seeing” to blend her knowledge as a scientist with what she learns from Indigenous elders. Her goal is to recapture lost food traditions and pass them along to current generations of Indigenous peoples, but she also shares her knowledge with non-Indigenous people through teaching and medicine walks.
“She does as much drying and preserving as possible and wants to teach those methods as a way to improve the food security, health and well-being of her people. ‘When the Europeans came, the first thing they took from us was our food…We have to get that back…Then we can get other things back.’” CBC
Mark Bittman’s warning: the true costs of our cheap food and the American diet
Somehow I missed any news about this book, which sounds like an important read. I’ve reserved a copy at the library and hope to read it soon.
“In a sweeping deconstruction of the history of food, spanning the past 10,000 years of organized agriculture, Bittman takes in everything from Mesopotamian irrigation to the Irish famine to the growth of McDonald’s to posit the rise of uniformity and convenience in food has mostly benefited large companies, fueled societal inequities and ravaged human health and the environment.” The Guardian