On the menu: Transforming global food systems

June 11, 2019 by  
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The main course of the future of food will be meeting the nutrition needs of a growing population.

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On the menu: Transforming global food systems

A 1923 building in Quebec is now a light-filled public market complete with aquaponics systems

June 7, 2019 by  
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Discerning foodies in Quebec will soon have a beautiful new market to buy their locally grown fare. Local architectural firms Bisson Associés and Atelier Pierre Thibault are at the final stages of converting the Pavillon du Commerce, which dates back to 1923, into the light-filled Grand Marché, a public market that features aquaponics systems. As one of Quebec’s most beloved buildings, the architects were determined to retain as many original features of the nearly century-old Pavillon du Commerce as possible while turning it into a modern public market . The renovation managed to conserve the building’s beautiful wooden ceilings and brick walls as well as its original columns and pediments. Related: MVRDV-designed market in Taiwan will grow food on a massive green roof Although the new market, which boasts a whopping 96,875 square feet, retains a lot of the building’s original features, the architectural team managed to implement a number of modern materials into the new space. For instance, the interior facades of the building as well as the individual stalls were all constructed using CLT panels . The market will also be equipped with an on-site food waste management system that collects organic matter to be sent to the city’s biomethanation plant. According to the architects, the new market was designed to be a city landmark and general meeting place. The stalls are carefully placed in a village-like layout meant to foster socialization. The interior space is bathed in natural light thanks to large skylights and fully-opening windows on the south-facing facade, and it also features a wooden, bleacher-like staircase where people can sit and chat. In addition to selling local fare, the market will include a family space for workshops, a cooking school, an urban gardening education center and a technology showcase that highlights agro-food innovation. To focus on sustainable food growth, the market is working with the Institute on Nutrition and Functional Foods to install an aquaponics system and a mycelium incubator in the market. Not only will this space be used to sustainably grow food, but it will also be designed as a training and research center for the general public. + Bisson Associés + Atelier Pierre Thibault Photography by Maxime Brouillet via v2com

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A 1923 building in Quebec is now a light-filled public market complete with aquaponics systems

New York Botanical Garden’s new artist residencies connect people with plants

May 10, 2019 by  
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Despite its irrefutable success — founded in 1891 and now receiving one million visitors a year — the New York Botanical Garden’s staff tirelessly finds innovative ways to stimulate visitors’ connection to nature. This year, it launched a new artist residency program, inviting internationally acclaimed visual artist Michele Oka Doner and sought-after composer Angélica Negrón to be the first participants. “People come to nature in different ways,” Barbara Corcoran, NYBG’s vice president for continuing and public education, told Inhabitat. “Some people come to the garden and they’re very observant, they really see the plants, they read the labels, and they have quite a good knowledge. They’re gardeners themselves or they’re naturalists.” Others might need extra help connecting. “ Music and art are two ways to do that,” she said. Carrie Rebora Barratt, who became CEO and president of the garden in 2018, came up with the residency idea. Her training as an art historian and museum administrator and her previous position at the Metropolitan Museum of Art had shown her the value of artist residencies. Michele Oka Doner Love of nature fuels Michele Oka Doner’s five decades of artwork. This is apparent as soon as you walk into her SoHo studio. “It’s like a treasure trove of nature,” Corcoran said. “She’s a collector of natural objects and archaeological finds like fossils and little bird skulls, like dozens of them, and old stone tools and shells and nature books. So this is like a laboratory. When you go there, you really get to see what she’s all about.” Doner’s past works include “A Walk on the Beach,” composed of 9,000 bronze starfish, sand dollars, coral and other sea-inspired sculptures embedded in the concourse at Miami International Airport. Her installation at the Nymphenburg Porcelain Manufactory in Munich includes 400 shamanistic sculptures . She’s still developing her ideas for the site-specific work she’ll create at the New York Botanical Garden . Related: Second Nature transforms abandoned fishing nets into 3D-printed seashells and bowls On June 12, Doner will give a free talk at the garden called “Ecstatic Nutrition: The Trees of My Life” about three trees that greatly influenced her. “It kicks off our Wellness Wednesdays, which we have through the summer,” Corcoran said.  “Michele is a close observer of nature and a fine storyteller. She has this kind of enchantment with the natural world and its sacredness, and it really comes across. I think it will be very inspiring to hear her talk.” Angélica Negrón Composer and multi-instrumentalist Angélica Negrón is a classically trained violinist who is well-known for her electronic music. Much of her work includes nontraditional instruments, such as toys, music boxes and electrodes hooked up to vegetables. A YouTube video shows Negrón in a market, lining up vegetables on a shelf to gauge their aesthetic as well as musical potential.  “I try to find vegetables or fruits that match the textures of the songs. I do love cauliflower, Romanesco broccoli, vegetables that have kind of design element. I call it a vegetable synth,” she said in the video. “I try to coordinate it so it all looks like part of the same instrument.” Corcoran said that both artists are interested in science and technology. Negrón has met with a New York Botanical Garden scientist and horticulturalist to learn more about tree communication. “ Trees communicate largely through their roots,” Corcoran said. “That’s all very fascinating to her.” Negrón has already performed twice at the garden, delighting the public with her vegetable synth. “She assigns each vegetable with a different note,” Corcoran explained. “And then when she touches them, the water in those fruits and plants and vegetables conduct the electricity that creates the notes. By tapping different vegetables, she creates a musical piece.” She also adds in acoustic and electronic instruments and found sounds for a result Corcoran describes as “soothing and mesmerizing.” Negrón’s residency will culminate in November with a world-premiere performance in the Thain Family Forest. “We’ll have several choruses here,” Corcoran said. “So it’s a mix of live choral music with sounds that are coming from the trees. I think that’s going to be a real artistic happening that you wouldn’t want to miss if you’re in New York in the fall. Plus, it’s in the old growth forest at a beautiful time of year.” Visiting the garden The New York Botanical Garden is open Tuesday through Sunday year-round, plus occasional holiday Mondays. In addition to leisurely strolling and soaking up the beauty, there’s always something going on. Activities range from the extremely practical — learning to repot orchids — to something as celebratory as the Brazil-themed World Pride Night in June. The botanical garden is a vital center for plant research. Its herbarium contains 7.8 million specimens, and it employs about 200 PhD-level scientists and support staff who travel the world to collect plants and bring them back for study. But most of all, it’s a place where busy urbanites can spend time in nature . “It’s a real oasis for people,” Corcoran said. “And I think now more than ever, people need that.” + New York Botanical Garden Images via NYBG and Ben Hider / NYBG

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The ugly truth about the imperfect food movement

September 11, 2018 by  
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The imperfect food movement continues to rise in popularity as companies, like Imperfect Produce in Silicon Valley, capitalize on a growing trend to fight food waste around the country. Imperfect Produce and similar companies offer boxes of ugly and misshapen produce to customers, saving a lot of food that would otherwise be discarded. While the movement is cutting down on food waste , small farmers are worried that it might have a negative affect on their livelihoods. Origins of the imperfect food movement Startups like Imperfect Produce are not the first to sell discarded produce at a discount. Farmers around the country have been doing it for years with the support of local communities. Many farmers engage in community supported agriculture ( CSA ), selling boxes of imperfect produce on a subscription basis and providing fresh food that is locally sourced. Although trends like the imperfect food movement are on the rise, small farmers have seen a decline in their sales as larger companies and grocery stores branch out into the organic marketplace. It is estimated that small farms throughout the country have seen a 20 percent dip year over year in CSA sales ever since the imperfect food movement took off in 2014. Related: New study finds food waste will increase to 66 tons per second if left unchecked An imperfect food movement on the rise Selling ugly and misshapen produce has really taken off over the past three years, and the movement is still going strong. Imperfect Produce sells produce in a growing number of cities across America. This past summer, Imperfect Produce started another round of financing that generated upward of $30 million, a clear sign that investors are interested in the growing movement. But as companies like Imperfect Produce benefit from the imperfect food movement, small farmers are struggling to keep up. The decline in sales has even forced some smaller farmers to shut down and seek work elsewhere. How are small farmers affected? The main problem with the imperfect food movement, at least as it relates to small farms , is that the market has become too large for these farmers to compete. Imperfect Produce is doing its best to help small farms by sourcing produce from farms across the Midwest — the company currently works with 25 small farms throughout the area — but the demand is higher than what these farmers can meet. To help fill the gaps, Imperfect Produce has turned to larger farms, which supply all of the demand and do so at a cheaper price. In fact, the majority of the produce the company sells actually comes from Mexico and California , especially when winter hits the Midwest. For all of the farmers who are not associated with the company, competing with them at that scale is nearly impossible. Related: Walmart introduces line of “ugly” fruit to combat food waste The ugly side of the imperfect food movement Small farmers are not the only ones hurt by the imperfect food movement. With most of the produce coming from California and Mexico , customers outside of these regions aren’t always getting local or seasonal foods — instead, more emissions are emitted as these companies try to get enough food to customers. Critics also point out that companies like Imperfect Produce are making money from food that would normally be donated to non-profit organizations, like local food banks. This in turn hurts local communities and low-income families who have used these resources for decades. That said, Imperfect Produce has made an effort to help out food banks in cities where it operates. In Chicago , for example, the company has gifted more than 130,000 pounds of produce to the city’s food bank, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, which gives this food to homeless shelters and food outlets. Benefits of the imperfect food movement The impact on small farms aside, the imperfect food movement is cutting down on overall food waste, which is a big issue in this country. As the movement rises in popularity, more and more produce will be rescued from the trash heap, a benefit that should not be overlooked. The imperfect food movement also teaches consumers — and farmers — that produce can look imperfect but still taste amazing and have nutritional value . It can also open the door for people to look into other programs, like CSA, that offer imperfect produce at a discount. Should you support the imperfect food movement or small farmers? The imperfect food movement has created a difficult problem for small farmers throughout the country, an issue that will likely worsen in the coming years. For consumers, picking between supporting local farmers or the imperfect food movement is a tough decision. On one hand, buying imperfect produce helps cut down on food waste. On the other hand, buying that produce from larger companies hurts small farmers who cannot compete with the growing demand. As the movement continues to grow, we can only hope that companies like Imperfect Produce will partner with more small farms. After all, helping small farms not only keeps their doors open, but it also boosts local economies and provides fresh food with a smaller environmental impact. Images via Alexandr Podvalny , Gemma Evans , Rebecca Georgia , Sydney Rae , Anda Ambrosini , Caleb Stokes and Shumilov Ludmila

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The ugly truth about the imperfect food movement

South Pacific islands introduce ban on western junk food

February 3, 2017 by  
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South Pacific islands are banning western junk food in favor of a more nutritious diet. As the islands can grow organic, local food themselves, leaders in Torba, a Vanuatu province, said they want to ban imported foreign food. Their goal is to be the first organic province in Vanuatu by 2020. Torba is Vanuatu’s most isolated province, according to community leader Father Luc Dini. Around 10,000 people reside in the province; most are subsistence farmers. But Dini said the remote islands are experiencing an intrusion of foreign junk food, the most popular of which have been sweets, biscuits, tinned fish, and rice. In contrast, the islands can yield pineapple, yams, paw paw, shellfish, crabs, and other fish for what Dini sees as a healthier diet. He told The Guardian, “It is easy to boil noodles or rice, but they have almost no nutritional value and there is no need to eat imported food when we have so much local food grown organically on our islands.” Related: Michael Moss Investigates How Junk Food is Engineered to Be Addictive Dini also leads the local tourism council, and starting this week, with the support of other local chiefs, he has ordered tourism bungalows to serve only local, organic food. He aims to introduce legislation in the next two years to wholly ban imports of foreign food. Vanuatu’s central government, in Port Vila, has been supportive, according to Dini. “In other provinces that have adopted western diets you see pretty young girls but when they smile they have rotten teeth, because the sugar has broken down their teeth. We don’t want that to happen here and we don’t want to develop the illnesses that come with a western junk food diet,” he told The Guardian. “If you really want to live on a paradise of your own, then you should make do with what you have and try and live with nature .” Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons and Harsha K R on Flickr

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Beekeeper built dream hexagonal house without ‘hateful’ right angles

February 3, 2017 by  
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Apiarists tend to be very serious about their beehives , but one New Zealand beekeeper took his passion one step further. Roy Brewster (1905- 1978) dedicated his entire life to honeybee hive design, even going so far as building a home in what he considered the perfect (and godly) shape: a hexagon. Images via Collection of Puke Ariki Simply put, Brewster was not a man of conformity. In fact, when he began to build his house in 1954 in Westown, New Plymouth, he decided to do everything possible to avoid any and all right angles, which, according to him, “represented nonsense, confusion, and hate.” Related: These Earthen “Beehive” Houses Have Been Keeping Syrians Naturally Cool for Centuries Images via Collection of Puke Ariki Brewster was a man of deep faith and he took the hexagon design quite seriously, believing that right angles were incongruent with harmonious living, “If man chooses square world he readily makes himself a slave to machines and money,” he wrote. “For what shall it profit man if he gain the whole world and yet lose his own soul.” Other writings reveal that he believed that the “honeycomb was a message from God that showed humans the best way to live, while parallel lines built a world of lies and evil.” Image by Barney Brewster (1975) via Collection of Puke Ariki The efficient honeycomb design not only served as inspiration for the Norian House (“NoRIght ANgles”) but became something of a life-long obsession for Brewster. The structure and nearly everything else inside and outside the home was hexagonal, from its windows and shelves to accessories like a hexagonal quilt. Even a picture frame holding a reproduction of the Mona Lisa was hexagonal and nailed to the hexagonal wall panels. Image via Collection of Puke Ariki Of course, it was impossible to construct the home out of hexagons alone. The roof and ceiling featured triangular and diamond forms, and some of the furnishings were round. When the hateful 90? angle was necessary, Brewster made it work in his own special way. The perpendicular crossing formed by where the wall meets the floor was deemed a “radial line to a round earth.” The home became quite a hit, becoming one of New Plymouth’s main tourist attractions. It was so popular that on June 6, 1966 (6/6/66), Brewster, inspired by “a message from God,” sold the home to the local Tainui Home Trust Board for £6,666.66, a number that best represented the six-sided form. Unfortunately, after the death of his wife some eight years later, the Beehive House was dismantled by Brewster himself. However, his legacy remained thanks to the city’s Puke Ariki Library , which is currently running an exhibition, A Different Angle , with some of the home’s fixtures and furnishings. Along with various items saved from the home, the exhibition includes several hexagon-heavy architectural plans as well as personal notes that reveal Brewster’s deep religious beliefs. + Puke Ariki Library Via Hyperallergic Images via Barney Brewster and Collection of Puke Ariki

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Is giraffe milk the latest superfood?

January 30, 2017 by  
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Call us crazy, but it seems like you can’t sling an acai quinoa bowl these days without slamming into some healthful new “superfood” we should all be eating. Never mind that actual scientific corroboration tends to be scant, or that a balanced diet, chock full of fruits and vegetables, will outperform even the most faddish of nutritional panaceas on the best of days. The ability to reduce the complexities of calorie counting, ingredient-label translating, and consistent clean living to a trite “eat this, not that” has undeniable appeal. Bonus points if it adds a dash of exoticism or mystery to our otherwise quotidian existence. The latest bandwagon-in-making, according to Metro ? Giraffe milk. By way of evidence, the British rag pointed to a 1962 study that claimed that giraffe milk has almost four times the fat content of full-fat cow’s milk and 12 times that of skim. Giraffe milk contains comparable amounts of riboflavin, thiamine, and vitamin B6 as cow’s milk, the study continued, but higher levels of vitamins A and B12. It’s the excess fat that we desire, Metro insists. A Tufts University study that followed some 3,000 people over two decades found that people who had the most dairy fat in their diets had a 46 percent lower risk of diabetes that those who ate the least. Related: Giraffes are on the verge of going extinct While it was “too early to call whole-fat dairy the healthiest choice,” Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and the study’s author, also called for a national policy that was more neutral on dairy fat until additional data presented itself. But even Metro admitted that the idea of giraffe milk on supermarket shelves would be unlikely. “When it comes to a giraffe, it would be almost impossible to get one to stand still long enough to be milked—let alone enough to set up a profitable business,” it wrote. “The giraffes that have been milked have been milked under controlled conditions by scientists.” There’s also the fact that giraffes are on the brink of extinction . The IUCN Red List reported a 38 percent decline in the giraffe population since 1985, plus a “high risk of extinction” in the wild if the trend continues. The culprit, of course, is humans. Illegal hunting, habitat loss through agriculture and mining, and growing human-wildlife conflict could soon spell the irretrievable loss of the world’s tallest land mammal. The last thing giraffes need is someone chasing after them with a bucket and a stool. Photos by Pixabay and Andrew Magill

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Is giraffe milk the latest superfood?

10 Healthy, energizing, clean-eating Thanksgiving recipes

November 23, 2015 by  
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Colder weather is upon us and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. The typical Thanksgiving gorge-fest of carb-heavy potatoes, bread stuffing and turkey often leaves people feeling tired and bloated, so this year we’re seeking out recipes that pack in the nutrition and deliciousness without over-stuffing your gut and making it impossible for you to get out of bed the next morning. From Esalen Kale Salad to Sweet Potato Stuffing, Chocolate Pecan bars to Pumpkin Pie Mousse, we’ve called upon the most nutrient-dense, clean, healthy, and energizing Thanksgiving recipes to make this year’s feast both delicious and nutritious. Not only are these healthy dishes easy to make, they’re also guaranteed to fuel you through this busy season and set you off on the right foot for the New Year. Say goodbye to guilt driven New Year’s resolutions, and pass the sweet-potato stuffing! Read the rest of 10 Healthy, energizing, clean-eating Thanksgiving recipes

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HHF Architects’ renovated a group of crumbling buildings to help revitalize an entire neighborhood

November 23, 2015 by  
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Undulating German pavilion brings a “field of ideas” to Milan Expo 2015

May 3, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of Undulating German pavilion brings a “field of ideas” to Milan Expo 2015 Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Biodiversity , Canopy , food consumption , food production , German Pavilion , Messe Frankfurt , milan expo 2015 , nutrition , Schmidhuber , sustainable food , temporary pavilion , World Expo

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