Editor's note: Kim Flottum is the editor of Bee Culture magazine.
That honeybees die is not new. And that beekeepers accept that on average 30% or more of their livestock will vanish each spring isn't new either. But when more than half of all the honeybees in this country die almost at once - that is new. And that's what happened this spring.
Scientists have given this disaster the catchy, all-inclusive name Colony Collapse Disorder. It describes symptoms, but not cause.
The Dekalb seed company recently shared a poster on Facebook depicting the top corn yields of 1940 and it got the gears turning in my head. For many decades, corn growers at the local, state and national level have competed in yield contests to see who can grow the most corn per acre. Bragging rights are at stake (and sometimes cash and prizes), and the 1940 yield contest winner for my home state of Indiana harvested 94.81 bushels per acre.
What about that clicks in my ag-nerd brain? The fact that in 2012, hopefully the worst drought of my farming career, saw our farm garner an average corn yield of 94.7 bushels per acre. For all intents and purposes, that's equal to the best of the best in my great grandfather’s day.
The poster shows a 102.38 bushel average for contestants over 12 states. The U.S. averaged about 123 bushels per acre following the horrendous drought of 2012. By those numbers, today’s worst is better than yesteryear’s top dogs.
On a cold, rainy day, people lined up around the block for supplies from a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center in Far Rockaway, Queens, one of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy.
More than 100 days after Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast, leaving power lines, houses, family heirlooms and human lives decimated in its wake, it's a clear sign residents are still figuring out how to cope.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the recent storm would cost New York State alone nearly $42 billion. Despite the odds, the recent reopening of small businesses, like a tiny, neighborhood bagel shop, indicates a new day is dawning.
From midtown Manhattan, the trip to Far Rockaway takes a little more than two hours. That’s because there is still no subway service past John F. Kennedy Airport. To access the Rockaways, riders have to transfer to a shuttle bus, then back onto a fare free shuttle train, which only started service in late November. It’s a couple more transfers than residents are used to, but it’s better than the lack of transportation they were saddled with for quite some time.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, known in New York City for his tough regulations on everything from large sodas to smoking in Central Park, proposed a new target during his final State of the City speech Thursday: plastic foam containers.
"Styrofoam increases the cost of recycling by as much as $20 per ton because it has to be removed," the mayor said. "Something we know is environmentally destructive, that is costing taxpayers money, and that is easily replaceable, I think, is something we can do without."
Bad news for food-obssessed travelers to Japan.
Unagi - the sweet broiled eel dish that's one of Japan's best eats - may soon be going the way of shark's fins and fish balls: it gets overfished (check), it gets put on an endangered list (check) and it gets banned from restaurants (maybe).
The Japanese Ministry of the Environment officially added Japanese eel to its Red List of endangered fish on Friday, reported Yomiuri Shimbun.
Read the full story - Japanese eel becomes latest 'endangered food' - on CNN Travel.
An old wooden carving known as "the Sacred Cod" hangs in the Massachusetts State House.
That figurine has stared down at lawmakers for more than two centuries as a reminder of how important cod fishing has been to New England, where generations have made a living by casting their nets out at sea.
"It's the only job I've ever had," said Al Cattone, a Gloucester fisherman, who - like his father and grandfather before him - spent more than 30 years braving the Atlantic's rough waters and cold winds in search of fish.
"It's not so much a job as it is an identity."
No matter if they're honey-dipped, sauce-slathered, mild or volcanic, chicken wings will cost more for Super Bowl party hosts and pub patrons across America this year.
That's mainly because the most severe and extensive drought in 25 years blazed a path of destruction through the Midwest during the sizzling summer of 2012. It damaged and destroyed major portions of fields, caused crop prices to rise and created a domino effect on overall food prices.
“The prices of corn and soybeans went way up. That caused many of the [chicken growers] to cut back on production,” said David Harvey, an agricultural economist and specialist in poultry at the United States Department of Agriculture.
5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.
Confused about what terms like "local," "green" and "sustainable" mean? You're not the only one trying to weed through it.
Luckily for us, Nate Appleman has an answer or five. He's the Culinary Manager of Chipotle Mexican Grill, a 2009 James Beard Rising Star Chef and a Food & Wine magazine Best New Chef and he's here to clear things up.
"There are a lot of great things happening in food right now as it relates to local and more sustainable. And a lot of food companies that would like for you to think they are part of that," Appleman said.
"When dealing with vague words like 'local' or 'fresh' or 'natural' that have no standard definition, it's important for people to understand what claims are being made, as there are many who try to benefit from using them."
This is the fifth installment of "Eat This List" - a regularly recurring list of things chefs, farmers, writers and other food experts think you ought to know about.
A recent study by the UK-based Institution of Mechanical Engineers revealed that 30–50% or 1.2-2 billion metric tonnes (that's about 2.6-4.4 trillion pounds for those of us not on the metric system) of all food produced on the planet is lost before reaching a human stomach. There are plenty of factors at play - including large portions of edible crops being rejected because they're not physically attractive enough, problems in the supply chain and inefficient harvesting - but perhaps it's time to consider that your own kitchen might be part of the problem.
The next time you're heading out on a grocery run, try one or more of these simple tricks for minimizing food waste. Not only will they help you do your part to take it easy on the environment, but you may even save a few bucks in the bargain.
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