From Antarctica to Mars: Growing Food in Extreme Conditions

Even those of us with the greenest thumbs are baffled by the idea of growing food in Antarctica. From my tiny desk plant to my neighbor’s cabbage patch, plants generally have the same requirements: soil, sun and water. At the southern end of the planet, however, those are all scarce commodities. Nonetheless, on April 5, 2018, the team managing the EDEN-ISS greenhouse at Neumayer III announced that they had harvested 8 pounds of salad greens, 18 cucumbers and 70 radishes. This project has implications beyond just Antarctica, from moderate climates on Earth to future Mars missions. Continue reading

Ooooh, Fishy, Fish! Please Land on My Dish

Yes, I am a Monty Python fan and I like to play the “Find the Fish” video on YouTube when I need some midday amusement. However, this video brings up the topic of eating less red meat and enjoying more fish on my dish. My husband and I are trying to curb our beef-eating activities by diversifying the protein sources in our diet. We have recently adopted some dining rituals that include Friday Fish Fry (leaning more toward broiling, even though it’s hard to resist a traditional Wisconsin fish fry) and Meatless Mondays for vegetarian fare. One reason for doing this is to hopefully find more sustainable approaches to supporting a healthy diet.

So I was intrigued to learn more about fish farming (aquaculture) at sea when I read Sarah Simpson’s article in the February 2011 issue of Scientific American titled “The Blue Food Revolution”. Sustainability has become more important in many of the buying choices I have made lately, especially after learning that our global population will reach 7 billion in 2011 and is expected to grow to 9.3 billion by 2050. Yikes! How do we provide high-quality protein and nutrition to so many people? Continue reading

‘Bee Disease’ Mystifies Epidemiology Sleuths

Growing up in the UK at the height of the BSE crisis in the early 80’s, I have some experience of the economic impact that poor animal health can have on our global society.  More recently many of us were deluged with news stories on the outbreak of another disease, bird flu, that troubled much of east Asia.  In fact since December 2003 numerous cases of one particular strain of bird flu, called H5N1, have also been reported amongst birds in Africa and Europe (1,2). Fears that H5N1 could have larger repercussions have lead to drastic measures including an import ban of birds from any of the H5N1-affected countries (1). Such fears appear to be well founded. After all, there have been 411 confirmed cases and 256 deaths in humans to-date as a result of the H5N1 outbreak (3).Are we placing too many demands on bees?

Less extensively documented in the media is the rise of a more mysterious disease, also over the last five years, that today is being blamed for “an alarming die off” of honey bees in the United States (4). Known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), the disease is believed to have already destroyed around two million bee colonies (5).

Are we placing too many demands on bees?

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