A collection of brief stories related to food and food production, including a study of desert farming in the Southwestern U.S., efforts to encourage the adoption of Lorena stoves in Honduras, and the creation of bacteria with industrial uses.
DESERT FARMERS, PLEASE NOTE: If you grow crops in the low desert of Arizona, New Mexico, or southern California—using holistic or dryland methods, innovative irrigation or cropping techniques, or drought-hardy plants—your knowledge of desert farming is needed for a case study being conducted by the National Center for Appropriate Technology.
"SAFE" BEER: By the end of the year, most brewers should pretty well have removed nitrosamine (a suspected carcinogen that occurs naturally in the malting process) from their beers. The highest concentrations of the chemical are created when amines in barley come in contact with nitrous oxides produced by heat. . . and—in about one-third of the cases—the problem is linked to barley treated with herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that contain amines.
DIBROMOCHLOBOPROPANE DISCOVERED AT DISNEYLAND: DBCP—a nematocide that is known to cause infertility, testicular atrophy, chromosomal damage, and cancer among workers who come in contact with the pesticide—has been found in the water supplies of 24 California counties and in the large cities of Riverside and Anaheim (the home of Disneyland).
DOES EVERYTHING CAUSE CANCER? Of course not . . . but more people from every age group do die from the disease today than at any other time in history. In two years alone, the incidence of lung cancer increased by 13% . . . breast cancer by 17% . . . stomach cancer by 28% . . . and cancer of the prostate by 32%.
THREE "SUPER" WALNUT TREES have been developed by Purdue University. They are said to be superior in height, diameter, straightness, disease resistance, strong central stem tendency, and nut-bearing abilities.
DOUBLE TAXATION: For 16 years, Joseph Ochman, president and chairman of the board of New Jersey's Inter-Boro Savings and Loan Association, has waged a campaign to eliminate the tax on interest earned in savings accounts ... a practice which he feels amounts to double taxation and promotes inflation by discouraging thrift.
AND WHEN YOU FILL OUT THOSE TAX FORMS, ponder the fact that over $11 billion in taxpayers' money was frittered away by governmental waste, fraud, and corruption in the first nine months of 1979.
FREEZE OFF FAT: Canadian Armed Forces researchers discovered that two hours a day of exposure to arctic air can help a person remove a pound or so of fat without the need to diet or conduct any kind of program of regular strenuous exercise.
FUEL-EFFICIENT COOKING has arrived in Honduras. The Save the Children Agency has been teaching poor communities how to replace their traditional open-fire methods with mud-and-chimney "Lorena" stoves. Each "cooker" costs just $15-$30 and reduces wood consumption dramatically.
CURRENT GENETIC EXPERIMENTS have produced, among other things, a new yeast to make alcohol from biomass more economically . . . methods of cutting the production costs of antifreeze by using "fabricated" enzymes to control chemical reactions . . . ways to increase the recovery of metals from lean ores by leaching with biotechnical bacteria . . . and a technique that uses mutated micro-organisms to reduce the need for petrochemical fertilizers! The search is also on for a superior industrial bacteria strain that will be able to prevent ecological disasters by "eating" oil spills.
WHAT'S IN A NAME? It's finally been decided that nitrite-free hot dogs can be called "hot dogs" ... if each package bears a warning that the franks must be refrigerated. The Meat Institute was (expectedly) unhappy about the ruling, saying, "Some consumers will read the label and become unduly fearful about all processed products." (That'll be the day!)
ARTIFICIAL ODORS —of chocolate chip cookies, hot apple pies, fresh pizza, etc.—are being packaged in aerosol cans and marketed with time-release devices to be used to lure shopping mall customers into eateries. . . . Over the years, hundreds of asthma sufferers have reported that if they keep a Chihuahua close at all times— especially at night—they NO LONGER HAVE ASTHMA ATTACKS. . . . China's Ministry of Agriculture forbids citizens to catch and eat frogs, since it was discovered that 6,000 of the little jumpers per acre of rice can consume 300,000 harmful insects a day and REDUCE PESTICIDE USE BY MORE THAN 50%. . . . Did you know that there's at least one employee in our Department of Agriculture for EVERY 10 FULL-TIME AMERICAN FARMERS? . . . Someone also noted that if our agricultural land were distributed equally, EACH UNITED STATES CITIZEN WOULD HAVE FIVE ACRES of this natural bounty. . . . Barley grains, grinding stones, and mortars found in ancient Egyptian campsites suggest that HUMAN AGRICULTURE BEGAN 17,000 YEARS AGO (10,000 years earlier than previously believed). ... A 30-minute treatment of 110°F steam—blasted at a steady rate into a sufferer's nostrils—usually CLEARS UP A HEAD COLD WITHIN ONE DAY, says Dr. Arnon Yurushalmi of Israel's Weizman Institute of Science.