The Last 50 Miles

Well, here it is, the last half of “The 100-Mile Diet”, that book I started at the beginning of the semester, now sitting on my desk, dense and unappealing. I should be doing other things, writing papers, reading reviews, looking at literature, but instead I have to read the other half of this book. But…

Cows: More Than Meat Machines

Pollan M. 2006. The Omnivores Dilemma. The Penguin Press, New York, NY. 111-276 p. I’m going to level with you. I’ve never gotten my hands dirty working on a farm. I’ve never had to deal with a cow or horse being unruly, I have never had to wrangle chickens into a pen, and I certainly…

Ethneogens: Finding enlightenment through plants

Pollan M. 2002. The Botany of Desire. Random House. Toronto, Canada. 113-179p. Somewhere in the middle on the gradient between food and poison there exists a plant entity that encompasses both other functions, and more. This is the domain of the intoxicant: plants that alter our perception of pain, pleasure, time, and space. In chapter…

Prescribing Poisons

Hanson, T. 2015. The Triumph of Seeds. Basic Books, New York, USA. Chpt. 11. Poisons have been a tool of political power for millennia. Since the unfortunate execution of Socrates by water hemlock, plants and their metabolites have been exploited for their less than savoury health benefits in order to dispose of particularly radical individuals…

Potato™

    Pollan M. 2002. The Botany of Desire. Random House. Toronto, Canada. 183-238 p. Potatoes. The “Pomme du terre” in French: the apples of the earth. Each rustic, brown spud a reminder of our connection to the soil and our link to nature. Or is it? Pollan’s chapter on Desire: Control Plant: the Potato…

Corn: The Husk of Humanity

Pollan M. 2006. The Omnivores Dilemma. The Penguin Press, New York, NY. 15 – 120 p. Corn. Corn. Everything is corn. Corn is in our meat. Corn is in our drinks. Heck, corn is in almost every dietary product known to man. As a plant on an evolutionary scale, corn has done extremely well for…

Farm to Plate vs. Spear to Plate?

  Diamond J. 1997. Guns, Germs and Steel: The fates of human societies. Norton. New York, United States. Chapters 4,5,6 and 8. What a long day. Starting from 8:30 this morning, I drove to the university, prepared a culture for growth throughout the day, then managed to sit here and wait for the culture to get…

A Dependency Driven by Defecants

    Pollan M. 2002. The Botany of Desire. Random House. Toronto, Canada. xxiii – xxv p. More readings, there’s always more readings for this course. This time, as I sit here in front of my laptop, book in hand and ready to pore over (read as skim), this next set of chapters from Michael…

Sowing the Seeds of Salvation

    Hanson, T. 2015. The Triumph of Seeds. Basic Books, New York, USA. The advent of seeds was certainly one of the most important evolutionary events in the whole history of plants. Thor Hanson, the author of the book, “The Triumph of Seeds” makes this readily apparent in the few passages that were assigned…

Eating Locally and Biodiversity

  Smith A, MacKinnon J.B. 2007. The 100-Mile Diet. Vintage Canada, Toronto, Ontario. The first half of this particular book (The 100-Mile Diet) discusses the challenging endeavour undertaken by the two authors, Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon; to try to eat as locally as possible for one year. Throughout the first half of this book,…

Fungi and Forests: Mycobial diversity in Logging Piles

So I read this paper recently examining fungi and their abundance in logging waste material. The paper examined the process of degradation of logging piles, and how the presence of moisture influenced the abundance and diversity of fungi present in said piles. What they found was that, unsurprisingly, an increase in the moisture content of the logging…