weekend reading: feeding crows, willie’s guitar, gmo grist
RENDERED A SHUT-IN or thereabouts by winter, I confess to conspicuous consumption: I eat a lot, and gobble up media, too—on topics as diverse as our world food supply and Willie Nelson’s trusty guitar. Recent fodder, both heavy and lighter fare:
willie and trigger
MY WILLIE NELSON fandom is no secret. This video tale (above) of a guitar with “a little more Django in it” that has been his sidekick since 1969 was a hit with me. Great vintage footage of Willie, who will be 82 in April, and a close look at Trigger—worse for wear, but still distinctly resonant.
gifts from on high
BUTTONS, earrings and beads are just some of the gifts crows have offered an 8-year-old Seattle girl who feeds them. That’s Gabi Mann and friends in the video above, but do get the full story via the BBC, including a look at the flown-in treasure collection.
fresh grist for the gmo debate
THIS Foodtank post chides “National Geographic” for lumping the question of GMO safety with climate change as examples of proof-positive issues that science-doubters nevertheless insist on doubting.
I claim no ESP; I don’t know the answer about whether we can feed the world without GMOs. But I do feel certain that the safety issue isn’t settled yet, so I like to keep reading both sides of the conversation, and want to see proper, unbiased research done (not just the kind funded by the chemical giants). I was glad to follow the links in the Foodtank piece, including one to Cornell, which received $5.6 million last year from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to “depolarize the charged debate around agricultural biotechnology and genetically modified organisms,” hmmmmm.
the real price of chemical fertilizer
WHAT’S THE TRUE cost of nitrogen fertilizer, when you take into account the price of cleaning up after it longterm? Food writer Jane Black offers some thinking on a different way of accounting in a new column for Stone Barns Center.
TALK ABOUT a May-December marriage (or a really long-distance affair): According to DNA analysis, a hybrid fern from the French Pyrenees is the offspring of parents separated by 60 million years of evolution and from completely different ecosystems (read it via NPR).
the atrazine saga
PUT THIS ONE, from “The New York Times,” about Switzerland-based Syngenta chemical company’s assertion that its atrazine herbicide isn’t banned in Europe, in the “Denial is not a river in Egypt” file. It’s not by any means the first Ripley’s Believe It Or Not story I’ve read on the Syngenta/atrazine beat. A year ago, this chilling “New Yorker” story chronicled what happened when a Harvard-trained Berkeley biologist dared a close look at the widely used chemical.
‘libraries of life’
CURATED for longterm study, natural-history collections of plant and animal specimens are called “humanity’s most important libraries of life” and “the bedrock of our system of taxonomy” in this opinion piece in “The New York Times,” which voiced concern that funding cuts and other issues threaten such irreplaceable treasures.
oh, snow! a happy dance
I’LL DO a happy dance when the snow melts, and winter relents. Apparently young penguins have a different take on reasons to celebrate. (Sorry about any YouTube ads; they’re not my doing.)