Monthly Archives: May 2010


With just a few hours left in this apartment, and much yet to be packed, it’s time to crack open the bottle of Dogfish Head’s Theobroma beer that has been lingering in the fridge, futilely awaiting an occasion when my taste buds and typing fingers feel — simultaneously — ready to do it justice.

Sixty-Six Percent Natural

IMAGE: Screen grab showing global agricultural land-use in 1700, from World Cropland, Bill Rankin, 2009. At Bill Rankin’s fantastic Radical Cartography site you can see an animation that shows the intensification and spread of agricultural land-use around the world over the past three hundred years. IMAGES: Screen grabs showing global agricultural land-use in 1750 and […]

Save the Date: Postopolis! DF

In just under a month, I am delighted to announce, I will be eagerly exploring the edible geography of Mexico City. The occasion is Postopolis! DF, the third in a series of events organised by Storefront for Art and Architecture. Postopolis! was launched in New York City in 2007, and it happened all over again […]

The Opposite of a Vegetable

IMAGE: Reversed Volumes by Mischer’Traxler, via Dezeen. Viennese designers Mischer’Traxler showed these gorgeous bowls at this year’s Milan Design Week. The series is called Reversed Volumes, and each bowl is created by moulding ceramic powder around a vegetable until it hardens—no firing necessary. IMAGE: Reversed Volumes by Mischer’Traxler, via Dezeen. IMAGE: Reversed Volumes by Mischer’Traxler, […]

New York By The Pound

IMAGE: “Judging the fruits of a community garden as part of the Park Farm Contest.” Courtesy of Parks Photo Archive, Neg. 16092. Photo by Max Ulrich, taken at Thomas Jefferson Park, Manhattan,
 on April 4, 1939. Despite the rise of rooftop and island farms, old-school community gardens are probably the largest component of urban agriculture […]

Fascinating Stories About Semi-Skimmed Milk

I’m a big fan of the Invisible Library, which catalogues books “that exist only between the covers of other books—as descriptions, occasionally as brief excerpts, often simply as titles.” The list includes several items of potential interest to Edible Geographers, such as Cooking the Captain: The Colonialist as Yorkshire Pudding by Stanley Tulafale (from James Hynes’s Publish and Perish) and Offal, by Stultitia Bodwin (from P.G. Wodehouse’s “Best Seller,” in Mulliner Nights).

Domestication through Defecation

IMAGE: “Possible routes of development from Hunting-Collecting to other systems,” from Deforesting The Earth: From Prehistory to Global Crisis by Michael Williams, via Social Fiction. Click here for larger size. An important factor in the domestication process was defecation. The seeds of sweet-corn, tomatoes, lemons, cucumbers, and many more edible plants, as well as fruits […]

Biofortified Humanoids

Over at the Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog, an Edible Geography favourite, Jeremy links to a fascinating post about transgenic pea aphids. The pea aphid has been the focus of quite a bit of biological excitement lately as the findings of the Aphid Genome Project are gradually released: the tiny insects can change their shape in response to food supply and environmental conditions, with the option to become wingless, winged, sexual, asexual, or “morphs that are specialized to resist desiccation or to defend the colony.”

The Amazing Allegorical Synthetic Fish

Michael Pollan’s Botany of Desire popularised the ingenious idea that the biographies of plants provide us with a mirror in which we can see our own history, desires, and values. The triumph of corn, for example, tells us a wealth of stories, from the biological imperative behind our weakness for sweetness to the economic drivers that lead us to subsidise commodity crops so they sell for less than they cost to grow. The relationship is a feedback loop whereby corn has evolved to suit the needs of industrial agriculture, which supplies a food system that has been shaped by corn.