Food

Toxic Algae Blooms to Persist on Lake Erie, Experts Say

Publication: NBC News   Date: August 4, 2014   View Article

Toledo’s drinking water is once again safe, Mayor Michael Collins announced as he took a sip from a glass at a Monday morning news conference — but scientists say the harmful algal blooms at the heart of the water crisis are likely to persist well into the future given a confluence of shifting agricultural practices, invasive mussels, and global climate change.

“Here’s to you, Toledo,” Collins said at the conference, smiling for cameras before taking a sip of water drawn, presumably, from a nearby tap.

As Californians Pump Groundwater, Land Sinks and Aquifers Shrink

Publication: NBC News   Date: July 15, 2014   View Article

So much water is being pumped from the ground in parched California that the land is sinking, according to scientists.

The more Californians rely on groundwater, the worse these problems will get, experts across industry, government, and academia say. But, they said, the pumping is likely to continue given a confluence of factors that range from urban population growth to an expanding agricultural industry.

Neonicotinoid Pesticide Linked to Decline of Birds (and Bees)

Publication: NBC News   Date: July 9, 2014   View Article

A controversial agricultural insecticide that has been implicated in the collapse of bee colonies around the world also appears to be causing bird populations to drop, according to a new study. The insecticides known as neonicotinoids are designed to attack the central nervous system of insects that devour crops, but only about 5 percent of the chemical compound stays on the plant. The rest leaches into the soil and water, where it does its magic on other bugs, the researchers said.

That’s Nuts: Almond Boom Strains California Water Supply

Publication: NBC News   Date: June 22, 2014   View Article

Asia’s love of nuts is draining California dry.

Amid one of the worst droughts in the state’s history, farmers are scrambling to find enough water to irrigate lucrative almond trees they planted after abandoning other, less thirsty crops.

Why’s there such a market for California nuts? As incomes in countries such as China, South Korea, and India have risen, so has demand for nuts that formerly were out of reach for many Asians. Added to the mix are Wall Street firms who, smelling a quick buck, are paying top dollar for vegetable farms and converting them to orchards.

Field of (Bad) Dreams: Increased Drought Takes Tool on Midwest Corn

Publication: NBC News   Date: May 1, 2014   View Article

Across the Midwest, a cold and wet spring has slowed the pace of corn plantings — as of Monday 19 percent was in the ground versus the usual 28 percent for this time of year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The slow start could slash yields. In the future, hotter and drier conditions due to global warming could also put a dent in corn yields, according to a new study.

The research is based on field data from more than 1 million federal crop insurance records between 1995 and 2012 and correlated with fine-scale weather data. It shows that while corn yields in the Midwest have steadily risen, the staple grain is also growing more sensitive to drought. About 80 percent of the corn grown in the Midwest is dryland. If it doesn’t rain, there is no water.

Droughts Worldwide May Have an Effect on American Dinner Plates

Publication: NBC News   Date: April 7, 2014   View Article

It’s been a long, cold and wet winter in parts of the United States. But in many parts of the world, from California to Southeast Asia, the land is parched from growing and persistent droughts. And that spells higher prices for many foods Americans put on the table during every meal.

That morning cup of coffee, for example, could cost a bit more as the beans rise to their highest prices in years due to a Brazilian drought. A salad at lunch full of fresh fruit and vegetables topped with slivered almonds may run a few more dollars a month as California’s drought begins to boost prices for produce and nuts.

And the classic American dinner of a cheeseburger, French fries and a milkshake is already more expensive due to rapidly rising beef and dairy prices underpinned by drought.

Increasingly Similar Global Food Supply Poses Risks, Study Says

Publication: NBC News   Date: March 3, 2014   View Article

The same crops that have fed a rapidly expanding global population over the last 50 years may pose problems for the global food chain as pests and limited diets spread, according to a new study.

Crops such as wheat, corn, potato, and soybean, as well as meat and dairy products make up a bulk of the world’s diet today. Meanwhile, once regionally important crops such as millet, sorghum and yams are losing ground, explained Colin Khoury, a visiting research scientist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Cali, Colombia, and the study’s lead author.

“It is not all bad, but there are some very significant implications on both the agricultural side and on the nutritional side,” he told NBC News.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach