In its simplest form food could be defined as any substance with the capacity to be turned into energy by living things. In its most complex, food is attributed with the power to sustain the development of human civilizations. While in its most basic form food is common and essential to all species, humans have commodified food to the extent that billions of individuals, in both the poorest and wealthiest of nations suffer from hunger. Today food is at the center of debates about health, about family farms versus industrial farms, water and land use, economics and genetically modified organisms.
?Main Image: Steer fitted with a global positioning system (GPS) collar to examine cattle responses to prescribed burns at the Central Plains Experimental Range in...
Fenugreek Last Updated on 2014-08-22 15:04:52
(Source: Saikat Basu, own work)
Species: Trigonella foenum-graecum
Binomial name: Trigonella foenum-graecum L.
Fenugreek (Trigonella) is the oldest medicinal plant in the world. Most popular species of this genus is Trigonella foenum-graecum, where the term “foenum-graecum” means ‘Greek hay’ pointing to its use as a forage crop in the past, fenugreek is grown mainly as a spice crop in the recent times. The plant is believed to be native to the Mediterranean region1-6. There are several controversies regarding the origin of the fenugreek plant for which no proper theory as to the... More »
Food Biodiversity Challenges From a Global PerspectiveLast Updated on 2014-07-25 14:03:15
Food collection or gathering has been an important part of human endeavors towards establishing civilization across the long history of human evolution. Humans have demonstrated their ingenuity in identifying and locating new and novel food sources located in their immediate surrounding and during their migration across the planet. Humans have become more successful than other species because of their better foraging abilities and coordinated group work in identifying and locating novel food sources over time. This trial and error approach has enabled humans over time to identify suitable food sources from their local environments. Over time, humans have identified more species that are edible or could be made edible using primitive to modern day recipes and cooking techniques. These long years of trial and errors have generated a wide range of food sources for... More »
Composting tipsLast Updated on 2014-06-29 18:07:28
Composting turns household wastes into valuable fertilizer and soil organic matter.
All organic matter eventually decomposes. Composting speeds the process by providing an ideal environment for bacteria and other decomposing microorganisms. The final product, humus or compost, looks and feels like fertile garden soil. This dark, crumbly, earthy-smelling stuff works wonders on all kinds of soil and provides vital nutrients to help plants grow and look better.
Decomposing organisms consist of bacteria, fungi, and larger organisms such as worms, sow bugs, nematodes, and numerous others. Decomposing organisms need four key elements to thrive: nitrogen, carbon, moisture, and oxygen. For best results, mix materials high in nitrogen (such as clover, fresh grass clippings, and livestock manure) and those high in carbon (such as dried leaves and twigs). If there is not a good supply of... More »
CompostingLast Updated on 2014-06-29 17:28:18Composting is the controlled biological decomposition and pasteurization of organic materials under aerobic conditions— it involves the action of mesophilic microorganisms followed by thermophilic microorganisms that thrive under increased (more than 50 °C) temperature conditions and if correctly managed, can destroy disease-causing organisms, even weed seeds. Biodegradable organic matter is mineralized while carbon dioxide (CO2), water and heat are liberated, and the residual organic components are stabilized mainly to humic acids. There are various ways of composting—aerobic static piles (non-interventionary), aerobic windrows (interventionary), using worms (vermicomposting, which is in fact a different type of process that does not involve the thermophilic stages), etc. The choice of the method is usually based on the objective. There are many different technologies... More »
Carpenter beeLast Updated on 2014-06-26 17:31:14
This hexapod (six-legged) insect is a bee in the subfamily Xylocoinae of either the genus Ceratina or Xylocopa that makes its nest in wood or plant stems.
Along with bumble bee queens, carpenter bees (genus Xylocopa) are the largest native bees in the United States. There are numerous species of carpenter bees that inhabit a broad range of ecosystems from tropical to subtropical to temperate. In the United States carpenters bees can be found across the southern United States from Arizona to Florida and in the eastern United States, north to New York.
These gentle giants get their name from their life history habits of excavating precisely rounded galleries inside wood. Using their broad, strong mandibles (jaws), they chew into dead but non-decayed limbs or trunks of standing dead trees. Some species, like the eastern Xylocopa virginica, occasionally take up residence... More »
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