Box of imperfect in-season vegetables will feed a family of four for a week and costs £3.50 – 30% less than standard lines
The UK’s first supermarket ‘wonky vegetable’ box goes on sale on Friday, containing enough ugly potatoes and knobbly carrots to feed a family of four for an entire week for just £3.50. Read more…
Winging it on a cliche, we’ll say tattoos are forever. And in the far flung, rustic town of Kalinga, Apo Whang-Od prays it continues to be so. As the last tattoo artist in the Kalinga region, she carries forth the 1,000-year tradition of batok. And the pressure to see to it that she bequeaths the legacy to a worthy successor.
Every Kalinga village used to have a mambabatok (a master tattooist) to honour and usher in life’s milestones. When women would become eligible for marriage, they would adorn their bodies with tattoos to attract suitors. When headhunters prepared for battle, an inked centipede would be their talisman, or when they returned with a kill, an eagle would commemorate their victory. “Tattoos are one of our greatest treasures,” Whang-Od said. “Unlike material things, no one can take them away from us when we die.”
The health of oceans in the face of massive pollution has been a topic of this blog on multiple occasions, and we’re always interested in learning more about the efforts to clean up the incredible amounts of waste, especially plastic, in one of the most–if not the most–important global ecosystems. New models by researchers at Imperial College London are hypothesizing that, rather than targeting sites like the great Pacific garbage patch, trash pick-up by floating microplastic collectors should be more effective near the coasts, where the rubbish originates. Sarah DeWeerdt reports for Conservation Magazine:
Cleanup efforts for ocean plastics should be concentrated close to shore, at the source of the problem, rather than in areas of open ocean where plastic tends to accumulate, according to a study recently published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. Ideally, if plastic collectors were placed offshore near coastal population centers, they could remove nearly one-third of plastic in the ocean over the next 10 years.
In the study, oceanographer Erik van Sebille and undergraduate physics student Peter Sherman, both at Imperial College London, used data on ocean currents and waste management practices in different countries to simulate the entry and circulation of plastic in the oceans from 2015 to 2025.
In all that we write about conservation, a related tag – unfortunately – happens to be extinction. Brought about by forest loss, miscalculated development plans, social and political apathy towards ecosystems, lack of awareness – the reasons we’ve all heard of. Now, National Geographic reports on the disappearance of the ‘talking bird’:
Flocks of chattering African Grey parrots, more than a thousand flashes of red and white on grey at a time, were a common site in the deep forests of Ghana in the 1990s. But a 2016 study published in the journal Ibis reveals that these birds, in high demand around the world as pets, and once abundant in forests all over West and central Africa, have almost disappeared from Ghana. Uncannily good at mimicking human speech, the African Grey (and the similar but lesser-known Timneh parrot) is a prized companion in homes around the world. Research has shown that greys are as smart as a two-five year-old human child—capable of developing a limited vocabulary and even forming simple sentences.
We’re big fans of museums, especially those of natural history with specimens of life in the world that are invaluable to science. Now, in a piece for the Atlantic, Ed Yong (previously here) writes about the dozens of new species being identified many years–or in the case of some Egyptian mummified crocodiles, millennia–after their collection. These specimens, Yong reports, can inform us further on the evolution of animal body types, on cycles of diversity, and on the origins of epidemics, among other things:
In the darkness of the Akeley Hall of Mammals, swarms of kids gawk at beautifully staged dioramas of Africa’s wildlife. The stuffed safari, nestled in the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York, includes taxidermied leopards stalking a bush pig, preserved ostriches strutting in front of warthogs, and long-dead baboons cautiously considering a viper. In one corner, in a display marked “Upper Nile Region,” a lone hippo grazes next to a herd of lechwe, roan antelope, and a comically stern shoebill stork.
“This is my favorite one,” says Evon Hekkala, pointing to the display. “There’s a taxidermied crocodile tucked away down there.”
Malabar Soul Food – embodies the spices of the land blended with the memories of distant homelands, taking people back to the time when people who loved them cooked for them in a way that was meaningful and satisfying.
Food is about sense memories: it embodies our personal and social history, giving us a sense of place, of home…
Isn’t there a line about finding heroes in the most unlikely places? This is the setting of Daeng Abu’s and his wife Daeng Maida’s inspirational story: a desert island off the coast of Sulawesi in Indonesia, disabilities in Abu being blind and facing leprosy, their days spent raising sea turtles and speaking against the cyanide and dynamite fishing that is devastating Indonesia’s reef.
Neither knows how old they were when they entered their arranged marriage on nearby Pulau Pala (Nutmeg Island) – they currently believe they’re in their 80s – but Abu thinks he was older than 20 and Maida remembers it was the dry season. Her uncle fired three shots in the air; she walked over to his family’s home; Abu built a shack from bamboo and palm leaf; and married life began. Little did they know at the time – the couple was bound to become a rather unlikely pair of environmental activists.
A few months ago, with 11 minutes on stage in London at a regional TED event, these two poised and articulate, compelling Balinese sisters made a bold challenge. We commend their decisiveness and commitment, and will do our best to support them both in Bali and on our various home turfs:
Melati and Isabel Wijsen:
Plastic bags are essentially indestructible, yet they’re used and thrown away with reckless abandon. Read more…
In our vigilance on the waste reduction front, especially with regard to food, we are tracking efforts globally that we believe we, and our readers, will find interesting and useful.
We have long ago come to understand that the standard definition of beauty as it relates to fruits and vegetables–uniformity prized over flavor and nutrition–has done a huge disservice to the environment, not to mention to the consumers who suffer gastronomically as a result.
Thanks to the Guardian‘s Environment section for this news:
About one minute in to Mr. Ziermann’s story, he explains how his intent to pursue a life of timber logging in Oregon was waylaid by the “rules and regulations” (he did not sound happy about these) to protect the spotted owl in the American northwest. I recommend taking five minutes with the video here, and a moment more below if you want my two cents on it.
A Fraught Search for Succession in CraftsmanshipVideo by Andrew PlotskyGeorge Ziermann has been making handmade boots for over 40 years.
After decades of work by a dedicated team at Chester Zoo in England, the first tuatara hatchling has been born outside of its native New Zealand.
“Breeding tuatara is an incredible achievement,” says Isolde McGeorge, the zoo’s tuatara keeper since 1977. “They are notoriously difficult to breed and it’s probably fair to say that I know that better than most as it has taken me 38 years to get here.”
When I got back to Xandari last year in June, I posted a couple photos of the Caturra plot, the Borbón plot, and the bagged seedlings. Since then, all the plants have grown quite a bit, and we’ve gotten a strong yield of cherries–and therefore coffee beans–even though the plants were only a year old in the ground. In fact, many of the plants of both varietals are experiencing a second round of flowers despite the dry season: climate change is putting the plants’ phenology out of whack, and so some shrubs even have cherries and flowers growing at the same time, which normally would never happen. The bees are certainly happy though! Read more…
Our love for pachyderms has found multiple expressions on this blog. With us now journeying with Asian Oasis in Thailand and Kerala as home, this love links our efforts in both these lands, serving as common ground for all that we hope to do in tandem with nature. For all that we’ve penned on elephants, we’ve not stopped to think what or rather how much food keeps their giant souls (and stomachs) happy.
Both captive and wild elephants eat a lot, but what else would you expect from one of the largest land animals on the planet? Wild Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) can spend an average of 16-18 hours of every day eating. In the wild they forage for food, constantly searching for roots, small trees, bamboo, grasses, and any other edible plants.
Do you believe in a literary cosmos? I do. In the seemingly innocuous collision of two pieces of writing SO removed from each other that they are all that similar. Two articles – one found last evening for work, one chanced upon during the routine Instagram surf on the way to work. One standing out in the mayhem of a news feed; the incredible story of an Israeli man and his wife moving to India in 2003 and buying 70 acres of barren land. To build, sustain a forest. Reafforestation, to be clear. The other titled The Builder’s High. Yes, I’m ‘building’ this up.