Food Nudges (Fudges?)

We all need food to stay alive, but when we’re filling up our grocery carts, it’s not like survival is the primary motivator. If you’re listening to this podcast, chances are you live somewhere with food options galore. And if you’re environmentally inclined, you probably take a little more time in deciding what to put in your mouth. Is it healthy? Is it organic? Is it tasty?! So much to think about everytime we eat! Today we have two stories that dive a little deeper into our decision-making process around food. First, we talk to professor Phil Howard, who has investigated the rise of the organic food industry and what it truly means to buy organic products. Then we meet Dr. Tom Robinson, who is at the forefront of understanding the cultural and sociological factors underlying the obesity epidemic in America.

THIS EPISODE WAS PRODUCED BY LESLIE CHANG, MIKE OSBORNE, AND MILES TRAER.

Will Allen, Urban Farmer

As cities around the world absorb more and more people, many urbanites want to reconnect with local food. This has led to the rise and spread of urban agriculture, and at the center of this movement is Will Allen, the founder and CEO of the nonprofit Growing Power. In today’s episode, Allen shares his life story, and discusses his passion for urban agriculture and food security, as well as how urban farming can strengthen community ties. We also have a short bonus segment this week, brought to us by Reade Levinson. She recently traveled to Alaska to research salmon fishing, which is under threat from the side effects of the Canadian mining industry.

THIS EPISODE WAS PRODUCED BY LESLIE CHANG, MIKE OSBORNE, AND MILES TRAER.

Continue reading

Peak Phosphorous

Five things you may not know about phosphorus (but probably should): 1) It’s an essential element to all life on Earth – so it’s a critical ingredient for industrial fertilizers. 2) The vast majority of our phosphorus supply comes from phosphate rock, mined from geologic deposits. 3) Those geologic deposits are concentrated in just 5 countries, and Morocco alone controls 75% of known reserves. 4) The rate at which we’re consuming phosphorus is flat out unsustainable, to say the least. Experts warn that at current rates we may run out of it this century. 5) If all that weren’t enough, many commercial farms over-apply phosphorus-rich fertilizers, which has catastrophic consequences for freshwater and coastal ecosystems around the world. So, wow, right?! Who knew phosphorus was so important? And given that pretty much no one is talking about the issue of peak phosphorus, what are we going to do? Will we be able to better manage the world’s phosphorus supply before we run out and cause widespread environmental damage, all while continuing to feed the billions of people on the planet?

Image credit: Alexandra Pugachevsky

THIS EPISODE WAS PRODUCED BY LESLIE CHANG, MIKE OSBORNE, AND MILES TRAER.

The Ecosystem Within

The microbiome is the term doctors use to describe the countless organisms each one of us carries in and on our bodies. In the last few years there’s been an explosion of research around how the gut microbiome is linked with our health. As Microbiologist Justin Sonnenburg tells producer Anna Lee, our microbiomes are like the control center of our bodies, affecting cognition, digestion, mood, and overall wellbeing. It turns out that that much of the current research into our gut microbiomes is best examined through the prism of environmental sciences. The challenges we face in the Anthropocene are the same challenges faced by the ecosystems we carry within.

Image by Nicola Fawcett
Licensed under Creative Commons: Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International

THIS EPISODE WAS PRODUCED BY LESLIE CHANG, MIKE OSBORNE, AND MILES TRAER.