Unlike the banana, the natural history of the pineapple is fairly unknown.
The pineapple is named after its pinecone-like shape and raw texture, and its genus (Ananas) comes from the Tupi word for “excellent fruit”.
When a pineapple blooms, it has a cluster (inflorescence) of small flowers. All of the flowers that are fertilized begin to develop into their own fruits, and as they grow bigger and bump into each other, they coalesce, becoming what’s known as a multiple fruit. Mulberries and breadfruit are also multiple fruits.
When Columbus arrived in the West Indies, pineapple was already cultivated throughout the region. One of the few studies on the archaeological and anthropological finds concluded that its wild origins are in the basin of the Paraguay River. Southern Brazilian tribes were known to be some of the first to trade and cultivate this fruit, but beyond that little has been conclusively proven.
Pineapples require a high average temperature to grow and fruit, and despite being brought back to Europe on Columbus’s original voyage in 1492-93, and cultivated by the Dutch in Suriname by the early 17th century, they weren’t cultivated in a temperate region until 1658.
It wasn’t until the early 18th century that hothouses (also called “pineries”) were developed to cater to the desires of wealthy Europeans seeking to display the flamboyant fruit on their tables. Indeed, most people who could afford pineapples in the 1700s didn’t eat them - they were kept on the table until they began to rot.
Catherine the Great, however, had no interest in rotting fruit - she had a custom-made pinery and loved the taste of pineapple, and frequently made a show of allowing her more important guests to taste the fruit, themselves!
The relationship between potatoes and their human cultivators is long and tumultuous. The Inca’s ancestors first domesticated the wild potato between 7,000 and 10,000 years ago on the border of Peru and Bolivia. By 4,000 years ago, the potato had become a staple crop for native Andeans. The tuber was so integral to their culture that some groups based units of time on how long it took to cook various types.
Back then, the potato was synonymous with diversity. The Andeans inhabited a mountainous mosaic of microclimates in which one plot of land presented a very different set of growing conditions than its neighbor. No single variety could survive in such a heterogeneous landscape, so the Andeans diversified — to the extreme. Farming so many different types of potatoes also provided a more interesting and enjoyable diet, a tradition that is still alive today. “If you go to a typical Andean household,” explains Stef de Haan, a researcher at the International Potato Center in Lima, “they will eat what is called chajru, which means ‘mixture’ in the Quechua language. They sit around a big bowl of potatoes. And the joy of eating those, the culinary delight, is that every time you pick a potato, you pick a different one. In Quechua, especially when it comes to the taste of potatoes, they have this whole unique vocabulary — almost like somebody from France would tell you about the taste of wine.”
NEW SHIPPING CONTAINER FARMING SYSTEM LOWERS BARRIERS TO ENTRY FOR NEW FARMERS
Clinton, NC (January 21, 2015)- The CropBox, a new shipping container based farming system has just been introduced by Williamson Greenhouses, a pioneer in greenhouses for tobacco cultivation. The CropBox was designed to make small-scale farming competitive in an industrial farm economy by making cutting edge precision farming affordable for small farmers.
Shipping containers play an important role in the design of the CropBox, the container enables the entire growing system to be mobile so Williamson Greenhouses can offer the entire system through an affordable leasing arrangement, lowering the traditionally very high investment requirements for new farms. Instead of investing up to $50,000 for a complete greenhouse, beginning farmers and small scale farmers can pay a much more affordable monthly lease to get a complete CropBox operation, this in turn, dramatically lowers the high initial capital investment and barriers to begin farming. As the farm prospers and the demand for their product increases, the farmer can promptly scale their operation with more CropBoxes to meet demand quickly.
This multi-layered growing system provides up to 3,000 plants in each container. Within a 320 square foot space, the CropBox grows the equivalent of an acre of field grown crops (or 2,200 square feet of greenhouse space). Five (5) of these containers can be stacked vertically to maximize production, enabling an entire farm to be placed at the point of distribution in urban areas, rather than hours away from the customer.
With a completely enclosed growing environment, the added electricity costs are balanced with lower inventory losses due to protection from weather changes, pest infestations or high heating prices. With no water used for cooling and precise hydroponic growing systems, the water usage is 90% lower than alternatives for field grown agriculture, make it a perfect option for arid climates.
The CropBox is a complete turn-key agricultural system equipped with the choice of energy efficient, high output fluorescent lighting or LED lighting. The system includes a high-tech monitoring system with over 20 controllers and sensors that continuously measure the water, air quality and temperatures. With this monitoring system, the entire CropBox can be controlled from a smartphone. “We really wanted to focus on making a system that is as fool-proof as possible to help new growers as well as established farmers who may not be familiar with hydroponics”, said Tripp Williamson, CEO of Williamson Greenhouses. The included monitoring software allows the farmer to keep complete growing records and create graphs for constant refinement of their crop’s growth.
The CropBox is available for the purchase price of $49,347 or a monthly lease of $999 per month. Learn more about the operation of the CropBox on the Cropbox website at www.CropBox.co. To request information visit Williamson Greenhouses: www.williamsongreenhouses.com, call Tripp Williamson at (910) 592-7072 or email us at email@example.com
Tomatoes irrigated with diluted seawater grow with significantly higher levels of healthy antioxidant compounds, new research shows.
The option to use salty water on crops might help farmers deal with growing irrigation woes. Irrigation water, as well as drinking water, is growing scarce and deteriorating in quality around the world.
Nearly 70 percent of all available freshwater is used for agriculture. Use of water for irrigation has increased globally by more than 60 percent since 1960, according to United Nation statistics. At the same time, poor irrigation and drainage practices have led to salt buildup in roughly one-eighth of all irrigated land.
Although desalination plants that remove salt from saltwater now exist, they remain expensive. For example, distillation processes that separate out any dissolved minerals by boiling and condensing water require costly amounts of fuel.
Riccardo Izzo at the University of Pisa in Italy and his colleagues reasoned that diluted saltwater could drive crops to generate more healthy antioxidants, such as vitamins C or E. Plants generate antioxidants to protect themselves when stressed out by salt, drought or various other burdens.
“Together, the rise of fast food chains and the pressures of industrial agriculture have enforced a bleak homogeneity on much of modern produce. By prioritizing comfort, cheapness and convenience above all else, we have sacrificed a lot of our food’s flavor, diversity and inherent nutritional value, not to mention the toll it’s taken on the pleasure of eating. Among all vegetables, the potato has likely suffered the most.”
Meet Ioane Teitiota, the first person to seek legal status as a climate refugee. Teitiota, a foreman on a New Zealand vegetable farm, hails from the tiny central Pacific island nation of Kiribati, which, if ocean levels continue to rise at present rates, will sink beneath the seas in the not too distant future.
In this fascinating feature story for Foreign Policy’s print edition, Pulitzer Center grantee Ken Weiss explains how Teitiota, facing deportation on a technical violation of New Zealand’s immigration law, demanded asylum as a climate refugee, arguing that his homeland would soon be inundated thanks to the relentless release of greenhouse gases by the world’s industrialized nations.
“Teitiota’s case won’t be the last one filed on behalf of those who must relocate due to a hotter, more crowded planet. Nearly 22 million people were displaced in 119 countries by floods, storms, and other disasters in 2013—roughly three times as many as those displaced by conflict or violence,” writes Ken. “All these figures add up to one conclusion: Climate change doesn’t just forebode an ecological crisis, but a humanitarian one as well. That is to say, it’s not just polar bears and penguins threatened with survival, but people too.”
THE INVISIBLE LIVES OF BEIJING’S RAT TRIBE
They number about a million, this teeming army of low-wage migrant workers, and they are known, collectively, as the “rat tribe” because economic necessity has forced them to burrow beneath Beijing’s streets to find shelter in basements and obsolete bomb shelters.
“Every morning, a metamorphosis takes place below the ground of China’s capital,” writes Ian. “In a world without sun or fresh air, people roll out of bed in windowless rooms, empty bedpans into communal toilets, pay 50 cents for a five-minute shower, ascend concrete stairways to the outside world and transform themselves from residents of the city’s most despised housing to strivers, hungry for a piece of the Chinese dream.”
BACK TO THE COUNTRY
In another Pulitzer Center project, grantees Yunfan Sun and Leah Thompson tell the story of a much smaller but no less important migration of Chinese city-dwellers back to their rural roots.
Prospective rice buyers check out the merchandise during pre-auction inspections at mill warehouses in Chock Chai, Nakhon Ratchasima province, Thailand.
As the price of rice took another tumble overnight, falling to its lowest since 2010, Thailand’s ruling junta is to unload a mountain of rice on an already oversupplied world. And there’s more on the way.
The biggest exporter stockpiled 17.8 million metric tons after former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra spent $27 billion since 2011 buying at above-market prices to aid farmers. The move threatened the nation’s credit rating and helped fan months of protests. She was ousted in May by military leaders, who now plan to auction the grain over two years, with 1 million tons set for sale at the Department of Foreign Trade today.
Read more from the Bloomberg News report by Supunnabul Suwannakij.
Thank you for signing our petition demanding the US Meat Animal Research Center be shut down – keep sharing. We have an important update!
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a demand that a plan for higher animal welfare standards be developed and implemented at the US Meat Animal Research Center. Farmed animals are not protected by the Animal Welfare Act, governing how animals in laboratories are treated. Even if welfare standards are put in place, they will do nothing to protect farmed animals from cruel mistreatment – only ending our use of them will.
Taking action in the face of immense cruelty makes a difference! Signing petitions, sharing on social media, talking to friends and family, calling your representatives, protesting and disrupting…these are all ways you can speak up and out for farmed animals.
Until all animals are liberated and given equal consideration, there is still work to be done. But realize — your voice can and does make a difference.