Category Archives: Plants & People

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So What About The Seaweed That Tastes Like Bacon? New Super Food?

You may have recently heard that researchers at Oregon State University were pleasantly surprised to find that, after working two decades with a seaweed species bred to feed abalone, they discovered that they were actually dealing with a delicious seaweed superfood called dulse that tastes like bacon when it’s fried. Clearly, we needed to go deeper, so we talked to researchers and chefs who’ve been using kale’s funkier, cooler younger brother. Here’s what we learned: (Click on title for full story.)

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When Were Plants First Cooked For Food?

Prehistoric people may have cooked wild grains and plants in pots as early as 10,000 years ago, according to new evidence. Scientists say the food was “a kind of porridge”, acting as the staple diet when there was no meat from hunting. The pottery fragments were found at two sites in the Libyan Sahara, which was then green and fertile. The ability to prepare plants and grains in pots would have been a big advance at the time.(Click on title for full story.)

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Frankincense Harvesting Threatens Rare And Endangered Arabian Leopards

A small community that harvests frankincense trees has recently established some semi-permanent camps in the Jabal Samhan area, especially near water resources, People disturb the leopards, but also hunt and scare away its natural prey, the gazelle and the ibex. (Click on title for full story.)

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African Farmers Tend Cacao Planted By Wild Chimpanzees

This research has highlighted the possibility that the dispersal of crops by animals at other sites has the potential to positively impact the ability of wildlife to coexist in human-impacted habitats, especially if farmers gain economic benefits through the wildlife’s dispersal of crops. (Click on title for full story.)

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Ice Age Hunters Redesigned Ancient European Landscapes

This research has generated new insights on the role of hunters in the formation of the landscape. It may be that during the coldest phase of the last Ice Age, some 20,000 years ago, hunter-gatherers deliberately lit forest fires in an attempt to create grasslands and park-like forests. They probably did this to attract wild animals and to make it easier to gather vegetable food and raw materials; it also facilitated movement. Another possibility is that the large-scale forests and steppe fires may have been the result of the hunters’ negligent use of fire in these semi-open landscapes. (Click on title for full story.)

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Cancer Patients Best Friend May Be Psychedelic Mushroom

A pair of randomized, blinded studies published Thursday in The Journal of Psychopharmacology provide the most robust evidence to date that a single dose of psilocybin can provide relief from the anxiety and gloom associated with cancer for at least six months. (Click on title for full story.)

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When Women Saved Their Village By Fighting To Save The Forest

“No one can cheat us of even one metre of our mother, the forest. She has given us life and we have given our lives for her (Click on title for full story).

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GMOs May Not Be Harmful, But Are They Doing Any Good?

The promise of genetic modification was twofold: By making crops immune to the effects of weedkillers and inherently resistant to many pests, they would grow so robustly that they would become indispensable to feeding the world’s growing population, while also requiring fewer applications of sprayed pesticides. Twenty years ago, Europe largely rejected genetic modification at the same time the United States and Canada were embracing it. Comparing results on the two continents, using independent data as well as academic and industry research, shows how the technology has fallen short of the promise. (Click on title for full story.)

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How Biodiversity On The Farm Reduces Pest Problems

Left to its own defenses, a farm field growing a variety of plants tends to attract fewer insect pests than a field growing just one type of crop. While scientists and farmers have noted that difference for years, the reasons behind it have been poorly understood. (Click on title for full story.)

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Preserving Forests Makes Farms Better

The literature review showed that trees on farms and in agricultural landscapes in most cases result in improved food security via, e.g., reduced pest problems, improved soil fertility and water regulation. The positive effects were most consistent in semi-arid areas. In general, trees in the agricultural landscape were positive, but in some cases a decline in production of particular crops was noted as a trade-off. Very few of the available studies had investigated the production of wood, medicinal products, fruits and nuts, and no studies had looked at cultural ecosystem services such as recreation and spiritual values. This makes it difficult to establish all the synergies and trade-offs associated with trees in the landscape. (Click on title for full story.)