Daily Essentials | Wednesday | 16 October 2013

1. ALIENATION AND ORANGE JUICE: THE INVISIBILITY OF LABOR
Eric Stewart | Pacific Standard

Compared to some European countries, the United States has a weak tradition of labor-based activism. All too often, this leads to the invisibility of labor issues. Take for example, this commercial for Simply Orange brand orange juice. In an attempt to present their product as a natural alternative to other brands, Simply Orange juxtaposes images of natural orange growth with common phrases relating to the structure of a manufacturing organization. The tree is their “plant” (a marvelous pun), the orange blossoms are the “workers” that produce the fruit, and the sun itself becomes “upper management.”

Even though this commercial is humorously centered on the process of producing orange juice, there is not a single human being present in any of the images. It is a story about making a product in which nobody actually makes anything! This message cleverly sells the product, but it also obscures the real labor that went into growing, picking, and juicing the oranges and downplays the contributions to the process made by real people. All that productive effort is condensed into the image of an orange blossom, as if it can be assumed that such production will just naturally occur like an annual blooming.

Click for gif

2. THIS ISN’T YOUR GRANNY SMITH’S HARVESTING TECHNOLOGY
Lindsey Smith | The Salt | NPR

In West Michigan, it’s apple harvest time. That may conjure up images of picturesque orchards and old-fashioned fun: growers harvesting apples and then selecting them by hand.

Think again.

Robotic arms, computer vision and high-resolution photography are helping Michigan growers wash, sort and package apples at top speeds in the business — think 2,000 apples per minute.

3.
ARKANSAS AIMS TO MAKE EDAMAME AS AMERICAN AS APPLE PIE

Jacqueline Froelich | The Salt | NPR

China produces most of the world’s edamame, handpicking and processing it there. Now lots of locally-grown edamame are being packed in the town of Mulberry, Ark. Fresh-picked pods jiggle across a massive high-speed conveyor for automated sorting, washing, blanching and flash freezing.

A Texas-based Asian foods importer to build its company, called American Vegetable Soybean and Edamame Inc., here. Raymond Chung, the chief financial officer, says one reason is because plenty of local farmers are willing to grow the non-genetically modified vegetable soybeans.
Genetically modified to be enriched with beta-carotene, golden rice grains (left) are a deep yellow. At right, white rice grains.

“The bulk of soybeans in the U.S. are [genetically-modified] and grown for industrial purposes, but edamame is a special variety,” he says.

Arkansas ranks tenth nationally for conventional soybeans and is the first to develop an edamame variety licensed for commercial production.

4.DEBUNKING GOLDEN RICE MYTHS: A GENETICISTS PERSPECTIVE
Michael Purugganan | IRRI

It all started in 1984 in Los Baños, Laguna, in the Philippines. Scientists had begun to develop an exciting new approach to breeding crops—genetic engineering—and everyone wondered how it could be used to help the world.

In a house in this college town sat several breeders who were dreaming of what traits they could come up with using this exciting new technology. Increase yields? Develop crops to survive droughts? Protect rice against pests?

One breeder, who developed many of the Green Revolution crops that had saved hundreds of millions from famine, gave a startling answer: yellow rice. Why? Because, he said, vitamin A deficiency afflicts millions of people around the world.

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About Marc Brazeau

Free lance cultural attaché. Writing at REALFOOD.ORG.

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