Daily Archives: June 3, 2019

‘Fate Of Food’ Asks: What’s For Dinner In A Hotter, Drier, More Crowded World? : NPR

June 3, 20191:24 PM ET
Heard on Fresh Air

Environmental journalist Amanda Little says the sustainable food revolution will include meat cultured in a lab, 3-D printer food, aquaculture and indoor vertical farming.


This is FRESH AIR. I’m Terry Gross. Climate change is affecting the weather. And droughts, floods, storms and unseasonal temperatures are affecting the global food supply. Tech startups, as well as mega companies, are developing new, high-tech ways of growing vegetables and fruits, farming fish and growing meat without harming animals.

3D food printers, laboratories where meat is grown from cultured animal cells, robots that can weed crops without using chemicals and indoor farms where vegetables are grown without soil or sun are some of the new approaches investigated by Amanda Little in her new book “The Fate Of Food: What We’ll Eat In A Bigger, Hotter, Smarter World.”

She’s traveled to 13 states and 11 countries researching changes in our food system. Her reporting on energy, technology and the environment has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone and other publications. She’s a professor of journalism and science writing at Vanderbilt University.

Amanda Little, welcome to FRESH AIR. Tell us some of the ways in which climate change is affecting the global food supply.

AMANDA LITTLE: Well, let’s just start in my own region. I live in Nashville, Tenn., and we’ve heard recently that in the Midwest – in Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa – there have been terrible storms and tornadoes that have had huge impacts on grain production, soy, and corn, in particular. I think they’ve said that there is a historic delay in the planting season because of the sodden fields.

The farmers just simply can’t plant their soy crop because they have – you know, there haven’t been enough dry days. And the same goes for corn. In the past five years, in 18 states that produce the majority of corn had 90 percent of their plant in the ground by now and they have only about 55% because of the rain and flooding.

So that’s just sort of one example of, you know, these subtle changes that farmers are having to deal with. In this case, related to flooding. But drought, heat, invasive species and insects, diseases, crop diseases and so forth have been affecting virtually every, you know, farm in the world.

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Beyond Self-Check Out: How Grocery Stores Are Incorporating Tech | WBUR News

June 03, 2019 Meagan McGinnes

Grocery shopping is completely different than it was 50 years ago. Fresh groceries and meal kits can now be dropped off at your doorstep. Retailers are redesigning their warehouses for online shopping. Robots adorned with googly eyes alert staff of spills.

What’s next for the future of food shopping?

Meet Alphabot, a robot that could potentially change how we grocery shop in the future. This little robot can be found at Walmart Superstore in Salem, New Hampshire, in a giant steel structure that stretches from the floor to the ceiling. This robot cage takes up much of the 20,000-square-foot space.

Alphabot was created by John Lert and his company Alert Innovation. Lert walks us through how robots are taking on some of the work involved with filling online grocery orders. Specifically, for packaged products, like cereal and milk.

“All packaged goods would be ordered from a phone, on a tablet kiosk screen in the store. And the robots would pick those orders,” explains Lert.

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See full series: From Lab to Table.


To the ends of the Earth | Reveal



Jun 1, 2019   To the ends of the Earth

In our first story, we take listeners to a place where no human has been before. Reporter Carolyn Beeler boards an icebreaker to sail along the face of Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier. If Thwaites collapses, it could cause 2 feet of global sea level rise. But glaciologists fear the consequences could also be much worse: Thwaites may be holding back the entire West Antarctic ice sheet, almost like a cork in a wine bottle. If it crumbles into the ocean, the results could be catastrophic.

For our second story, reporter Michael de Yoanna travels to a military radar site in Alaska’s Bering Strait. It’s part of a network of military radars designed to monitor a million miles of airspace around the United States and Canada, guarding against Russian long-range bombers and missiles. Now, though, some of these radars are facing new foes like ice melt, erosion and storm surge. We investigate how climate change is affecting U.S. national security, and how potential foreign adversaries like Russia are preparing to take advantage of it.

Our final story looks at Kivalina, an Alaska Native village above the Arctic Circle. Melting sea ice and storm surge will likely put Kivalina underwater. In fact, the Army Corps of Engineers says it could happen by 2025. With the lives of residents hanging in the balance, reporter Emily Schwing looks into why efforts to relocate Kivalina keep failing, and whether state and federal agencies are equipped to support climate change refugees.

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