BLOG Archive for October, 2011

Food Lab Bangalore

October 20, 2011

Over the next 3 weeks the Center for Genomic Gastronomy is holding a workshop with sophomores from the Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology in Bangalore, India. The students have signed up for their workshop because they are interested in food and food culture. Working with two researchers from the Center the students will examine innovation and conservation in South Asian food cultures, building on recent research of the Center (utopian cuisines, mutagenic meals) and working towards the next edition of the Planetary Sculpture Supper Club to be held in Bangalore on Nov. 12th.

Follow the conversation all week here on our Blog, join in the comments and use the twitter hashtag #foodlabbangalore to keep up to date.

Gamma Gardens & Caesium 137

INTRODUCTION

The radiation breeding of seeds using radio isotopes has been practiced for less than 100 years. Although this research began in the 1920’s, there was a concerted effort to find ‘peaceful’ uses for atomic energy, after World War 2. Some nuclear scientists hoped that radiation breeding would contribute towards global food security and decreased hunger.

Atoms For Peace symbol used by the United States Atomic Energy Commission on a document cover page in 1955. It was mounted over the door to the American swimming pool reactor building during the 1955 International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy in Geneva. Around a representation of an atom are symbolised four areas civil atomic energy: scientific research, medicine, industry, agriculture. Two olive branches symbolise peaceful use. (wikipedia)

The Atoms for Peace symbol from 1955 includes a bushel of wheat on the left, symbolizing the potential non-military application of the atomic program in agriculture. However, the cultivars created through radiation breeding programs have not met the hype of early advocates. Cultivars such as the KinnowLS Mandarin Orange are still being created and released today, but radiation breeding has not had the radical effect on agricultural systems that was predicted, especially when compared to the green revolution or the emergence and battle over genetically engineered crops.

GAMMA GARDENS IN ACTION

Paige Johnson, nanotechnologist and blogger at Garden History Girl has been researching early radiation breeding research, especially Gamma Gardens.

Gamma gardens are test facilities where plants are exposed to radiation, in order to generate a range of unpredictable mutations, more quickly than would happen due to non-radiated environmental exposure.

Left: A gamma garden at Brookhaven National Labs, New York, c. 1958; image provided by Paige Johnson. Right: For a clearer view, a modern-day gamma garden at the Institute of Radiation Breeding, Hitachiohmiya, Japan; photo courtesy of the institute.(via)

These gardens are set up as circular fields where crops closest to the center are completely mutated while smaller doses and less mutation happens at the edge of the circle. These gardens were bordered by protective shielding dikes which were erected to contain the radiation and limited the exposure to living things outside of the dikes. In Japan these fields had to be at least one kilometre away from the nearest residential areas. A gamma source of either Cobalt- 60 or Caesium-137 was placed at the centre of the field and the plants were exposed different doses of gamma rays for 7 – 8 months. In A. M. van Harten’s Mutation breeding: theory and practical applications Caesium-137 is recommended for agricultural use because it has the “relatively” short half-life of 33 years.

However, this procedure can be carried out in growing chambers or even greenhouses. For long terms growth trials exposure is carried on for months and can be given in specifically prescribed doses.

The most obvious question is- would ingesting plants of these seeds harm us in any way? Could the mutations cause known allergens to be present or have other genotypical changes that would be agronomically interesting, but otherwise harmful to an human eater’s health? Our environment already emits some amounts of radiation, in what ways is directed mutagenesis useful or dangerous in the long run? What is the aggregate effect on agricultural biodiversity?

Contemporary writers and journalists are increasingly interested in this topic, but the history of the science and these experiments is still being reassembled and evaluated especially in relation to other human health, food system and environmental concerns.

CAESIUM 137: THE DOUBLE AGENT

Earlier this year the earthquake in Japan resulted in a fall out in the nuclear plant at Fukushima releasing dangerous amounts of Caesium-137 amongst other isotopes. The agricultural lands in the vicinity absorbed this substance and were so contaminated that in many areas people were forbidden to plant rice.

Ironically it’s the very same isotope used for irradiation and mutagenic breeding.

Graph of radiation release from the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant following the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, compared to historic events and standards. Updated to show time series geographical effects, local site map, and news reporting. See http://www.rchoetzlein.com/theory/?p=171 for additional discussion and commentary on this image.

Resources:

1) Mutation breeding: theory and practical applications By A. M. van Harten

2) Symposium on Mutation and Plant Breeding By National Academy of Sciences. Agricultural Board

3) http://pruned.blogspot.com/2011/04/atomic-gardens.html


FoodLab Bangalore – is a 3 week workshop the Center for Genomic Gastronomy conducted with sophomores from the Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology in the fall of 2011. Students will examine innovation and conservation in South Asian food cultures, building on recent research of the Center (utopian cuisines, mutagenic meals) and working towards the next edition of the Planetary Sculpture Supper Club to be held in Bangalore on Nov. 12th.

Follow the conversation all week here on our Blog, join in the comments and use the twitter hashtag #foodlabbangalore to keep up to date.

The X-Plants: Radiation Breeding in Indian Agriculture

India has released about 1 in 10 of the mutagenically-bred varietals on the planet, with a focus on mutant breeds of rice, wheat and black dal. These genomes are selected for chemical and radiation breeding experiments because they are ubiquitous in the Indian diet. During breeding trials mutagenic cultivars are selected based on traits such as disease resistance and size and their agronomic suitability for the growing conditions in the northern states of Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Punjab.

As far as we can tell mutagenic varietals in India are not being cultivated or selected based on changes in flavor, color or texture. Flavor or culinary considerations are not explicitly mentioned as selection mechanisms in this research.

Mutation breeding was introduced to india in 1957 by the IARI (indian Agriculture Research Institute) which is the premier national instate for agriculture research, education and extension. This mutagenic research predates the green revolution in India.

Many countries use their civilian nuclear programs and research facilities to carry out mutagenic and transgenic agriculture research. At India’s Bhaba Atomic Research Centre in Trombay, Maharashta they have a long list of the cultivars that have been generated. According to the amazingly chaotic and colorful website:

“The Trombay crop varieties have been popularized through various awareness programmes, exhibitions, kisan melas and farmer’s rallies.”


FoodLab Bangalore – is a 3 week workshop the Center for Genomic Gastronomy conducted with sophomores from the Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology in the fall of 2011. Students will examine innovation and conservation in South Asian food cultures, building on recent research of the Center (utopian cuisines, mutagenic meals) and working towards the next edition of the Planetary Sculpture Supper Club to be held in Bangalore on Nov. 12th.

Follow the conversation all week here on our Blog, join in the comments and use the twitter hashtag #foodlabbangalore to keep up to date.

Rasam Deconstructed

October 19, 2011


If cheese varieties are set in stone, with PDOs protecting their process Rasam is an open source culinary ecology. A little of this and a little of that, what is in season, what is available etc.


FoodLab Bangalore – is a 3 week workshop the Center for Genomic Gastronomy conducted with sophomores from the Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology in the fall of 2011. Students will examine innovation and conservation in South Asian food cultures, building on recent research of the Center (utopian cuisines, mutagenic meals) and working towards the next edition of the Planetary Sculpture Supper Club to be held in Bangalore on Nov. 12th.

Follow the conversation all week here on our Blog, join in the comments and use the twitter hashtag #foodlabbangalore to keep up to date.

Bread, Milk & Globe

October 17, 2011

Food was always a first preference for me before anything. Since childhood i was a big fan of bread and milk. In my teenage I used to eat a loaf at a time. I used to have glasses of milkshakes a lot of fried food etc. Everything was high calorie. I was in a stage of obesity.

After some year I had a strict appetite management where I had to sacrifice all the dairy, bakery food. The junk was literally thrown out of the house. I was given staple Indian food. The lunch and dinner was on time. I was been introduced to all kinds of leafy vegetables, porridges, oats, fibre etc.

After this course which I am doing it past 15 days my perspective food have changed I have constantly been trying to eat different kind of dishes tasting variety of cuisines. And as i am attending lot of parties I had Lebanese, Chinese, Italian, American food etc. Presently I do workout so I do try to avoid junk food in some situations can’t and I have to do an extra set. The food which I get in the mess is not that nutritious. But I to try get nutrition by eating fruits, eating egg whites, chicken etc.


FoodLab Bangalore – is a 3 week workshop the Center for Genomic Gastronomy conducted with sophomores from the Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology in the fall of 2011. Students will examine innovation and conservation in South Asian food cultures, building on recent research of the Center (utopian cuisines, mutagenic meals) and working towards the next edition of the Planetary Sculpture Supper Club to be held in Bangalore on Nov. 12th.

Follow the conversation all week here on our Blog, join in the comments and use the twitter hashtag #foodlabbangalore to keep up to date.

Diet Diary

Food Journal

I wish I ate more exciting food but it turns out unlike my peers, I don’t eat junk food all that often. Since I’m constantly on a cash crunch, I resort to eating all my healthy home cooked meals in order to save those extra rupees. Being a South Indian, I was expecting more rice on my plate {I eat more chapattis than I realized} but more importantly, where is my meat?! After two weeks of recording all my food, I’ve concluded that I am being cheated by my parents.


FoodLab Bangalore – is a 3 week workshop the Center for Genomic Gastronomy conducted with sophomores from the Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology in the fall of 2011. Students will examine innovation and conservation in South Asian food cultures, building on recent research of the Center (utopian cuisines, mutagenic meals) and working towards the next edition of the Planetary Sculpture Supper Club to be held in Bangalore on Nov. 12th.

Follow the conversation all week here on our Blog, join in the comments and use the twitter hashtag #foodlabbangalore to keep up to date.

Food Type

When i started off with thinking about what i eat everyday, i was more of the opinion that we eat the same exact food repeated on the menu lists of our mess. The same vegetables for the same meal for the exact same day of the week. Systematized and monotonous.

Now  when I actually started documenting the food I ate it was almost an educational experience. To start off, eating food, by the age of 20 is a very reflex action. It is hard to remember ‘oh i have to take a snap shot!’.and also i like attacking my food when i see it rather than overanalyzing it so its sort of an instinct for me to start off.i believe its probably because m such a foodie my brain stops functioning when i see food unless of-course when the food looks unappetizing. hence visual documentationpresented food to half eaten meals all comprise of the

Secondly it wasn’t as bad and monotonous to live and eat hostel food. majorly cause our backup plans are more in use. from lays to biscuits to coffees and eating meals out are very frequent. also it happened that i visited my ant one weekend hence got the luxury of eating home food. In all, very few meals are actually eaten from the mess. Some meals are skipped, but overall, the food we eat is most definitely not monotonous – post the documentation results


FoodLab Bangalore – is a 3 week workshop the Center for Genomic Gastronomy conducted with sophomores from the Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology in the fall of 2011. Students will examine innovation and conservation in South Asian food cultures, building on recent research of the Center (utopian cuisines, mutagenic meals) and working towards the next edition of the Planetary Sculpture Supper Club to be held in Bangalore on Nov. 12th.

Follow the conversation all week here on our Blog, join in the comments and use the twitter hashtag #foodlabbangalore to keep up to date.

Food under observation

An observation on my food habits.
The idea of clicking pictures of every little bit that we eat is quite interesting. It is rather a very good way to observe one’s food habits and see if we really eat what we think we do. Over the past two weeks I have been doing the same and the above pictures show a summary of the meals that were eaten most often.

The above row shows the food eaten in my hostel, the middle row shows the food that I ate in restaurants while the last row highlights the packaged food products I consumed. I noticed that my food habits are really dominated by packaged food but they are mostly snacky. All the restaurant fancy food that I ate is not a part of my usual food but last week I had attended a lot of Birthday parties so I ended up eating a lot of junk. Though the hostel food that I consume is less as compared to others, I observed that I prefer eating more of non-vegetarian food there. One main observation, my meals hardly consist of any healthy food items. Be it packaged or home-cooked I tend to choose the oily and the unhealthy items over the healthy fruits and vegetables.

This whole exercise though was very helpful as it showed me exactly what I consumed over the past few days, but I am not surprised by what I saw. So I can conclude and say that I was actually quite sure of what my food habits are. I knew from before that I am always inclined toward eating a lot of packaged food and non-vegetarian. My mother is the only one person who can force fruits and healthy food in my stomach.


FoodLab Bangalore – is a 3 week workshop the Center for Genomic Gastronomy conducted with sophomores from the Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology in the fall of 2011. Students will examine innovation and conservation in South Asian food cultures, building on recent research of the Center (utopian cuisines, mutagenic meals) and working towards the next edition of the Planetary Sculpture Supper Club to be held in Bangalore on Nov. 12th.

Follow the conversation all week here on our Blog, join in the comments and use the twitter hashtag #foodlabbangalore to keep up to date.

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