The Best of 2013, Day 4: What's for lunch?

Happy Holidays from IJNR! During the month of December, we'll be bringing you a sampler from the "Best of 2013" - a recap of some of the best stories and series of the year from our alumni. Some of them have already been featured here on the Nooze, but many of them haven't! We hope you enjoy reading, hearing and exploring these top-notch stories as much as we have.

sam eatonToday we hear from alumnus Sam Eaton.  On offer we have some of his contributions to the incredible series "Food for 9 Billion: What's for Lunch?" which is a project of Marketplace, PBS, Homelands Productions, and The Center for Investigative Reporting. This globe-spanning investigation explores how we might keep ourselves fed during this time of rapid environmental and social change.

Intensive Lunch: Indians Find Hope in a Controversial Rice Growing Technique

Eaton_riceIn Bihar, India's poorest state, a group of women in colorful saris sing a song about Sri. "Sri," is another name for the Hindu goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. But these women are all farmers and for them SRI has another meaning: System of Rice Intensification.

The song describes each of the simple steps involved in this novel way of growing rice and ends by describing how it's transformed their lives.

45-year-old Sako Dev says the SRI method has doubled and tripled her harvests of not only rice, but also wheat and vegetables. She says before she couldn't grow enough food on her small plot to feed her seven children. But now she not only has enough food, she also has money to send her children to school...Read and hear more. 

Carbon Neutral Lunch: Costa Rica Looks to Lead on Climate-Friendly Ag

Eaton_carbon lunchCosta Rica is a tiny country with big plans. Four years ago its leaders declared that it would become the world's first carbon-neutral nation by 2021 — transportation, energy, everything — including agriculture, which represents a whopping 37 percent of Costa Rica's emissions.

Agricultural emissions can be some of the toughest to reduce. But you wouldn't know it talking with farmers like Maria Luisa Jimenez, one of hundreds of Costa Rican small farmers who are replacing conventional agricultural practices with cheap, low-carbon technologies... Read and hear more. 

Alt Staple Lunch: Mexicans Push Return of an Ancient Grain

Eaton_AmaranthOnce as fundamental to Central and South American diets as corn and beans, amaranth virtually disappeared after the Spanish banned it because of its use in Aztec human sacrifice rituals. Now there are efforts to bring it back as a staple in Mexico, for its both superior nutritional qualities and its resistance to the pressures of a changing climate.

In some ways this is a tale of two seeds–corn and amaranth. Both were domesticated long ago in southern Mexico's Tehuacan valley. Both were pounded into flour to make tamales and tortillas. Along with beans, the two were the staples that allowed the Aztec empire to prosper. The difference is that corn went on to become the cornerstone of the world food system, while amaranth went mostly into the history books... Read and hear more.

Scaling Up: Vietnamese Fish Farms Search for Eco-Friendly Formula


In the 1960s, Vietnam’s late communist leader, Ho Chi Minh, encouraged the rural poor to dig fishponds as a way to boost their nutrition. The small ponds were integrated into family farms, where fish fed on agricultural waste until they became food themselves. The farmers then drained the ponds and fertilized their fields with the sludge before starting the cycle all over again – never buying a single bag of feed or fertilizer.

Today's model couldn’t be more different. This is the sound of feeding time at a catfish farm in the Mekong River Delta. Workers bang the floorboards on a raft and then pour 50-pound bags of commercial fish pellets, which consist mostly of imported soy meal, into the water. The surface of the pond explodes with fish so dense, it looks like you can walk across them... Read more. 

Do you like what you see from Sam? If you want more, just type "Sam Eaton" into the search bar here on The Nooze, and see how many more of his stories pop up! Feel free to search for any of our other alumni as well, and see what kind of Nooze you find!