Articles: Food and Agriculture

Contact Kristin Ohlson for readings, talks, writing projects, etc.

A Time of Desperation

Research in Belizean caves has revealed paleoclimate data indicating the Maya suffered a series of droughts from the seventh through tenth centuries. The research also shows how the Maya beseeched their gods to end the droughts, the latest of which coincided with their collapse.

Dirt First

Rick Haney, gangly and garrulous, paces in front of a congregation of government conservationists, working the room for laughs before he gets to the hard data. The U.S. Department of Agriculture soil scientist points to an aerial photograph of research plots outside his facility in Temple, Texas. “Our drones took this shot,” he says, then shakes his head. “Kidding. We don’t have any drones.”

How to Teach Your Cows a New Trick: Weeding

Jon Bansen’s Jerseys gaze with such mild disinterest at visitors to his Monmouth, Oregon, dairy farm that it’s hard to believe they can cause trouble.

The Bug Whisperer

Mark Sturges doesn’t advertise and clients have to find him by word of mouth, but find him they do. He’s become a master of an agricultural art as old as agriculture itself: basic compost.

The Other Bees

There are thousands and thousands of bees that are not honeybees out there, pollinating our flowers and helping plants produce food. Who knew?

Whole-Body Psychiatry

Mental health is not all in our heads. Nutrition is an oft-ignored — yet incredibly effective — way to manage mental illness, including schizophrenia.

Secret Ingredients

Most of the processed foods we eat are studded with mysterious additives. They extend shelf life. They create exciting flavors, colors and textures. But they don’t do great things for our health. Find out which ones to avoid, and why.

Break the Fast-Food Habit

Not only does fast food tend to be unhealthy, but some of its ingredients are downright addictive. Here's how to kick the habit.

Feast In Kabul

A gracious and venerably lined great-grandmother in a sequined gown pushed the plate of snacks at me. It was a small white dish, the only evidence of the wedding feast to come. A crowd of children eyed its passage across the table disconsolately.

America's Appetite for Olive Oil Ripens

From his tasting room on the hilly outskirts of Oroville, Calif., Jamie Johannson can hear the workers picking his olives. Even when they are too far away for him to hear their voices, he can still detect the wind-chime-like clamor of them at work.

As The Suburbs Crept Out, He Dug In

MAYFIELD HEIGHTS, OH—Even though Joseph Tomaro is the last, defiant holdout in a rural neighborhood gone urban, he enjoys the serendipitous camaraderie that commercialism brings his way. He knows the names of the office workers who walk by his house and swaps news with the merchants down the street.