Saturday, June 19, 2010

Links post

  • The Slaughterhouse Problem: is a resolution in sight? (Food Politics): Overview of the slaughterhouse problem by Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics and Safe Food. “The slaughterhouse problem is what small, local meat producers have to contend with when their animals are ready to be killed. The USDA licenses so few slaughterhouses, and the rules for establishing them are so onerous, that humanely raised (if that is the correct term) animals have to be trucked hundreds of miles to considerably less humane commercial facilities to be killed... Furthermore, appointments for slaughter must be made many months or years in advance — whether the animals are ready or not.”
  • A Movable Beast: Four-legged mobile slaughter (cows, goats, sheep) comes to the northeast! There is now a mobile unit in New York state which can travel to farms to provide slaughter services (and helps mitigate the problem described by Nestle in the post I mentioned above). Until now, the only mobile units in the northeast were mobile poultry processors. The arrival of mobile four-legged slaughter units is a good thing — trucking animals long distances to slaughter is unpleasant for them. This also allows farmers more oversight over how their animals are treated on that important last day. Four-legged slaughter is more highly regulated than poultry slaughter; it is also technically more complicated because of chilling requirements. So this was a long time in coming.
  • A good week for UK science journalism (despite one big fail) (Not Exactly Rocket Science). A bunch of links to interesting new ideas in science journalism.
  • Seals do it with whiskers, sharks do it with noses – tracking fish with supersenses. Seals can sense the passage of fish in the water with their sensitive whiskers up to 35 seconds after the fish have swum by. I think this sort of insight into alternative senses is so interesting — what is it like to be able to perceive these sorts of things? How do their brains interpret it? Is it like sight is to us?
  • fight club soap: Nature Publishing Group proposed a 400% price hike of the licensing fee paid to them by the University of California library system. The UC schools proposed boycotting NPG. Boycotting NPG would be a big deal; they publish some very important journals. This post, by a librarian, summarizes the situation well and has some interesting ideas about the broader impact it may have on academic journal pricing.
  • Nutritional inadequacy: Is it what your pet’s having for dinner? (PetConnection): “So, ‘holistic’ pet food companies, don’t you have trade or industry groups? Create your own third-party-verified feeding trials the way the organic food industry created its own certification programs. That would be something to brag about.” Hear, hear.
  • The Switches That Can Turn Mental Illness On and Off: Review of current state of research on how epigenetics affects stress. (Epigenetics is a set of mechanisms that affect how your DNA is accessed and read, and therefore how it is used. I have posted about it before.)

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