Ria Chhabra’s parents weren’t convinced that it was worth the extra cost to buy organic produce. So while Ria was still in middle school she decided to study the effect of organic versus conventional diets using fruit flies. It’s a great idea. Fruit flies are commonly used in research related to human health because their short life spans allow multiple generations to be studied. And, three-quarters of human disease genes have a relevant match in the fruit-fly genome. Ria worked with research biologist Dr. Johannes Bauer, at Southern Methodist University. Some flies were fed organic bananas, potatoes, raisins, and soy beans. Some were fed conventional versions of these foods. Flies dining on organic foods were healthier on all measures including fertility, stress resistance, and longevity. The results were so significant that her research has been published in a peer-reviewed journal. Here are both scientists, one still in high school, discussing their research.
Attack of Exploding Poo Foam
We know life on confinement farms is ugly and cruel. Nature is pissed off, even at the microbial level. Want proof?
There are pits under large-scale confinement hog farms to capture manure. Something nasty is happening down there that hasn’t been seen before. As manure breaks down it brims with toxic gases like hydrogen sulfide and flammable gases like methane. But over the manure, a foaming gray substance is appearing. It billows up to four feet thick, pushing through vents and floor grates. The gases are trapped, leading to sudden releases and sometimes explosions. This can be lethal. Barns have exploded, yes, with hundreds of animals trapped inside. And scientists can’t explain what’s happening.
The problem is spreading. At least 25 percent of large scale hog operations in the Midwest are plagued with foam. A Mother Jones expose on the problem notes that pork producers are dosing angry bacteria in manure pits with more of what’s already overused in their industry. Antibiotics.
Here on our little farm, beekeeping has been going well. Until last winter when all of our colonies died. The honeybee crisis you’ve heard about is actually worse than you know. The most recent data shows that US beekeepers lost 45 percent of their colonies over the winter. Look at the wondrous lives of these creatures in this six-minute film, narrated by Bill McKibben.
Guerrilla Filmmaker, 11, Outs School Lunch Program
This young whistleblower shows that even “celebrity chef” offerings at school are lies. Great film, to be shown at an upcoming film festival.
Dancing Micro Movement @ Grocery Stores