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Issue #13

Eating insects is not a solution and it is not cool.

Just ask India’s Dalit and indigenous communities, who’ve been eating more than 300 species of insects for centuries, yet endure prejudiced, caste-based tropes about ‘poor’ and ‘dirty’ food.

Or, you could send off a query to thousands of families in the northern latitudes of southern Africa. Although don’t expect a reply during harvest time, when entire families camp out in woodlands to pick as many mopane as they can. The mopane — a caterpillar of a species of emperor moth — is a vital source of nutrition and stimulates cross-border trade in southern Africa worth $50 million a year.

Yes, insects are a viable solution to many of the challenges the climate crisis presents to sustainable human diets. But to speak of problems to solve in the future misses the point. We already eat insects. They are already a lifeline.
As Lydia Carey describes in her report on chic eating and insect farming in Mexico, consuming critters is fraught with danger. Without first prioritizing the existing guardians of insect eating and ensuring the food security that bugs already offer communities across the globe, we risk reproducing exploitative food systems at the altar of sustainability. As a collector of honeypot ants asks: “We think that we are going to cultivate them, but why aren’t we thinking about cultivating ourselves?”

We need to break harmful stereotypes and disrupt limiting ideas that eating insects is weird or cool. Normalizing the practice can offer a new source of protein that won’t decimate the planet in the same way that eating animals already does. It’s fine if it isn’t for you. But judging or exoticizing the practice won’t help anyone. 

There are a few more practical concerns we’ve got to get our heads around, too. As Tabby Kibugi writes, food safety standards will need to be adopted and perceptions adjusted. When a French botanist took the challenge of colonizing Madagascar into his own hands, he brought disaster. While we should hope that those at the forefront of entomophagy today are not so nefarious, we should not be complacent about what seems like an easy solution.
Issue #13 Articles

Don’t worry about eating insects: ‘We should think about cultivating ourselves’

Lydia Carey
Eating insects dates way back into Mexico’s history, yet today it is driving cool culinary trends enjoyed by the upper classes and foreigners. As we slowly embrace entomophagy, the Mexican experience offers lessons for all about embracing the practice — including the ills we must avoid repeating.

Break taboos now: Insect-eating is already here

Sohel Sarkar
Since a 2013 UN report recommended humans start eating insects, consuming critters has emerged as a viable solution to improving the sustainability and security of our diets. But, as the experience of India’s indigenous and Dalit communities shows, we first have to recognize the historical importance and present reality of the practice before we can ‘solve’ anything.

This worm is the last line of defence against malnutrition

John Gaisford
Throughout November and December in the northern latitudes of southern Africa, you’ll find families camping out in woodlands. They are there to harvest the mopane worm, which is a vital source of protein in a region where the danger of malnourishment is serious. Now, social entrepreneurs see an opportunity to bring the mopane to a wider audience.

How do we apply food safety standards to insects?

Tabby Kibugi
Insects will play a bigger role in human diets in the decades to come, but eating the sustainable protein will invite a whole raft of regulatory questions. The question is: how far into the unknown are we going?

How a French botanist brought famine to Madagascar by weaponizing a parasite

Jonathan Feakins
France spent centuries trying to establish a long-term colony in Madagascar to no avail. They’d been kicked out twice by the 1800s, when an “unknown person” introduced the cochineal to the island — with disastrous consequences for the Malagasy people.

Issue #12
Fast Food

Watermelon Issue
What is fast food? 

We’ve asked many questions about it these past few decades. We’ve worried about how fast food has contributed to soaring obesity levels. Morgan Spurlock ate it all day every day for a whole calendar month in his film Super Size Me. We’ve observed how fast food franchises dominate food deserts and food-insecure communities, and asked if it is really the best industry to sponsor sports events.

Fast food is embedded in the cultural mythology of modern North America and has been exported to the world, homogenizing and undercutting native cultures and cuisines — a dynamic Mwende Mutuli Musau addresses in this issue. Drive thru the golden arches and salvation will be delivered by someone in a headset holding out a brown paper bag and an unreasonably large drink. But fast food has also been a villain for health advocates and concerned parents. It has symbolized a culture that had its priorities backwards. 
These conversations are evolving with a steadily growing acceptance that sometimes eating fast food is … okay. Is eating ultraprocessed morsels of chicken every now and again really that bad when food corporations are exploiting and mistreating workers; when industrial farming and the meat industry is poisoning the earth? Debunking shame is the first step towards healthier relationships; the same goes for (fast) food. 

We need this space to continue opening up if we are going to evaluate where we’re at with fast food and broaden our culinary imaginations. Fast food can be much more than we think. Fast food is also a food that’s created for travelling, to be eaten quickly, when the carnival comes to town, and by parents who are stretched and need to make sure their child gets a square meal. Fast food is memory. As Stephen Mosaku writes, we don’t have to take the cultural ascendancy of fast food franchises for granted, either. Nigerians, for instance, have broadly resisted fast food in favour of convenient twists on the country’s own traditional food cultures. 

But this doesn’t mean we should stop asking the big existential questions about fast food. Like — what is fast food? Is it a cuisine? Is it a culture, a lifestyle? Some experts are even asking whether, nutritionally speaking, ultraprocessed fast food even is food. In this issue, Emily Monaco deconstructs a conversation that strikes at the heart of this — is fast food addictive?

Issue #12 Articles

Erasure and extraction: The unofficial history of Fast Food in Africa

Mwende Mutuli Musau
Several decades of discourse on Fast Food has firmly established it is bad for our bodies. In Africa, that is no different. But as Mwende Mutuli Musau explains, Fast Food contributes to more than obesity, but to cultural erasure and wealth extraction, too.

Is fast food really addictive?

Emily Monaco
The idea of food addiction is hotly debated among health experts, who argue that there is little proof for the idea we can be addicted to or physically dependent on fast food. And yet, it’s clear to many of us that there is something about fast food that makes it particularly hard to resist and can lead to compulsive overeating. What’s going on?

‘Cooking for the friend who might stop by’: Why Nigeria resists fast food

Stephen Mosaku
Fast food corporations look for new markets wherever they can, inserting themselves into food cultures across the globe. But in Nigeria at least, this North American export is not having such an easy ride, as Nigerians reject fast food stables in favour of traditional domestic dishes.

Never eat a nugget: How fast food warped our sense of what’s good and bad

Josh Skinner
When Anthony Bourdain tucked in to Frito Pie, he described it as “crap in a bag” and insisted he liked it. He saw through his own preconceptions and just saw the food. Food snobs today have taken the ills of fast food and moralized what we eat. As Food Neutrality destigmatizes our food choices, Bourdain’s example suggests we’ve overcomplicated what’s good and what’s bad.

Coffee is changing. That’s a good thing.

Mauricio Interiano
Millennials and Generation Z are driving new habits in coffee drinking. There’s more variety than ever and this growth in diversity is challenging what some of us believe is the ‘right’ way to do coffee. But, as Mauricio Interiano admits, anything that makes coffee more accessible is worth celebrating.

Issue #11

Watermelon Issue
Where scandals once seemed like exceptions they are now increasingly the norm. Scandal is the language of politics and the means of doing politics, too. Environmental systems are collapsing around us. We debate the innate goodness and badness of foods. And bad actors continue acting badly. 
In this issue, you’ll learn about how foods and appetites become scandalized: how they break taboos and fall victim to moral panic. We see the nature of scandal changing, too, as we interrogate how social media has changed the way consumers and companies approach it, and look out how covering up scandal is baked into the food system. You’ll also learn about why people have been boycotting a major vegan, vegetarian and organic producer.

We like to think of our issue themes as broadly as we can, to capture new ideas and original perspectives. Scandal may evoke some ideas immediately to you, but we think — and hope — this issue will surprise you with its scope.
Issue #11 Articles

Salmon is salmon, right? Wrong!

Lily Wakeley
The colour of our foods result in large part from their breeding and growing environments. Now, as producers farm fish that were once wild and poultry that were once free to range, they need to use dyes in their feed to ensure foods match our colour expectations. In doing so, they’re hijacking our ability to work out anything has changed.

Greek chefs are breaking a sacred taboo with this ancient dessert

Alex Katsomitros
Koliva is a wheat-based dessert that’s traditionally served at Greek Orthodox funerals and memorial services, but its roots date back to the ancients. Today, it’s getting a modern, taboo-breaking makeover.

What you need to know about the Amy’s Kitchen boycott

Lola Méndez
Amy’s Kitchen is known throughout North America for making organic, vegetarian and vegan food. It says its one guiding principle is goodness, yet it faces a raft of allegations from workers over its workplace practices. What’s going on?

Why food brands stopped fearing scandal

Josh Skinner
Twitter has been the main site of scandal in public life for almost a decade now. Food brands have never been shy of scandal, but what’s changed is that social media has largely immunized them against the effects of their misdemeanours — even though it is easier than ever for people to call them out.

Issue #10

Water Issue - Sliced by Fed
There are few resources that will tell the story of our future better than water. 

While southern Africa has seen deadly, climate crisis induced flooding in recent years, Mozambique is experiencing more droughts. In this issue, we learn about the plight of Zimbabwean farmers who are struggling as consecutive droughts see groundwater stocks disappear. 

In the United States, the Colorado River is bone dry and, as Richard Keller describes for Sliced, competition between western states over water rights and access could see them coming into increased conflict. Water’s place as the most precious of resources will take on new meaning in this context.
As cricket’s groundskeepers are discovering, we will have to learn how to use water more smartly. Dwindling water resources and the need to ration our usage will be difficult and in many places near-impossible as stocks drop so low, but it is not completely a story of doom and gloom. In Vietnam, Peter Cowan describes how the Mekong Delta is subsiding, placing the country’s supply of rice at risk, but experts say this is an opportunity to farm new crops in the delta and to diversify the Vietnamese diet. In Sierra Leone, Benson Kandeh is bringing his own low-cost water pump technology to hundreds of remote communities. 

Hong Kong has long had an abundant supply of water. Yet, as Marie Bröckling writes, it has neglected alternatives. As it suffers its own water crisis, desalination won’t be enough, but examples of innovative solutions elsewhere might be the inspiration it needs. 

We should be worried about the future of water. But fear can be motivating, too. As the stark realities of the climate emergency hit home, our leaders need to realize they are all in the same boat together — otherwise we’re all going to run aground with them. 
Issue #10 Articles

The Mekong Delta: Is Vietnam’s rice bowl about to tip over?

Peter Cowan
The Mekong Delta has long supplied Vietnam with its rice: the country’s staple food and key export crop. But the climate crisis, rising sea levels, and subsidence are putting the country’s rice bowl in serious danger. What happens next could change the country in profound ways.

As groundwater disappears in Zimbabwe, anxiety rises among the country’s farmers

Andrew Mambondiyani
Southern Africa is already feeling the deadly effects of the climate crisis. For Zimbabwe’s farmers, this means droughts, dwindling incomes, and increased fears about the future.

How one man is making village wells safe across Sierra Leone

Devyani Nighoskar
After tragedy struck his family, Benson Kandeh used his own savings to create a low-cost water-pump technology. Now, hundreds of communities across the country have safe access to water thanks to his work.

Hong Kong needs to embrace new solutions to fix its growing water crisis

Marie Bröckling
Surrounded by water on all sides, Hong Kong has never really had to worry about its water supply. But now, as rising temperatures, pollution and extreme weather induced by the climate crisis start to bite, it needs to embrace alternative water sources.

Drought in the USA: Why the next civil war will be about water

Richard Keller
The Western United States continues to suffer as drought conditions, lower rainfall, and changing seasonal patterns due to warmer weather hit states hard. As states on the west coast compete to ensure water access for their people, leaders are clashing over water rights claims. It is looking harder and harder to remedy.

Issue #9

Watermelon Issue
On the face of it, our Textile issue marks a bit of a departure from our usual themes. It relates far more to agriculture than to food, and it doesn’t seem to tell us much about what we eat and what’s on our plates. 

But one thing this issue should show is that this is only really half true — if that. The future of textiles isn’t just about improving practices and using natural, plant-based materials — although, as Tabby Kibugi writes in this issue, that very much is the case for plant-based indigo in the denim industry. 

The future of textiles and fashion is also about turning food waste into fabrics and finding new fabrics from old sources. In this issue, we see how farmers are making fabrics out of the “incredibly wasteful” banana plant, and learn about the traditional Ugandan fabric made from fig trees that is so versatile, you’re just as likely to wear it as you are to see it in your kitchen. 

Giulia Alvarez-Katz interrogates why only some silk-producing countries eat the waste product from the process of making silk, silkworm pupae, and in doing so offers us insights on how and why certain foods are adopted. With the UN continuing to advise humans to adopt insects into their diets, she leaves us with much to ponder — as well as a fascinating story of a novel culinary delicacy, a story of trade and empire, migration and cultural intermingling.

And finally, Jen Sizeland breaks down the vital role that agricultural textiles have long played in farming, and why many believe it is time to ditch the materials. In doing so, she reveals the broad reach of textiles into different parts of our daily lives, and underscores how our textiles are embedded (quite literally, in this case) in the systems that feed and sustain us. 

Maybe textiles do tell us a lot about what’s on our plates after all.
Issue #9 Articles

Denim can harm you and the planet. It’s time to go plant-based.

Tabby Kibugi
When Karen Baker noticed the synthetic indigo in her denim clothes was making her skin itch, it set her on a journey to learn how to dye her own fabrics. She realized as early as anyone that plant-based indigo could reduce the danger denim poses to us and the planet — and now others are starting to catch on.

How Nigerian farmers reinvented this wasteful plant as a source of sustainable textiles

Stephen Mosaku
In 2019, research showed that nearly 90% of the banana tree is wasted in production. But Nigerian farmers are now putting that waste to good use, by turning it into a source of sustainable fabrics. Now that technology has caught up with the fabric’s versatile qualities, it may not be long until banana fibre fabrics are the norm.

Missionaries said barkcloth was demonic and diabolical. Now it could remake the future of fabrics.

Mwende Mutuli Musau
The traditional fabric barkcloth thrived culturally and economically in Uganda until British colonizers brought new priorities, and nearly wiped out the whole industry. But today, this fabric looks set for a future as a sustainable source of textiles.

Agricultural textiles: Is it time to ditch the fabrics protecting our crops?

Jen Sizeland
Few people realize that technical textiles are used to grow and protect crops. But, even as the world’s biggest democracy makes them a key part of their trade strategy, a movement is growing to phase them out of agriculture in favour of nature-based solutions.

Why don’t all Silk Road nations eat silkworm waste?

Giulia Alvarez-Katz
Silk production spread out from China along the Silk Road network of trade routes in the 2nd century BCE. Many of the countries that adopted it also turned a waste product of silk production into a delicacy, but many others didn’t. Why?

Issue #8

Watermelon Issue
We are living in the age of plastic. It protects our food and litters our beaches. We toss away our plastic wrappers, only for them to end up choking birds and marine life. We heat up our food in plastics containers, even as doctors and researchers find increasingly high levels of microplastics throughout the human body. 

We are trapped in a morbid dependency on plastic. We can’t live with or without it, and plastic will live forever. So what will we do?
Breaking free first requires understanding the problem. In this issue, you’ll learn about how plastic pollutes agriculture and our bodies, and why plastic packaging persists in the food industry. We see an example of a country — Kenya — that is trying to break free of the system that produces food waste and plastic pollution. And we will finish up with a more philosophical interrogation of our personal relationships with single-serve, plastic-wrapped snacks, and what would happen if we are forced to think about the consequences of them. 

The plastic problem will, like the material itself, be a permanent fixture in our lives. We better face up to it. 
Issue #8 Articles

Plastic is in our blood, stool and lungs. What does it mean for our health?

Emily Monaco
It’s no secret that plastic is killing the planet, but less well-known is that it may be killing us from the inside, too. Yes, plastic — in the form of microplastics — has been found in our blood, lungs and many other organs, even our stool. But what’s more worrying is the fact doctors still aren’t sure what the effect is on our health.

Why plastic packaging persists: A view from the food industry

Tabby Kibugi
So much of our food is wrapped in plastic — often unnecessarily. But years after consensus about the ills of plastic formed, there are few signs of a clear transition away from using the material to package our groceries. Tabby Kibugi spoke to food industry workers to find out why.

How illegal Western waste pollutes rice fields in Indonesia — and ends up back on your plate

Sydney Allen
Illegal riverside trash dumps have developed their own illicit economy of trade over the decades they’ve built up in Indonesia. Now, the world is beginning to reckon with the devastating effects of plastic, and it’s clear these dumps composed of western garbage are polluting waterways and poisoning agriculture. Countries are fighting back against the export of rubbish, but the damage is already done.

Kenya is imagining a world without plastic and food waste — here’s how

Mwende Mutuli Musau
Kenya is working towards a circular economy, to achieve its goals of reducing plastic pollution and reducing food waste. It is a radical path for a developing country to take, but one that could have serious implications for the way states address the effects of the climate crisis, and for how states seek to create more sustainable economies.

By transcending plastic-wrapped snacks, we can taste freedom

Nicole Grennan
Plastic once signalled abundance and hygiene for generations scarred by hunger and depressions, who then saw the unprecedented improvements in food security that followed. Today, plastic is bad, immoral and immortal, unchanging when everything else in life seems impermanent. 

Issue #7
War & Conflict

Watermelon Issue
War is a fatal fact of the human condition, with more than enough complex questions for food and agriculture. Already, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is disrupting Ukrainian wheat exports to the Middle East, which could potentially exacerbate food price rises to levels not seen since the Arab Spring. 

We commissioned, edited and completed this issue long before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine amounted to anything more than suspicions and reports of troop build-ups on the border. We’ll address the food and agricultural implications of this conflict — as well as those in Syria, Yemen and Tigray, among others —  through our social media channels.

In this issue, we reflect on the past and look forward to the future. Sylvio Martins asks whether we could recreate the do-it-yourself agrarian experience of WW2 Britain should global conflict break out, while Jennie Long deconstructs fascist Italy’s war on pasta and working-class women. Adhiambo Edith Magak’s reporting on warring pastoralists and malnutrition in Kenya shows that the climate crisis wars are already here. 

There’s innovation — in technology, in the mind and on the ground — in this issue, too. Sharlene Gandhi reveals how blockchain technology is being used in food aid, and looks at how it could improve access to food for refugees and displaced people. Likam Kyanzaire tells the story of Syria’s Kurdish rebels, who — on land taken from the brutal Assad government — are applying their revolutionary approach to ecology and agriculture.

Conflict is constant — we hope this issue can provide readers with different ways of engaging with it. 
Issue #7 Articles

We’re on the brink of global conflict. Could we replace broken food supply chains?

Sylvio Martins
During WW2, Brits mobilized to feed themselves and feed the nation by planting and growing food at home. Decades of industrialization have separated us from our food supply, and we’re once again at the brink of global war. The question is, could we replicate that effort again now?

The climate crisis conflicts are here, and they’re driving malnutrition in Kenya

Adhiambo Edith Magak
The climate crisis has brought locusts and droughts to the Kenyan Arid and Semi-Arid Lands, putting pastoralists in conflict with each other as they search for good pasture land. It’s resulted in the displacement of thousands and a growing malnutrition crisis, which shows no sign of abating.

When fascist Italy tried to ban pasta, working-class women fought back

Jennie Long
From Mussolini’s rise to power until the fall of his fascist regime, Il Duce sought to establish total control over all spheres of life — including food and the kitchen. But after forcing the country to abandon pasta in favour of rice, he only succeeded in turning working-class women against the state and destroying the country’s health.

Blockchain is improving food access in conflict zones — but there’s still a long way to go

Sharlene Gandhi
Blockchain has helped make food vouchers readily accessible for some refugees and displaced people, but it is unclear just how effective it can be. The technology is often viewed as a catch-call solution, but raises as many questions as it solves when it comes to food and humanitarian aid.

How Syria's Kurdish rebels started an ecological revolution

Likam Kyanzaire
Syria’s Kurdish community have had to wait a long time for land of their own, and they are not letting the opportunity go to waste. Since seizing land from the regime during Syria’s 11-year war, they’ve ditched the state’s policy of growing cash crops and set up a range of co-operatives instead. Now, with power in the hands of the people, the policy is slowly starting to bear fruit.

Issue #6

Watermelon Issue
Sport has a funny relationship with food. Elite sports players and athletes fine tune their diets to the finest detail, cultivating their nutrition plans to boost energy levels, improve recovery, and give them an added advantage in their particular area.

But at the event or game they’re starring in, they’re likely surrounded by fast food advertising. It might be emblazoned somewhere on their kit, too. Or, in the case of certain energy drinks companies, it might be an owner of one of the teams; or sponsoring the event where they’re watched by spectators eating — yep, you guessed it — fast food!

This is a well-worn contradiction. Sliced set out to take this theme forward, conscious of the food (and agriculture!) trends shaping sport, stories that inform where we are and timeless tales that transcend time and space. Readers will learn about groundskeepers adapting to the climate crisis, the one special dish that sumo wrestlers eat to fuel up, and how one man revolutionized diet in soccer.
This issue also reminds us of the kind of complex and contradictory issues sport can throw up, for which there are no easy answers. Long-distance runners rely on small packets of energy gels for competing, but they wreck their teeth and litter the environment. Sports supplements companies manipulate their research to sell supplements that we don’t need and don’t really work. 

This issue covers plenty of ground — we hope you won’t need an energy gel to finish it.
Issue #6 Articles

Does running have an energy gel problem?

Kenaia Neumann
Long-distance runners rely on energy gels to enhance their performance, yet these highly processed, sugary gels are terrible for athletes’ teeth and for the environment. Running needs to reckon with these highly disposable gels for the sake of its athletes — and the environment.

From binge-drinking to boiled vegetables: How Arsène Wenger revolutionized nutrition in soccer

Yasemen Kaner-White
Few people in the UK had heard of Arsène Wenger before he took over at Arsenal Football Club — a hard-drinking, pie-eating soccer team. After banning the booze and overhauling the players’ diets, he brought the club unprecedented success

How sports supplement companies manipulate research

Daniel Yetman
Gymgoers, serious athletes and anyone who works out will often turn to supplements to aid recovery and muscle growth. But only very few supplements actually work. Instead, companies rely on a series of tactics to manipulate their research — so that you’ll buy their product.

Please sir, I want Sumo: How Sumo wrestlers fuel up for fights

Jonathan Shipley
Like any athlete, a sumo wrestler has to fuel up, but the amount they eat overshadows how healthy much of their diet actually is, too. As Jonathan Shipley reports for Sliced, the key to this is a dish called Chanko-nabe.

How the climate crisis threatens your favourite sports: A groundskeeper’s view

Dan Morrison
Cricket and golf have been singled out as two sports set to be severely affected by the climate crisis, as sports where the climate and conditions are key to the nature of the game. For groundskeepers, this means adapting to extreme and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns, but the conversation is only just beginning.

Issue #5

Watermelon Issue
Fungus evokes strong ideas in each of us; the gross, weird and gruesome mold that grows on our food, or slippery, poisonous mushrooms lingering at the base of trees in the forest. We sautée mushrooms, and worry about mold growing in a damp patch of our homes. And—I’ll whisper this—some people even take mushrooms as drugs.

But the fungal world is actually much broader than many of us realize. This kingdom is an organism of its own, neither plant nor animal but distantly related to us, humans. With 36,000 estimated sexes, our fungal friends really don’t ascribe to the gender binary, though. Mycelium—the web-like vegetative structure from which mushrooms sprout—acts like a kind of intelligence, autonomously connecting to surrounding plants and trees in an efficient exchange of vital nutrients and information.

Our notions of what fungi or mushrooms can or cannot be are seriously limited compared to the possibilities the fungal kingdom offers us. Koji, a crucial part of Japanese cuisine, is now being used to create vegan charcuterie. Mycorrhizal fungi are emerging as a safe, natural alternative to chemical fertilizers, by relying on mycelium’s ingenious intelligence. Communities spanning Pennsylvania, Central Europe, Madagascar, Iran, Tajikistan and New Zealand ascribe semi-mythological meanings to the relationship between mushrooms and thunder and lightning, dating as far back as the Romans. These beliefs may help us make sense of a future world where our leather and our meat, our houses and our packaging, are made out of mushroom-based material.

It isn’t all positive though. Overharvesting, rampant demand and the climate crisis threaten India’s indigenous communities’ vital source of nutrition—wild edible mushrooms. The climate emergency has caused a sharp rise in the presence of mycotoxins, toxins produced by mold, in grain crops, animal seed and more.

Fungi can speak to and solve many of the challenges facing our world today. It’s time we delve a little deeper, and disrupt our long-held ideas about fungus.
Issue #5 Articles

Ethnomycology: Tracing the history and meaning of fungi

Erik Kõvamees
While most fungal research today focuses on material possibilities, Ethnomycology seeks to understand how and why people attribute meaning and significance to mushrooms. In particular, how and why has a belief taken root in peoples across the world that associates mushrooms with thunder and lightning? There’s no easy answer—but plenty of fascinating questions.

Mycotoxins — an ever-growing risk, or not worth worrying about?

Emily Monaco
Mold produces toxins called mycotoxins. They contaminate nearly a quarter of grain crops, and can be passed from animal to animal — and from animal to human. For a long time, experts have believed they don’t pose much danger to day-to-day, but that could all change with the climate crisis.

Mushrooming No More? The Story of India’s Wild Edible Fungi

Sohel Sarkar
India’s indigenous communities have become expert mushroom foragers as gatekeepers to the country’s 283 species of mushroom. But India’s incredible fungal diversity is under threat, beset by issues with overharvesting and struggling to survive the climate crisis. India needs to secure its fungal future, but it’s unclear how. Read on to find out more.

The intelligent fungi that can revolutionize agriculture

Michelle Krasovitski
While chemical fertilizers have long dominated agriculture, polluting rivers and streams, and even the air around us, one fungi could solve all that. Mycorrhizal fungi attach web-like roots to all adjacent plants, trees and other plant life, providing necessary nutrients and forming mutually beneficial relationships. Read on to learn about this emerging agricultural alternative.

Koji: How an ancient mold can shape the future of food

Adrienne Katz Kennedy
Koji is a mold that’s been used in Japanese cooking for centuries, a crucial ingredient in soy sauce, miso and sake, among others. To this day, it’s valued in Japanese cuisine as much because it helps improve digestion as it is for making tasty food. But despite Koji’s long history, it could play a crucial part in our food’s future, too. As Adrienne Katz Kennedy describes, chef and food-science evangelist Jeremy Umansky deploys Koji in everything from breads and pastries, to curing meats and vegetable charcuterie. Read on to find out more about how this ancient mold could shape the future of food.

Issue #4

Watermelon Issue
It’s remarkable the olive is so popular. If you pick one straight from the tree, it is barely edible. When people first began cultivating olive trees between 6000 and 8000 years ago, just one bite would have revealed the bitterest of fruits, rendered impossible to eat by oleuropein—an incredibly bitter compound that protects against invasive species and animals.

Many millennia later, long gone are the empires that started the trade in olive oil and planting olive trees en masse, and what remains is a global olive oil market that’s worth more than US$11.2 billion, and projected to reach nearly $14 billion by 2027. 
And yet, there’s much we still don’t properly understand. Our olive oil often isn’t what it claims to be, hollowed out by adulteration and fakes and by exporters relabelling another country’s oil as their own. The climate emergency and a fast-spreading disease threaten olive trees across the world. What we know and what we can expect of this symbol of purity, resilience and renewal is far from certain. 

As we grapple with the radical changes transforming our relationship with the olive, ingenious solutions and novel uses for it give plenty of reason for hope. Despite the most bitter of first contacts with humans thousands of years ago, the Olive thrived. Who’s to say it won’t survive the challenges of this century?
Issue #4 Articles

Why the Olive’s Enduring Symbolism is Facing its Greatest Challenge Yet

Samantha Maxwell
Few foods communicate as much meaning as the olive. It symbolizes peace and virtue, resilience and conciliation. The olive has been appropriated by the Gods and by religion, by leaders at war and politicians negotiating peace. The olive has deep cultural roots, yet what the olive means for us today is uncertain. Notions of renewal, resilience and purity are undergoing serious challenges from conflict, the climate emergency and adulteration (to name a few). Samantha Maxwell traces the symbolic history of this bitter fruit, and ponders how the forces of this century will shape the olive’s meaning. Are set to see a symbol reborn as new, or merely transformed by the conditions of our time? Read on to learn more.

Jalpai Olive: From Folk Remedy to Hipster Favourite

Snigdha Bansal
Jalpai—an Indian-native olive—is known by many names. It’s called Jalpai in Bangla, Veralu in Sinhala, Veralikkai in Tamil, and Indian Olive in English. Today, it’s also finding different forms. The plant is common in ayurvedic medicine, a 5,000-year-old alternative healing system in India, and research today is proving its medicinal properties, from curing dysentery and diarrhea to soothing gums and warding off evil spirits. It’s also finding its way into commercial kitchens, as a new generation of chefs explore fascinating ways to use this mysterious fruit. In this piece, Snigdha Bansal takes a look at the Jalpai’s trajectory from folk remedy to hipster favourite. Read on to find out more.

In TV and Literature, Fictional Olives Reveal the Complex Nature Of This Bitter Fruit

Jenny Duffy
From Olive Oyl to Olive Kitteridge, fictional olives have occupied a special place in the past century. They are often complex and contradictory characters, embodying in their traits the tastes and flavours of the fruit that gives them their name, and its ideals and symbolism in their actions. In fact, the relationship between their names and the olive reveals hidden depths to these complicated characters.

Fake Olive Oil: An Ancient Problem Meets Modern Solutions

Solange Berchemin
Olive oil is just the juice that’s extracted from olives, right? Well, at least it should be. Olive oil is often diluted—or worse, substituted—with other cheaper oils and sometimes lower grade olive oil. Racketeers rake in huge profits while chefs and consumers use an inferior product. But, while the problem is pervasive and widespread, new reasons for hope are emerging.

2000 Years of Imperial Marketing: How Italy Came to Rely on Spain’s Olives

Aina de Lapparent Álvarez
Once upon a time, the citizens of ancient Rome consumed 50 liters of oil per year per person—and most of it came from one region in Spain. Millennia on, and the imperial centre still relies on this part of the Iberian Peninsula for its olive oil supply, yet claims it as its own. This is how ancient trade routes laid the foundations for Italy’s prized food culture.

Issue #3

Watermelon Issue
The challenges of eating food in space today are unrecognizable compared to those we first faced. 
Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin ate the first meal in space in 1961—pureed meat in a toothpaste-style tube polished off with a tube of chocolate sauce for dessert. In 1969, NASA increased rations to 2,800 calories per day, but a lack of quality nutrients was still causing astronauts to lose weight. 

By 1973, NASA began recognizing how eating meals together benefits astronauts’ wellbeing, so installed a communal eating area. Footholds replaced chairs to enable them to congregate together. The Skylab program saw the first fridge sent to space. These simple additions improved the culinary experience for astronauts as much as continuing innovation. 

If Yuri Gagarin was locking into a foothold today before a meal, he’d have already spent days tasting and rating the menu prior to lift-off. He’d recognize many of his foods as those he’d eat on earth. And he might be wondering how all his food would last long enough. 

Lunar and martian missions of the next few decades will be far longer than previous interplanetary journeys. Food will need to survive for years without spoiling, resupply trips may take weeks and, whether in the ISS or on the red planet, astronauts will have to start learning to feed themselves—with food they’ve grown in-situ. 
Fuelling the greatest leaps of humankind is about to get seriously interesting.

Issue #3 Articles

Space Food Innovation Has Reached A Crux Point – What’s Next?

Elizabeth Howell
Eating in space is a complex task. With NASA planning to send humans to the moon this decade and to Mars next decade, the challenges of eating in space are only going to get harder. But after so much innovation already, where do we go from here? We found out how researchers and space agencies are gearing up for a new era of space food.

Growing a Martian Menu: Inside The Race To Feed Missions To Mars

Hannah Sargeant
As humans explore the possibilities of getting to Mars, one question is crucial: how are we going to eat there? From traveling to Mars to potentially colonizing the planet one day, feeding people on Mars will be an extremely complex task. We’d need to transport food further than ever before, and create a whole new system of agriculture suitable for the red planet.

Food Security: Can Food Grown In Space Solve Hunger On Earth?

Amir Aziz
Innovations in space food technology don’t just aid space missions, but they could help remedy food security issues here on earth, too. Surely, if we can learn to grow food in space, we can learn to grow food in some of the most inhospitable environments on earth? While there could be some serious spin-offs, getting them to work on earth may be a different story.

Preventing Scurvy And Piling On The Calories: How To Feed Astronauts In Space

Sarah Starr
Environmental changes can have drastic effects on the nutrients we need. That’s particularly true for space, where radiation, temperature, and atmospheric pressures act on our metabolism and change astronauts’ nutritional needs. Drawing on the expertise of doctor and citizen astronaut Dr. Shawn Pandya, Sarah Starr reveals what astronauts need to eat in space, and how missions ensure that astronauts are fed properly.

(Powdered) Eggs and Bacon (Cubes)

Jonathan Shipley
Most people know the classic orange drink TANG, but few know it powers our astronauts while they’re in space. TANG is a favorite amongst crew members on the International Space Station. NASA devotes a lot of its research to food and feeding its astronauts, developing and supporting menus, research, packaging, food, and more for the ISS. We take a look at what they’re working on now.

Issue #2

Watermelon Issue
Early archaeological evidence suggests Homo Erectus first mastered the controlled use of fire nearly two million years ago. Fire scared off predators and enabled our early ancestors to come down from the trees. They began socializing around fires and cooking food. 

Fire made us human. Our brains expanded as cooking enabled us to derive more energy from food. Our intellectual abilities thrived as tending fires and performing rituals forced us to learn how to plan, cooperate and possibly even speak.

We may owe our contemporary existence to the flame, but our relationship with fire is radically different from how it began. Rare are those people in modern developed countries who rely on fire to live. We cook by gas, electricity, and even induction. 

But fire’s relationship with food today is far more complex than summer-time campfires with s’mores, or drinking warm beers and eating burgers around a barbecue. 

The meat industry’s fires are destroying the Amazon. The escalating climate crisis is forcing indigenous farmers to ditch their traditional use of fire, while increasingly frequent wildfires threaten everything from crops to oysters. Fires regularly break out in meat processing plants, but few people take notice.  

It is therefore only right to interrogate the place of fire in our food lives today. It is our past and the making of us, but fire today also suggests a very different future.

Issue #2 Articles

Fire Up The Oyster Roast

Jessica Farthing
Outdoor oyster roasts are a coastal classic, but the climate crisis now threatens their habitats and the industry. Recent wildfires have decimated oyster farms, polluted rivers, and destroyed vital equipment. Oysters and oyster reefs could play a vital role in mitigating various effects of the climate crisis, as long as they can survive it. We look at how two very different kinds of fire suggest two very different futures for the oyster.

Eucalyptus’s Uncertain Future

Amanda Smith
Eucalyptus is well loved for its relaxing aromas, medicinal properties, and for providing a home and food to koalas. But few people know that this native Australian plant needs fire in order to reproduce—eucalyptus requires the heat of wildfires to release its seeds. Eucalyptus accelerates the very bushfires and wildfires that have ravaged Australia, so what kind of future can it have? We take a look.

The Meat Factory Is On Fire – Again

Dan Morrison
While the meat industry’s fires in the Amazon burn, another type of blaze rages unnoticed. In meat factories and processing plants across North America, fires keep breaking out. Yet despite a strong network of experts and advocates for working conditions in the meat industry, nobody can say what’s going on.

Slash And Burn: Learning To Farm Sustainably After Indonesia’s Wildfires

Sydney Allen
Slash and burn farming is used by hundreds of millions of farmers every year to manage land, and that’s no different for Indonesia’s indigenous farmers. But as wildfires become destructive and widespread in the country, the practice is coming under greater scrutiny—even if big corporate farmers have greater responsibility for the fires. Now, indigenous farmers are leading the change, turning to more sustainable methods suitable for the climate crisis.

The Freedom of Cooking with Fire

Natalie Dunning
Everyone behaves a bit differently when cooking and eating around fire. Reluctant home cooks become ‘expert’ chefs over a barbecue. We drink and eat more, excitedly egged on by the novelty of doing it all around flames. So, why do we transform around fire? It’s all down to evolution and culture.

Issue #1

Watermelon Issue
There are endless questions to ask about food and the complex journey it takes to reach our plates. From farmers and fast food chains to politics and technology, we need to step aside from common conversations about food, and break down barriers few of us know exist. What are the systems trying to feed us, and how do they work? 

Here at Sliced, we’re so excited to begin with our Watermelon issue. Few foods spark so much joy as the first watermelon in summer. Yet, beyond occasionally worrying about genetic manipulation, we rarely say anything more about it than how much we love this fruit—and possibly moan about the seeds. But, as you’ll see flicking through our metaphorical pages, the watermelon is as contested as any other food. Its history is complex and its future is up for grabs. 

After emancipation, recently freed black people often farmed, ate and sold watermelons in the U.S. South. The fruit had been a central part of their lives during slavery, and remained important in the new social order. But selling watermelons gave them more power, which southern whites saw as challenging the racial hierarchy. In quicktime they transformed the watermelon into a symbol to depict black people as messy and lazy. It became a racist trope which reinforced violent notions that black people were an ‘unwanted public presence’.

This idea exploded in cartoons and media, but depressingly still endures to this day. Not too long ago, the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in a previous profession as a columnist, referred to black people in Africa as having ‘watermelon smiles’. In 2014, Jacqueline Woodson described the pain of having her dislike of watermelon soup turned back on her as a racist joke by a friend on stage at an awards show. 

The examples are endless, proving food is as powerful a symbol as any other, and that we need to discuss food in more detail. This is as true for issues in sustainability, agriculture, innovation, nutrition, taste and more, as it is for a food’s place in our culture and history. 

Sliced is here to facilitate such conversations. Interrogating and reimagining food seriously will enable us to value it properly once again; to drive change and innovation, and to use food as a positive force for more sustainable societies. 

In this first issue, stories about the watermelon’s dangerous history, its place in popular culture and why we overstate its nutritional benefits will help us to understand the ways we think about this food. Articles about the future of watermelon production and the forces shaping watermelon taste give us ample jumping off points to consider the watermelon’s future.

We’re excited to get started.
Issue #1 Articles

Watermelon Sugar: Reimagining Agency, Consent and Our Future

Kate Raphael
The watermelon evokes the essence of summer, and it has exploded as a symbol in pop culture. From brands that endorse its revitalizing qualities to Beyonce’s Drunk In Love, it’s captured our imagination. But Harry Styles has taken this to another level with his summer hit, Watermelon Sugar. Read on to learn how he deploys the watermelon as a powerful symbol for consent and sexual agency.

Dangerous History of the Watermelon

James Folta
Despite its light, refreshing appeal, the Watermelon has a dark, dangerous history. The Watermelon has started riots and caused international squabbles. Some are so prized that people have risked death just to get their hands on one. In 2011, Watermelons started combusting in China, and throughout the world watermelons are caught up at the weirdest crime scenes. This is the watermelon’s untold story.

Inside the Rind

Nikita Ephanov
Many cultures far and wide ascribe all kinds of cleansing, healing qualities to the watermelon. Some even claim it as an aphrodisiac. But amidst the superstitions and myths, it’s unclear how nutritious the watermelon really is. How healthy is the watermelon, and why do we often overstate its benefits?

The Future of the Watermelon

Lydia Carey
The watermelon has been coddled. As the climate crisis gets worse, the watermelon faces a struggle to survive in extreme conditions. But innovative approaches to genome mapping and farming could give the watermelon a fighting chance of thriving in these conditions. This is a report from the frontlines of the watermelon’s future.

Tastes Like Capitalism

Kate Raphael
Watermelon-flavoured drinks and sweets don’t taste much like the real thing. But the natural flavour is actually much like the artificial: the juiciest and most potent taste that can be created for the right price. We take a look at the economic forces that shaped the watermelon’s flavour, and why no watermelon flavour is really ‘natural’.
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Explore Issues by Sliced
Booze, The Pig, The Orange and The Egg
April, 2018
The Shellfish Issue
Shellfish: They are ugly, lack charisma, and are rarely awe-inspiring.

Yet shellfish are also live signals that indicate larger trends within aquatic ecosystems and within our land-based culture. Trends such as animal welfare and the increasingly problematic or discriminatory nature of sustainable eating.

In this edition, shellfish also expose the battle between nature and science. As science takes ground on a timeless fatal illness, nature - dressed as an invasive alien species - continues to conquer territories across North America.

Yes, Shellfish are either plain or beastly but that does not mean they are basic, boring, or insignificant.
Holding On By A Thread
Eric Kukulowicz
Trippin on Acid
Mirjam Guesgen
March, 2018
The Chocolate Issue
Chocolate is more than food.

To the Aztec people, the cacao bean was a gift of Quetzalcoatl, the God of wisdom. They believed it offered aphrodisiac powers.

Nearly 8,000 years later, the cacao bean's sugary ancestor, chocolate, still holds significance. This product is not simply consumed, it communicates love and, at this time of year, symbolizes the generous gifts of an elusive Easter bunny.  

Through examining chocolate from multiple angles, a fact becomes clear.  The Aztec’s regard for the cacao bean teaches us of their religious views and social concerns. So too, time spent reading about today's chocolate production, marketing, and consumption also exposes some truths about our 21st Century civilization.
Pablo Escobar's Chocolate Factory
Chris Hergesheimer
1 Astounding Reason You Shouldn't Trust Clickbait Headlines on Chocolate!
Graeme Carey
March, 2018
The Chocolate Issue
Chocolate is more than food.

To the Aztec people, the cacao bean was a gift of Quetzalcoatl, the God of wisdom. They believed it offered aphrodisiac powers.

Nearly 8,000 years later, the cacao bean's sugary ancestor, chocolate, still holds significance. This product is not simply consumed, it communicates love and, at this time of year, symbolizes the generous gifts of an elusive Easter bunny.  

Through examining chocolate from multiple angles, a fact becomes clear.  The Aztec’s regard for the cacao bean teaches us of their religious views and social concerns. So too, time spent reading about today's chocolate production, marketing, and consumption also exposes some truths about our 21st Century civilization.
Pablo Escobar's Chocolate Factory
Chris Hergesheimer
1 Astounding Reason You Shouldn't Trust Clickbait Headlines on Chocolate!
Graeme Carey
February, 2018
The Booze Issue
Booze.  Hooch. Spirit. Liquid Courage. Poison.

Alcohol has many names. Which is fitting, considering its status in western culture. It is everywhere - playing a huge role in our economy, government policy, and our individual weekend activities. It is a character unto itself in films and TV shows and has a uniquely complex relationship with religion.

Unlike orange juice, kale or Oreos, Alcohol is perceived as more than just food. More than just a beverage. Yet, due to this perception, we forget to talk about alcohol as food.

Through articles that dissect the marketing of booze, the health effects of drinking and alcohol's immunity to the green movement, we ponder this dissonance. We remind ourselves that, in addition to its many names, alcohol has another descriptor: a  product for consumption.
Alcohol: An Environmental Toxin
Tyler Adam
Branded Booze vs. Taste Buds: Why Consumers Lose
Kathryn Helmore
January, 2018
The Pig Issue
A creature of intelligence, a slanderous phrase for gluttons and the police, a beloved construct in literature, and the essential element in a western breakfast, The Pig is always on the menu of conversation.

In this issue, we explore a few topics inspired by the quintessential farmyard animal, ranging from animal rights & pig hunting to the carcinogenic properties of deli ham. Always a source of inspiration, through diving into the pork industry we explore manipulative marketing and ask a question: what does 'tasty' actually mean and where does taste come from?
Taming Our Taste Buds with Pig Feet & Crickets
Courtney Pankrat
Pigs, Video Games, & Slaughter Houses Find Common Ground
Mirjam Guesgen
January, 2018
The Pig Issue
A creature of intelligence, a slanderous phrase for gluttons and the police, a beloved construct in literature, and the essential element in a western breakfast, The Pig is always on the menu of conversation.

In this issue, we explore a few topics inspired by the quintessential farmyard animal, ranging from animal rights & pig hunting to the carcinogenic properties of deli ham. Always a source of inspiration, through diving into the pork industry we explore manipulative marketing and ask a question: what does 'tasty' actually mean and where does taste come from?
Taming Our Taste Buds with Pig Feet & Crickets
Courtney Pankrat
Pigs, Video Games, & Slaughter Houses Find Common Ground
Mirjam Guesgen
December, 2017
The Orange
Facing assaults from The Market, formidable mother nature and fickle humanity, the Orange, once an entrenched staple of the western diet, is becoming a fruit from a bygone time.

From the downfall of the Tropicana and Minute Maid empire, to the rise of fallacious and frankly dangerous thinking, in this Sliced edition we come at the Orange from every angle. From analyzing the looming threat of a bacterial disease to critiquing the prioritization of real estate over Orange County, the edition asks two questions: Are we looking at a future without oranges? If so, why?
100% Pure, Natural and Wrong
Kathryn Helmore
Citrus Apocalypse?
Karla Lant
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