Through photosynthesis, plants convert solar energy into carbohydrates forming the basis for a food chain that sustains all living creatures. Agriculture provides our most efficient usage of solar energy, and the honey bee is an integral part of agriculture. Without the bees and other pollinators, the diversity of plant life and food for wildlife, livestock, and humans would be greatly reduced. The January 2011 issue of National Geographic features in-depth coverage of the planet’s expanding human population, which is expected to reach seven billion this year and nine billion by 2045. The rapidly growing population will make an increasing demand upon the earth’s resources. The future will see increasing challenges in feeding the world. A New York Times article describes some novel, sometimes whimsical, approaches to solving two of our challenges: obtaining food and controlling invasive species. As food for thought, literally, the author challenges us to find ways to reduce the invasive plants and animals by finding ways to make them desirable food choices. He describes how chefs in the Florida Keys are preparing invasive lionfish and Chicago chefs are cooking invasive Asian carp. Individuals in other parts of the country are anticipating an abundance of invasive members of the mustard family in the spring. The incredibly fast-growing kudzu vine, an invasive legume imported to control soil erosion, is known as a food source. While these plants are considered a nuisance to some, they are important bee plants, producing both nectar and pollen. I have eaten delicious kudzu honey produced in Mississippi. The Times piece, “A Diet for an Invaded Planet: Invasive Species,” can be read at nytimes.com/2011/01/02/weekinreview/02gorman.html?_r=1&hpw.
Many people enjoy eating wild game. A number of states have programs that provide venison donated by hunters to feed the needy. A generous friend recently donated a flock of geese to provide sustainable nutrition for a distant family through Heifer International. Visit http://www.heifer.org/ to learn about their programs. Today’s photo: gently, domestic Toulouse geese noisily greet Peace Farm visitors.--Richard