Posted on Leave a comment

Cut-price ‘ugly’ supermarket food won’t reduce waste – here’s why

The battle to reduce food waste and increase access to nutritious food just got a whole lot cheaper and uglier in Australia.

In early December, Woolworths launched its “odd bunch” campaign, becoming the latest retailer to offer consumers “ugly” food at discount prices.

Mainstream food outlets tell us that fruit and vegetables are ugly when they are blemished, misshapen (perhaps with an extra appendage or two), or otherwise fail to meet their usual standards.

Continue reading Cut-price ‘ugly’ supermarket food won’t reduce waste – here’s why
Posted on Leave a comment

Citrus fruits, scurvy and the origins of the Sicilian mafia

The Sicilian mafia is arguably one of the most famous – or infamous – institutions in the Western world. After its first appearance in Sicily in the 1870s it soon infiltrated the economic and political spheres of Italy and the US and has, at times, been considered a serious threat to the rule of law in both countries.

But despite the fact that we’ve seen plenty of evidence of mafia activity, both in real life and on screen over the past 140 years, the reasons behind its emergence are still obscure.

Continue reading Citrus fruits, scurvy and the origins of the Sicilian mafia
Posted on Leave a comment

The day bananas made their British debut

When Carmen Miranda sashayed her way into the hearts of Britain’s war-weary population in films such as The Gang’s All Here and That Night in Rio, her combination of tame eroticism and tropical fruit proved irresistible. Imagine having so much fruit you could wear it as a hat. To audiences suffering the strictures of rationing, Miranda’s tropical headgear shouted exoticism and abundance – with a touch of phallic sensuality thrown in.

Continue reading The day bananas made their British debut
Posted on Leave a comment

American farmers want trade partners not handouts – an agricultural economist explains

The Trump administration plans to give American farmers and ranchers hurt by the current trade war US$12 billion in emergency relief to mitigate the impact of tariffs on their exports.

While this may lessen the blow of an already struggling agricultural economy in the short run, it is only a Band-Aid. As an agricultural economist, I know that no one really wins in a trade war. As someone who grew up on a cotton and alfalfa farm in rural Arizona, I know firsthand that producers want access to markets – not government handouts.

Continue reading American farmers want trade partners not handouts – an agricultural economist explains
Posted on Leave a comment

Strawberry sabotage: what are copycat crimes and who commits them?

Last week, authorities urged consumers in Queensland, NSW and Victoria to throw away strawberries from two Queensland brands after needles were discovered in punnets purchased at a Woolworths.

Since then, the localised fruit tampering has mushroomed into a major health scare. Needles have been discovered in six different brands of strawberries, as well as apples and bananas, across six states.

New Zealand’s two largest food distributors also pulled Australian strawberries from supermarket shelves.

Continue reading Strawberry sabotage: what are copycat crimes and who commits them?
Posted on Leave a comment

How forensic science has helped rediscover forgotten apples

It’s been a good year for apples. Across Europe the apple harvest is the biggest it has been for a decade. But the handful of apple types you see on supermarket shelves only tells part of the story. There are actually 7,500 varieties of eating apple grown all over the world, and growers and scientists are making efforts to conserve and extend this.

Many people will have heard the story of Granny Smith apples, every one of which can reportedly be traced back to a single seedling plant found growing in Australia in 1868. Though not all plants have found the fame that this crisp green apple has, there are numerous varieties that are – like the Granny Smith once was – peculiar to a local region and rarely, if ever, grown elsewhere.

Continue reading How forensic science has helped rediscover forgotten apples
Posted on Leave a comment

Curious Kids: what happens when fruit gets ripe?

Curious Kids is a series for children. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, send it to curiouskids@theconversation.edu.au You might also like the podcast Imagine This, a co-production between ABC KIDS listen and The Conversation, based on Curious Kids.


What happens when fruit gets ripe? – Rachel, age 3, Melbourne.


Hi Rachel. You have asked a very interesting question.

Fruit ripening is all about plants getting animals to eat the seeds that are inside their fruits.

Continue reading Curious Kids: what happens when fruit gets ripe?