Our Narrowing Food Tree


The infographic below on seed variety is quite interesting. The image is originally from National Geographic Magazine; however, I stumbled upon it via Paul Kedrosky’s blog… reading through the related comments on his blog, I can’t tell which I like better.

This one from Levi:

I’ll bet a lot of those lost varieties have very poor yields compared to the ones that are still in use. I’ll bet a few of the lost varieties also had resistance to an as yet unencountered pathogen.

But which farmer is going to take the financial hit to plant the lower yield variety?

Which bank CEO is not going to issue subprime mortgages when their competitors are all doing it and yielding higher quarterly earnings?

Efficiency/Fragility vs Inefficiency/Robustness recurs again.

or this one from @SgtPiddles:

Mo’ monoculture, mo’ problems

Seed Variety Infographic from National Geographic

Growing Companions – A great infographic on plants to plant together


Citing references to local food in US Bills.


IBM Many Bills has created an interesting visualization tool for searching through US bills. Is anyone aware of similar visualizations in the Canadian government?

Everything in a pizza pocket, the poster


Shared via here.

Shared by jg

This is truly a great visualization.

Justin Perricone sez, "This is a poster I designed using all of the ingredients in a Ham & Cheese Hot Pocket. First in a series."

Hot Pockets Ingredients

(Thanks, Justin!)

World Corn Production… Go Canada?


WOW! This has to be the best visualization tool for the world’s agricultural data which I’ve found to date.

Gapminder has done an incredible job here exposing some of the UN’s data and made it very easy to ‘fool around’ with.

Here is one of the animated graphs I’ve made:
CornHarvestedVisualization from Gapminder World, powered by Trendalyzer from

For each country it shows hectares of corn harvested, the yield (kg per hectare) and the total number of tons produced. Hit the “Play” button to see it change over time! Bubbles moving up it means the country harvested more hectares of corn, bubbles moving right means the country has improved overall yield.

There are three things that instantly struck me:

  1. Canada is not the agricultural powerhouse which I had perceived it to be. There are MANY countries which plant far more hectares of corn than we do! (The Philippines cover twice as much land as we do with corn crops — pretty incredible considering their size and how many other crops they grow like rice and oil palm [see image below: orange islands beside British Columbia for contrast])
  2. It really makes me wonder if GMO corn improves a nation’s overall yield. It is my understanding that France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Austria and several other countries have banned the cultivation of GMO corn. However, their annual yield is right up there with Canada’s. In fact, most of said countries SURPASS Canada’s annual yield.

  3. Annual yield jumps all over the place. While it does seem to trend slowly towards increased yield, the same happens for other nations who have more family farms and less access to technology.

Head on over to and make some charts of your own. It’s too easy… making a similar chart to the one above about strawberry production with a logarithmic scale.

Oil production pic


There’s a neat data blog over at the guardian with an interesting infographic of two contrasting views of global oil production…


Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries


With more than half of their food imported, it is interesting to see what the Japanese government has now decided to promote. What’s even more interesting is how well they’ve moved their Social Marketing campaign along by involving a local, ubercool design firm — groovisions — who created the video below:

Hello (molecules of the) World


Atmospheric Polution Screenshot is a pretty quick way to see what happens to some of the little molecules that we fart/breathe/spit/spray out. (The Carbon Monoxide and Sulfur Dioxide make me dizzy just looking at them).

Looking at how all of the Carbon Monoxides are captured in the Troposphere makes me think of how some people commit suicide by sitting in a running car which is enclosed in a garage. I’ve often thought, hey — what if the earth is just one big garage? … Could the same thing happen on a larger scale? Looking at this graphic (or pictures of the actual troposphere from space ) gets me a bit worried since it really isn’t all that big.

On the other hand I don’t know why I’m worried, I mean, it would take one HUGE car to fill a garage as big as the earth with poisonous gas… Heck, even if we had a MILLION tiny cars and trucks it would still probably take a decade or more before we all croaked right?


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