Food Preservation: It’s in the Can

Whether boxes, bags, or cans, food needs some sort of protection from the environment, and cans tell a story of multiple technologies, not all of which came together at the same time.

No Lunch Pass

Not a day goes by when we aren’t told how Big Food conspires to make us fat while exploiting our environment. Is this really the end of our debate about the state of our food system? Tyler Cowen’s book, An Economist Gets Lunch (2012), offers an alternative view, one...

Feeding Smart Cities

With more and more talk about tech-powered smart cities, what are we doing to ensure innovative food logistics are part of the conversation?

The Return of Home Economics

Long before STEM initiatives came about, home economics programs may have done more than we know to bridge the gender gap in science.

An Art Tour of Food Logistics

If you want a new experience while visiting an art museum, try going as a food logistics nerd. Watch the docents and visitor services personnel freeze for a moment as they try to comprehend your request for guidance on finding all the art in the museum that represents different aspects of the food supply chain and food logistics.

The Meat Business, Inside and Outside Ft. Worth

The Kimball Art Museum portrays a side of the meat business many visitors to Forth Worth, Texas, don’t see. If you only toured the Stockyards outside the Museum, you’d miss the preceding centuries of carnivorous history.

Waste Not

The whole topic of food waste is messy. But even without knowing the exact amount of food waste in our food system, we’d all agree that the problem could use a big solution.

On Our Loading Dock

We’re not the only ones thinking about food systems, food tech and the food supply chain. Check out these recent books, films, podcasts and other media that are making our brains buzz.

Food Mover: Robots as Farmhands

Cocktail-making and pizza-delivering bots may be a sign of the future. But the real workhorses of the food supply chain aren’t just simple-task machines. They’ve got multiple senses and big brains.

Your Food: Up for Grabs?

Robyn Metcalfe invites readers to explore changes in consumers’ experience with the food supply chain. It’s real-time evolution — in food waste, urban ag and more.

Food Movers: Lock, Stock and Barges

An ancient form of over-water food transport never phased out. From the 1400s through today, big flat boats haul food commodities from inland farms to ocean ports.

From Hoof to Highway

Cowboys driving cattle over a dusty range — it’s an iconic image for many when they think of Texas. While cross-country cattle drives are no longer the first step in the beef supply chain, the paths carved out of the land by millions of hooves left their mark on the state. Historian Jeannette Vaught reveals the legacy of Texas’ earliest traffic.

Food for Thought: Smart City Tools, Then and Now

Food technology — gizmos such as blockchain, sensors, taste algorithms, genomic tracking — is a hot topic these days, generously funded by venture capitalists. But food technology has been around for decades. Can openers, anyone?

How to Make Do in Wartime

War can bring major supply chain disruptions. Brits “made do” in World War II using rations, substitutions and frequent doses of cheery optimism from the likes of “Potato Pete.”

Seafood Traceability Nets New Benefits

High-tech tracking is everywhere in food today — from RFID tags in strawberry crates to temperature sensors in dairy shipments. Urban planner Laurie Zapalac shares a case study of new tracking tools used by Boston’s seafood industry that leverage big data to ensure food safety, sound fishery management — and to let you know who raised your oyster.

Urban Agriculture: Can it Feed Our Cities?

Technological developments in agriculture have opened up a surprising new kind of field for crops. Vertical gardens that thrive in urban warehouses and soil-free greenhouses with produce growing in hydroponic tanks bring fresh food closer to population centers. Jane Black digs into the future of farming.

Cutting Waste Across Cultures

The United Nations has proposed a goal to cut global food waste in half by 2030. Liz Goodwin, a senior fellow and director of food loss and waste at the World Resources Institute (WRI), has taken that mandate to heart. Goodwin, of all people, would know what that...

The Hunt for Food Waste

The fact that an enormous fraction of the food we produce — 30 to 40 percent, experts say — is unharvested, unsold or simply discarded isn’t new news. But you might not have heard about all the ways food waste is being transformed: from building materials to raw energy. As Ari LeVaux explains, the trick is getting it out of the waste stream to start with.

Edible Materials

Here’s some food for thought: These products are derived from food system losses in agricultural and livestock production. These materials, currently used in buildings, apparel, consumer products and packaging, lead the way in replacing fossil-fuel derivatives and other strained natural resources with rapidly renewable food waste.

Really, Really Smart Cities

Take a peek into the future through the eyes of food futurists and illustrator Josh Cochran. Drones, rooftop gardens and smart kitchens abound.

Food for Thought: Labelology

Your fruit and vegetables come with a surprising amount of information about their history and origins. Each sticker has a code printed on it along with the grower’s name and logo. In the future, be prepared for even more transparency — labels may disappear as scanners and digital “ink” become cost effective. These paper stickers will be the old papyrus scroll for food storytelling.

Recipe Tracker: Tart in Ymbre Days

Cookbooks are products of their time, reflecting flavor trends and the availability of ingredients. In “The Forme of Cury,” we get a taste of medieval England.

How a Little Startup Fixes a Big Food Chain Gap

In rural India, where dairies may have only one or two cows and the power grid is spotty at best, improving the supply chain from producers to distributors requires fresh thinking and a surprisingly simple solution. Entrepreneur Sorin Grama shares his story.

Rio’s Recipe for the Olympic Games

While many agree that the Rio Olympics fared better than the dire predictions, the reality for restaurateurs, farmers and concession managers was rough. Brazilian journalist Fabiana Pires takes us to Rio before and after the 2016 Summer Olympics to get the real story of the “Taste of the Games.”

Tsukiji on the Verge of Change

The venerable fish market known for chaotic auctions and flapping-fresh is facing a move to a controversial new location. Xaq Frohlich examines Tsukiji’s back story and looks into its future as it prepares for some needed upgrades and braces for the inevitable fallout of change.

The Early Years of Logistics

As we’ve moved farther from the farm, transparency about the food system becomes more important. To better understand a largely invisible system, we need an introduction to food logistics — starting with Alexander the Great.

Food Movers: Beasts of Burden

While they may seem like historical relics, draft animals are still used worldwide to move agricultural products from fields to markets. Check out our gallery.

Food Movers: Behind the Wheel

The image of a truck driver probably evokes a burly guy in a gimme cap. But a small number of women share the driving load: Meet Annette Womack.

Food Movers: The Secret Evolution of the Pizza Box

More than just a simple package for a steaming hot meal, the pizza box is to some a blank canvas — for food artistry and technological innovation. Join world-record-holder Scott Wiener on a journey into the history of the pizza box.

How the Bodega Gets the Banana

Have you ever wondered how bananas, such a seemingly fragile fruit, end up in so many places, at their perfect stage of ripeness for quick sale? Rachel Wharton finds out how this not-so-mini miracle happens.

Food Mover: The Pallet Puzzle

Pallets are platforms, moveable beds of sorts, for just about anything you’d want to ship. Key to their design is the ability of a forklift to pick up the pallet and whatever is sleeping on top of it and put it onto a train, truck, ship or airplane, or move it around a warehouse. Pallets are so integral to the supply chain that they are subject to scrutiny in labs. Learn more about this key part of shipping.

Food Mover: Chasing Maine Lobsters

In 2014, Maine lobstermen harvested more than 124 million pounds of lobster worth nearly half a billion dollars from Maine’s 5,000 miles of saltwater coastline. It takes the hands of thousands of workers on ships and shores to keep that supply chain moving. Spend a day in the life of a lobsterman.

Food Mover: Paper or Plastic?

Around the same time that milk cartons were gaining popularity over their glass-bottle predecessors, refrigeration was becoming mainstream. It marked a key transition in the milk chain, allowing milk to be shipped further and stored longer. Learn more about this milestone.

The City that Feeds Mexico

Many markets around the world can claim “world’s biggest (fill in the blank),” but Mexico City’s Central de Abastos takes the cake. Through the lens of photographer Jody Horton and Mexico City-based designer Blair Richardson, we learn how this megamarket works like a city unto itself.

Panama’s Big Bet on Big Ships

Infrastructure enthusiast Craig Cannon explains how the Panama Canal and U.S. Interstate System work in tandem to create one of the tightest intermodal networks in the world, and he looks at what the expansion of the canal, the first in its 100-year history, means for U.S. ports, roads and grocery carts.

Meltdown, Roman Style

Traffic is changing Italy’s most beloved dessert, writes Brooklyn-based Jill Santopietro. If a gelato owner can’t get a shipment of milk from the dairy because of a protest blocking streets or a driver’s unwillingness to pay to enter the expensive limited traffic zones, she can’t make gelato that day. Follow gelato from farm to a customer’s hand on a busy street in the city.