A global map for figuring out where to grow biofuel crops

Indonesia is probably the worst place in the world to grow biofuel crops, according to David Lobell, who is part of a project to determine good and bad places in the world to grow fuel crops.

"There are meters and meters of carbon in tropical peat lands," said Lobell, a senior research scholar at the Woods Institute on the Stanford University campus. Cutting down these old tropical forests for agricultural land would release a massive amount of carbon into the atmosphere. Conceivably, it could take a few hundred years of biofuel consumption to displace the carbon released in … Read more

The biofuel factor in rising food prices

What's causing the global rise in food prices? Everything.

Growing demand for food in emerging nations, wheat crop failures, currency fluctuation, speculation in the commodities market, hastily conceived government policies, and the growing demand for biofuels have all--among other factors--converged to drive up the price of food, experts say.

"Those who say it's all the fault of biofuels are wrong and those that say that none of the fault belongs to biofuels are wrong," said Walter Falcon, a professor emeritus of international agricultural policy at Stanford University and co-director of Stanford's Center for Environmental Sciences … Read more

Get a $25 restaurant gift certificate for $5

Ever tried Me neither, but I've heard good things. Basically, you search for a participating restaurant in your area, then buy a gift certificate on the cheap: $3 for a $10 certificate, for example, or $10 for $25. There are requirements, of course, usually in the form of a minimum food and/or drink purchase. But it's not like you have to order three bottles of wine or anything. And you can print the coupon right on your own printer: It's immediately ready for use.

To make an already good deal even better, … Read more

Four ways to play with your food

My RSS reader is packed with food, gadget, and shopping blogs, and whenever I see something that might be worth sharing here I try to bookmark it for when I have time to write it up. Cruising through my bookmarks earlier today I started to notice a trend: I've been marking lots of products that are explicitly designed for playing with food. Apparently my inner child thrills at the thought of a mechanically assisted way to launch her broccoli across the room. So for her sake and yours, here are four tools for merging meal time and play time.

Air Fork One lends some credibility to the whole "here comes the plane into the hangar" story you try to sell to your toddler every night. So far, it's a design concept only, but creative types can probably cobble together a reasonable facsimile on their own.

Apartment Therapy's gadget blog recently featured these Icetris ice cube trays. Use your freezer… Read more

Diet by texting!

I wish I could say that's new Nutrition on the Go service only appeals to obsessive health nuts. But if that's true, then I am one. I was pretty excited about the possibilities...until I tried it.

The concept is pretty simple: You text the name of a restaurant and the menu item you're interested in to DIET1, or 34381. In theory, the site returns the nutritional information for the food you entered, including calories, fat, carbohydrates, and protein. If you're doing Weight Watchers, you can add "Points" or even "pts&… Read more

Putting Batter Blaster to the test

For a while now, it seems we've been reading about Batter Blaster everywhere. For whatever reason, the food blogging crowd has been simply captivated by the latest addition to the food-in-a-spray-can family.

Batter Blaster, a spray can of pancake (or waffle) batter, started hitting store shelves in the fall. Even though it's still available only in select stores, it caught the attention of food and kitchen bloggers immediately. Some praised it for its brilliant simplicity. Others scoffed because...well, because it comes in a spray can. Most early reviewers just seemed to love it for its kitsch value. … Read more

Don't blame high food prices completely on ethanol

It's become a staple of conventional wisdom that increased ethanol production has caused food prices worldwide to skyrocket.

Unfortunately, many experts and crop data say that's not a complete answer. Granted, production of corn ethanol has surged in the U.S. and has boosted pricing pressure. Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute noted in a recent column on that demand for grain by ethanol distillers jumped from 54 million tons in 2006 to 81 million tons in 2007. That jump of 27 million tons effectively doubled the annual growth rate. Brown said that ethanol creates … Read more

SuperCook short on actual cooking, long on usefulness

Got some stuff sitting in your pantry that's been there a little too long? The expiration date is just around the corner, and you want to cook something new that doesn't require going to the store? Lucky for you there's SuperCook, a service that lets you figure out things to eat based on what you've got. Unlike some other services that do this, SuperCook separates the wheat from the chaff (poor choice of phrases I know) by showing you the recipes you can make with what's in your kitchen, and those that require a few … Read more

I can has cheezburger in a can?

With all the talk of lolcats and their beloved "cheezburgers," it's no surprise that this cheeseburger in a can is spreading like wildfire across the Web. Apparently you just open up the can and take out the cheeseburger, and maybe heat it up somehow before you eat it. Amazing. I guess these mean we're really prepared for the zombie apocalypse.

The "Cheeseburger in a Can," sold by a German outdoors retailer called Trekking Mahlzeiten, is only 257 calories, which is awesome, but it still costs 3.95 euros, which our lousy exchange rate translates … Read more

Online scalping's next territory: High-end restaurants?

NEW YORK--What if you could get that coveted table for two at one of the hottest restaurants in paying $25 for the reservation?

New York's famed Restaurant Week is fast approaching, which means that black books and BlackBerrys are filling with reservations aplenty. But this year, a new start-up called might put a fork in the system. The New York-based company has a simple model: it's a marketplace for buying and selling reservations at chic, trendy restaurants. It's brand new, and it's already controversial.

"So let's have a show of … Read more