Michael Pollan’s Food Rules

Based on Michael Pollan’s talk “Food Rules” given at the RSA, this animation was created in the context of the RSA/Nominet Trust film competition. Using a mixture of stop-motion and compositing, our aim and challenge was to convey the topic in a visually interesting way using a variety of different food products. We made a little table top set up at home and worked on this a little over three weeks.

More information available at benoitdetalle.com/food-rules

Here are also some photos of Michael Pollan’s Food Rules in the making


WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD


Also read a post from WebMD, March 23, 2009


– We Americans suffer a national eating disorder: our unhealthy obsession with healthy eating.

That’s the diagnosis delivered by food author Michael Pollan in a lecture given last week to an overflow crowd of CDC scientists.

As part of an effort to bring new ideas to the national debate on food issues, the CDC invited Pollan — a harsh critic of U.S. food policies — to address CDC researchers and to meet with leaders of the federal agency.

“The French paradox is that they have better heart health than we do despite being a cheese-eating, wine-swilling, fois-gras-gobbling people,” Pollan said. “The American paradox is we are a people who worry unreasonably about dietary health yet have the worst diet in the world.”

In various parts of the world, Pollan noted, necessity has forced human beings to adapt to all kinds of diets.

“The Masai subsist on cattle blood and meat and milk and little else. Native Americans subsist on beans and maize. And the Inuit in Greenland subsist on whale blubber and a little bit of lichen,” he said. “The irony is, the one diet we have invented for ourselves — the Western diet — is the one that makes us sick.”

Snowballing rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in the U.S. can be traced to our unhealthy diet. So how do we change?

7 Words & 7 Rules for Eating

Pollan says everything he’s learned about food and health can be summed up in seven words: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

Probably the first two words are most important. “Eat food” means to eat real food — vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and, yes, fish and meat — and to avoid what Pollan calls “edible food-like substances.”

Here’s how:

  1. Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. “When you pick up that box of portable yogurt tubes, or eat something with 15 ingredients you can’t pronounce, ask yourself, “What are those things doing there?” Pollan says.
  2. Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.
  3. Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store. Real food tends to be on the outer edge of the store near the loading docks, where it can be replaced with fresh foods when it goes bad.
  4.  Don’t eat anything that won’t eventually rot. “There are exceptions — honey — but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren’t food,” Pollan says.
  5. It is not just what you eat but how you eat. “Always leave the table a little hungry,” Pollan says. “Many cultures have rules that you stop eating before you are full. In Japan, they say eat until you are four-fifths full. Islamic culture has a similar rule, and in German culture they say, ‘Tie off the sack before it’s full.’”
  6. Families traditionally ate together, around a table and not a TV, at regular meal times. It’s a good tradition. Enjoy meals with the people you love. “Remember when eating between meals felt wrong?” Pollan asks.
  7. Don’t buy food where you buy your gasoline. In the U.S., 20% of food is eaten in the car.

Monsanto doesn’t want you to know what you’re eating


The biotech industry is working to prevent mandatory labeling for foods with genetically engineered contents


The biotech industry, led by Monsanto, will soon descend on the state of Washington to try its best to defeat I-522, a citizens’ ballot initiative to require mandatory labeling of foods that contain genetically engineered (GE) ingredients. Voters should prepare themselves for an onslaught of discredited talking points, nonsensical red herrings, and outright lies designed to convince voters that they shouldn’t have the right to know what’s in the food they eat.

Topping the biotech industry’s propaganda playlist will no doubt be this old familiar tune: that requiring retailers to verify non-GMO ingredients in order to label them will be burdensome and costly, and the additional cost will be passed on to consumers who are already struggling to feed their families.

Playing to consumers’ fears of higher food costs makes good strategic sense, especially in tough economic times. But the argument doesn’t hold water, say food manufacturers and retailers who already have systems in place for verifying non-GMO, as well as rBGH-free, trans fat-free, country of origin and fair trade. The system involves using chain-of-custody, legally binding affidavits, not expensive testing.

“We have used the affidavit system repeatedly, without undue burden or cost,” said Trudy Bialic, director of public affairs for Seattle-based PCC Natural Markets. PCC, the largest consumer-owned natural food retail co-operative in the United States, uses the affidavit system to ensure its chocolate isn’t made using child slave labor, its dairy products don’t come from animals subjected to rBGH hormones, and that all seafood was harvested using sustainable sources and practices.

Trader Joe’s, a privately held chain of nearly 400 U.S. stores, confirmed that the company’s private label products, under the names Trader Joe’s, Jose’s and Ming’s, are GMO-free, though the company doesn’t label them as such. In an email, a company spokesperson said:

When developing products containing ingredients likely to come from genetically modified sources, we have the supplier of the product in question perform the necessary research to provide documentation that the suspect ingredients are from non-GMO sources.This documentation is in the form of affidavits, identity-preserved certification of seed stock, and third-party lab results from testing of the ingredients in question.

Trader Joe’s performs random audits of items with suspect ingredients, using an outside, third-party lab to perform the testing, the company said. Trader Joe’s system is not unlike that of the USDA, which requires sworn statements from food producers to certify organic foods. The agency requires test samples from approximately 5 percent of products, all of which must be GMO-free in order to be certified organic. For the other 95 percent, the agency relies solely on sworn statements.

Clif Bar & Co. also requires affidavits from ingredient suppliers demonstrating they can meet the company’s stringent non-GMO requirements.

Monsanto would have you believe that verifying and labeling for non-GMO ingredients is a costly and burdensome affair, but the fact that Trader Joe’s, known for its discount prices, can provide GMO-free private label products, which reportedly accounts for over two-thirds of the company’s estimated annual $9 billion in sales, takes the wind out of the “burdensome” argument. That leaves the cost of adding another line of ink to a label. Trader Joe’s doesn’t yet label its private label products as GMO-free, but the company cites a lack of clear labeling guidelines from U.S. governmental agencies as the reason it doesn’t label, not cost.

Megan Westgate, executive director of the Non-GMO Project, confirmed what retailers who use the affidavit system said:  “An affidavit system like what’s proposed in I-522 is a powerful way to have a significant impact on the food supply with minimal cost.”

How does the affidavit system work?

Companies selling non-GMO foods provide a sworn statement (i.e., an affidavit) to the retailer that the ingredients used are sourced from crops that aren’t intentionally genetically engineered. The affidavit, unless deliberately dishonest, protects the manufacturer and the retailer from liability in the case of unintentional GMO contamination.

Retailers are responsible only for labeling a few raw commodities that may contain GE ingredients, such as sweet corn, papaya or squash.  In these cases, the retailer can either stick a simple label on the bin or ask its supplier for an affidavit stating that the crop is GMO free.

Under this system, no costly testing for GE ingredients is required. No burdensome government oversight is necessary. The system is inherently designed to protect small grocers and retailers, at no additional cost to the customer or taxpayer.

The beauty of the affidavit system is that it offers retailers and manufacturers a simple, easy way to comply with a regulatory model that provides consumers with the right to know what’s in their food without increasing grocery costs.  Even for manufacturers who might otherwise seek to pass on the trivial expense of relabeling to consumers, empirical studies show that the fear of losing customers in the competitive food industry will be a deterrent to raising prices. Did food costs change when we labeled calorie content?

Is the system reliable? Retailers say yes. Why would manufacturers intentionally deceive retailers only to open themselves up to a lawsuit and public relations nightmare? And the system has a proven track record. PCC Natural Markets, Trader Joe’s and Clif Bar all use affidavits, as do other manufacturers who use them for country-of-origin and no-trans fat labeling. And nearly two-thirds of the nation’s largest dairy processors use sworn affidavits from producers in order to label rBGH-free. (rBGH, or recombinant bovine growth hormone, is a synthetic, genetically engineered hormone injected into dairy cows to increase milk production.)

Contrary to claims made by companies like Monsanto, states do have a constitutional right to label food. In fact, the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act explicitly allows states to add language to labels so long as the federal government doesn’t require language on the same subject – a right that has consistently held up in federal court.

A chain-of-custody, legally binding affidavit labeling system empowers consumers to make more informed choices about what we eat, without increasing the costs of groceries or burdening retailers and manufacturers.  One simple label to identify foods that have been genetically engineered, often using the genes of foreign bacteria and viruses, would lead more consumers to seek out sustainable, organic, non-GMO alternatives. And that – not some phony line about increased food costs – is why Monsanto is fighting labeling.

Feedipedia: An on-line encyclopedia of animal feeds


Feedipedia is an open access information system on animal feed resources that provides information on nature, occurrence, chemical composition, nutritional value and safe use of nearly 1400 worldwide livestock feeds. It is managed jointly by INRACIRADAFZand FAO.

The main objective of Feedipedia is to provide extension and development workers, planners, project formulators, livestock farmers, science managers, policy makers, students and researchers with the latest scientific information to help them identify, characterize and properly use feed resources to sustainably develop the livestock sector.

This is particularly important in emerging and developing countries where feed resources available locally are often under-utilized due to lack of information. Providing global knowledge on feed resources, including unconventional and lesser known ones, contributes to the development and use of innovative and appropriate feeding options and strategies.




Feeds datasheets contain the following information:

  • Feed names, including vernacular and scientific names
  • Description of the plants or plant parts/products used as feed
  • Feeding recommendations for the main livestock species: cattle, sheep, goats, camels, poultry, pigs, rabbits, horses, fish and crustaceans
  • Tables of composition and nutritive value
  • Illustrations, including photos and processing charts
  • Distribution and basic agronomic information
  • Forage management
  • Processes for improving nutritional value
  • Potential constraints such as presence of anti-nutritional and toxic factors
  • Environmental impact of the production and use of feeds

sl_sorghum sl_pea

How to create a food revolution

food01Jamie Oliver, the Better Food Foundation’s founder is a chef, author, television personality, and food activist. His TV series include The Naked Chef (BBC), Jamie’s Ministry of Food, and the Emmy Award–winning Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (ABC).

It’s 2013, and we live in a world where the majority of us have a broken relationship with food. There are around two billion undernourished people but also more than one billion who are dangerously overweight or obese, and that number is going up.

If you’re reading this in the United States or the United Kingdom, then congratulations: you live in one of the unhealthiest nations in the world.

The question is no longer how we got here, because any intelligent person with one eye on the media will know the answers. The question now is, “What can we do about it?” I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but the people power of last year’s Food Revolution Day is an example of what can be achieved by harnessing the passion and dedication of a small but growing handful of food ambassadors globally—more on this later.

Meanwhile, if you’re a national government, apparently it’s a hard question to answer. First Lady Michelle Obama has asked us to get off our sofas in her Let’s Move campaign, and there have been other widely publicized health initiatives led by high-profile people—including myself. But as for an actual plan from any national government, we’re still waiting.

I believe that even the best governments can only think short term—as far as the next election or, at best, the one after that. Big problems that will take decades to solve are overwhelming, and the likelihood is that by the time things get really bad, the other guy will be in power. So I’m pretty sure a lot of them think that big solutions can wait. They can’t.

We’re at a particularly dangerous time in the United Kingdom. The latest figures from our National Health Service show that two-thirds of adult men are now overweight or obese. More worrying still are the figures for children. In the United Kingdom, 22 percent of our kids are overweight or obese when they start school at age four or five; by the time they leave primary school at 11, that figure rises to 33 percent. What chance do these kids have of turning their lives around when two to three generations of parents have lost the ability to feed themselves and their families properly, using the basic life skills that our great-grandparents took for granted?

If we look to the future, we see projections of expanding waistbands, worsening health, poorer quality of life for billions of people, completely overwhelmed health services, and less productive workforces. Is this the future we hoped for? Of course not. But it is the future we deserve unless we take urgent action.

It’s not too late to make a difference. There is a solution, and I think it’s actually a pretty simple one that every single person reading this can get involved in right now. As a campaigner and a food lover, but most importantly as a father (and hopefully one day a grandfather), I cannot stand by and watch this global health disaster unfold. That’s why I believe passionately in food education and in the power of people and communities all across the world to get together to make positive changes.

I believe that every kid in every school deserves to learn the basics about food: where it comes from, how to cook it, and how it affects their bodies. These life skills are as important as reading and writing, but they have been rapidly lost over the past few generations. Food education should be a legal requirement in every country. I’ve always loved the idea that some of the most delicious food and, honestly, the happiest families come from some of the poorest countries. What truly makes them rich is their knowledge, and that’s why it’s a crime that any country involved in this current health epidemic doesn’t have mandatory cooking lessons, decent food on offer for breakfast and lunch at school, and sufficient physical education. I know that with one e-mail, education ministries in many countries  could get small chunks of food awareness wrapped around every single subject that’s taught in school.

We’ve recently received some good news in the United Kingdom, where the government announced a new program of mandatory cooking lessons in school for kids aged 7 to 14. I’m waiting to see the detail, but in principle this is a huge and important step.

We know that cooking classes inspire kids. In 2011, the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine and Childhood Obesity Research Center evaluated some of the food-education programs we were running from our “Big Rig” mobile kitchen. Their study showed that the vast majority of kids grew more confident, were more likely to help make dinner at home (and so watched less TV while eating), and ate fewer meals in the car. Some 92 percent of the students felt that learning about nutrition was interesting, 82 percent agreed that they would try to cook the meals they had learned to cook at home, and 96 percent said they were happy they had taken the class.

Meanwhile, anecdotal evidence from the Ministry of Food centers that I launched in Australia and the United Kingdom suggest that the majority of adults who complete our healthy-cooking courses are saving money, losing weight, and gaining confidence—and often new friends—through the easily acquired knowledge of how to cook from scratch, as opposed to relying on prepared meals and takeout food.

A few generations ago, our great-grandparents knew how to stretch the family budget in tough economic times by buying cheaper cuts of meat, baking their own bread, and making the weekly groceries last. These days, too many families lack that knowledge. They end up spending more on supposedly cheaper, less nutritious prepared meals and bread full of additives. We need urgent action, and workplaces and communities can play a huge part. If your staffers can feed themselves properly and love cooking delicious, nutritious meals, then of course they’ll be healthier, more productive, and happier. Don’t we all want employees who are fitter for business and take fewer sick days?

The sustainable transformation of individuals, families, and communities doesn’t come from one action. Everything has to change, everyone must contribute, and everybody needs to be open-minded about change. It’s not easy, but that doesn’t mean individuals can’t lead the way. Of course, governments and other large organizations need to step up, but there’s no reason better food choices can’t start with individuals—and be fun.

I believe big change happens when lots of people get involved. That’s why I started Food Revolution Day last year. The idea is to set aside a single day each year for people worldwide to raise awareness about food education. It’s not specifically designed to send a message to governments—most don’t listen anyway—but to be the start of a grassroots movement. I believe Food Revolution Day can grow to become a catalyst for all those wonderful campaigners, chefs, teachers, doctors, parents, bloggers, journalists, and kids all over the world who want to eat better or who already know how to eat well and want to share their valuable knowledge.

Sharing is the key, whether you’re a grandparent or parent teaching your kids, a chef or food educator teaching in your community, or even a good home cook who wants to pass on your knowledge to your friends at work. Big change starts with little changes on a local and personal level. Before you know it, you’re part of something huge.

We launched Food Revolution Day on May 19, 2012. Amazingly, we sponsored 1,000 events, big and small, in 664 cities around the world, all hosted by passionate, brilliant people who cared. In San Francisco, a group of volunteers offered public tours of a local farmers market. Participants received valuable tips on how to buy and cook local produce. That night, the tour guides hosted an event at IDEO, a design and innovation consulting firm, that gathered a larger group of foodies and techies in the hope of forming lasting relationships. In Hong Kong, a group of local food bloggers and volunteers put together a successful cooking class, inspiring hundreds of local people. And in Milan, local Food Revolution ambassadors organized a huge range of events, from dinners to cooking classes.

One year later, we’ve made great connections and have begun to empower Food Revolution ambassadors across the world who care deeply about good food and want to share their knowledge with others. We now have ambassadors in 71 countries, and the number is growing. These are passionate folks who believe that food education can change lives for the better.

We’re doing Food Revolution Day all over again on May 17 this year, and it’s going to be bigger, better, and louder. We’re going to keep on doing it until we’re so loud that governments will have to listen. Please join us; you, too, can change the future.

Via Mckinsey on Society

Botiá, for sustainable packaging

576197_504485612946810_1298467285_nBeing brazilian, I feel proud to get to know that intelligent projects this one from Ybá – Design & Research are getting visibility and success. Ybá develops design projects guided by social-environmental responsibility. Following this responsible values, they come with an extremely clever solution to food packaging In this year’s Milan Design Week, they present Botiá.


Botiá is plywood developed with 100% national technology and raw materials. It is made from coconut fiber and fine manioc flour, it is biocompatible, easily degradable and low cost. Easy to mold, it can be used for several purposes. Its main features are firmness, lightness, hydrosolubility, low environmental impact and mechanical resistance. At disposal it can be returned to the factory, because its hydrosolubility allows reuse; it can also be used as a vase to be buried in the ground with no environmental harm. This material was employed in the making of food packaging. With nature’s nests concept in mind the Botiá – nests for food – was created. This line aims at reducing loss that occurs during transportation. With this plywood a hard packaging is created which protects its contents against external impacts. The use of loose fiber inside avoids damages to the food. - Ybá



Botiá è un agglomerato prodotto con tecnologia e materia prima 100% brasiliana. Composto a base di fibra di cocco e fecola di tapioca, è biocompatibile, di degradazione rapida e a basso costo. Facilmente modellabile, può essere confezionata per diversi scopi. Ha come principali caratteristiche la rigidità, la leggerezza, la solubilità in acqua, il basso impatto ambientale e la resistenza meccanica. Al momento dello smaltimento l’agglomerato può essere restituito alla fabbrica, poiché la solubilità in acqua permette alla fibra di essere riutilizzata, o anche può essere utilizzato come vaso da piantare nel terreno senza causare alcun danno ambientale. Il materiale creato è stato utilizzato nella produzione d’imballaggi alimentari. Utilizzando il concetto dei “nidi naturali” è sorto Botià – nidi per il cibo. Questa linea mira a ridurre la perdita che si verifica durante il trasporto. Utilizzando tale agglomerato, si crea un imballaggio rigido capace di proteggere gli alimenti da impatti esterni. All’interno è applicata la fibra sciolta per evitare che gli alimenti subiscano danni all’interno della confezione. – Ybá



Botiá é um aglomerado desenvolvido com tecnologia e matéria-prima 100% nacional. Feito à base de fibra de coco e polvilho, é biocompatível, de rápida degradação e baixo custo. Facilmente moldável, pode ser confeccionado para diversos propósitos. Tem como principais características a rigidez, a leveza, a hidrossolubilidade, o baixo impacto ambiental e a resistência mecânica. Na hora do descarte pode retornar à fábrica, pois sua hidrossolubilidade permite que a fibra seja reutilizada, ou ainda ser aproveitada como vaso para ser implantado na terra sem causar malefício algum. O material desenvolvido foi aplicado na confecção de embalagens para alimentos. Utilizando o conceito dos ninhos da natureza surgiu o Botiá – ninhos para alimentos. Esta linha visa reduzir a perda que ocorre durante o transporte. Utilizando o aglomerado cria-se uma embalagem rígida que protege de impactos externos. Por dentro aplica-se fibra solta para evitar que o alimento se machuque dentro da embalagem. - Ybá


Captura de Tela 2013-03-16 às 09.08.41


It’s always nice to get surprised with well done initiatives. Here is Food Day, going for “healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. It is created by Center for Science in the Public Interest(CSPI), is powered by a diverse coalition of food movement leaders, organizations, and people from all walks of life. Food Day takes place annually on October 24 to address issues as varied as health and nutrition, hunger, agricultural policy, animal welfare, and farm worker justice. The ultimate goal of Food Day is to strengthen and unify the food movement in order to improve our nation’s food policies. Thousands of Americans came together for over 3,200 events in 2012. Find out how Food Day was celebrated this year from our blog and photos, and join this push for a stronger, more united food movement.”


Here there are some informations about their priorities, take a look:


Food & Fashion

Food and fashion may seem like unlikely bedfellows but a new generation of designers are trading in their cutting tables for stovetops. Welcome to the intersection of haute couture and haute cuisine, part of a brave new world where clothing can be made without cloth and textiles are, quite literally, good enough to eat.



The brainchild of German designer Anke DomaskeQmilk is the trademarked name for a form of milk fiber, a silky textile derived from an odorless protein found in mammalian milk. Domaske extracts casein only from soured “secondary milk” that’s no longer for human consumption and headed for disposable. Unlike comparable milk-based fibers, Qmilk makes efficient use of water (2 liters for every kilogram of fabric), requires no harmful chemicals, and leaves behind zero waste.

fashion-gastronomy-samantha-murray-537x402SWEET SUSPENSION (FRUIT-FLAVORED DRESSES)

For New Zealand designer Samantha Murray, turning liquid into clothing wasn’t just an audacious experiment, it was also an exercise in rethinking garment construction. The recent graduate, who developed her “Sweet Suspension” collection during her final year at Massey University, combined the shapes of classical sculpture with the “texture of gummy lollies” to create five, fruit-scented forms. “For me, this collection was entirely about the process: pushing boundaries, creating previously impossible shapes, and exploring the potential of the idea,” she tells Ecouterre.



Clothing as dessert? Get any tawdry ideas out of your head, dear reader; this concept is anything but. Eric Meursing and Marjolein Wintjes, owners of De Culinaire Werkplaats, a design-studio-cum-restaurant in Amsterdam, built their reputation on edible pastry wrappers made from dehydrated fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Described as a “novel eating initiative and experience,” De Culinaire Werkplaats draws inspiration from seemingly unrelated sources, from architecture to emotions. “Taste the Unwearables,” a series of fabrics made from vegetables, fruits, and herbs, is part call to eat more greens, part commentary on the ephemeral nature of fashion.

Post from Ecouterre

The Futuristic Food Packaging

The Futuristic Food Packaging You Can Eat, Even After Washing It


Remember David Edwards, the Harvard professor behind smokable chocolate and inhalable coffee? When we last wrote about Edwards, in March, he was introducing Wahh, a Philippe Starck-designed canister that delivers puffs of vaporized alcohol. Since then, Edwards’s team has been back in the kitchen, working with designer François Azambourg to develop the WikiCell, a product that has implications for the food industry that move well beyond novelty.

A great PRI report from earlier this week introduces us to the WikiCell, an edible packaging that attempts to reduce the massive amount of packaging used to sell food. “Think about the skin of a grape and how it protects the grape itself,” explains Edwards on WikiCell’s website. “This is how a WikiCell works. This soft skin may be comprised primarily of small particles of chocolate, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, or many other natural substances with delicious taste and often useful nutrients. Inside the skin may be liquid fruit juice, or thick pudding.”

A WikiCell (alternate name: Occupy Food?) is made from a few basic ingredients. First, Edwards and Azambourg start with a crushed food like chocolate, seeds, or nuts, depending on what’s inside the cell. That’s mixed with healthy ions like calcium and chitosan, a common polysaccharide derived from the shells of shrimp. Together, they form a gel-like material that can hold everything from cocktails to yogurt.

“I get home, and I hand [the food] to my son, and he hands it to his friend,” Edwards tells PRI. “And then the friend says, ‘But did you wash your hands?’ At that point, I clean it as I do fruit and vegetables today. I can run water over it, and it doesn’t dissolve, actually. And it can be cleaned, and then I can eat it.”

This definitely isn’t the first or even tenth attempt at edible food packaging. For example, Diane Leclair Besson is developing an edible plate that won a Core77 Design Award last month. But beyond the technical advantages of WikiCells (the whole washing thing is impressive), Edwards might have a leg up on his competition with his experience launching challenging products into the consumer market. In September, he secured$10 million in venture capital from Flagship Ventures and Polaris Venture Partners.

The money has helped the team carry out its first consumer tests (perhaps surprisingly, few seem to have a problem with the concept) and found WikiCell Designs as an independent company. In 2013, Edwards plans to open a “WikiBar” in Paris, where visitors will be able to try the company’s first commercial product: WikiCell Ice Cream.

[H/t PRI]

Via FastCoDesign

L’agronuvola che rispetta le coltivazioni

di Luca Dello Iacovo

Superati i confini urbani di Tokyo i campi di riso scolpiscono il paesaggio inquadrato dai finestrini del treno superveloce Skinkansen. In Giappone sono 6,7 milioni le famiglie impegnate nell’agricoltura secondo le rilevazioni del ministero degli Affari interni. Il progressivo invecchiamento della popolazione ha aperto interrogativi sulla trasmissione della tradizione imprenditoriale ereditata dalle coltivazioni. La domanda è come trasmettere conoscenze alle generazioni più giovani. E la risposta arriva dall’agrocloud. In dieci luoghi è attivo un progetto sperimentale per il monitoraggio in tempo reale: gli operatori nei campi fotografano le piante attraverso un’applicazione installata su un cellulare e inviano le immagini per ricevere consigli e assistenza, ad esempio per affrontare fitopatologie. Inoltre, una rete di dispositivi grandi quanto una chiavetta usb e disseminati sul terreno rileva i valori di umidità, temperatura e irraggiamento del sole sulla superficie di microaree, fino a ricostruire una mappa dettagliata e dinamica. Sono informazioni inviate attraverso i network di telefonia mobile di terza generazione e archiviate in banche dati: le infrastrutture nella nuvola informatica diventano piattaforme per simulazioni e analisi dell’efficienza gestionale, con un livello di dettaglio finora impossibile. Per adesso l’agrocloud è un’iniziativa in fase di test, elaborata da Fujitsu negli ultimi tre anni: entro il 2012 è previsto il primo sbarco sul mercato locale. In Giappone il fatturato derivante dai prodotti coltivati, secondo il ministero dell’Agricoltura, è di 8mila miliardi di yen, equivalenti a circa 80 miliardi di euro: il 37,5% deriva da sovvenzioni pubbliche.
Gli agrodati sono un ulteriore tassello dell’universo di big data che non ha ancora una definizione univoca: secondo Forrester research, ad esempio, big data significa analizzare «petabyte di informazioni strutturate e non strutturate ad alta velocità», dove un petabyte corrisponde a un miliardo di megabyte. A generarli sono sensori, social network, aziende, istituzioni pubbliche, cittadini. È una sfida raccolta dai colossi globali dell’hitech che supera i confini del settore business per rispondere alle esigenze della società, a partire dall’integrazione con la nuvola informatica di salute, agroindustria e reti intelligenti per la gestione dell’energia (smart grid). Diventa, a cascata, un’occasione di sviluppo per una filiera di piccole e medie imprese locali. Osserva Martin Schulz, direttore del Fujitsu research institute: «Anche una Silicon Valley giapponese potrà beneficiarne attraverso startup e venture business».
È una frontiera aperta. «Per analizzare big data serve un livello superiore di computing», ricorda Claus-Peter Unterberger, chief marketing officer di Fujitsu technology solutions. Al momento il supercomputer K ospitato a Kobe è il primo nella classifica dei Top500 al mondo. Ha raggiunto il 30% dell’operatività prevista: prima dell’estate sarà completato lo sviluppo dell’infrastruttura software. «Ha richiesto una squadra di circa trenta persone impegnate per 6-7 anni», spiega Tadashi Watanabe, project leader del centro R&D del Riken institute, equivalente del Cnr in Italia. È raffreddato da un sistema idraulico in grado di gestire mille tonnellate di acqua al giorno: la temperatura operativa nelle sale del supercomputer è di trenta gradi. La potenza di calcolo di dieci petaflop sarà accessibile anche all’esterno per le aziende, ad esempio durante la progettazione di automobili o nella ricerca farmaceutica. Big data riguarda l’immediato presente: resta un nodo aperto nella business intelligence di aziende medie e grandi. Dove è in rapido cambiamento il perimetro dell’ufficio a partire dalla diffusione dell’abitudine di lavorare su dispositivi mobili come cellulari e tablet utilizzati anche nel tempo libero, descritta dall’acronimo byod, «bring your own device». Che contribuisce all’espansione di big data.

Via ilsole24ore