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How to Bring Nature Inside With the Right Houseplants

It’s no surprise that greenery has gained popularity during the pandemic. Here’s how to make the most of it at home.
Source: The New York Times
Photos Source: The New York Times

“I always suggest people cluster plants for maximum impact,” said Eliza Blank, the chief executive of the houseplant retailer The Sill, who said her company’s sales have skyrocketed over the past year.
“I always suggest people cluster plants for maximum impact,” said Eliza Blank, the chief executive of the houseplant retailer The Sill, who said her company’s sales have skyrocketed over the past year.Credit…Courtesy of The Sill
Source: The New York Times
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook
Tim McKeough

By Tim McKeough

  • March 2, 2021

Spending more time inside has accelerated any number of trends that existed before the pandemic, including bingeing of all kinds. But here’s one that’s actually good for you: Bringing nature indoors.

The appeal of interiors draped in greenery is no mystery: Houseplants are a natural salve for spaces filled with artificial materials and products, reminders of the far-flung gardens and landscapes that may be difficult to visit these days — and even stand-ins for the friends we used to entertain in our homes.

“You can actually be a minimalist, but if you have plants, all of a sudden the space feels warm and inviting,” said Eliza Blank, the founder and chief executive of the houseplant retailer The Sill, who said her company’s sales have skyrocketed over the past year.

Maximalists have found their stride too, inspiring legions of followers on Instagram with rooms that resemble private jungles. The National Gardening Association estimates that household spending on houseplants has climbed almost 50 percent since 2016, with a year-over-year jump of more than 12 percent in 2020.

But adding plants to your home isn’t always as easy as it looks. They can shrivel and die. And even if they live, they may not look as good in your home as they do on Instagram.

  • Dig deeper into the moment.

So what’s the secret to integrating plants into your living space?

“I like to have plants at all levels” — on the floor, on tables, near the ceiling — said Justina Blakeney, the founder of blog-cum-lifestyle-brand Jungalow.
“I like to have plants at all levels” — on the floor, on tables, near the ceiling — said Justina Blakeney, the founder of blog-cum-lifestyle-brand Jungalow.Credit…Dabito
Source: The New York Times
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

“When it comes to plant styling, it’s just like any design project,” said Justina Blakeney, the Los Angeles-based founder of the blog-cum-lifestyle-brand Jungalow, whose latest book, “Jungalow: Decorate Wild,” will be published next month. “You have to think about the greater context and the overall look and feel you’re going for.”

She added: “Of course, plants are living creatures, so you have to keep in mind what they want as well.”

Ms. Blakeney and other plant stylists and designers shared their strategies.

Many houseplants suffer simply because they’re put in environments that don’t suit them. Just because a big fiddle-leaf fig tree looks impressive in a living room you see in a shelter magazine doesn’t mean it will look good or flourish in your living room.

“My biggest tip is to assess the light in your home first, because light is the most important aspect of keeping plants happy,” said Danae Horst, the founder of Folia Collective, a plant store in Los Angeles, and the author of “Houseplants for All.” “It’s more important than watering; it’s more important than fertilizing. Light is to plants as food is to humans.”

Danae Horst, the founder of Folia Collective, recommended using shelves and risers to vary the heights of smaller potted plants.
Danae Horst, the founder of Folia Collective, recommended using shelves and risers to vary the heights of smaller potted plants.Credit…Danae Horst
Source: The New York Times
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Consider which direction your windows face; look for obstructions from neighboring buildings or trees outside; and study the quality of light. South-facing windows usually get the most direct sunlight, Ms. Horst said, while east- and west-facing windows get some light, and north-facing windows get very little, which makes them the most challenging.

Then, with help from a nursery or plant guide, choose the types of plants that are best suited to your home’s conditions. Desert plants like cactuses and other succulents thrive in rooms that get direct sun all day long, Ms. Horst said. Tropical plants tend to fare better in rooms that get a lot of indirect, filtered or dappled light, as they would under a canopy of trees. Snake plants and ZZ plants can tolerate darker conditions.

It’s also important to be realistic about your plant-parenting skills: Are you overzealous, or more of a hands-off plant parent? Some people insist on watering every day, and drown plants that would fare better with once-a-week watering; others bring plants home and forget to water them for months, or let the soil dry out when they travel.

Neither approach is necessarily a problem, so long as you choose the plants suited to your habits. “Understanding what is going to fit your lifestyle, and your personality, is helpful,” Ms. Horst said.

Hilton Carter, a plant and interior stylist, has a variety of plants in his office, including a board-mounted staghorn fern on the wall.
Hilton Carter, a plant and interior stylist, has a variety of plants in his office, including a board-mounted staghorn fern on the wall.Credit…Hilton Carter
Source: The New York Times
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

For instant gratification without amassing a large collection of plants, you could start with a single, eye-catching plant, said Hilton Carter, a Baltimore-based plant and interior stylist whose latest book, “Wild Creations,” will be published next month.

“I make decisions based on what I call the statement plant,” he said. “It’s the one plant that instantly grabs your attention and sets the tone.”

Mr. Carter’s home bursts with greenery, but there’s no missing the statement plant in his living room: a towering fiddle-leaf fig tree.

Any plant with impressively large leaves will do the trick, he said: “A larger foliage plant, or a bigger plant, in most situations — it’s all about what you want the statement to be.”

A bookcase in Summer Rayne Oakes’s Brooklyn, N.Y., apartment is draped in greenery.
A bookcase in Summer Rayne Oakes’s Brooklyn, N.Y., apartment is draped in greenery.Credit…Summer Rayne Oakes
Source: The New York Times
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Ms. Blakeney sometimes looks for a plant with a vivid pattern. “I am a huge fan of decorating with plants the way that one might traditionally decorate with textiles or color,” she said. “Some of my very favorite plants are ones that are polka-dotted or have stripes or bring different vibrant colors into the space.”

But make sure to choose varieties that won’t interfere with the way you use the space.

Shape, or what Summer Rayne Oakes, an entrepreneur, YouTube personality and author of “How to Make a Plant Love You,” calls “structure,” is important. A tall plant in a big planter is nice in an empty corner of a loft, but may be impractical in a tighter circulation area.

Similarly, if you use a hanging planter, “you might want a plant that drapes down,” she said, rather than one that reaches up to the ceiling. And in a functional space like a kitchen, a plant on a shelf should stand up rather than spread out, because when you’re trying to wash dishes at the sink, she said, “you can’t have something that’s flailing its leaves too much.”

Choosing containers with similar colors or materials creates a cohesive look.
Choosing containers with similar colors or materials creates a cohesive look.Credit…Courtesy of The Sill

As you begin adding more plants to your collection, build clusters of plants rather than spreading out the individual pots.

“I always suggest people cluster plants for maximum impact,” Ms. Blank said. If you have just a few plants, she recommended making a cluster with an odd number of pots — three or five, for example.

The plants don’t need to match: Usually, the greater the variety, the better the composition will look. “Take advantage of the natural texture and color, and pair plants with different attributes,” Ms. Blank said. “One might be very structured and upright, like a snake plant. One might be more delicate and trailing, like a philodendron. And you might add a pop of color with an anthurium.”

It doesn’t always require that much planning. Ms. Horst often advises people to simply identify the window in their home that gets the best light, “and then make that your crazy plant window.”

Woven baskets make appealing containers for plants, but require an internal pot and saucer, Ms. Blakeney noted. 
Woven baskets make appealing containers for plants, but require an internal pot and saucer, Ms. Blakeney noted. Credit…Loloi Rugs
Source: The New York Times
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

At a sunny window in her own kitchen, she suspended various plants from a ceiling rod and added others on the floor, a stand and the tops of cabinets. “One good window is enough to make a big plant statement,” she said.

Adding plants at different heights along one wall can create the impression of a verdant garden. “I like to have plants at all levels,” Ms. Blakeney said. “I oftentimes will have plants on the floor. I’ll have plants on tables, consoles or cabinets at waist level. And then I love to draw the eye up with plants high on shelves and spiller plants kind of cascading down. It creates a lot of movement and a very whimsical feeling.”

Mr. Carter sometimes mounts plants directly on the wall. At home, he has a propagation area where wall-mounted wood cradles hold test tubes filled with cuttings. He also installs air plants in wall hangers and sometimes mounts staghorn ferns directly to boards as wall plaques.

Mr. Carter’s home has a propagation area with wall-mounted wooden cradles that hold test tubes filled with cuttings.
Mr. Carter’s home has a propagation area with wall-mounted wooden cradles that hold test tubes filled with cuttings.Credit…Hilton Carter
Source: The New York Times
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

“You can mount a staghorn fern to any reclaimed piece of wood,” he said, because it doesn’t need to be potted in soil. “You can utilize this particular plant almost as a work of art. If you have a gallery wall, you can put up your other art and have a piece of living art there, as well.”

Plants are the stars of the show, but their containers have a crucial supporting role. If you use a hodgepodge of flowerpots, it may look cluttered. That doesn’t mean the containers have to match, but it’s helpful to have a vision of what you want to achieve.

One option is to choose pots with similar colors. Ms. Horst likes vintage and handmade ceramic containers with a lot of texture, but she focuses on collecting terra-cotta and white-colored pots because “they’re easy to mix together,” she said. “And I never have to worry about what plants are next to each other if I want to change things up.”

Another option is to choose a common material or construction technique. Ms. Blakeney, for instance, has designed rooms where plants sit in a variety of woven baskets.

Placing plants near a window that receives abundant natural light helps them thrive.
Placing plants near a window that receives abundant natural light helps them thrive.Credit…Courtesy of The Sill
Source: The New York Times
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

But none of this means that plants necessarily have to be repotted, Ms. Horst noted. She often leaves them in the plastic pots from the nursery — which have generous drainage holes and can be easily moved to the sink for watering — and places those pots in larger ceramic containers.

“Then when you do need to repot, it’s much easier because the roots haven’t attached themselves to the ceramic,” she said. And when you find decorative pots that don’t have drainage holes, there’s no need to break out a drill.

Follow us on Twitter: @nytrealestate.A version of this article appears in print on March 7, 2021, Section RE, Page 5 of the New York edition with the headline: Bring Nature Inside With the Right Houseplants. Order Reprints.

What are some of the benefits of having plants in your home besides creating oxygen? How can you bring more of nature into your home with plants? Will your house plants be herbal or fruit bearing?

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The New Wave of Fishless Fish Is Here

Lead Photo: Edward Addeo (fish); Iakov Kalinin/iStock (ocean)

Source: Outside
Nov 24, 2020

Food scientists and marketers are creating healthy, plant-based, imitation tuna, crab, and shrimp that look and taste like the real thing. Better yet, switching to faux seafood will help curb our reliance on an international fishing industry that has become an environmental and human-rights disaster.

The year 2020 has not been good to many things, but it has been very, very good to the tuna melt. As the world got weird and we sheltered at home, many of us hankered for the familiar, the stable, the uncool. And there was the tuna melt waiting for us, as uncool as ever. 

References to the sandwich spiked on Reddit. New recipes (more or less indistin­guishable from the old recipes) flowed onto the internet. 

I, too, felt the allure. So, during the height of the pandemic, breaking away from the monotony of the keyboard, I made myself a lunch of soaring satisfaction: crispy bread and creamy tuna under a warm security blanket of cheese. What made it especially gratifying, however, was that it was the first tuna melt of my life that involved no fish at all. It was made with a new plant-based faux tuna called Good Catch, and while I can’t exactly say it changed my life, it definitely changed my lunch.

I swore off canned tuna last year, after reading The Outlaw Ocean, Ian Urbina’s wrenching account of human-rights abuses in the global fishing industry. For years, my list of morally acceptable seafoods had been narrowing as I learned about the environmental impacts of industrial fishing. Bluefin tuna, of course, went out the window long ago. Then it was Chilean sea bass, swordfish, and farmed salmon. Cod, gone. Shrimp, toast. But I clung to canned tuna, in part because of the convenience. A highly functional shot of protein, shelf-stable and cheap, it seemed morally defensible as long as it sported the logos certifying that it was dolphin-safe and sustainably fished.

But that changed when I plunged into Urbina’s book, the result of more than three years reporting on high-seas crime across 12,000 nautical miles, all five oceans, and 20 smaller seas. He shipped out on roach-infested, barely seaworthy trawlers, chased pirates and poachers, got caught in border wars, and uncovered a grainy cell-phone video of casual assassinations at sea. After all that, Urbina asked, did we really think “that it is possible to fish sustainably, legally, and using workers with contracts, making a livable wage, and still deliver a five-ounce can of skipjack tuna for $2.50 that ends up on the grocery shelf only days after the fish was pulled from the water thousands of miles away”?

Spoiler alert: it’s not. The average can of tuna drags behind it a tangled net of wrecked ecosystems, definned sharks, debt bondage, child labor, human trafficking, physical abuse, and murder. By the time I finished The Outlaw Ocean, I couldn’t open a can of tuna without imagining a trickle of human blood oozing out. And it’s not just tuna. Swordfish, snapper, mahi mahi, mackerel, sardines, squid, and anchovies are all tainted by slavery. So are farmed salmon, farmed shrimp, and cat food, which relies on meal made out of small fish caught in fisheries rife with human suffering. 

Many fishing boats are crewed by migrants from poor countries who are desperate for work. The boats can spend years at sea, periodically off-loading their catch to refrigerated mother ships and taking on fresh supplies. Oversight is almost nonexistent. Men are forced to work brutal hours in filthy conditions. Beatings are common. So are deaths.

A typical experience is that of Lang Long, a poor Cambodian man Urbina met in Thailand. Long was smuggled to the Thai coast by a trafficker who promised to get him a construction job, but the job never materialized. Instead, Long was sold to a fishing captain for $530, to cover his trafficking debt. Once on the boat, he didn’t see land again for three years.

During that time, Long was beaten regularly, forced to work up to 23 hours a day, and given insufficent food and water. After trying to escape, he was shackled by the neck and chained to the deck whenever his boat approached another ship.

But Long was relatively lucky. He survived, and was returned to land after a Catholic charity paid the boat’s captain $750 for his freedom. Other sea slaves have described sick deckhands being thrown overboard and intransigent ones being locked in the hold, whipped, or beheaded.

All this happens on the untraceable high seas. By the time a tender comes into port, it can carry a vast mix of legally and illegally caught fish. And that’s how a can of tuna gets to your grocery shelf for $2.50.

Rowan Jacobsen is an Outside contributing editor.

Hoagies made with Good Catch imitation tunaHoagies made with Good Catch imitation tuna
(Photo: Courtesy Good Catch Foods)

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

So I kissed tuna goodbye. Lunch became a little more inconvenient, but then Good Catch showed up in the grocery aisle. Instead of a can, the product came in an upmarket pouch featuring a photo of a plate heaped with extremely tuna-like shards. Fish-Free Tuna, the label advertised. Chunk Albacore Texture. The ingredients list revealed that it was made using a blend of six legumes—soybeans, peas, chickpeas, fava beans, lentils, and navy beans—with some algal oil and seaweed powder mixed in for “Real Seafood Taste.” At $5 for a 3.3-ounce portion, it was pricier than canned tuna, but not exactly a budget buster.

I’d written a lot about the battle for burger supremacy among fauxtein peddlers like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, and I knew the pattern those trailblazers had to follow: media campaigns to convince people their fake meats weren’t bizarre, slow rollouts of product in a handful of hipster restaurants, and then years of struggle to develop the production and distribution needed to reach the mainstream. I’d assumed alternative seafood would follow the same tortuous path. Yet here was Good Catch, already stocked by mainstream supermarkets like Whole Foods and Giant. Perhaps the trail had been blazed. And that made me wonder if the world of seafood was about to get pounded by a wave of fishless fish.

Second spoiler alert: it is. Many of the most popular seafoods now suddenly face direct competition from dozens of startups offering animal-free alternatives. The industry is still tiny, but sales of plant-based foods have surged 29 percent in the past two years, compared with just 4 percent overall for U.S. retail foods, and many expect the category to follow the arc of plant-based milks, which now account for 14 percent of all retail milk sales. 

Ibought a pouch of Good Catch and a can of solid white albacore for comparison. At home, I opened the pouch and dumped out a jumble of flaky chunks that had the same pallored look as tuna. The chew was quite firm, which impressed me. Springiness is one of the main attractions of meat, and it’s hard to replicate using plants.

The albacore, stripped of support, was weirder than I remembered. Did you know tuna is canned in vegetable broth to give it flavor? Drained, it has nothing going on until you add mayonnaise, celery, and salt. Why had I been killing some of the sexiest fish in the sea for this loser lunch meat?

I preferred Good Catch in every way. It didn’t taste like much either—think seaweed-scented chicken breast—but the texture was addictive, and I found myself testing the little bouncy fibers between my teeth. I didn’t think of it as tuna so much as chew-na, and I used it liberally, sprinkled over caprese salad for extra tooth, tucked under melted cheese on a piece of toast. It made tasty fish burgers and cakes. It even held up beautifully in a pasta al tonno, simmered in garlicky tomato sauce. In other words, it passed the plug-and-play test. So long, Big Tuna.

When I called Chris Kerr, Good Catch’s cofounder and executive chair, he told me I wasn’t the only one to recently discover his product. COVID-19 had triggered a run on shelf-stable everything, and he was scrambling to keep stores stocked. His new 42,500-square-foot factory in Heath, Ohio, had come online just in time. 

Kerr asked me how his product measured up. I told him it was never going to take over Instagram, but it was good enough. He agreed, and added that this was all it needed to be. “For the love of God,” he said, “it’s just a fucking tuna melt!” 

Kerr, 53, is irreverent and savvy, and he’s got the vision thing. A longtime vegan, he worked at the Humane Society for seven years but eventually found the group’s traditional tactics frustrating. “We weren’t getting very far in terms of moving the needle on animal welfare,” he says. “Vegans are still 0.5 percent of the population.” He left in 2014 and was recruited to launch New Crop Capital, a venture firm that invests in vegan food startups. New Crop was an early backer of Beyond Meat and now has a stake in more than 40 companies.

Kerr was one of the first to see the need for a Beyond Meat of seafood. Like the founders of Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, he came to the problem from the perspective of animal welfare. We’re so used to the traditions of fishing that we rarely notice that they involve the mass killing of wild animals, usually in painful ways that would never be acceptable with birds or mammals. (Try hooking a deer in the mouth and dragging it kicking and screaming for miles.)

But until the revelations of human-rights abuses in the fishing industry, the biggest knock against fishing was environmental. According to Daniel Pauly, a prominent British Columbia–based marine scientist, almost no fisheries are truly sustainable. “It’s so bad,” he says. “Sustainable is not a reliable term anymore. So many fisheries have been reduced to a small fraction of what they once were. You can ‘sustainably’ fish them at that diminished level, but they really need to be rebuilt to support the ecosystem.” According to a number of papers published by leading scientists, the agencies that certify fisheries are deeply flawed, and many fish that have the “sustainable” label applied to them are anything but.

Then there’s bycatch—other animals unintentionally caught and killed in nets. About 40 percent of the fishing industry’s combined haul is bycatch, a total of 63 billion pounds per year. That carnage includes an estimated 650,000 marine mammals, a million seabirds, 8.5 million sea turtles, and ten million sharks. In the Indian Ocean, more than 80 percent of the original dolphin population—four million animals—has been killed in tuna nets.

Good Catch, a brand of faux tuna, made tasty fish burgers and cakes. It even held up beautifully in a pasta al tonno, simmered in garlicky tomato sauce. In other words, it passed the plug-and-play test. So long, Big Tuna.

Aquaculture has not been the salvation many had hoped. Farming fish turns out to have the same problems as farming livestock in industrial settings: animal-welfare issues, disease and parasites, antibiotic overuse, and massive pollution.

For all those reasons, Kerr says, he felt a need to help jump-start the plant-based-seafood industry. “But I couldn’t find anything solid to invest in. So I just said, Fuck it, I’ll start my own.” 

Now more mainstream investors—having watched Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods take the world by storm—are scrambling to catch up. In January of this year, General Mills joined a group of companies that invested $32 million in Good Catch. Soon the celebrities rushed in: Lance Bass, Paris Hilton, Woody Harrelson, and Shailene Woodley all invested in the company.

But the biggest development came in March, when Bumble Bee Foods, the international tuna giant, announced a new partnership to distribute Good Catch’s fishless tuna in many places where Bumble Bee sells its own. “They approached us!” Kerr told me. “We were prepared to be attacked by that same company.”

“That shocked the industry,” says Monica Talbert, CEO of Van Cleve Seafood, a Virginia company that has launched a subsidiary, Plant Based Seafood, that sells a line of fish-free products. “The seafood industry sees plant-based as treasonous. They’re trying to squelch it. So for a giant, global company like Bumble Bee to take it on was huge.” Talbert thinks the writing is on the wall. “Consumers are demanding it. It would behoove the industry to jump on board.”

In Bumble Bee’s press release announcing the partnership, CEO Jan Tharp explained the thinking. “It is critically important that, as an industry, we continue to find innovative solutions to decouple growth with ­environmental impact,” she explained. “Providing great-tasting alternative ways for consumers to enjoy ocean-inspired foods is a key pillar of our long-term commitment to ocean health.”

If Good Catch is basically the Beyond Meat of seafood, Van Cleve is something possibly more significant: a traditional business eagerly transforming itself into a meatless powerhouse. “I love plant-based seafood,” ­Talbert says, “because it gives us a platform to shine light on the unsavory things going on in the seafood industry, just like plant-based meat did for the livestock industry.”

Van Cleve Seafood started in 2001 as a Virginia crab shack, launched by Shelly Van Cleve and her teenage daughters, Monica and Monica’s sister Allie. The restaurant and shop soon became a celebrated destination, and they expanded. In 2013, the company began selling its signature products in supermarkets and found that its ­supply needs outstripped local options. When ­Talbert researched international sources, she was horrified. “The lawlessness,” she says. “The mislabeling. The fish illegally soaked in chemicals. The child labor, slavery, and human trafficking. Just horrendous practices. It was so disheartening.”

Talbert had been transitioning to a plant-based diet, so they decided to do the same with the company—starting, naturally, with crab cakes. “We’ve probably made a million crab cakes in the past 20 years,” Talbert says. “There’s a weave to the texture of a crab cake that’s very specific. We went through more than a hundred versions to get it right.” 

If you want to wield your fork for food justice, however, crab is small potatoes. The average American consumes half a pound of it per year, making it only the ninth most popular seafood. The big three are canned tuna (2.1 pounds per person), salmon (2.6 pounds), and the Goliath of seafood, shrimp (4.6 pounds). 

If anything can make tuna fishing look scrupulous, it’s shrimp. Wild shrimp are caught using a massively destructive practice called bottom trawling, which John ­Hocevar, Greenpeace’s longtime oceans campaign director, describes like so: “Bottom trawlers fish with nets that weigh a couple of tons and are big enough to catch two 747s side by side, and they drag those along the bottom of the ocean. It’s insane.” For every haul of shrimp, a large amount of bycatch is brought in and tossed dead over the side.

Most shrimp is farmed, and that’s even worse. For feed, operations depend on small fish caught by boats using forced labor and relentless tools that rake the ocean clean. “Off Thailand,” Hocevar says, “the boats fish the water with very fine-meshed nets designed to strain out every last living thing. It’s endgame stuff.”

Shrimp is farmed along tropical coasts in shallow ponds made by ripping out mangroves, trees that protect shorelines and provide essential habitat for many marine species. The ponds become cesspools. After a few years, the ground is so contaminated that the site must be abandoned for a new one. “You just devastate one coastline after another,” says fisheries scientist Pauly.

Despite this mayhem, shrimp hasn’t suffered from consumer resistance the way other seafoods have. “Most people are somewhat aware that shrimp has big problems and they shouldn’t be eating it,” Hocevar says. “But they love it and there’s no real alternative, so they’re not willing to give it up.” For those reasons, he says, “a plant-based alternative would be amazing.”

Pauly was even more enthusiastic about the proposition. “The faster the better. If you can produce some gunk that can take the place of those disgusting shrimp operations, that would be wonderful.”

Well, I just happen to have some of that gunk right in front of me. It’s called konjac root, and it’s popular in Japanese and Korean cooking. Because it’s rich in soluble fiber, it can be boiled into a firmly textured gel. “It bounces back,” says Monica Talbert.

The product I’m sampling—Mind Blown Plant-Based Crunchy Coconut Shrimp—comes in the form of plump pink crescents with a coconut coating. (Paprika provides the pink.) I fried them in oil until they turned golden and served them with cocktail sauce.

And let’s be honest, any breaded product—shrimp, chicken nuggets, whatever—asks very little of its core protein. All it really needs to do is bounce back, and the plant-based shrimp aced that test. The outside was crispy, coconutty, and slightly sweet. The inside was snowy white. (If you are attached to the black vein that bisects real shrimp, you’re out of luck.) 

Most of the press on animal-free seafood focuses on what’s known as cellular aquaculture—fish in a dish, no head, gut, or tail attached. Rumors of its impending awesomeness have been circulating for a few years, goosed by venture capitalists who’ve sunk tens of millions into the California startups Wild Type (salmon), Finless Foods (bluefin), and BlueNalu (yellowtail and mahi mahi). Before diving into the world of fishless fish, I’d expected these lab-based products to be the standouts. But as is true with lab-grown meat, the hype has gotten well ahead of the science.

The theory seems solid enough. In animals, muscle cells are supplied with a stream of nutrients delivered by the circulatory ­system. But those cells can be grown in a tank if they’re bathed in a broth of the same nutrients, along with hormone-like growth factors that tell them how to develop. This is the idea behind lab-grown meat, and it’s been achieved with various species of fish as well.

You can see the appeal. Cellular seafood doesn’t have parasites. It isn’t contaminated by mercury or microplastics. It isn’t tainted by slavery or ecological damage. And it doesn’t die a horrible death.

But the industry faces multiple challenges that so far lack solutions. To grow living cells in a vat is incredibly costly and energy intensive. (One life-cycle analysis of cultured meat found that it has an even larger environmental footprint than conventional beef.) And no one has mastered culturing meat at scale. In a 20,000-liter commercial tank, cells can be crushed by the weight of water or killed by the force of the paddles that keep everything circulating. The serum that bathes the cells costs hundreds of dollars per liter, and it takes 50 liters to produce one serving of meat. Microbial contamination is a constant threat. Texture and flavor are works in progress. 

Greenpeace’s John Hocevar says most people know shrimp has big problems. “But they love it and there’s no real alternative, so they’re not willing to give it up.” For those reasons, he says, “a plant-based alternative would be amazing.”

But Jennifer Jacquet, a professor of environmental studies at New York University who has studied the fishing industry extensively, thinks progress may come surprisingly fast. “I don’t think you can judge a product’s market price by its prototypes, especially with an industry in its infancy,” she says. “There are many examples, from clocks to computers, that show us how much prices can fall.” Sure, a single serving of cellular fish or meat currently costs hundreds of dollars, but not long ago it cost hundreds of thousands.

Jacquet points out that governments can strongly influence the affordability—and success—of beneficial new technologies. “It’s a little bit like renewable energy,” she says. “Right now, the cellular animal products, including seafood, have to compete on a very uneven footing with meat, dairy, and seafood companies that receive enormous government subsidies, which makes it even more difficult to become price competitive.” Jacquet believes that if the seafood industry stopped receiving these subsidies, cellular-based seafood would quickly succeed.

None of the California startups were about to let me sample their lab creations. BlueNalu anticipates having its mahi available by late 2021 in a few select restaurants in San Diego, but experts estimate that it will be five to ten years before cellular seafood is commercially viable. And by then it may be too late. Plant-based seafood is already here, and given another decade of R&D, it’s going to be very good and very cheap. Sure, there will still be holdouts who want real fish that came from the sea. But who exactly is going to demand fish from a lab?

Not all the plant-based seafoods I tried were as successful as the ones highlighted here. I very much wanted to like Ahimi, an ahi substitute whose production is simplicity itself: a skinned, seeded tomato lightly concentrated in soy sauce, water, sugar, and sesame oil. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much what it tastes like. If you squint hard, it looks a bit like a pink slab of ahi, but there’s no getting around that what you have on your plinth of rice is limp tomato. (Apparently others felt the same; the company ceased operations this summer.)

I also wanted to try Kuleana—a bluefin replacement made from a blend of algae, pea protein, seawater, iron from fermented koji, and beetroot (for color)—but its founder told me it wasn’t ready for sashimi prime time. For now, true sushi analogs are out of reach, and we’ll have to stick to the low-hanging fruits de mer: canned tuna, crab cakes, and breaded shrimp.

But check back in a couple of years and I expect you’ll find the sushi counter transformed as well. By then I should be ready to complete the leap to plant-based. I’ll make exceptions for a couple of seafood standouts—American shellfish and Alaskan salmon, for example, are paragons of sustainability and deliciousness—but I’ll leave the rest to the ocean. Unless, of course, the seafood industry can solve its outlaw problem once and for all.

Rowan Jacobsen’s research into alternative seafood was supported by a grant from the Safina Center.

Eliot Coleman (farmer, grower and educator) would say that true organic food is a function of biology and nature not science. What do you think of plant based, science produce fish or seafood? Most dietitians would tell you a health diet includes wholefoods rather than processed foods. Is science produced food not processed foods? What do you think about the new fishless fish options? Are you veterinarian or vegan?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today. All Rights Reserved – Shidonna Raven (c) 2025 – Garden & Cook.

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The Truth about Desserts

cinnamon oat cookie shidonna raven garden and cook

The truth about desserts is that you may love them. We definitely love them. Any informed organic consumer will be the first to tell you that just because it is organic does not mean it is good and nutritious for you. In other words, an organic apple is probably better for you than a bowl of organic chessy mac. Nonetheless, they are both organic. So, let us break that down for you. The process of growing foods organically is healthier for you than growing food in non organic means. The organic growing process is true or truer to nature and the natural process of growing foods. Food that is not grown organically involves chemicals and several other food production process frowned upon by even the USDA, even with its recent criticisms from true organic growers. Once one has an organic array of foods, then from there it is best to choose those foods best for you.

When considering what to eat and diet, one should have a clear understanding of their over all and holistic health. What is beneficial to one will not be beneficial to another. A person with anemia and a person with diabetes will have totally different diet needs. There are many ways to gain an understanding of one’s overall health and one’s dietary needs. Here are a couple of ways:

  • holistic doctor
  • dietitian
  • nutritionist
  • medical professional / doctor
  • Once one has a clearer picture of their dietary needs, one can make informed and educated decisions on how to best feed their bodies what it needs to perform at its best. Diet is only part of the picture. We believe that overall health and well being involves 3 pillars:
  • Health (many health professionals also include spiritual and emotional well being in this)
  • Physical Fitness – Exercise
  • Diet

Some of you are probably saying to yourselves, “I thought this article was about desserts.” You are so right! It is. So, let us get back to the good part. Our desserts are made with organic ingredients whenever possible. If not organic then natural. We select ingredients that are good for you but not necessarily “healthy” similar to organic foods (like the apple and the chessy mac). If one has to have a dessert, our desserts are an excellent choice. Of course desserts like all other things should be eaten in moderation. If given a choice, an organic salad is probably healthier for you than an organic cookie. Love them as we do, we indulge in a dessert or two. Nonetheless, when we do we make sure that they are as good for us as they can be. Refined and processed foods such as granulated sugar and flour never make it at the top of health lists. Nonetheless, we choose organic sugars and flours. So, we invite you to indulge responsibly by shopping our desserts (cookies, bars and squares).

What foods, or more specifically vitamins and minerals, are an important part of your diet? Why? What are your health needs? Do you have a chronic illness? The bible speaks clearly to us about healing. Chronic illnesses can cause other illnesses because your body is in a state of constant disease. Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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Medications & Substance Abuse

burdock seeds shidonna raven garden and cook

There is nothing more sensational than a star and their story of substance abuse. The questions is how do they get there. Indeed COVID 19 has highlighted the pharmaceutical industry as the world waits on the edge of its seat for a cure. In the mist of the pandemic many companies have gone under; others have faced tough times and decisions and yet others have re-invited themselves: namely Kodak. Kodak, famous for photo production, has now decided to get into the pharmaceutical business. Indeed there are many medicines, typically derived from nature, that have made a world of difference. There is no denying that the pharmaceutical industry makes several millions annually and often repackage a drug already on the market so they can circumvent clinical trails. The purpose of clinical trails is to confirm the medicine works and does what it claims to do.

Several times we have been offered medicines or a procedure that could be avoided by making changes in our diet, i.e. dialysis in place of increasing iron intake and taking a dietary supplement. In fact the medicines can add up quickly during one hospital visit. In some cases the symptoms produced by one medicine lead to the prescription of another medicine to address conditions one would not have if they did not take the medicine. In fact many doctors report that their patience soon suffer substance abuse. But many medicines are some type of drug. Its easy to see how multiple drug prescriptions can lead to substance abuse if one is not careful.

How many medicines do you take? What are they for? What are their sources in nature? Share your posts below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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Children’s Garden


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Children’s Garden
Source: USA.gov
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

What a wonderful space! The Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, VA USA has a long and rich history. It is also an amazing place to go to and explore. You are also welcome to schedule a visit to our neighborhood garden. We have guests all the time who come by to get a first hand look at the garden and its progress. What other green spaces are there in your area? How often do you visit? How can you and your family begin to grow a plant in your own space? Write down 5 benefits of growing a plant in your own space and post it as a comment on the site. Do you already have a plant in your home? Send us a picture and we will share it with the community.

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today. All Rights Reserved – Shidonna Raven (c) 2025 – Garden & Cook.

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The Farmer & His Prince (Charles)

The Farmer and his Prince TRAILER

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The Farmer and His Prince
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It is good to know that we are not the only ones on an Organic Journey, Prince Charles has been on his Organic Journey for a longer time and on a larger scale. What do small farmers mean to you? How can you support your community gardens and small farms? You can make a donation to our community garden by clicking here. Why are these gardens, farms and Organic Food Production important to you? Support of Organic efforts is huge to all of us and very appreciated by all of us here as always. Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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GMO & your Health

Do GMOs harm health?

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GMO and Your Health
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Scientist are often responsible for creating GMOs and ‘food products’. Food occurs in nature naturally and can be cultivated from seeds. If all the food we eat are GMOs, food will cease to be grown in nature but looked at as products. This has health, financial and economical implications. Scientist created chemical pesticides that Organic Farmers state they do not need and are detrimental to food and food nutrition. Further Organic Farmers state that scientist are always pushing products farmers do not need making farming unsustainable and economically impossible unless farmers become industrial farmers. Industrial farmers are known for focusing on quantity and not quality: nutrition. The lack of nutrition in food is said to be the source of many health problems and concerns today. These very food production practices have Organic Farmers returning to the strength, health and nutrition found in food that focuses more on biology rather than science or medicine.

What do you think the profit is in GMOs? Do you think GMOs should be put on the market for sale before they know the effects of GMOs on humans? Do you think they should disclose the effects of GMOs to people similar to cigarette labels? Share your comments with the community by positing them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing.

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.