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BQ 'In the Field'

A visit to the Biosphere

Jamie O'Shea

A visit to the Biosphere

While we were in the Tucson area, we made a pilgrimage to the hippy-nerd mecca of Biosphere 2. You may remember the news sensation this experiment caused in the 90s, or maybe you only know and love it from the Pauly Shore movie Biodome. How there has not been a more serious film treatment of this story I have no idea, because it's just about the greatest story ever told.  Basically, a science-oriented theater troupe teamed up with a Texas billionaire to build a Mars colony on Earth: a totally self-contained 3 acre greenhouse. The troupe would live in it...

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Arizona Solar Experiments

Jamie O'Shea

Arizona Solar Experiments

  We just got back from doing some solar thermal prototyping in the Arizona desert. We are testing our ground based solar concentrator with 2 dimensional curvature rather than 3d; the 'trough' rather than 'dish' geometry. The ground-based trough is still the spherical geometry that we've used in our popcorn making basins, so the reflector itself doesn't need to track the sun to stay focused.  Linear scalability is the main reason the trough is attractive; a trough can be extended in one direction without the hole getting any deeper. The lamination of reflective material is also simplified, as is the...

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New Flavors Have Arrived!

Bjorn Quenemoen

New Flavors Have Arrived!

At long last our newest flavors Cloudy and Spicy have hit the shelves! It's been a blast being a one flavor company all these six years. It would not have worked without such a great single flavor offering (thank you Classic!), but I also think everyone involved relished the arrogance of it. I remember soliciting advice early on from a co-packer about how to setup a commercial food facility. When I told him what we were planning to do he scoffed and said, "You can't run a commercial facility with a single product!". He also added "I don't eat the shit I make!" We will...

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Small Scale Grain Farming

Bjorn Quenemoen

Small Scale Grain Farming

Local farms and food are well into their renaissance across the country. The demands now extend far beyond the sweet corn, apple and pumpkin-centric rural excursions of the 20th century. Today people are seeking foraged ramps and mushrooms, odd varieties of broccoli and squash and a vast offering of interesting greens. Grains on the other hand have been slower to resurge, and for understandable reasons. For one, a freshly picked strawberry is clearly superior to any supermarket offering, but the same comparison cannot easily be made for grains. Secondly, its quite difficult to farm grains on a small scale especially in the economic world we...

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Corn Diversity

Jamie O'Shea

Corn Diversity

  There's been a couple of cool articles in Scientific American about the great diversity of corn grown by family farmers in Mexico. These hyper-local varieties maintain a large genetic diversity that could help corn adapt in the future. A case in point is the second article here, which describes a strain grown in Oaxaca that fixes most of its own nitrogen. Nitrogen dependence is corn's Achilles heel, and the main reason that we need to fertilize it. The author even speculates that we may have accidentally bred out corn's ability to fix nitrogen a long time ago, and that...

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