Today's notes on national stories, local trends, random tastes, and other bycatch dredged up from the food media.
1. Learn to Take Better Photos and Help Japan at the Same Time. Matt Wright, who takes photos like this and this for his food blog, Wrightfood, just published a food-photography manual and is donating all the profits to disaster-relief efforts in Japan. As he describes the project: "On one full page you see the food photo I took and on the page next to it you get a detailed description of the setup, along with an illustration I did showing exactly how the scene was set up. Where the light was coming from. Where the bounces are. Where the camera is -- AND WHY."
Wright is offering the book in two formats and price points: print on demand ($44.44 at Blurb -- $10 goes to charity) and ePub or PDF ($20 via Tradebit -- $14 goes to charity). The hardback version, released first, has raised $750 so far.
2. Technology and Sustainable Agriculture. Techcrunch posted an essay earlier this week from iLike and LinkExchange cofounder Ali Partovi that has been ricocheting through my Twitter feed. Partovi, an angel investor, does things like help Zappo's get off the ground -- and is channeling resources toward the food industry.
Feel free to breeze through the first part of his essay, a familiar conversion story, until you get to the part about the startups he's investing in. Farmigo has developed software systems to help farmers manage their CSAs (there's a more detailed article about the S.F.-based company on Civil Eats). Another startup is plotting to build greenhouses on grocery stores in colder-weather states, while a third is helping farmers analyze their soil chemistry more frequently and efficiently to reduce fertilizer use. Whether or not any of these individual businesses succeed, I'm heartened by the fact that investors like Partovi are funding the development of infrastructure to help sustainable farming grow.