Program kicks off 2nd semester of healthy food choices

February 7, 2011

The return of a first-time Arizona State University West campus program offered last semester to the Valley community is once again designed to leave a good taste – and a healthy taste – in its members’ collective mouth.

CSA – Community Supported Agriculture – returns to the University Center Building (UCB) at the West campus, beginning Feb. 16 and running weekly, on Wednesdays, through May 11. The program provides a direct connection between a local farmer, Crooked Sky Farms, and the community, while featuring a variety of fresh, “Certified Naturally Grown” produce. Download Full Image

Last September, the CSA program was introduced by ASU’s New">">New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences in partnership with the West campus Sustainability Team as part of a 2010-2011 academic year focus on food. Included in the focus is a freshman reading project, the ThinK (Thursdays in Kiva) Film and Speaker Series, and the creation of a new and innovative general education curriculum that ties together different disciplines through the subject of food.

“This CSA program is open to all, not only our ASU community of students, faculty and staff, but to the community at large,” says Elizabeth Langland, ASU vice president and dean of New College. “We hope that our campus neighbors will join us in this opportunity to become part of a new movement of sustainable food options.”

Directed by the West campus Sustainability Team, CSA memberships are available for $240 for the spring semester 12-week program. Multi-partner memberships are priced, like individual memberships, at $240 for the semester. Payments are due Feb. 11 and can be split into two payments of $120 each, with the second payment due March 25. Mid-semester pro-rated payments are also available and will be determined at the time of subscription. Payments can be made to Gloria Chavez in UCB 260. Checks should be made payable to Crooked Sky Farms.

Each week, subscribers receive a bundle of eight different seasonally harvested fruits and vegetables that would provide most of the salad and vegetable needs for a couple or small family for one week. As “Certified Naturally Grown,” Crooked Sky Farms produce is free of synthetic chemical insecticides, herbicides, fungicides or fertilizers. Additionally, crop rotations, cover and protective buffer crops, and ecologically sustainable farming practices ensure soil, water and air-quality protections.

“This program provides a direct connection with a local farmer and reinforces the importance and benefits of a fresh, sustainable and healthy lifestyle,” says Langland. “Also, it instills a higher level of consciousness about the food we eat. As a society, we have become disconnected from the source of our foods, and are thus unaware of how it impacts our environment, our economy, our health. The CSA gives us the opportunity to re-establish that connection.”

Crooked Sky Farms in Phoenix is owned by farmer Frank Martin, who got his start farming in his backyard and sold his food at the Prescott (Ariz.) Farmers Market in 2002. Crooked Sky now grows and supplies produce for a number of farmers markets and CSA programs across Arizona.

The CSA program is a part of ASU’s university-wide sustainability vision, and is being offered at the Downtown Phoenix and Tempe campuses in addition to the West campus.

About Campus Sustainability and University Sustainability Practices ASU recognizes that promoting sustainability begins internally with its own business practices, university policy and culture. ASU’s sustainability initiatives, coordinated by the Global Institute of Sustainability, are advanced by the efforts of people and departments from across the university; leading sustainable practices are addressed and implemented in the areas of energy, water, buildings and grounds, carbon neutrality, food services, transportation, waste and recycling, and purchasing and policies.  For more information, visit

For">"> additional information on the West campus CSA program, contact Chavez at 602-543-7720 or via email at gloria.chavez">">

Steve Des Georges

Conceptualizing cancer cells as ancient 'toolkit'

February 8, 2011

Despite decades of research and billions of dollars, cancer remains a major killer, with an uncanny ability to evade both the body’s defenses and medical intervention. Now an Arizona State University scientist believes he has an explanation.

“Cancer is not a random bunch of selfish rogue cells behaving badly, but a highly-efficient pre-programmed response to stress, honed by a long period of evolution,” claims professor Paul Davies, director of the BEYOND">">BEYOND Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science at ASU and principal investigator of a major research program funded by the National Cancer Institute designed to bring insights from physical science to the problem of cancer. Download Full Image

In a paper published online Feb. 7 in the UK Institute of Physics journal Physical">">Physical Biology, Davies and Charles Lineweaver from the Australian National University draw on their backgrounds in astrobiology to explain why cancer cells deploy so many clever tricks in such a coherent and organized way.

They say it’s because cancer revisits tried-and-tested genetic pathways going back a billion years, to the time when loose collections of cells began cooperating in the lead-up to fully developed multicellular life. Dubbed by the authors “Metazoa 1.0,” these early assemblages fell short of the full cell and organ differentiation associated with modern multicellular organisms – like humans.

But according to Davies and Lineweaver, the genes for the early, looser assemblages – Metazoa 1.0 – are still there, forming an efficient toolkit. Normally it is kept locked, suppressed by the machinery of later genes used for more sophisticated body plans. If something springs the lock, the ancient genes systematically roll out the many traits that make cancer such a resilient form of life – and such a formidable adversary.

“Tumors are a re-emergence of our inner Metazoan 1.0, a throwback to an ancient world when multicellular life was simpler,” says Davies. “In that sense, cancer is an accident waiting to happen.”

If Davies and Lineweaver are correct, then the genomes of the simplest multicellular organisms will hide clues to the way that cancer evades control by the body and develops resistance to chemotherapy. And their approach suggests that a limited number of genetic pathways are favored by cells as they become progressively genetically unstable and malignant, implying that cancer could be manageable by a finite suite of drugs in the coming era of personalized medicine.

“Our new model should give oncologists new hope because cancer is a limited and ultimately predictable atavistic adversary,” says Lineweaver. “Cancer is not going anywhere evolutionarily; it just starts up in a new patient the way it started up in the previous one.”

The authors also believe that the study of cancer can inform astrobiology. “It’s not a one-way street,” says Davies. “Cancer can give us important clues about the nature and history of life itself.”


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