Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Ethical shopping made easy, the dark history of gingerbread, time-lapse images of Earth and more in our look around the web

1. Photos of Cuba Through the Lens of Its Youth

Days before Fidel Castro died, National Geographic met with 21 young Cuban people (from students to professionals) and talked about what it means to them to be Cuban. The discussion was part of a National Geographic Photo Camp whose aim was “to teach Cuban youth how to tell their own stories through photography, to challenge them to show us their world in a way no one looking in from the outside can.” Through words and photographs, these young people explained their feelings about their country beautifully. See and read more at National Geographic.

2. The Dark Historic Associations of Gingerbread

From violent literary associations to war-driven distribution, the history of gingerbread cookies happens to be tinged with darkness. According to historians, ginger first entered the European world of baking in the Middle Ages, after centuries of use as a medicine, due to The Crusades. Those fighting in the Middle East brought it back and centuries later it became a confectioner’s ingredient used to make hard, long-lasting biscuits. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the monarch had gingerbread cookies shaped into figures resembling her suitors, upon which she would bite. In 1812, the Brothers Grimm published “Hansel and Gretel” and while the fictional piece would only broaden the awareness of gingerbread, it was actually referencing the Great Famine of 1315–17, which led to the deaths of millions. Learn more at Quartz.

3. Helping the Homeless Community: the EMPWR Coat

Detroit-based non-profit Empowerment Plan is an organization with a goal to end cycles of homelessness in families—permanently—by offering parents living with their kids in shelters full-time employment. Not just creating jobs, the initiative offers training, and they even make a product that further aids the homeless community. The EMPWR Coat doubles as a sleeping bag—keeping those spending nights outdoors warm during the colder months. Since the organization’s inception four years ago, they have distributed some 15,000 coats. Read more about this inspiring initiative at designboom.

4. Why the Concept of a Healthy Breakfast is Linked to Religion

Did you know that John Harvey Kellogg (aka creator of the breakfast cereal brand) was deeply-religious and believed “masturbation was the greatest evil, which bland, healthy foods like corn flakes could prevent”? Weirdly, this is related to our fairly recent obsession with eating a healthy breakfast. When the Industrial Revolution occurred in the late 19th century, people began worrying more about health—due to many workers standing or sitting still for long periods. Instead of eating whatever was leftover for breakfast, people began eating lighter, “healthier” meals when they woke. It turns out, however, that this was all simply rhetoric and if you eat cold pasta, leftover veggies or nothing at all for breakfast, you won’t necessarily be unhealthy—or go to hell. In fact, “health research has proven that skipping that fried egg or bowl of cereal does not lead to weight gain, health issues or underperformance.” Read more at The Guardian.

5. Google’s 30-Year Time Lapse

From the astounding removal of trees in Whitesville, West Virginia, to make way for coal mining; to the depletion of the Aral Sea (between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan) due to farming; and the Langhovde Glacier melting, Google’s 3-decade time-lapse videos are as fascinating as they are unsettling. Not only are obvious changes in lakes, glaciers and rivers visible, users can search any exact location they desire (thankfully not all are dramatically different). Working with over 5.4 million images taken since 1984, the Google Earth Engine team has created something that’s very clever, but also incredibly important for us humans to see—it shows all the ways that our actions are undeniably affecting the planet. See much, much more at TIME.

6. The Stories Behind Iconic Record Covers

While art should (and does) speak for itself, there’s no denying the thrill of learning the fascinating stories behind it. Record covers are no different, and NME has surfaced some interesting behind-the-scenes info regarding iconic cover art. From the fact that Blondie’s Parallel Lines got the band’s manager fired (he chose the image despite the band’s protests) to the fact that pink and green lettering of The Clash’s London Calling was inspired by Elvis Presley’s debut record, there are tales aplenty. Read more at NME.

7. Chrome’s “DoneGood” Extension Suggests Ethical Buys

After struggling to find companies they really wanted to support, Cullen Schwarz and Scott Jacobson co-founded DoneGood—a new Chrome extension that suggests ethical options when shopping online. Users can even select more specific criteria for DoneGood to find for them, from women- or minority-owned companies to cruelty-free and vegan brands. Schwarz tells FastCo, “Our overarching goal is always to make this as easy as possible, and to not require people to spend any more time or any additional effort to discover these amazing companies.” Find out more at FastCo and consider using DoneGood this holiday season.

8. Artists’ Recipes

Cooking is an art in itself, but if you’re looking to get extra creative with your recipes, perhaps preparing a dish by Salvador Dalí will elevate your culinary bragging rights. Artsy has collected seven recipes by famous artists—from Marcel Duchamp’s steak tartare to Frida Kahlo’s strawberry atole and Ed Ruscha’s cactus omelette. Demi Kim writes, “These artist recipes reveal fascinating glimpses into their… day-to-day lives—and surprising connections to their art.” Explore the recipes at Artsy.

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily in Link and on social media, and rounded up every Saturday morning.