August 18, 2017

Coffee Part 1: How Your Cup Affects the Environment

Victoria Brown

Victoria Brown

Research Assistant

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

In a quiet corner store off a busy intersection in Arusha, Tanzania, I chose a vibrant cloth package of coffee. On a side street in Rome, I picked up a small, compressed foil packet labeled “Fantasia” off a candy shop shelf. In a kafehaus in Denmark, an attendant in an old-fashioned apron and puffy sleeves ground aromatic beans into a lime green plastic sachet before sliding it over the counter with deft movements. All around the world, coffee is roasted, purchased and consumed constantly. In fact, 400 billion cups of coffee are consumed annually. That’s 1.1 million cups daily! Read More >

August 14, 2017

Food Solutions to Climate Change

Peter Bruce-Iri

Peter Bruce-Iri

CLF Guest Blogger

Local Food Northland

Originally published on Local Food NorthlandWow. Who would have thought that there are so many ways that we can reverse climate change. The Drawdown project, led by Paul Hawken is a game changer.  His project team details 80 ways we can take greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. Drawdown is the point where globally we start to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases (referred to as carbon equivalents).

The project groups the 80 interventions into 7 clusters, and the cluster that can generate the highest reduction – 31 percent – is FOOD! Between 2020 and 2050, food initiatives that are already underway can reduce greenhouse gases by 321.9 gigatonnes. Read More >

August 8, 2017

Eating in Italy: Facts and Fiction

Victoria Brown

Victoria Brown

Research Assistant

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

On every street corner, small cafes with standing-height countertops serve cappuccino, espresso, thick, pudding-like hot chocolate and more to hundreds of commuting Italians. Each morning, as I joined the crush of commuters on Turin’s underground tube station, I looked forward to that first sip of frothy coffee-milk. The accessibility and abundance of coffee on every street corner was one of my favorite parts of life in Italy.

Life in Italy wasn’t all I expected however. In many ways it was exciting, surprising and new; in other ways, it was more similar to life in America than I had envisioned. Read More >

August 2, 2017

Building Resilient Food Systems: Lessons Learned from Baltimore

Erin Biehl

Erin Biehl

Senior Program Coordinator

Food System Sustainability and Public Health Program

Last summer, I returned home from vacation to find a deck full of scorched plants—apparently they just couldn’t take the heat during Baltimore’s hottest week of the summer. Or so it seemed. A week later, with some careful nurturing, my withered tomatoes and basil returned to their tender, tasty selves. Despite the beating they took from the Baltimore heat, they were resilient. Read More >

August 1, 2017

Food Policy Councils: Is There a Best Structure?

Laura DiGiulio

Laura DiGiulio

Guest Blogger

Food Policy Advocate

There are many organizational types of food policy councils (FPCs), but for my masters thesis I explored the significance of those differences—and similarities. In particular, I investigated whether those differences were associated with differences in FPC outcomes, objectives or orientations.

What did I want to know? As a research topic, this question of how best to structure an FPC is relatively new and has not been addressed, let alone answered, in the literature. So, in partnership with CLF’s Food Policy Networks (FPN) project, I dug deeper into the question: Is there an association between organizational type and differences in institutional and organizational characteristics, discourse (how FPCs conceptualize and communicate about food systems issues as well as their role in improving them) and strategies (approach to food system issues)? Read More >

July 17, 2017

Foodways and Food Insecurity in India

Victoria Brown

Victoria Brown

Research Assistant

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

My host mother Smita, whose name means “ever smiling lady,” is handsome with an infectious smile, and she stands amidst the shining metal tins and fragrant spices of her Ahmedabad apartment kitchen rolling out thepla, a Gujarati flatbread. Heating the wide, flat tava pan, she sprinkles ghee, clarified butter, over the pan, reminding me that it is “good for digestion and health.”

During the three weeks I spent in Ahmedabad, a city in the Gujarat province of India, with Smita and her family, I tried a wider variety of food and flavors than I have ever sampled elsewhere. I was repeatedly amazed by the alchemy that Smita wrought in her kitchen over peas, potatoes, and rice with her chemist’s spice box of flavors. Read More >

July 12, 2017

How Goats Saved the Family Farm

Laura Genello

Laura Genello

Guest Blogger

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Goats feed at the trough during milking

On a blistering afternoon in June, I set up my tent in a sloping pasture and looked out across the hills—golden brown fields of grains, and wildflowers lining the dusty road. In defiance of my hay fever, I would be spending the next 10 days camping on a 57-acre pasture-based goat dairy in Belgium, as part of a course on organic agriculture. I’ve always been intrigued by the stories of farmers. There’s a common refrain in the agricultural history of the last 50 years: go big or get out. As farms become increasingly large and specialized, small-scale farmers struggle to compete. But the farmers at Chévrerie de la Croix de la Grise, nestled in the rolling hills of the Wallonia region, refused to follow the conventional wisdom. Read More >

June 23, 2017

Keeping Food Local in Tanzania

Victoria Brown

Victoria Brown

Research Assistant

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future


A puff of red dirt stained my foot as I jumped over the deep crevice gouged into the clay road, hurrying to keep up with the bustling form of Fatuma, my host mother. The horizon was suddenly obscured by a mass of tarpaulin sheeting and towers of tomatoes as Fatuma led me into the heart of one of many markets in Morogoro, Tanzania. Thrusting her hand into a bag of peas, Fatuma picked up a handful and said mbaazi, smiling expectantly at me before pointing to a sack of onions and saying kitunguu in explanation. She pointed again at the peas as I obediently repeated mbaazi, peas, and at the onions, kitunguu. Tomatoes, rice, potatoes, half a dried coconut, piled up in the wicker basket thumping against Fatuma’s leg. Later that evening, these ingredients would reappear, transformed into an ambrosial meal: potatoes in a flavorful red sauce, rice steeped in coconut milk, and bitter greens. Read More >

June 21, 2017

Food and Climate: What Food Policy Councils Can Do

Raychel Santo

Raychel Santo

Sr. Research Program Coordinator

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Despite the US’s recent withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, governors and mayors around the country continue working to mitigate and build resilience to climate change. As both policymakers and the public increasingly recognize the role of food and agriculture in intensifying climate change, many parties seek to address the food-climate connection. Fortunately, local and state policies and practices can do exactly that. Here’s what’s already happening, and what to strive for. Read More >

June 14, 2017

CLF Aquaculture Links: June 2017

Dave Love

Dave Love

Associate Scientist, Public Health & Sustainable Aquaculture Project

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Journalist Rona Kobell takes the pulse of the aquaculture community and dissects conflicting messages from the White House. On one hand, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross wants to cut the seafood trade deficit and eliminate barriers for domestic aquaculture, but the proposed federal FY17 and FY18 budgets contain large cuts to aquaculture funding across NOAA and USDA. Read more at The Bay Journal. Read More >