Posts by:

Christine Grillo

Christine Grillo

Contributing Writer

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Food Lost on the Farm: Empirical Data and Good Ideas

Let’s imagine we’re at a vegetable farm in rural Vermont. The weather has been so perfect this year for growing carrots, spinach and squash that our farmer can’t harvest everything she’s grown. She won’t want to risk the expense of harvesting and transporting the veggies that retailers won’t buy because they look a little funny; she won’t be able to sell them if the markets are saturated; and she may not be able to find affordable farm labor to help her pick the crops and get them to their destinations. Some of those veggies bursting with nutrients and fiber will go uneaten, becoming part of what we call “on-farm food loss.”

Now let’s visit the home of a family suffering from food insecurity. Perhaps an elderly couple isn’t getting quite enough to eat. Or maybe an older teen is skipping meals so his younger sister can have more. Read More >

FoodSpan in the Classroom: Teaching the Hunger Gap at Patterson High School

“Who hasn’t had lunch yet? Is anyone here hungry?”

Melissa Apolenis, a graduate student at the University of Maryland School of Nursing, opened class with these questions, intending to make her students think about how hunger personally affects them. The class was composed of Ms. Caprice Davis’s 11th grade nursing students and Ms. Porshia Seymour’s pharmacy tech students.

The students and Ms. Apolenis, as well as her colleagues Maria Claver and Jacqueline Castille, also graduate students Read More >

Is Iowa Gaining Traction against the Hog Industry?

DeSoto Lake, Iowa

Call it what you will: a crossroads, a turning point, a tipping point. Iowans might simply call it progress, or rather, the prospect of progress. After more than 20 years of pushing back against the industrial-scale hog-raising operations in their communities, grassroots organizations might be making the behemoth budge.

Until recently, the corporate hog industry in Iowa has been impenetrable. Twenty-three years ago, in 1995, the state passed legislation that allows confined animal feeding operations, also called CAFOs or “confinements,” to exist. There was very little public outcry, and hundreds of confinements popped up, mostly in northern Iowa. Read More >

Ajax Eastman, Wildlands Warrior, 1933 – 2018

Gunpowder Falls State Park

In 1939, a six-year-old girl went for the first time to sleep-away camp on the shores of Sebago Lake in Maine, where her four older siblings were campers. She was the youngest child at camp but unafraid, and when her camp counselor asked her name, she told him “Alice June,” after her grandmothers. “Alice June” was contracted to “A.J.,” and then at a weekly council fire the director pronounced her “Ajax the Mighty,” after the Greek mythological character. She remained “Ajax” until her death last week, at the age of 84.

Ajax Eastman married, raised four sons, and worked tirelessly—without pay—for environmental issues, especially the establishment of wildands in Maryland. As one of a group of fearless women who championed environmental issues Read More >

Air Monitoring Legislation May Be Path Forward for Health on Maryland’s Eastern Shore

For years, residents of the Eastern Shore of Maryland have been asking their local legislators and the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to help them with a local problem. They live in communities that are home to industrial-scale poultry operations, where hundreds of thousands of birds are raised in chicken houses next to residential neighborhoods, and they feel that their health is suffering as a result. The stench from the chicken houses is bad enough, they say, but they must also contend with health problems such as asthma and persistent sinus infections, runny noses and headaches that they believe are a result of those poultry operations. Are their health problems caused by the ammonia and other pollutants blown from chicken houses through exhaust fans? There aren’t enough data to answer that question. Read More >

Food Systems Advocacy in Rural America: Don’t Say Environment

“We don’t say the word ‘environment,’” says Mark Winne about his food systems work in rural regions. “If we have to bring it up, we talk about ‘clean air’ and ‘clean water.’”

The cultural schisms in the U.S.— rural versus urban, liberal versus conservative—are hardly new. So what’s the best way to make positive, progressive food system change in rural, politically right-leaning communities? The people who have been negotiating this divide through food policy councils (FPCs), task forces or other multi-stakeholder initiatives have advice. Read More >

CLF at the Future Harvest CASA Conference 2017

Photo by Future Harvest.

Sometimes electrical wiring saves the chickens. Radish plants can feed the soil in winter.

These pearls of wisdom and many others were shared earlier this month at the 2017 Future Harvest Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture (CASA) Conference. Three CLF staffers attended sessions at the conference to broaden their perspectives on how food systems can be improved to become not only more resilient but more profitable. Here are some of the things we learned. Read More >

Maryland Legislators Dodge Questions about Poultry Industry

Monica Brooks (l) and Margaret Barnes.

“I consider myself an environmentalist, but also our job is to provide jobs for people… And unfortunately for your interests, the chicken farming industry provides a lot of jobs on the Eastern Shore.” This was the response from Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D–27) when asked if he would support legislation to halt the expansion of industrialized, “mega” chicken houses on the Eastern Shore. “Whether you like it or not, agriculture is still the Number One business in this state. You can’t cripple the industry,” he said. Read More >

Wendell Berry Wants Us to Get Small and Stay In

Wendell Berry with the CLF communications team, Dec 8 2016.

Wendell Berry humors the CLF communications team with selfies and signings, Dec 8 2016.

When Wendell Berry met with a small group of us for an informal conversation at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, we promised to try not to talk him to death. “Well,” he said, “if you did, that would be the end of my troubles.”

Mr. Berry, age 82, beloved writer, poet and farmer, was in town for a two-day visit during which he talked with Eric Schlosser about what he calls “the world-ending fire.” The next day he read from his new essay, “The Thought of Limits in the Prodigal Age,” in which he discussed his vision for an authentic land economy. Intrigued by some comments he made earlier Read More >

Republican Maryland Favors Regulations for Poultry Industry

Maryland's Eastern Shore counties vote red but want regulations on industry.

Maryland’s Eastern Shore counties vote red but want regulations on industry.

Last month, every county on Maryland’s Eastern Shore voted red, choosing the Republican presidential candidate by safe margins. In Worcester County, votes for the Republican candidate nearly doubled those for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

But do voters in these four counties—Dorchester, Wicomico, Somerset and Worcester—really want, as promised by the Republican candidate, an end to regulations on industry? A recent public opinion poll by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future suggests the opposite.

In fact, according to the poll of 600 registered voters across Maryland, weighted for input from the Eastern Shore, what voters really want is more regulation of the poultry industry. Read More >