Posts by:

Erin Biehl

Erin Biehl

Senior Program Coordinator

Food System Sustainability and Public Health Program

Building Resilient Food Systems: Lessons Learned from Baltimore

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 >

Wasted Food and a New Spin on the 3 Rs

World War I-era poster by the U.S. Food Administration

World War I-era poster by the U.S. Food Administration

This blogpost was co-written by Erin Biehl and Karen Banks.

For decades, we’ve heard the slogan: reduce, reuse, recycle. Those familiar “three Rs” are often represented by the well-recognized Mobius Loop, spinning infinitely on bins, packages, and bottles nationwide.

The three Rs and the symbol are intended to educate consumers about the waste hierarchy, which tells us that the prevention, reuse, and recycling of materials is far preferable to sending them to a landfill—and by some measures the campaign is working because recycling and composting have increased 500 percent since 1980 in the U.S. On the other hand, a considerable portion of the waste stream still eludes us: food. Each year, 52.4 million tons of food is thrown away in the U.S. That’s the equivalent of 1,200 USS Missouri battleships full of food. Another 10.1 million tons of food never make if off the farm field. Read More >

Survey Says – Confusion about Food Date Labels

FoodWasteInfographic copyTrue or false? “Use by,” “best before” and “sell by” dates are federally regulated food labels that indicate safety.

The answer is “False,” which surprised many shoppers at Baltimore’s Northeast Market last month. Fresh research into what contributes to consumer food waste suggests that the confusion may be nationwide.

Americans waste up to 40 percent of the food that is produced each year. Most of that waste occurs at the consumer and retail level. To spread awareness of America’s mounting food waste problem, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) food waste expert Roni Neff and I “talked trash” with shoppers at a local food market. (The event was part of the “Day at the Market” program, sponsored by the Bloomberg School’s Department of Environmental Sciences). Although a few shoppers were well-informed about wasted food, many were surprised to learn that food date labels are not federally regulated, and most labels are not a good indicator of when a food is no longer safe to eat. Read More >

Favorite Foods: Reshaping the Resilience Conversation

nypl.digitalcollections.chocolate-sugar-cigsIn a hotel outside Washington, D.C., just days before winter storm Jonas smothered the mid-Atlantic in snow, author Simran Sethi presented an idea that may have surprised her audience. She was speaking to scientists, government officials, and policy wonks—and her message was to ditch the data. Or rather, don’t only present data. Tell stories.

In particular, she challenged us to tell stories about the foods we love most, and how they might not be around much longer if we continue to eat, live, and legislate in unsustainable ways. Read More >