Posts by:

Victoria Brown

Victoria Brown

Research Assistant

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Wartime Rationing, Food Supply and Meatless Campaigns

Today is World Food Day, a day of action dedicated to achieving Zero Hunger worldwide. So it seems especially appropriate today to consider the predictions concerning the rising population, which may reach 11.2 billion by 2100. A common concern associated with more people on the planet is food production and access. How will we produce enough food to feed a growing population? And how do we do this sustainably? One potential solution lies in what we do with the food we produce: we currently waste about one third of the food we produce for human consumption annually.

For some new solutions we can look back to the old, particularly the food conservation efforts of the First and Second World Wars, when massive food redistribution programs sought to reduce American at-home food consumption and channel more food overseas to Allied soldiers and Europeans. During the First World War, the amount of food consumed

Read More >

Wilson, Roosevelt, Obama – First Ladies Lead on Food

It’s almost impossible to imagine now—sheep grazing on the White House lawn, tending their lambs and grass with care. Perhaps just as unfathomable is that this scene was organized and made possible by the First Lady. But in 1917, Edith Wilson and her husband, President Woodrow Wilson, strove to be the “model American family helping the war effort.” Mrs. Wilson was the President’s aide and confidante in supporting the troops who departed American shores to fight alongside the Allies in Europe. She organized war bond rallies featuring celebrities like Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks Read More >

Coffee Part 3: How Your Starbucks Cup Can Create Positive Change

On any given day, more than 500 customers walk bleary-eyed into an average Starbucks store. With more than 24,000 stores globally, that’s 12 million people drinking Starbucks each day. With that many people visiting their stores each day, their coffee purchases account for 2 percent of all global coffee bean purchases. Starbucks has a lot of clout when it comes to the coffee-buying industry.

Starbucks’s role as a key player in the market makes its practices all the more important. Since 2009, when the company’s poor financial performance inspired CEO Howard Shultz to revolutionize their business practices, the company has focused on improving their impacts on the community and the environment. Read More >

Photovoice as a Tool for Community Engagement

Underserved neighborhoods in Madrid were captured in a photovoice project.

The Photovoice medium, which some refer to as a form of “citizen science,” is an emerging tool being put to good use by food policy councils, government agencies and, most importantly, citizens around the globe. By using the power of photography, community members observe and document the specific food system dynamics in their own neighborhoods. Discussion groups review and reflect upon the photograph, and sometimes the previously unheard “voices” that are channeled through the photographs direct and inspire new policies and goals.

In the Spanish communities of Los Rosales and San Cristobal in Madrid, Photovoice Villaverde worked with the European initiative Heart Healthy Hoods to bring together 24 residents to take photos of their food environments. Read More >

Coffee Part 2: How Your Cup Affects Farmers and Laborers

“You can’t assume that a high price means good working conditions, or that by paying a high price you’re paying for environmental sustainability,” advises Kim Elena Ionescu, Chief Sustainability Officer for the Specialty Coffee Association. I was speaking with her in an effort to explore some ethical dilemmas surrounding coffee and what we as consumers can do about them. Of the millions of cups of coffee sipped globally each day, only a small fraction of the final sale price reaches the farmers who grew the coffee, who often live in impoverished conditions. Read More >

Coffee Part 1: How Your Cup Affects the Environment

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 billion cups daily! Read More >

Eating in Italy: Facts and Fiction

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 >

Foodways and Food Insecurity in India

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 >

Keeping Food Local in Tanzania


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 >