Climate Is Changing – So Should Food and Agriculture

Becky Ramsing

Becky Ramsing

Senior Program Officer, Food Communities & Public Health Program

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

world-food-day-beansOn October 16, 1945, the United Nations created the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) with the goal of freeing humanity from hunger and malnutrition and effectively managing the global food system. World Food Day celebrates that event, and last September at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 193 countries together pledged to end hunger in the next 15 years.

The global goal for achieving Zero Hunger by 2030 is an ambitious goal that cannot be reached without addressing climate change. Climate change affects the poor disproportionately Read More >

Protein: Year of the Pulse

Becky Ramsing

Becky Ramsing

Senior Program Officer, Food Communities & Public Health Program

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

This post is the second in a series, Protein—Everything You Always Wanted to Know But Were Too Afraid to Ask. Stay tuned for Part 3!

Year of the Pig, Year of the Goat, Year of the Pulse??? Every year, the United Nations initiates special observances to promote international awareness and action on important issues. This year is the Year of the Pulses.

Pulses for sale at a market

Pulses are a subgroup of legumes used mainly as protein sources in the diet. Common pulses include beans, dried peas, chickpeas and lentils. They’re high in protein, fiber and many vitamins. Known as being hearty crops and for their ability to grow easily in a variety of conditions, they’re an excellent part of healthy diets all across the world. (Legumes that are used as vegetables—peas, green beans or soybeans and groundnuts for oils—are not considered pulses.[i])

Pulses deserve a lot more attention than they get. Here are five great reasons to love a pulse:

  1. Nutrition and health
  2. Global and local food security
  3. The environment and climate
  4. Cost and simplicity
  5. Taste and variety

Read More >

Connecting the Dots from Stockholm to New York…from Food Systems to Antimicrobial Resistance

Anthony So

Anthony So

Director

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

ASo-Stordalen-2016Even in the land of the midnight sun, the days with the coming summer solstice were not long enough to resolve the issues before the EAT Stockholm Food Forum. This remarkable global gathering of food system thought leaders, celebrity chefs and entrepreneurs to academics and government officials is the inspiration of Gunhild Stordalen, a Norwegian physician who co-founded both the Stordalen Foundation and its EAT Initiative. The Forum hosted voices from Jamie Oliver and Michael Pollan to Kimbal Musk and Sam Kass—all of whom took turn in leading sobering conversations about an ailing food system. This year, connecting the dots between the food system and antimicrobial resistance received important attention on both days in the plenary sessions and in a special breakout track. Read More >

CLF Responds to Misleading White Paper about Meat and Climate Change

Claire Fitch

Claire Fitch

Program Officer, Food System Policy Program

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

A few weeks ago, Dr. Frank Mitloehner—a Professor at the University of California, Davis—released a white paper, “Livestock’s Contributions to Climate Change: Facts and Fiction.” In it, Dr. Mitloehner uses incomplete greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions statistics to downplay the environmental impacts of animal agriculture. He states that livestock production is responsible for only 4.2% of U.S. GHG emissions, which fails to account for several major emissions sources (including the production of animal feed, the transportation of feed and animal products, and several other sources). The paper is critical of efforts, such as Meatless Monday, that encourage citizens to understand how their diet choices affect the environment and begin to reduce intake of animal products.

The Center for a Livable Future has provided technical assistance and scientific expertise to the national Meatless Monday campaign since 2003. We have addressed Dr. Mitloehner’s mischaracterization of the evidence and continue to support the adoption of Meatless Mondays as an achievable way for most Americans to take a step toward reducing their environmental footprint. Read our complete response to Dr. Mitloehner’s white paper here.

The Black Box – An inside look at the Dietary Guidelines process

Becky Ramsing

Becky Ramsing

Senior Program Officer, Food Communities & Public Health Program

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Frank Hu, February 26, 2016 at CLF.

Frank Hu, February 26, 2016 at CLF.

Every five years USDA and HHS hammer out a revised set of recommendations for how Americans should eat. The process, resulting in the Dietary Guidelines, is supposed to be transparent, accessible and systematic. But there is a black box in the process, says Dr. Frank Hu.

Dr. Hu is a member of the most recent Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) and a professor on the faculty of both the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. On February 26, he offered some insight into the process at the invitation of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, addressing students, faculty and staff at the Bloomberg School. Read More >

Favorite Foods: Reshaping the Resilience Conversation

Erin Biehl

Erin Biehl

Senior Program Coordinator

Food System Sustainability and Public Health Program

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 >

A View from the COP21 Sidelines

Raychel Santo

Raychel Santo

Sr. Research Program Coordinator

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

cop21-peace_climate_justiceLast week, I attended the United Nations Conference of the Parties Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris with my colleague Roni Neff. Roni wrote about our experiences getting out the word about the meat consumption to climate change, and she also wrote about how COP21 addressed public health issues. After Roni left Paris, I stuck around to participate in more COP21-related activities and protests, and these are my impressions from that week. Read More >

Meat, Paris, and Next Steps

Roni Neff, PhD

Roni Neff, PhD

Research and Policy Director

Center for a Livable Future

roni-neff-cop21-parisThis post appeared on Food Tank on December 17, 2015.

We were in a public eatery outside Paris, surprised to find ourselves stumped by the question of how to get a serving of vegetables without taking any meat. The server handed customers plates only after putting one of several meat options on them, and my colleague, Raychel Santo, and I were eyeing the vegetable trays at the end of the line. We passed on the meat, but when we got to the veggies, drama ensued: because we’d passed on the meat, we didn’t have plates. We had to go backwards and ask the meat servers for plates, at which point they started to scoop meat onto them. No, just the plates, please. Just the plates? What will you do with just a plate? Granted, my French lacks finesse. But surely it can’t have been that unusual for people at the world’s major climate change conference to skip meat?

The incident in fact reflected our overall experience of marginalization at the COP21. Read More >

Animal Agriculture Is the Missing Climate Change Link at COP21

Juliana Vigorito

Juliana Vigorito

Research Assistant

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

paris-climate-talks-200x200On November 30, policymakers, business leaders, and environmental activists converged on Le Bourget, a suburb of Paris, to negotiate the future of global climate policy. This event, Conference of the Parties 21 (known as COP21), is the latest of the annual United Nations Climate Change Conferences. Since 1992, signatory nations to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change have strategized ways to contain greenhouse gas emissions. This year’s conference is receiving special attention because the goal is to negotiate a binding agreement on emissions for the first time in two decades. With so many people watching COP21, one area of consideration is glaringly neglected: meat and food animal production.

In preparation for COP21, nations have released individual plans to curb emissions domestically. These plans – Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs – are important Read More >

New Dietary Guidelines Should Keep Sustainability on the Menu

Christine Grillo

Christine Grillo

Contributing Writer

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Jillian Fry testifying about the Dietary Guidelines, March 24, 2015.

Jillian Fry testifying about the Dietary Guidelines, Bethesda, Md., March 24, 2015.

MARCH 24, 2015, Bethesda, Md.—This morning Jillian Fry, a project director at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF), gave public testimony about the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC). This is the first time in history that the DGAC has included sustainability considerations in its recommendations. The testimony is being heard today by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which oversee the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, known recently as MyPlate and updated every five years. Read More >