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 >
Patrick Brown, the founder of Impossible Foods (IF), has what may be an impossible-seeming goal: to make meat obsolete. His vision? To create “…uncompromisingly delicious and nutritious meat and dairy products that do not require vast expanses of grazing and feedcrop lands,” and that will win the marketplace against meat. And because meat substitution with plant-based foods could be one strategy to reduce diet-related disease and the environmental burden of animal agriculture, it’s a worthy goal. Read More >
US postage stamp from the 1970s.
Back in October 2011 I participated in Project Green Challenge, a transformational eco-lifestyle and leadership competition for students. (You can even watch my embarrassing video highlighting the experience). The extensive daily challenges I was faced with, from carrying all the trash I generated around with me and assessing the ingredients in my cleaning products to bringing e-cycling boxes to dorms and lobbying for reusable to-go containers in dining halls, cemented into my consciousness the realities of nearly every global environmental issue. Therefore, it was upsetting when I was invited out to California as a finalist for the competition and realized that the ecological footprint of that single roundtrip flight Read More >
How much does menu labeling contribute to healthy eating?
Since President Trump was inaugurated 13 months ago, no one has been expecting his administration to champion nutritious food, especially in comparison to the Obama administration, which was more active than any other with respect to policies to encourage healthful eating and reduce diet-related disease. (The Obama years were marked by the Let’s Move campaign, the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, mandatory menu-labeling as part of the Affordable Care Act, and a pretty substantial overhaul of the Nutrition Facts label on food packaging.) Read More >
New Year’s resolutions are notoriously difficult to keep. How many of us have resolved on New Years past to join a gym, keep a journal, or learn a new language, and end up leaving it by the wayside come February? January 1 can be a powerful impetus to initiate behavior changes, but after that it can be very difficult to incorporate these changes into daily life in a sustainable way.
Perhaps you have resolved to eat less meat in 2018, and for good reason. The typical American diet Read More >
“The food system is broken,” is a familiar refrain among US food activists. They cite the industrialization of our food supply as evidence of its unsustainability, and the nation’s stubbornly high rates of food insecurity and obesity as evidence of its injustice. The data tends to support the claims of disrepair and depreciation of what is touted as the most advanced food machine on earth. From dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico and sprawling CAFOs, to 42 million Americans who are hungry or food insecure, to the nearly two-thirds of us who are obese or overweight, it’s easy to see why many regard our food system as a basket case rather than a bread basket.
Yet those of us who have labored long and hard to correct the food system’s litany of failures would do well to confront our own culpability. It’s not enough to simply be the avenging archangel of doom wielding our righteous sword in angry disapproval without also holding the mirror up to ourselves. Read More >
Now that the holidays are in full swing, many will gather together with food, family, and friends to celebrate the season as 2017 closes with a bounty of uncertainty. We can be thankful that many American leaders on state and local levels pledged to do their part for the environment, even as federal support for the Paris Climate Accords has waned. Citizens at home can also play a role in acting for the greater good of the world while celebrating the best of what nature has to offer: plant-based foods. It wouldn’t be the first time Americans came together at their tables for a good cause.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Meatless Monday movement. Before it became a hashtag on social media it was a World War I-era food rationing program that asked Americans to express their patriotism by giving up meat one day a week to help feed soldiers and citizens abroad. While its goals have evolved in the last century, the core idea remains as powerful as ever: individual actions can have a broad impact when practiced on a large scale. Read More >
This post was co-authored by Victoria Brown and Becky Ramsing. Meatless Monday as most people know it today began in 2003 with the work of former ad man turned health advocate Sid Lerner and the founder of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, Bob Lawrence. But the idea of a meatless day was not totally new, harkening back to the United States’s entry into the first World War 100 years ago. National meatless (and wheatless) days were introduced in 1917 to conserve rations for troops fighting overseas, both in World War I and later World War II. With the focus on reducing at-home consumption of meat during the wars, the practice of Meatless Tuesdays (later Meatless Mondays) was founded Read More >
Food waste is a big deal
Food waste is both an ethical and environmental issue. It should concern us that we waste nearly 40% of the food we produce and purchase in this food-abundant nation. (For an interesting comparative statistic, consider this: our nation produced nearly 40% of the fruits and vegetables we consumed on the American home front during World War II in school, home, community and workplace gardens, which is a post for another day. The point? 40% of anything is a lot.)
Here’s my take on food waste. It goes back in part to lessons I’ve learned from studying World War I (WWI), when the American government set food conservation goals, along with goals for local and home front food production via Liberty – later Victory – Gardens. I’m a big proponent of both reducing food waste and producing more food in communities (via school, home and community gardens.) On both fronts, the WWI poster included in this post holds advice we’d be well served to heed today. Read More >
Meatless Mondays aren’t new. Nor is eating less wheat, raising chickens, or planting backyard vegetable gardens.
One hundred years ago, on the World War I home front, the fork became a rifle and the kitchen a trench. “Every gardener in the land has a part to take in the fight! His duty awaits him just as certainly, and, if anything, more imperatively, in the rows of vegetables in his garden, as does that of the soldier in the trenches at the front,” proclaimed the Wisconsin’s Sheboygan Press in 1918. “The gardener who does not plan his garden Read More >