“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 >
I’m in my graduate class of public health nutrition students—many of whom are vegans, vegetarians or plant-based eaters—when I pull out my Tupperware filled with leftover grilled steak kabobs. I feel like I’m serving BBQ at a PETA meeting. My cohort isn’t particularly judgmental, and even though I’ve been eating meat my whole life, I feel guilty about biting into my (juicy, red) meat in front of them.
I grew up in southern Illinois—emphasis on southern—which is nowhere near Chicago. A meal wasn’t a meal without a meat entrée Read More >
Despite the US’s recent withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, governors and mayors around the country continue working to mitigate and build resilience to climate change. As both policymakers and the public increasingly recognize the role of food and agriculture in intensifying climate change, many parties seek to address the food-climate connection. Fortunately, local and state policies and practices can do exactly that. Here’s what’s already happening, and what to strive for. Read More >
Food unites even the most unconventional of bedfellows. And connecting ideas and people across sectors to resolve problems is sometimes the best, and only, answer.
Like so much of the nation, Maryland has a serious hunger crisis. We are thankful to all of the emergency food providers, many of whom who bring much needed resources to our hunger community, mostly in the form of non-perishable food. This food—canned or dry goods, often— is calorie-laden, but it may not be nutrient-dense.
At the same time, while we are fortunate to have many farms, there are times when our farmers have a surplus of products or perishable goods that do not make it to market; Read More >
If you care about environmental, health, social justice and animal welfare issues, it can be exasperating to navigate the complexities of what to eat. (Assuming that you have that privilege, of course.) Is almond milk actually a better alternative than cows’ milk? Almonds require lots of water to produce, after all, but cows use a lot, too. Plus, there are all those debates about the health effects of dairy. What about a processed bean burger versus a burger made from local grass-fed beef? The beans are shipped from far away Read More >
“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 >