Food Lost on the Farm: Empirical Data and Good Ideas

Christine Grillo

Christine Grillo

Contributing Writer

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

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 >

FoodSpan in the Classroom: Teaching the Hunger Gap at Patterson High School

Christine Grillo

Christine Grillo

Contributing Writer

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

“Who hasn’t had lunch yet? Is anyone here hungry?”

Melissa Apolenis, a graduate student at the University of Maryland School of Nursing, opened class with these questions, intending to make her students think about how hunger personally affects them. The class was composed of Ms. Caprice Davis’s 11th grade nursing students and Ms. Porshia Seymour’s pharmacy tech students.

The students and Ms. Apolenis, as well as her colleagues Maria Claver and Jacqueline Castille, also graduate students Read More >

Proposed Reforms to SNAP May Threaten Food System Equity and Access

Sameer Siddiqi

Sameer Siddiqi

CLF-Lerner Fellow

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

A political clash over millions of Americans’ access to food may be in store for this year. Recent executive and legislative developments suggest important changes are likely for the 42 million Americans that rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Administrative Changes on a State-by-State Basis

In November, 2017, the administrator of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service, which oversees SNAP, invited states to share strategies to promote “greater state flexibility,” Read More >

The Food System Movement Must Collaborate: Stand Together or Starve Alone

Mark Winne

Mark Winne

Senior Adviser, Food Policy Networks

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

“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 >

Wartime Rationing, Food Supply and Meatless Campaigns

Victoria Brown

Victoria Brown

Research Assistant

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

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 >

Photovoice as a Tool for Community Engagement

Victoria Brown

Victoria Brown

Research Assistant

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

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 >

Food Solutions to Climate Change

Peter Bruce-iri

Peter Bruce-iri

Guest Blogger

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Originally published on Local Food NorthlandWow. Who would have thought that there are so many ways that we can reverse climate change. The Drawdown project, led by Paul Hawken is a game changer.  His project team details 80 ways we can take greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. Drawdown is the point where globally we start to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases (referred to as carbon equivalents).

The project groups the 80 interventions into 7 clusters, and the cluster that can generate the highest reduction – 31 percent – is FOOD! Between 2020 and 2050, food initiatives that are already underway can reduce greenhouse gases by 321.9 gigatonnes. Read More >

Building Resilient Food Systems: Lessons Learned from Baltimore

Erin Biehl

Erin Biehl

Senior Program Coordinator

Food System Sustainability and Public Health Program

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 >

Foodways and Food Insecurity in India

Victoria Brown

Victoria Brown

Research Assistant

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

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

Victoria Brown

Victoria Brown

Research Assistant

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future


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 >