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 >

Passing a Tax Credit Bill for Farm Food Donations

Christine Bergmark

Christine Bergmark

CLF Guest Blogger

clb advising, llc

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 >

CLF Brings Public Health Lens to Just Food Forum

Carolyn Hricko

Carolyn Hricko

Research Assistant

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

The morning of April 1 greeted us with freezing rain, slush-covered sidewalks and a forecast of snow throughout the day. This was not a mean-spirited April Fools’ Day joke, just spring in New England. Claire Fitch and I were in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to participate in the third annual “Just Food?” forum at Harvard Law School. This year’s event, a collaboration between the Harvard Law School Food Law Society and the Harvard Food Literacy Project and cosponsored by the Food Law and Policy Clinic, was focused on labor across the food system. The forum featured about 30 speakers, lunchtime documentary film screenings, and session topics ranging from agricultural worker rights and wages in the restaurant industry to regulatory and market driven models for reform. Read More >

Cityplot: Growing Garden Education in Amsterdam

Laura Genello

Laura Genello

Guest Blogger

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

This post is the third in a series – Letters from the Low Country – about food and agriculture in the Netherlands, written by Laura Genello as she studies organic agriculture at Wageningen University.

The Netherlands is a country with a heavily industrialized food system. Yet in between the bricks and canals of Amsterdam, nearly 200 registered urban gardens grow. On the first sunny Saturday of spring, I took a train to the western edge of the city to see one of these urban farms in action. I walked under an overpass and past a ramshackle squatter community to arrive at an orchard of tidy rows of fruit trees awakening for the season. I grabbed a pair of work gloves Read More >

Is the food policy pasture greener in New Zealand?

Anne Palmer

Anne Palmer

Program Director

Food Communities & Public Health Program

A failing dairy industry. Streams polluted by animal manure. Consolidated food retail, inadequate slaughter facilities for small- and medium-size producers, the list goes on. Where am I? New Zealand. Yep. Before I stepped foot on the soil, I was cautioned that I should not believe the “cleaner, greener” moniker. I’m not sure if it was heartening to blow up the myth and realize we are all suffering from industrialization of the food system, or just depressing that problems in the food system are dispersed so far and wide. Read More >

Food Systems Advocacy in Rural America: Don’t Say Environment

Christine Grillo

Christine Grillo

Contributing Writer

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

“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 >