On a blistering afternoon in June, I set up my tent in a sloping pasture and looked out across the hills—golden brown fields of grains, and wildflowers lining the dusty road. In defiance of my hay fever, I would be spending the next 10 days camping on a 57-acre pasture-based goat dairy in Belgium, as part of a course on organic agriculture. I’ve always been intrigued by the stories of farmers. There’s a common refrain in the agricultural history of the last 50 years: go big or get out. As farms become increasingly large and specialized, small-scale farmers struggle to compete. But the farmers at Chévrerie de la Croix de la Grise, nestled in the rolling hills of the Wallonia region, refused to follow the conventional wisdom. 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 >
The headlines say that the Keep Antibiotics Effective Act of 2017 will make all chickens raised in Maryland free of antibiotics. While this sounds promising, the legislation has several deficiencies and will not achieve its sponsors’ intent.
A gutted version of the bill has recently passed in the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates and is on its way to reconciliation Read More >
Next week, the full Senate will vote on a potentially disastrous appointment to the President’s cabinet: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as the administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Not only does AG Pruitt have a history of antagonism toward laws designed to protect natural resources—like air and water—from pollution, but he also has expressed a desire to disempower the very agency he’s been nominated to lead. There is every reason to believe that he would pull back on strategies designed to mitigate climate change, and that he would do the same with rules intended to protect the public’s health and environment. Read More >
Sometimes electrical wiring saves the chickens. Radish plants can feed the soil in winter.
These pearls of wisdom and many others were shared earlier this month at the 2017 Future Harvest Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture (CASA) Conference. Three CLF staffers attended sessions at the conference to broaden their perspectives on how food systems can be improved to become not only more resilient but more profitable. Here are some of the things we learned. Read More >
“I consider myself an environmentalist, but also our job is to provide jobs for people… And unfortunately for your interests, the chicken farming industry provides a lot of jobs on the Eastern Shore.” This was the response from Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D–27) when asked if he would support legislation to halt the expansion of industrialized, “mega” chicken houses on the Eastern Shore. “Whether you like it or not, agriculture is still the Number One business in this state. You can’t cripple the industry,” he said. Read More >
Last month, every county on Maryland’s Eastern Shore voted red, choosing the Republican presidential candidate by safe margins. In Worcester County, votes for the Republican candidate nearly doubled those for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
But do voters in these four counties—Dorchester, Wicomico, Somerset and Worcester—really want, as promised by the Republican candidate, an end to regulations on industry? A recent public opinion poll by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future suggests the opposite.
In fact, according to the poll of 600 registered voters across Maryland, weighted for input from the Eastern Shore, what voters really want is more regulation of the poultry industry. Read More >
Something interesting happened in Oklahoma. On November 8, this state, typically associated with a rural, farming and ranching way of life, did as expected: the majority of Oklahomans (65 percent) voted for the Republican presidential candidate and all seven of the state’s electoral votes went red. But something a little unusual happened, too. That same day, 60 percent of Oklahoma voters opposed an amendment typically associated with the Republican agenda—the so-called “right to farm.” In essence, Oklahoma elected a right-wing Read More >
This post was also published in Years of Living Dangerously.
Without drastic reductions in global meat and dairy consumption, the most severe and irreversible climate change scenarios will be unavoidable.
This was the message my colleagues and I at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future presented last December at the COP21 climate change conference in Paris. Despite its urgency, dietary change was essentially off the radar at the event. Out of the hundreds of sessions at COP21, ours — part of a panel hosted by the Meatless Monday campaign — was one of only two that Read More >
On 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 >