Monica Brooks (l) and Margaret Barnes.
“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 >
Have you ever considered getting up before dawn to stand in line for a new grocery store? Residents in East Baltimore did just that on November 3, 2016, to welcome the Save a Lot opening at 2509 East Monument Street. The line to enter the store extended down the block and around the corner well before the store was scheduled to open at 7am.
This area of East Baltimore was one of the most entrenched food deserts in the city before the Save a Lot opened. It had been years 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 >
After hearing rumors of its existence for months, I eagerly sat down to read the text of the new Urban Agriculture Act proposed by Senator Debbie Stabenow. Stabenow, a member of the US Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, has introduced legislation that would establish an Office of Urban Agriculture (akin to its Office of the Chief Economist, Office of Advocacy and Outreach, and New and Beginning Farmer Office) at USDA. After reading the text, I’m enthusiastic but I have some concerns, mainly in that too much emphasis has been placed on the (dubious) potential economic and production wins offered by urban ag, while giving short shrift to the sociocultural and ecosystem benefits. Before I get to that, though, here is an overview of the plan.
This office would coordinate policies related to urban agriculture across the Department. The legislation—expected to cost $460 million Read More >
World War I-era poster by the U.S. Food Administration
This blogpost was co-written by Erin Biehl and Karen Banks.
For decades, we’ve heard the slogan: reduce, reuse, recycle. Those familiar “three Rs” are often represented by the well-recognized Mobius Loop, spinning infinitely on bins, packages, and bottles nationwide.
The three Rs and the symbol are intended to educate consumers about the waste hierarchy, which tells us that the prevention, reuse, and recycling of materials is far preferable to sending them to a landfill—and by some measures the campaign is working because recycling and composting have increased 500 percent since 1980 in the U.S. On the other hand, a considerable portion of the waste stream still eludes us: food. Each year, 52.4 million tons of food is thrown away in the U.S. That’s the equivalent of 1,200 USS Missouri battleships full of food. Another 10.1 million tons of food never make if off the farm field. Read More >
When the Johns Hopkins Center for Livable Future (CLF) approached OROSW (Operation ReachOut SouthWest) with the idea of community food assessment study, we first had to figure out what a community food assessment, or CFA, is. Essentially, a CFA is a survey that researchers use to get a sense of how much food security or food insecurity a neighborhood is experiencing. We used it to survey people in the neighborhood and get their thoughts on food availability in southwest Baltimore.
We learned so much from the CFA findings. We found that not only are food deserts prevalent, but also that many residents travel outside Southwest Baltimore for their primary grocery shopping—to 29 different supermarkets and other food outlets. We learned that Read More >
A friend from Madrid will be visiting us in Baltimore next week. He enjoys eating and cooking at home, so I’d like to have a few dishes prepared for the next days. But a few factors, namely my location, the fact that I don’t drive, and my partner being out of town, make me realize that it’s going to be hard to fulfill my intentions of preparing a few healthy and hearty meals.
This reminds me of my time living in downtown Madrid four years ago. I’d work very long hours during the week, so I usually only had time to do my grocery shopping on the weekends. On a typical Saturday morning, I usually headed to the food market, five minutes walking from my apartment, and circled the 20 stores that sell only fresh produce, looking for the best deals (living within a student budget!). If it were late spring or summer, I’d end up with five pounds of oranges, six pounds of tomatoes (for gazpacho!), a few veggies for miscellaneous cooking and some change left from my five-euro bill. Read More >
Last year Baltimore was shaken by an uprising that caught the nation and public officials off-guard. A good part of the conversation during the unrest revolved around issues of systemic and institutionalized racism. In response, the Johns Hopkins University started the 21st Century Cities Initiative; its first organized activity was a series of debates about “Redlining Baltimore.”
Back in the 1930s, as a part of the New Deal, a government sponsored program called the Homeowner Loan Corporation (HOLC) was created. This public agency helped the population finance home ownership through greatly subsidized loans. As part of its mission, the HOLC created maps that rated neighborhoods in terms of how the agency perceived each neighborhood’s investment risk. HOLC preferentially financed loans in neighborhoods deemed low-risk for investment. Read More >
It was 9:30 at night. The 100 or so people attending the Poultry Town Hall Meeting had been listening to a panel of speakers for two and a half hours, and the staff was ready to close up for the night. But the Q&A session would not wind down, and the Wicomico County Council President took the microphone to refute some points made by a team of us at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. (cf., this letter.)
The town hall took place in Salisbury, Maryland, at the Wicomico Youth and Read More >