December 19, 2017
“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 >
December 18, 2017
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 >
December 13, 2017
When I arrived at COP23 in Bonn, Germany, I faced a giant elephant in the room. Or rather, a giant beefy steer. Either way, there was an urgent climate change solution being largely ignored at the annual Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). That urgent climate change solution is to reduce meat consumption. Read More >
November 30, 2017
The largest aquaponics facility in the world opened this summer in Northfield, Wisconsin, owned by Superior Fresh LLC. The facility houses 40,000 square feet of Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout production using recirculating aquaculture methods and is expected to produce its first harvest in 2018. The fish waste is circulated through a 120,000 square foot greenhouse used to raise plants hydroponically. The facility expects to employ 50 people. Dr. Chris Hartleb, Professor of Fisheries Biology at University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, will be working closely with the firm as part of a business-academic partnership. Read more at the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute. Read More >
November 16, 2017
This post is the ninth 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.
After years of working to support farmers at a Dutch agricultural organization, Geert van der Veer wanted to change the system. Dutch agricultural land prices are some of the highest in the world, and Geert met many farmers who found their businesses squeezed by low prices and increasing costs. He saw many farms disappear, and other farmers forced to take out a mortgage on their property just to survive. Read More >
November 13, 2017
Esri conference 2017
Maps are powerful tools for displaying and sharing data. Increasingly, they are also being used to collect information.
I had the opportunity to attend the Esri User Conference in San Diego in July. With approximately 18,000 GIS professionals from over 130 countries attending, the conference was enormous. There were moderated paper sessions, technical workshops, demo theaters, a hands-on learning center, a gigantic map gallery and an even larger showcase and expo center. I returned to Baltimore reenergized about the mapping we do at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) and excited to bring back new ideas for enhancing our work. Read More >
October 30, 2017
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 >
October 23, 2017
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 >
October 19, 2017
A massive farmed Atlantic salmon escape occurred last month in Washington State at a farm owned by Cooke Aquaculture, a global salmon producer. Immediately after the escape regulators urged anglers to go fishing, but this gesture was unlikely to make a dent in the problem. Reports indicate that 160,000 fish escaped the net-pen enclosure. After further review, the state issued a moratorium on new net-pen fish farms. Cooke Aquaculture blamed the escape on a ripped net caused by high tides associated with the solar eclipse. Some media outlets cite evidence that questions the validity of that claim. Read more at the Seattle Times, The Globe and Mail, CBC News, and NPR’s The Salt. Read More >
October 16, 2017
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
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