May 25, 2018
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 >
May 7, 2018
Patrick Brown, the founder of Impossible Foods (IF), has what may be an impossible-seeming goal: to make meat obsolete. His vision? To create “…uncompromisingly delicious and nutritious meat and dairy products that do not require vast expanses of grazing and feedcrop lands,” and that will win the marketplace against meat. And because meat substitution with plant-based foods could be one strategy to reduce diet-related disease and the environmental burden of animal agriculture, it’s a worthy goal. Read More >
April 20, 2018
US postage stamp from the 1970s.
Back in October 2011 I participated in Project Green Challenge, a transformational eco-lifestyle and leadership competition for students. (You can even watch my embarrassing video highlighting the experience). The extensive daily challenges I was faced with, from carrying all the trash I generated around with me and assessing the ingredients in my cleaning products to bringing e-cycling boxes to dorms and lobbying for reusable to-go containers in dining halls, cemented into my consciousness the realities of nearly every global environmental issue. Therefore, it was upsetting when I was invited out to California as a finalist for the competition and realized that the ecological footprint of that single roundtrip flight Read More >
April 10, 2018
“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 >
March 15, 2018
DeSoto Lake, Iowa
Call it what you will: a crossroads, a turning point, a tipping point. Iowans might simply call it progress, or rather, the prospect of progress. After more than 20 years of pushing back against the industrial-scale hog-raising operations in their communities, grassroots organizations might be making the behemoth budge.
Until recently, the corporate hog industry in Iowa has been impenetrable. Twenty-three years ago, in 1995, the state passed legislation that allows confined animal feeding operations, also called CAFOs or “confinements,” to exist. There was very little public outcry, and hundreds of confinements popped up, mostly in northern Iowa. Read More >
March 14, 2018
Happy Registered Dietitian Day! As a nutrition and dietetics student, I am thrilled that this year’s National Nutrition Month®, an initiative of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, has a sustainability message: “Go Further with Food.” The idea is to maximize the health benefits of your food choices while minimizing wasted food.
As you likely have heard, wasted food is an enormous problem—the US Department of Agriculture estimated that a stunning 31 percent of food is sent to landfills by retail outlets and consumers. Read More >
March 13, 2018
An Atlantic salmon escape in summer 2017 in Washington state was worse than previously thought, reports Lynda Vapes. An investigation by the Washington State’s departments of Ecology, Fish and Wildlife, and Natural Resources found that Cooke Aquaculture underreported the number of escaped fish: 263,000 fish, not 130,000 as first reported. The company reported the reason for the escape was strong tides associated with the solar eclipse, but the state investigation found that poor maintenance and cleaning of net pens was to blame. State regulators then fined Cooke Aquaculture $332,000 for violating their permit. Read more at Seattle Times. Read More >
March 6, 2018
Gunpowder Falls State Park
In 1939, a six-year-old girl went for the first time to sleep-away camp on the shores of Sebago Lake in Maine, where her four older siblings were campers. She was the youngest child at camp but unafraid, and when her camp counselor asked her name, she told him “Alice June,” after her grandmothers. “Alice June” was contracted to “A.J.,” and then at a weekly council fire the director pronounced her “Ajax the Mighty,” after the Greek mythological character. She remained “Ajax” until her death last week, at the age of 84.
Ajax Eastman married, raised four sons, and worked tirelessly—without pay—for environmental issues, especially the establishment of wildands in Maryland. As one of a group of fearless women who championed environmental issues Read More >
February 27, 2018
Thanks to the booming import market, we can usually find off-season fruits and vegetables at the grocery store (berries in winter!)—but the import market can be economically detrimental to farmers. Farmers who market their products locally face undue competition from high-demand, off-season produce. But local marketing efforts, such as farmers markets and community supported agriculture, can be extremely beneficial for enhancing the rural economy and empowering agricultural producers and markets. It also provides consumers with direct knowledge of where our food is coming from− something that is not always provided at our local grocery store.
In 2016, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) conducted a Local Food Marketing Practices Survey to quantify the amount of local food sales that occur across the country. Read More >
February 21, 2018
For years, residents of the Eastern Shore of Maryland have been asking their local legislators and the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to help them with a local problem. They live in communities that are home to industrial-scale poultry operations, where hundreds of thousands of birds are raised in chicken houses next to residential neighborhoods, and they feel that their health is suffering as a result. The stench from the chicken houses is bad enough, they say, but they must also contend with health problems such as asthma and persistent sinus infections, runny noses and headaches that they believe are a result of those poultry operations. Are their health problems caused by the ammonia and other pollutants blown from chicken houses through exhaust fans? There aren’t enough data to answer that question. Read More >