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 >
February 12, 2018
How much does menu labeling contribute to healthy eating?
Since President Trump was inaugurated 13 months ago, no one has been expecting his administration to champion nutritious food, especially in comparison to the Obama administration, which was more active than any other with respect to policies to encourage healthful eating and reduce diet-related disease. (The Obama years were marked by the Let’s Move campaign, the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, mandatory menu-labeling as part of the Affordable Care Act, and a pretty substantial overhaul of the Nutrition Facts label on food packaging.) Read More >
January 18, 2018
Do a Google image search for the future of farming, and you’ll find designs for towering vertical farms, aquaponics greenhouses, crop-monitoring drones and harvesting robots. The images are a testament to human creativity. But what’s often missing from the discussion of the future of agriculture is an answer to the question of who will run these future farms.
In many developed countries, young people from farming families continue to leave the farm, and older farmers find themselves without a successor. In both the US.and the Netherlands, there is a shortage of young farmers. Read More >
January 10, 2018
A political clash over millions of Americans’ access to food may be in store for this year. Recent executive and legislative developments suggest important changes are likely for the 42 million Americans that rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Administrative Changes on a State-by-State Basis
In November, 2017, the administrator of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service, which oversees SNAP, invited states to share strategies to promote “greater state flexibility,” Read More >
January 4, 2018
New Year’s resolutions are notoriously difficult to keep. How many of us have resolved on New Years past to join a gym, keep a journal, or learn a new language, and end up leaving it by the wayside come February? January 1 can be a powerful impetus to initiate behavior changes, but after that it can be very difficult to incorporate these changes into daily life in a sustainable way.
Perhaps you have resolved to eat less meat in 2018, and for good reason. The typical American diet Read More >
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 >