August 25, 2017

Coffee Part 2: How Your Cup Affects Farmers and Laborers

Victoria Brown

Victoria Brown

Research Assistant

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

“You can’t assume that a high price means good working conditions, or that by paying a high price you’re paying for environmental sustainability,” advises Kim Elena Ionescu, Chief Sustainability Officer for the Specialty Coffee Association. I was speaking with her in an effort to explore some ethical dilemmas surrounding coffee and what we as consumers can do about them. Of the millions of cups of coffee sipped globally each day, only a small fraction of the final sale price reaches the farmers who grew the coffee, who often live in impoverished conditions. Read More >

August 24, 2017

CLF Aquaculture Links: August 2017

Dave Love

Dave Love

Associate Scientist, Public Health & Sustainable Aquaculture Project

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Reporter Aaron Orlowski covered our recent paper in which we argued for new priorities in seafood policy that recognize the food system and public health. There is a need for better communication and collaboration between the public health/medical community and the fisheries communities and policymakers  to bridge the gap between production and consumption. Co-author Patricia Pinto Da Silva says “You have to look beyond the landing dock and see how the fish we catch is connected to our markets, communities, local economies and public health.” Read more at Seafood Source. Read More >

August 22, 2017

Certified Naturally Grown – an Alternative to USDA National Organic

Jesse Blom

Jesse Blom

Farm Manager and Educator

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

I drove slowly along the country road in mountainous Boonsboro, Maryland, looking for a large greenhouse facility, which is typically the marker of a commercial aquaponics farm, where fish and plants are grown together in a re-circulating water system. Instead, all I found was a small sign for “South Mountain MicroFARM” posted next to a gravel driveway in front of a modest home. I turned into the driveway, headed down the hill, and was met by a smiling Levi Sellers, operator of South Mountain MicroFARM. Levi led me farther down the hill, past their family’s Christmas tree farm, to the impressive new barn and greenhouse structure that houses their recently established aquaponics operation. Read More >

August 18, 2017

Coffee Part 1: How Your Cup Affects the Environment

Victoria Brown

Victoria Brown

Research Assistant

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

In a quiet corner store off a busy intersection in Arusha, Tanzania, I chose a vibrant cloth package of coffee. On a side street in Rome, I picked up a small, compressed foil packet labeled “Fantasia” off a candy shop shelf. In a kafehaus in Denmark, an attendant in an old-fashioned apron and puffy sleeves ground aromatic beans into a lime green plastic sachet before sliding it over the counter with deft movements. All around the world, coffee is roasted, purchased and consumed constantly. In fact, 400 billion cups of coffee are consumed annually. That’s 1.1 billion cups daily! Read More >

August 14, 2017

Food Solutions to Climate Change

Peter Bruce-iri

Peter Bruce-iri

Guest Blogger

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Originally published on Local Food NorthlandWow. Who would have thought that there are so many ways that we can reverse climate change. The Drawdown project, led by Paul Hawken is a game changer.  His project team details 80 ways we can take greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. Drawdown is the point where globally we start to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases (referred to as carbon equivalents).

The project groups the 80 interventions into 7 clusters, and the cluster that can generate the highest reduction – 31 percent – is FOOD! Between 2020 and 2050, food initiatives that are already underway can reduce greenhouse gases by 321.9 gigatonnes. Read More >

August 8, 2017

Eating in Italy: Facts and Fiction

Victoria Brown

Victoria Brown

Research Assistant

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

On every street corner, small cafes with standing-height countertops serve cappuccino, espresso, thick, pudding-like hot chocolate and more to hundreds of commuting Italians. Each morning, as I joined the crush of commuters on Turin’s underground tube station, I looked forward to that first sip of frothy coffee-milk. The accessibility and abundance of coffee on every street corner was one of my favorite parts of life in Italy.

Life in Italy wasn’t all I expected however. In many ways it was exciting, surprising and new; in other ways, it was more similar to life in America than I had envisioned. Read More >

August 2, 2017

Building Resilient Food Systems: Lessons Learned from Baltimore

Erin Biehl

Erin Biehl

Senior Program Coordinator

Food System Sustainability and Public Health Program

Last summer, I returned home from vacation to find a deck full of scorched plants—apparently they just couldn’t take the heat during Baltimore’s hottest week of the summer. Or so it seemed. A week later, with some careful nurturing, my withered tomatoes and basil returned to their tender, tasty selves. Despite the beating they took from the Baltimore heat, they were resilient. Read More >

August 1, 2017

Food Policy Councils: Is There a Best Structure?

Laura DiGiulio

Laura DiGiulio

Guest Blogger

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

There are many organizational types of food policy councils (FPCs), but for my masters thesis I explored the significance of those differences—and similarities. In particular, I investigated whether those differences were associated with differences in FPC outcomes, objectives or orientations.

What did I want to know? As a research topic, this question of how best to structure an FPC is relatively new and has not been addressed, let alone answered, in the literature. So, in partnership with CLF’s Food Policy Networks (FPN) project, I dug deeper into the question: Is there an association between organizational type and differences in institutional and organizational characteristics, discourse (how FPCs conceptualize and communicate about food systems issues as well as their role in improving them) and strategies (approach to food system issues)? Read More >

July 17, 2017

Foodways and Food Insecurity in India

Victoria Brown

Victoria Brown

Research Assistant

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

My host mother Smita, whose name means “ever smiling lady,” is handsome with an infectious smile, and she stands amidst the shining metal tins and fragrant spices of her Ahmedabad apartment kitchen rolling out thepla, a Gujarati flatbread. Heating the wide, flat tava pan, she sprinkles ghee, clarified butter, over the pan, reminding me that it is “good for digestion and health.”

During the three weeks I spent in Ahmedabad, a city in the Gujarat province of India, with Smita and her family, I tried a wider variety of food and flavors than I have ever sampled elsewhere. I was repeatedly amazed by the alchemy that Smita wrought in her kitchen over peas, potatoes, and rice with her chemist’s spice box of flavors. Read More >

July 12, 2017

How Goats Saved the Family Farm

Laura Genello

Laura Genello

Guest Blogger

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Goats feed at the trough during milking

This post is the sixth 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.

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 >