When scanning the dining options in your cafeteria, do you notice any descriptions that are meant to make the food more attractive, such as “cage-free,” “local,” or “sustainable?” I do. With these labels, it’s clear that food service management companies are trying to sell more food by appealing to their customers’ values. But I’ve also taken note of which values the food service management company does not use to market their products—for example, “supports small- and mid-size farms” or “living wage for workforce.” These observations made me curious about which values these companies choose to prioritize, and why. Read More >
There has been a lot of attention recently on the fact that emissions from agriculture and food production account for a significant proportion of the global total and must fall if we want to meet the UN climate goal of no more than 1.5 degrees warming. This attention and awareness are welcome, as is the willingness at an individual level in some countries to reduce meat and dairy consumption to help save the planet. For example, a third of consumers in the UK have reportedly either reduced or eliminated meat from their diet, while around half of the Dutch population call themselves “flexitarians.”
However, we need to be careful about oversimplifying things or prescribing a “one-size-fits-all”, western-centric, solution to the challenges of diet and climate. For any diet-related climate change solution to be sustainable, it must also address the problems of under nutrition, obesity, poverty, and economic development. Read More >
VIETNAM—August 2019. “The Mekong River is the heart and arteries of the region,” says researcher Dave Love. “All business is conducted on the river. The feed comes in by boat. The fish go out by boat. Everything you want to do is done by boat and motor bike.”
Love, an associate scientist at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, traveled to Vietnam in July and August (2019) to learn more about how Vietnamese farmers raise Pangasius, a species of catfish. Vietnam is the epicenter of Pangasius production, and it has been the largest exporter of catfish to the United States, although an ongoing trade dispute is changing that. He and research partners Mark Brown and Ly Nguyen from the University of Florida met with farmers and other industry stakeholders to gather data about how the farmers use energy, how they use resources and what kind of waste is created in the operations. Giap Nguyen from University Economics Ho Chi Minh City worked alongside Love, Brown and Ly Nguyen as a translator. Read More >
When agricultural researcher and entrepreneur Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin visited the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF), we were able to chat with him about what he’s up to these days. What began as an interview with this thought leader about the externalized costs of the food system and the true cost of food, topics at the heart of CLF’s research, became a conversation about regenerative agriculture, lawsuits, price tags and reform.
Working with the Regenerative Agriculture Alliance in Minnesota, Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin is the architect and engineer behind the regenerative poultry system, one of many farm operations at the the 100-acre farm in Northfield, through the Main Street Project. His approach to regenerative agriculture involves a biodiverse system of symbiotically connected livestock and perennials, building soil, cleaning water and delivering economic benefits with no chemical inputs. Read More >
Should farmers who raise thoroughbred horses receive the same regulatory exemptions as those who grow vegetables? How about farmers who grow tobacco, flowers, or corn for ethanol, or who raise animals for fur coats? These are the questions that emerged in the forefront of my mind as I waded through the hundreds of pages of data contained in the recently released 2017 Census of Agriculture. The census is a treasure trove of information that paints a picture of the current state of farms, farmers, and farming in the United States—and, importantly, it reminded me that agriculture is not limited to food production. Read More >
This post is the fourth in a series—Connecting Agriculture Policy to Your Health—by CLF-Lerner Fellow Lacey Gaechter.
With debates over the 2018 Farm Bill now in our rearview mirror, this is the time for food citizens to start advocating for our next Farm Bill, and a project of the Center for A Livable Future (CLF) offers insight into what the American people want to see in the 2023 version.
So how do we want our food policies to reflect our food priorities? According to CLF’s 2018 National Farm Bill Poll of 1,005 registered US voters, rolled out as part of the Food Citizen Project, only one in five of us are familiar with the Farm Bill. In fact, nearly half of us have never heard of the bill, despite the fact that it’s arguably the piece of legislation that affects our food system more than any other. Read More >
As you make resolutions and goals for 2019, what’s on your radar? Climate change and our planet’s health are big news stories these days, but if you are like most people, they likely feel unconnected to your daily life, or just plain overwhelming. After all, climate change is a story that began during the Industrial Revolution, as global policies and practices since then have contributed to growing emissions and environmental degradation —and much of that environmental degradation can be attributed to large corporations and businesses. In fact, since 1988 more than half of global greenhouse gas emissions can be traced to only 25 corporate and state producers, according to the Carbon Majors Report. But animal agriculture also plays a major role, with 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gases attributed to the production of animals for food. Clearly, the most significant solutions rest in the hands of policymakers and industry—but there’s a lot consumers can do, too. Read More >
My introduction to the Delmarva Peninsula occurred during a lecture in which Dr. Meghan Davis presented some incredible statistics about the region. Dr. Davis described Delmarva as having one of the highest densities of poultry production in the world. Sadly, this concentration of poultry production is generating large amounts of agricultural runoff (manure, nitrogen, etc.) that pollutes the Chesapeake Bay.1 The runoff creates marine dead zones (areas unable to sustain life due to dissolved oxygen depletion2) and alters the microbial compositions and ecosystem functions within the bay.1,3 I subsequently learned that many Delmarva farmers are unhappy with the predominant model of poultry production in the region and its detrimental effects. What inhibits these farmers from adopting alternative production models? Read More >
This post is the third in a series—Connecting Agriculture Policy to Your Health—by CLF-Lerner Fellow Lacey Gaechter.
What do we do with all this poop? This question has been central to the field of public health since its very inception. John Snow, the “father of public health,” ended a nineteenth-century cholera epidemic in London by deducing that the source of this disease was drinking water contaminated with sewage.
This important question is also part of the current debates in the joint House and Senate conference committee (see figure 1) on the 2018 Farm Bill. In this case, the poop under consideration is from farmed animals instead of humans. The House version of the next Farm Bill would Read More >
In college, I rocked some Girls Love Dirt mountain biking socks, and the environmental club I founded was called Dirt First, a Simpsons reference for those of you who are fans. Let there be no mistake: this woman still loves dirt, but for growing food, dirt is not our best option. For that, we really want soil. Read More >