NORWAY—October 2019. With more than a thousand fjords, Norway is more than just a tourist destination of breathtaking beauty—it’s also the world’s leading producer of farm-raised Atlantic salmon. The fjords, a result of millions of years of glacial activity, are the linchpin of the country’s aquaculture industry. They are deep inlets of oceanwater, protected by steep mountainsides, and they have water that is saline, cold and kept clean by strong water currents—perfect for farming salmon.
Geography isn’t the only factor contributing to the industry’s efficiency, and therefore profitability, though. Norway is committed to renewable energy, and the entire country runs on hydroelectricity. And salmon farming, which is quite energy-intensive, benefits from that. 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 >
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 >
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 >
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 >
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 >
Despite the US’s recent withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, governors and mayors around the country continue working to mitigate and build resilience to climate change. As both policymakers and the public increasingly recognize the role of food and agriculture in intensifying climate change, many parties seek to address the food-climate connection. Fortunately, local and state policies and practices can do exactly that. Here’s what’s already happening, and what to strive for. Read More >
Food unites even the most unconventional of bedfellows. And connecting ideas and people across sectors to resolve problems is sometimes the best, and only, answer.
Like so much of the nation, Maryland has a serious hunger crisis. We are thankful to all of the emergency food providers, many of whom who bring much needed resources to our hunger community, mostly in the form of non-perishable food. This food—canned or dry goods, often— is calorie-laden, but it may not be nutrient-dense.
At the same time, while we are fortunate to have many farms, there are times when our farmers have a surplus of products or perishable goods that do not make it to market; Read More >
World War I-era poster by the U.S. Food Administration
This blogpost was co-written by Erin Biehl and Karen Banks.
For decades, we’ve heard the slogan: reduce, reuse, recycle. Those familiar “three Rs” are often represented by the well-recognized Mobius Loop, spinning infinitely on bins, packages, and bottles nationwide.
The three Rs and the symbol are intended to educate consumers about the waste hierarchy, which tells us that the prevention, reuse, and recycling of materials is far preferable to sending them to a landfill—and by some measures the campaign is working because recycling and composting have increased 500 percent since 1980 in the U.S. On the other hand, a considerable portion of the waste stream still eludes us: food. Each year, 52.4 million tons of food is thrown away in the U.S. That’s the equivalent of 1,200 USS Missouri battleships full of food. Another 10.1 million tons of food never make if off the farm field. Read More >
True or false? “Use by,” “best before” and “sell by” dates are federally regulated food labels that indicate safety.
The answer is “False,” which surprised many shoppers at Baltimore’s Northeast Market last month. Fresh research into what contributes to consumer food waste suggests that the confusion may be nationwide.
Americans waste up to 40 percent of the food that is produced each year. Most of that waste occurs at the consumer and retail level. To spread awareness of America’s mounting food waste problem, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) food waste expert Roni Neff and I “talked trash” with shoppers at a local food market. (The event was part of the “Day at the Market” program, sponsored by the Bloomberg School’s Department of Environmental Sciences). Although a few shoppers were well-informed about wasted food, many were surprised to learn that food date labels are not federally regulated, and most labels are not a good indicator of when a food is no longer safe to eat. Read More >