Q&A with Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin on the True Cost of Food: The Bill Is Already in the Mail

Christine Grillo

Christine Grillo

Contributing Writer

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

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 >

Q&A with Bill Niman on the True Cost of Food: Critical Control Points

Christine Grillo

Christine Grillo

Contributing Writer

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

When rancher and businessman Bill Niman visited the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF), we were able to chat with him about his current enterprise and ideas. 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 animal welfare, regenerative agriculture and reform.

Bill Niman is a well-known figure in the ranching world, having spent more than 40 years raising livestock in humane and sustainable ways. Along with his wife Nicolette Hahn Niman, he has consistently spoken out about a number of controversial issues related to livestock production, including the misuse of antibiotics, animal welfare and the climate benefits of pasture-based production. Read More >

Climate Action, Food Systems and Undernutrition

Martin Bloem

Martin Bloem

Director

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

The world is beginning to understand that our food systems play a role in climate change—and that by improving our food systems now we might be able to mitigate some of the more devastating shifts in climate yet to come. With more than 20 years of experience investigating the negative consequences of our food systems, especially industrial food animal production, the Center for a Livable Future has gained tremendous insight into the associated externalities of the predominant model, one of which is climate change. Other externalities we’ve focused on include antibiotic resistance and environmental degradation, to name a couple.

Across the board, I’ve noticed expanded interest in the connections between food systems and climate action, from the United Nations to nonprofit sustainability organizations to chefs to research institutions to Google to the Prince of Wales. So finally, the interest and will to make positive change is there, from a wide group of stakeholders. But I fear we don’t have much time. We must get our act together and be bold—but I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to do this in a way that’s not only practical, but fair. Read More >

What Americans Want in the Farm Bill

Lacey Gaechter

Lacey Gaechter

CLF-Lerner Fellow

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

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 >

New York Town Goes Meatless, Wants to Do It Again

Christine Grillo

Christine Grillo

Contributing Writer

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

How do you inspire a community to give up meat one day a week for 12 weeks? In Bedford, New York, where more than 300 households took up the Bedford 2020 Meatless Monday challenge last year, some of the motivation came from learning the connections between meat and climate change.

Working with the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) and the Meatless Monday campaign, the environmental grassroots group known as Bedford 2020 was able to offer science-based information that moved the community. One of the promotions from the challenge reads: “Global livestock productions creates more greenhouse gas than the entire transportation sector.” Read More >

Food Trends to Make an Impact in 2019

Becky Ramsing

Becky Ramsing

Senior Program Officer, Food Communities & Public Health Program

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

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 >

Policies and Resources: Poultry Production on Delmarva

Jennifer Anderson

Jennifer Anderson

Research Assistant

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

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 >

What Do We Do with All This Poop?

Lacey Gaechter

Lacey Gaechter

CLF-Lerner Fellow

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Figure 1. Click to enlarge.

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 >

Is Iowa Gaining Traction against the Hog Industry?

Christine Grillo

Christine Grillo

Contributing Writer

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

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 >

Going Further with Food

Jessi Silverman

Jessi Silverman

Research Assistant

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

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 >