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 >
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.
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 >
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 >
This post is the ninth 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.
After years of working to support farmers at a Dutch agricultural organization, Geert van der Veer wanted to change the system. Dutch agricultural land prices are some of the highest in the world, and Geert met many farmers who found their businesses squeezed by low prices and increasing costs. He saw many farms disappear, and other farmers forced to take out a mortgage on their property just to survive. Read More >
It’s almost impossible to imagine now—sheep grazing on the White House lawn, tending their lambs and grass with care. Perhaps just as unfathomable is that this scene was organized and made possible by the First Lady. But in 1917, Edith Wilson and her husband, President Woodrow Wilson, strove to be the “model American family helping the war effort.” Mrs. Wilson was the President’s aide and confidante in supporting the troops who departed American shores to fight alongside the Allies in Europe. She organized war bond rallies featuring celebrities like Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks Read More >
As city councils, policymakers, and citizen groups consider proposed new locations or expansions of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), they rely on scientific evidence to help them weigh the potential impacts of CAFOs on the health of their communities. When asked to assess such proposals, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) refer to a considerable and growing body of rigorously conducted scientific evidence that suggests there are connections between living near CAFOs and adverse health outcomes. Curiously, in contrast to this evidence Read More >
I’m in my graduate class of public health nutrition students—many of whom are vegans, vegetarians or plant-based eaters—when I pull out my Tupperware filled with leftover grilled steak kabobs. I feel like I’m serving BBQ at a PETA meeting. My cohort isn’t particularly judgmental, and even though I’ve been eating meat my whole life, I feel guilty about biting into my (juicy, red) meat in front of them.
I grew up in southern Illinois—emphasis on southern—which is nowhere near Chicago. A meal wasn’t a meal without a meat entrée Read More >
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 >
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 >