April 24, 2014

The Cover Up

Angela Smith

Angela Smith

Project Adviser

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

ASmith-covercrops-before-2013

Before cover crops.

Okay. I admit it. Sometimes I can be a little overzealous about things. Take cover cropping, for instance. Before I moved to Minnesota, my family gardened a 10 ft. by 15 ft. plot through the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks’ City Farms program. And while 150 square feet can produce quite a bit of food, it’s still a really small space. You can walk from one end of your garden plot to the other by taking approximately five long strides. So, when cold weather approaches and people put their gardens to bed for the winter, they tend to just leave them bare, Read More >

April 16, 2014

Are You a Member of the Clean Plate Club?

Patti Truant

Patti Truant

CLF-Lerner Fellow

Center for a Livable Future

Household food trash

Household food trash

This is the second in a series about food waste.

Recently, I started working on a new CLF project to better understand food waste in America, and I’m finding it impossible to learn about this topic without taking an introspective look at my own disposal of food.

With up to 40 percent of our food going to waste (a large chunk of that at the consumer level), producing food that eventually gets discarded presents a huge strain on our natural resources, energy use and our Read More >

April 15, 2014

A Map Is Worth a Thousand Words

Michelle Wong

Michelle Wong

CLF-Lerner Fellow

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Side by side: Baltimore City homicides and corner store locations. Click to enlarge.

Side by side: Baltimore City homicides and corner stores locations. Click to enlarge.

A colleague of mine described a map of Baltimore City as a butterfly, while another colleague saw angel’s wings. I saw a heart. Regardless of our interpretations, it’s a pretty pattern…until you realize that this “butterfly” really comes from dots of crime locations and corner stores in Baltimore City. Sadly, this butterfly/angel’s wings/heart pattern reemerges when looking at areas of poverty, and elevated rates of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and stroke, and food insecurity in Baltimore City. Looking Read More >

April 11, 2014

The CLF Week in Links: Rachel Carson, GMOs, GRAS, and More

Robert Lawrence, MD

Robert Lawrence, MD

Director

Center for a Livable Future

Rachel Carson stamp, 1981

Rachel Carson stamp, 1981

Rachel and her sisters. Monday marks the 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s death. She died at the age of 57 from breast cancer, less than two years after the 1962 publication of Silent Spring, which brought awareness to Americans about the use of pesticides and spawned an environmental movement that led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970. Today we celebrate Ms. Carson and other women environmental activists with our Polly Walker Ecology Fund Lecture, an event called “Distinguished Women in Environmental Health Sciences,” to be held from noon to 5 p.m. at the Bloomberg School. Robert Musil, an alumnus of the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s MPH program, will speak at noon about his recent book, Rachel Carson and Her Sisters, followed by a symposium featuring six women environmental health scientists. Read More >

April 10, 2014

New book hammers home a historical truth: Rachel Carson didn’t act alone

Leo Horrigan, MHS

Leo Horrigan, MHS

CLF Correspondent

Center for a Livable Future

RCarson-SistersRobert K. Musil has done us a service by illuminating a historical thread that encompasses Rachel Carson’s intellectual and moral inheritance as well as her legacy. In his new book, Rachel Carson and her Sisters: Extraordinary Women Who Have Shaped America’s Environment, the “sisters” do not merely orbit around Carson but join her in a constellation of environmental advocates with scientific expertise.

Musil will deliver the keynote address at an event called “Distinguished Women in Environmental Health Sciences,” to be held Friday from noon to 5 p.m. at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The event is co-sponsored by The Center for a Livable Future Polly Walker Ecology Fund and the Department of Environmental Health Sciences Grand Rounds.

Musil’s talk will open the event, followed by a luncheon held, appropriately, in the Anna Baetjer Room Read More >

April 4, 2014

CLF Week in Links: Climate, California Sinkholes, and More

Robert Lawrence, MD

Robert Lawrence, MD

Director

Center for a Livable Future

Cornfield in drought

Cornfield in drought

Climate caution. The big news this week has been the IPCC’s warning on the risks and potential negative consequences of climate change. The New York Times headline reads, “Worst Is Yet to Come.” Sadly, we’re not surprised—we wish more governments would heed the warning and take steps not only to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also to prepare for the increasingly volatile climate changes. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned of floods, disease, and a lack of food as some of the risks. This is the first time Read More >

April 3, 2014

Fostering Meaningful Inclusion and Empowerment on Food Policy Councils

Raychel Santo

Raychel Santo

Research Assistant

Center for a Livable Future

A meeting of the Baltimore Food Policy Task Force, 2009

A meeting of the Baltimore Food Policy Task Force, 2009

Over the past four years, the number of food policy councils (FPCs) throughout North America has tripled. FPCs bring together food system stakeholders at local, county, tribal, state, or regional levels to work on policy and programming aimed at increasing community food security, or the accessibility, consumption, and affordability of healthy (and often sustainably raised) food. By providing a more direct opportunity for local actors to influence food policy decisions than those at the national or international level, FPCs have become a tangible example of the emerging movement towards “food democracy” and a more just food system. Read More >

April 2, 2014

Gone Fishin’: The Tilapia Harvest

Laura Genello

Laura Genello

Farm Manager

CLF Aquaponics Project

tilapia demo

Tilapia demo at JHU, 2014.

I’ve grown vegetables for most of my adult life, and I have become accustomed to eating a lot of locally produced food, either resulting from my own farming endeavors or a trip to the local farmers market.  I feel fortunate to be able to easily source the majority of the vegetables on my plate from small-scale, local growers, or grow them myself. However, despite growing up in coastal communities, there have only been a handful of times in my life when the fish I ate came from a local source. Last Tuesday, I was provided with an opportunity to eat fish produced in Baltimore City when we harvested 20 pounds of tilapia from the CLF Aquaponics Project.

Working with Bon Appetit Management Company Read More >

April 1, 2014

Hard work, low pay, poor conditions: Ag jobs and the immigrants willing to do them

Sarah Rodman, MPH

Sarah Rodman, MPH

CLF-Lerner Fellow

Center for a Livable Future

Transplanting celery, Tulelake, Calif., 1942 / LOC

Transplanting celery, Tulelake, Calif., 1942 / LOC

Agriculture is one of the most hazardous industries in the U.S. Workers across the food system face threats to their health, including serious injury and exposure to a whole host of job-related substances like gases, particulate matter, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, arsenic, novel flu viruses, and pesticides. And then there are the high rates of sexual assault among female farmworkers, lack of access to water and toilets, wage theft…. The list goes on.

Recently, Bob Lawrence, director of the Center for a Livable Future, wrote a letter to President Obama and four policymakers to express concerns about health threats to workers in factory farms. In his letter, Dr. Lawrence reminds his readers that the majority of workers in agriculture are not citizens. He emphasizes the widely acknowledged dependence on these workers in the agriculture industry. And he asks Read More >

March 31, 2014

Despite Chavez, U.S. still falls short in protecting farmworkers

Sarah Rodman, MPH

Sarah Rodman, MPH

CLF-Lerner Fellow

Center for a Livable Future

Migrant worker, Robstown, Tex., 1942

Migrant worker, Robstown, Tex., 1942 / Arthur Rothstein, Library of Congress

Greetings from sunny California, where today we celebrate the State holiday Cesar Chavez Day! California is known as the fruit basket and salad bowl of the U.S. When we bite into a grape (or strawberry, orange, lemon, almond, date, fig, raisin, olive…), we rarely think about the first hands that touched it. But chances are those hands belong to a California farmworker.

Those hands probably worked very long hours in hot, difficult conditions for very little pay. Those hands belonged to someone who was probably younger than 31 (sometimes 12 years old) and far away from their family and their birthplace south of the border. On the job, that farmworker may have experienced injury, heat stress, pesticide poisoning, sexual assault, or lack of access to toilets or water [1]. And after long hours of hard work, that farmworker may have not been paid the low wages they were owed. Read More >