August 22, 2014

CLF Week in Links: Bad News with Chemicals, Some Good News

Robert Lawrence, MD

Robert Lawrence, MD

Director

Center for a Livable Future

Smallmouth bass

Smallmouth bass

Mutant fish in Susquehanna. In this story, Al Jazeera America reports on what’s happening to male smallmouth bass in the Susquehanna River, a major feeder of the Chesapeake Bay. In June the US Geological Survey reported it had found intersex fish—males with female eggs in their testes. In addition, the fish have open sores on their bodies, a sign of immunosuppression. The USGS report says that fertilization chemicals Read More >

August 18, 2014

Aquaponics: Lessons Learned on Water Quality

Laura Genello

Laura Genello

Farm Manager

CLF Aquaponics Project

WaterEvery aquaponics practitioner shares the same fear: that one morning all the fish will be floating on the water’s surface. Although tilapia is one of the hardiest species raised in aquaculture, they still depend on well-managed water quality. Here are some lessons we have learned at the CLF Aquaponics Project.

Monitor Your Water Chemistry

Aquaponics is a living system that depends on a series of chemical and biological cycles and physical treatment of waste (i.e., filtration and sedimentation) to maintain healthy water. We regularly test for several parameters: pH (daily), ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and alkalinity (weekly). With the help of bacteria, ammonia from the fish waste is converted into nitrite and then nitrate. Ammonia and nitrite are both highly toxic to fish, and we monitor these levels to ensure that they are Read More >

August 13, 2014

Roadmap for a Successful Urban Farm: Cultivate Community Acceptance

Kate McCleary

Kate McCleary

Senior Project Coordinator

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Boone Street Farm: Before

Boone Street Farm: Before

What do you see here? A vacant lot? Neighborhood blight? Unfulfilled ambitions? Or do you see untapped potential, a plot rich in opportunity? Perhaps a glint of promise for a community camouflaged by trash and overgrown weeds?

If your vision involved growing food as a productive way to use these vacant plots of city land, you are not alone. Forms of urban agriculture, such as urban farming and community gardens, are springing up all across the country as the positive impact they can have on communities is being recognized. Read More >

August 8, 2014

CLF Week in Links: Sustainable Seafood, Algal Blooms, and More

Robert Lawrence, MD

Robert Lawrence, MD

Director

Center for a Livable Future

lobster boat leaving dock

A lobster boat prepares to leave a dock in Maine. it takes just 783 liters of fuel to fetch a ton of Maine lobsters from traps.

Gas-guzzling seafood. “Most of us don’t think about fuel when we eat seafood. But diesel is the single largest expense for the fishing industry and its biggest source of greenhouse gases. Not all fish have the same carbon finprint, however, and a new study reveals which ones take the most fuel to catch.” This article in Science calculates the diesel fuel use for several popular fish so you can know which ones contribute most to climate change (those that use the most fuel), and which ones do the least damage. In terms of fuel consumption, the least offensive catch mentioned in the article is sardines. (In addition to contributing the fewest GHGs, sardines are low on the food chain, which means less depletion of the ocean’s wild fisheries—overall, a very environmentally responsible dinner choice.) The biggest offenders mentioned in the article? Shrimp and lobster. Perhaps we’ll see a revival of the Friendship sloop fleet and a return to lobstering by working sailboats along the coast of Maine.

Read More >

August 1, 2014

Chesapeake Bay: Why Are the Waters Still Murky?

Christine Grillo

Christine Grillo

Contributing Writer

Center for a Livable Future

Chesapeake Bay dead zone, 2013

Chesapeake Bay dead zone, 2013

“Making progress but coming up short.” That seems to be the oft-used line when people talk about efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay—although even this mild assessment is a bone of contention.

The debate

In a recent progress report (June 2014), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) touted its progress in Bay restoration but acknowledged the shortfall: “All of the jurisdictions continue to make progress in the various sectors,” said Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “Our assessments also point out that their work over the next two years will have to accelerate in some areas.”

Meanwhile, two new reports (July 2014) by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) Read More >

July 24, 2014

Igniting the Flame to Fight for Food Justice

Raychel Santo

Raychel Santo

Program Coordinator

Center for a Livable Future

ajdlfkjd

Raychel at Maryland Leadership Workshops, 2014.

I distinctly remember the first time I was introduced to the concept of a food system and all of its incredible complexities. It was overwhelming to realize that such an everyday component of our lives was connected to nearly every major social and environmental issue of today. It was equally invigorating to realize that by effecting positive change in this realm, we could potentially tackle so many problems at once.

My exposure to such thinking came about the summer before college, when, Read More >

July 21, 2014

CLF Week in Links: Turkey, Mexican Soda, Aquaculture

Robert Lawrence, MD

Robert Lawrence, MD

Director

Center for a Livable Future

soda-store-natchez

Recently Mexico drastically restricted TV ads for soda.

Limits on Mexican soda ads. According to this BBC News story, Mexico has just moved to restrict the airing of television ads selling soda. The ads will not be permitted on weekday afternoons and most of the day on weekends. According to the story, 70 percent of adults and 30 percent of children in Mexico are obese or overweight, and Mexicans are also the world’s heaviest consumers of sugary drinks, at 163 liters per year. If only Pepsico and Coca Cola would follow this example and practice good citizenship in the interests of America’s children, who now average about 8 percent of their daily calories from sugar sweetened beverages. Read More >

July 17, 2014

In Search of the Perfect Summer Crop

Laura Genello

Laura Genello

Farm Manager

CLF Aquaponics Project

Romano pole beans reach for the ceiling at the CLF Aquaponics Project

Romano pole beans reach for the ceiling at the CLF Aquaponics Project

For many farmers, summer is the time of peak production and abundant harvests, but at the CLF Aquaponics Project our harvests peak mid-spring and start to decline as summer approaches. Farming is a learning process; and higher pest pressure coupled with hot temperatures in our hoophouse has made finding ideal summer crops a challenge.

Leafy greens and herbs are naturally some of the best crops for an aquaponics system, because they thrive in a nitrogen-rich environment. However, many of these greens prefer cooler weather, and as the temperatures in the greenhouse climb past 100 degrees Fahrenheit, even heat-tolerant chard gives up. We’ve found that many of summer’s star crops in the field, such as squash, tomatoes, beans and okra, simply do not produce well in our aquaponics system. The reason for this likely lies in the fact that these fruit-producing crops require high levels of potassium and phosphorous in comparison with leafy greens to encourage reproductive growth. Read More >

July 8, 2014

Marylanders take note: Calif. research shows power of pesticide reporting

Leo Horrigan, MHS

Leo Horrigan, MHS

CLF Correspondent

Center for a Livable Future

spraying pesticideA recent pesticide study out of California is notable not just for its findings but also because of what it says about the importance of pesticide reporting for public health. The study found that women living near fields where organophosphate pesticides were sprayed during their pregnancy were 60 percent more likely to have children with autism spectrum disorders.

This study – and others like it – Read More >

July 7, 2014

Fed Up with Sugar

Robert Lawrence, MD

Robert Lawrence, MD

Director

Center for a Livable Future

wpid-fed-up-trailer-headerI was lucky enough to catch a screening of Fed Up when it was in theaters and was pleased to see that the film specifically targets sugar and the industries that profit from adding sugar to processed food and beverages. In public health circles, I’ve heard that sentiment echoed quite often: focusing on sugar is the key to many of our public health problems and is the new tobacco in terms of the enormity of the threat to public health. Read More >