October 17, 2014
Two weeks ago we hosted our second annual Food Systems and Public Health course in partnership with the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY) at the Cylburn Arboretum. Six CLF staff members spent the day with 15 talented middle- and high-school students and their parents, and worked to define the food system, acknowledge harms, and develop a sense of hope for changing the world through the way we grow and eat our food. Read More >
October 10, 2014
Name that wild bee. Is it a sweat bee? Polyester bee? Bumblebee?
A lot can happen in five minutes. I can set my timer and stare into the big face of a sunflower, on the alert for pollinators. I can count the pollinators. I can try to identify them. Was that a sweat bee? A polyester bee? Maybe even a bumblebee, but probably not a honeybee. I can watch pollen-heavy bees fly away, and when my timer rings I can log my data with the Great Sunflower Project.
I joined the Great Sunflower Project a few years ago. It’s a virtual community of gardeners, beekeepers, and amateurs like me who sign up to track pollinator visits to their sunflowers and submit the data online. This spring, the project asked that all participants use only one cultivar of sunflower (Helianthus annuus) for the experiment: the Lemon Queen. I enlisted my eight-year-old garden helper to help with the planting, and by summer we had a crop of Lemon Queens in the front yard, all facing south, bent over with their own weight. Read More >
October 9, 2014
A Daniel fast incorporates a vegan diet.
Recently, Kim Ease had it in her heart to start a periodic Bible fellowship in a home environment. Attenders of her Bible fellowship, “Bring Your Bible to Brunch” (BYBTB), were preparing to begin a fast based on the biblical character Daniel. The Daniel fast incorporates a vegan diet with water as the only beverage. To prepare, they had been reading the book of Proverbs and applying its lessons to everyday life.
We were invited to BYBTB on Saturday, September 20, to have fellowship, enjoy homemade Trinidadian food, and lead a discussion from the book of Proverbs on making wise food choices. Read More >
October 8, 2014
From the 2013 USDA Census of Aquaculture
The USDA Census of Aquaculture is the most important and comprehensive data source for understanding the trajectory of the U.S. aquaculture industry. Last conducted in 2005, the census is a snapshot of production amounts, methods, and sales information from thousands of aquaculture operations in the United States.
The key finding from the census was an across-the-board decrease in the number of farms in the U.S. Roughly 3,000 farms responded to the 2013 census, which was a 28 percent decrease from 2005. The total acreage Read More >
October 7, 2014
Aquaponics survey respondents, 2014
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future have conducted one of the first large-scale international surveys of aquaponics practitioners. For those who’ve noticed the buzz around aquaponics, the findings are not surprising. First of all, more than 800 people responded to the voluntary survey, which in itself demonstrates enthusiasm. Second, the results show that most respondents are new to the field, and third, that most of them are practicing as hobbyists. The survey has uncovered a couple of big themes in the field of aquaponics: enthusiasm and Read More >
October 6, 2014
Today the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health honors CLF Director Bob Lawrence with a scientific symposium. Bob announced his plans to step down earlier this year. The symposium is available via live-streaming.
Bob at the helm / 2014
I met Bob at a think-tank organized by the Kellogg Foundation in 2001, and we took to each other immediately, because we recognized each other as fellow catastroptimists—people who are determined to remain positive and look for a way out and forward no matter how bad things look.
I was managing the Toronto Food Policy Council at the time and was feeling my oats about all the positive and empowering things that could be done with food at the city and community level. But I was also looking desperately for someone more prestigious than I was to promote that message—which required a shift in outlook on the part of good food advocates, as well as a leap of faith about city leaders who weren’t exactly falling over themselves to prove their relevance to this area.
But Bob was willing to give this approach a try.
I have to say it saved my sorry butt. Read More >
October 6, 2014
Sarasota, Fla., schools to go meatless on Mondays
Most people are unable to reduce their vehicle miles traveled (VMT) overnight to protect the environment and slow climate change. You have to get the kids to school, the dog to daycare, and yourself to work. What if there was another way to tackle climate change while improving your health? Great news! There is! Add a meat-free day to your week. Eating differently is a way to address climate change one bite at a time.
While we can’t or might not want to give up our cars this very instant, we CAN choose one day each week to fill our plates with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans instead of meat. Recent research Read More >
October 3, 2014
News from the FDA on drug use in food animals. Yesterday, October 2, The FDA made an announcement about how the agency presents data about the drugs sold for use in food animal production. This is from the FDA’s news release: “Additional data tables have been added to this latest 2012 report to provide more detailed information and to improve transparency, and the same tables have also been added to the summary reports for the previous years (2009-2011).” As for the report itself, the data reveal that over the last four years there has been a 16 percent jump Read More >
September 26, 2014
Hoophouse at Strength to Love Farm / 2014
In the renaissance that is urban agriculture, we’re seeing romantic stories pop up everywhere. There’s beekeeping on rooftops, neighborhood compost piles, and community gardens tilled by schoolchildren. There are open spaces with vegetable stands and horseshoe courts, and tucked-away farm lots in the heart of the city where Dominiques and Araucanas strut their stuff.
But there’s another side of urban agriculture that’s far more tedious than romantic—the legal side. As soon as the spade hits the soil, there are issues best addressed by an attorney. But farmers, don’t fret. Last Friday, the Community Law Center hosted the 2014 Urban Agriculture Law Conference at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law. The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, which has projects involving urban soil safety, urban foraging, aquaponics, food-and-farm mapping, and Read More >
September 25, 2014
On September 10 I wrote a blogpost in which I questioned language used by Perdue Chicken in their announcement about removing antibiotics from hatcheries and removing “human antibiotics” from feed. My main question concerned whether the company would be refraining from using drugs used for humans, or classes of drugs used for humans. This is an important distinction when talking about antibiotic resistance, and the answer I was hoping to hear is that Perdue was swearing off entire classes of drugs used for humans. Read More >