July 30, 2015
Eric Kelly of Charm City Farms
Eric Kelly doesn’t really believe in weeds. Or rather, he’s got radically different ideas about weeds than most people. As far as he’s concerned, almost every plant has value, either as food or medicine, or because it’s doing some kind of work in the soil. Clover, for example, which some people make great efforts to eradicate from their lawns, does an excellent job fixing nitrogen in the soil. Symbiotic bacteria take up nitrogen from the air, transfer it to the roots, and then leave it in the soil to nourish other plants. The flower and the leaves of purple clover, says Eric, are medicinal, as well.
“A weed is any plant that grows in a place you don’t want it to,” he says. “The only plant I ever weed out is grass.”
Also known as the “Mangy White Bushman,” Eric teaches Baltimore denizens how to find food in unexpected places. Read More >
July 24, 2015
Bird flu H5N2 and USDA. The bird flu epidemic that has killed about 48 million turkeys and egg-laying hens is severe enough that the USDA has formed a special task force to prepare for the worsening of the flu in the fall. Part of the work of the task force involves strategizing how to dispose of the carcasses so that landfills are not overwhelmed or unnecessarily contaminated. The flu, known as H5N2, has poultry producers in the Midwest concerned and suffering economic loss; the price of eggs has risen as a result of the flu. On Wednesday, the AP reported Read More >
July 23, 2015
Buy Local Week is upon us! Kicking off with Governor Larry Hogan’s Buy Local Cookout on July 16, the challenge to “eat at least one thing from a local farm every day” has been lauded by farmers market organizations, civic groups, and locavores who view eating locally as a way to protect the environment, boost local businesses, and build community. After all, the typical American meal travels an astounding 1,500 miles before it winds up on someone’s plate.
With an estimated 12,000 farms throughout Maryland, and over 1,100 of those selling locally, the Buy Local campaign is a boon to thousands of farming families throughout the state. Read More >
July 14, 2015
You know that feeling when a teacher asks the class, “Do you need me to explain? Raise your hand if you don’t know what ____ means.” You look around, not wanting to be the only person unfamiliar with the term. Well, a most unexpected thing happened at a conference recently: a panelist in a session on gastrodiplomacy began speaking about the “free produce movement,” and I was shocked to discover that apparently very few of us (if any) in a room full of experts in food studies had heard of it.
Michelle Branch, of New York University School of Law, was presenting her work, “Free Produce Societies as Agents of Diplomacy” at an annual conference that convenes thinking about food, society, and values, hosted by Chatham University. She explained that the free produce movement was an early food justice movement propelled by Quakers and Read More >
July 10, 2015
Food labels. In their Ask Well blog, The New York Times addressed an issue that our own researcher Roni Neff has been tackling for some time: the confusion that surrounds food labels. All those “best by” and “sell by” dates may be contributing to unnecessary food waste, and misleading consumers. The Times story is here. For more on Roni’s research, read this story, published by Johns Hopkins Public Health magazine.
Good news for the Bay. This week, the U.S. Third Court of Appeals upheld a Chesapeake Read More >
July 9, 2015
Downtown Annapolis and Spa Creek, leading into the Severn River and Chesapeake Bay.
Five years ago, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made a landmark decision to foster the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay. The agency’s plan was the Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL), the goal of which was to identify and control major sources of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment in the seven Bay jurisdictions (six states and the District of Columbia) that comprise the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The TMDL effort calls for a 25 percent reduction in nitrogen, a 24 percent reduction in phosphorus, and a 20 percent reduction in sediment in the Bay Read More >
July 8, 2015
One of the most famous—or infamous—Supreme Court rulings this century has been Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in 2010. This “corporations are people” ruling granted U.S. corporations the same right to free speech as individuals, effectively removing previous restrictions on corporate campaign donations, a form of political speech. Read More >
June 23, 2015
Haystacks, Dayton, Ohio, 1905.
How can local food policy councils in Ohio band together to enhance effectiveness? Can they increase access to healthy, affordable foods? Can they ensure equitable engagement? These questions were a few of many explored at the Ohio State Food Policy Council Summit, held earlier this month. The Summit brought together members of local and regional food policy councils from across the state and gathered in Columbus, Ohio, for their annual meeting.
Food and agriculture is the largest sector of Ohio’s economy, accounting for $105 billion of the state’s economy. Even though Governor Kasich dissolved Read More >
June 19, 2015
School lunch law. On Tuesday, the House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing about the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. This law, passed in 2010 and championed by the First Lady, has successfully brought more healthy food into public schools. But the “pizza is a vegetable” members of Congress want to chip away at it. They say that the law makes it too difficult for schools to comply—but 95 percent of school districts are already complying with the standards. Here’s a petition launched by the American Heart Association in support of keeping the laws intact. I hope every public health professional signs on. Read More >
June 12, 2015
This blogpost was co-authored with Claire Fitch.
Industrial egg and turkey integrators are in the midst of a catastrophic outbreak of several Asian-origin Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza A (HPAI) viruses: H5N2, H5N8, and H5N1. It is difficult to keep up with the advancement and data collected by the USDA’s Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS), but as of June 9, 222 separate reported incidents had affected more than 47 million birds. Fewer than 8,000 of the birds have been grown in small, so-called “backyard” operations. The remainder are from commercial, industrial Read More >