May 26, 2016

“Meating” Local Demand

Caitlin Fisher

Caitlin Fisher

Data Specialist

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

slaughter_facilities_map copy

click to enlarge map of slaughter facilities in Maryland

Memorial Day weekend—a time to gather with friends and family, honor those who died while serving in the military, and celebrate the warmer summer months to come. And for many, it’s a time to clean off and fire up the old grill.

As the holiday weekend approaches, you may find yourself thinking about where to buy your hamburgers and other grilling essentials. Should you visit your neighborhood farmers market and buy from a local farmer? Or head over to the family-owned butcher shop down the street? Or maybe you will scour the grocery shelves for any sign of products from a local farm. Read More >

May 25, 2016

Within Reason: Getting the Most from Urban Ag

Christine Grillo

Christine Grillo

Contributing Writer

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Boone Street Farm

Boone Street Farm, Baltimore

My teenaged daughter just asked me when our yard was going to look “nice” again. Inch by inch, I’ve been removing grass and replacing it with clover, herbs, milkweeds and some plants that I refer to, mostly ironically, as crops. She dislikes the rows of composting sod, the dying grass, and the soggy trenches that scream “work in progress.” “It’s so ugly,” she said. And then she cried. I had made The Classic Error—I didn’t get community buy-in on my gardening plans. Not only that, I am guilty of Error Number Two: I planted food that I enjoy— tomatillos, cilantro, sunchokes—but that my kids refuse to recognize as edible. Read More >

May 25, 2016

CLF Aquaculture Links: May 2016

Dave Love

Dave Love

Assistant Scientist, Public Health & Sustainable Aquaculture Project

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

AQ-news-300Larger oyster farms may be coming soon to the Chesapeake Bay, as the Army Corps of Engineers aims to overhaul the permitting process. That’s a good thing for aquaculturists, local halfshell lovers, and the environment, because oysters are filter feeders that clean up the Bay. Read more at the Bay Journal.

In more Chesapeake Bay news, Virginia leads the nation in hard clam sales and leads the East Coast in oyster sales. Congratulations Karen Hudson and Thomas Murray on the 10th anniversary of the Virginia hatchery-based shellfish aquaculture assessment! Read more at VIMS. Read More >

May 24, 2016

Ruffled Feathers at Wicomico County Town Hall

Claire Fitch

Claire Fitch

Program Officer, Food System Policy Program

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

RS181_White chickens behind screen door 91830955-scrIt was 9:30 at night. The 100 or so people attending the Poultry Town Hall Meeting had been listening to a panel of speakers for two and a half hours, and the staff was ready to close up for the night. But the Q&A session would not wind down, and the Wicomico County Council President took the microphone to refute some points made by a team of us at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. (cf., this letter.)

The town hall took place in Salisbury, Maryland, at the Wicomico Youth and Read More >

May 23, 2016

Edible Insects: Ethics, Efficiency, and the Vegan Dilemma

Raychel Santo

Raychel Santo

Guest Blogger

Cardiff, Wales, UK

Edible insects at Grub Kitchen, UK.

Edible insects at Grub Kitchen, UK.

I cringed a bit as Andy Holcroft, head chef at Grub Kitchen (the UK’s first edible insect restaurant), described his first attempt at preparing food with insects. He had tried to make a dip out of mealworms, but ended up with a blender full of unpalatable gray slime. He realized at that moment that cooking with insects would be far different than the foods he’d prepared in his many years as a chef. A few years later, you’d never know it from looking at his menu – comprising an assortment of delicious insect-based and non-insect-based dishes, including toasted cumin mealworm hummus, dry-roasted seasoned insects, bug bhajis with cucumber raita, bug burgers, cricket and chickpea falafel, smoked chipotle cricket and black bean chilli, and cricket flour cookies. Read More >

May 16, 2016

Stuck in the middle with you: Peri-urban areas and the food system

Houman Saberi

Houman Saberi

Guest Blogger

Project Manager, Resilient Communities at the New America Foundation

Balt Finished 3 borderPeri-urban areas are an inherently difficult concept to define: they are neither totally rural, nor are they fully urban. They are associated with sprawl and with suburban development. While definitions and theories vary, most agree that peri-urban areas are dynamic transition zones between the city and countryside, display diverse land uses and uneven development, and operate under many different jurisdictions. Indeed, scholars and researchers have recognized that the urban-rural binary is not helpful and that peri-urban areas are part of a continuous spectrum from urban core to rural periphery. Using these characteristics as a starting point, we worked to outline these understudied areas as part of a USDA–funded project in order to increase the understanding of what role peri-urban areas play in the food system. Read More >

May 12, 2016

Survey Says – Confusion about Food Date Labels

Erin Biehl

Erin Biehl

Senior Program Coordinator

Food System Sustainability and Public Health Program

FoodWasteInfographic copyTrue or false? “Use by,” “best before” and “sell by” dates are federally regulated food labels that indicate safety.

The answer is “False,” which surprised many shoppers at Baltimore’s Northeast Market last month. Fresh research into what contributes to consumer food waste suggests that the confusion may be nationwide.

Americans waste up to 40 percent of the food that is produced each year. Most of that waste occurs at the consumer and retail level. To spread awareness of America’s mounting food waste problem, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) food waste expert Roni Neff and I “talked trash” with shoppers at a local food market. (The event was part of the “Day at the Market” program, sponsored by the Bloomberg School’s Department of Environmental Sciences). Although a few shoppers were well-informed about wasted food, many were surprised to learn that food date labels are not federally regulated, and most labels are not a good indicator of when a food is no longer safe to eat. Read More >

May 12, 2016

CLF Responds to Misleading White Paper about Meat and Climate Change

Claire Fitch

Claire Fitch

Program Officer, Food System Policy Program

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

A few weeks ago, Dr. Frank Mitloehner—a Professor at the University of California, Davis—released a white paper, “Livestock’s Contributions to Climate Change: Facts and Fiction.” In it, Dr. Mitloehner uses incomplete greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions statistics to downplay the environmental impacts of animal agriculture. He states that livestock production is responsible for only 4.2% of U.S. GHG emissions, which fails to account for several major emissions sources (including the production of animal feed, the transportation of feed and animal products, and several other sources). The paper is critical of efforts, such as Meatless Monday, that encourage citizens to understand how their diet choices affect the environment and begin to reduce intake of animal products.

The Center for a Livable Future has provided technical assistance and scientific expertise to the national Meatless Monday campaign since 2003. We have addressed Dr. Mitloehner’s mischaracterization of the evidence and continue to support the adoption of Meatless Mondays as an achievable way for most Americans to take a step toward reducing their environmental footprint. Read our complete response to Dr. Mitloehner’s white paper here.

April 28, 2016

CLF Aquaculture Links: April 2016

Dave Love

Dave Love

Assistant Scientist, Public Health & Sustainable Aquaculture Project

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

AQ-news-300The USDA Organic aquaculture standards are grinding slowly through government agency approvals, and are currently in review at the Office of Management and Budget, as reported by the Global Aquaculture Alliance. Read more at their website.  

Until the U.S. sorts out organic aquaculture standards and labeling, consumers must rely on third-party labels. One such group, GLOBAL GAP, just released a new consumer label for certified farmed seafood. Read more at The Fish Site. Read More >

April 5, 2016

Rice paddies double as artificial wetlands in Vermont

Sujata Gupta

Sujata Gupta

Freelance Journalist

Burlington, Vt.

gupta-rice-1Horses graze in the distance and ducks honk as Erik Andrus and I squish along the muddy path behind his house in Ferrisburgh, Vermont. Andrus’ dog, Dante, trots happily beside us. The scene is quintessentially pastoral.

Yet surprisingly little grows here. When he bought the 110-acre property 10 years ago, Andrus, who also owns a bakery, tried to grow barley and wheat. The soils quickly proved too rocky and wet for these dryland crops. But Andrus was reluctant to call it quits. “Local grains are a key component of real agricultural sustainability,” he says. Read More >