October 6, 2015
In Alaska, it’s legal but only for your pets. In Oregon, you are allowed to buy it from a farm that has a maximum of two cows, nine sheep and nine goats that make it. In Kansas, you can have it as long as the farm doesn’t advertise it too much. And in Minnesota, you can get it if you go to the farm and bring your own containers.
Raw milk has long polarized scientists, politicians, farmers and food advocates, who disagree about both its health consequences and the government’s right to control access to it. Driving those debates are a dizzying variety of laws Read More >
September 30, 2015
John Swaine III, Talbot County, Md.
John Swaine III stands with his back to a field of soybeans, his sunburnt arms crossed, a dusty John Deere cap tucked over his strawberry blond hair. Near his feet is a ditch that runs adjacent to the winding country lane, Bellevue Road, that bisects his Talbot County, Maryland, farm.
The ditch is meant to collect rainwater that flows off of the fields and the road. For years, Swaine felt helpless when he saw the muddy brown water accumulating in the channel during a storm, knowing it contained soil from his fields that was enriched with commercial fertilizers. “It bothered me to see that water with sediment in it flowing right into the creek,” he says. “Still does.”
The problem is especially bad when the ditch overflows. The water crosses the road, runs through a field on the other side and eventually into Tar Creek. Read More >
September 25, 2015
Today, leaders from 193 countries will gather in New York City to formally adopt the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an agenda to guide global development during the next fifteen years. The SDGs will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which led this agenda from 2000 to 2015. The MDGs generally neglected issues pertinent to food systems; hunger and environmental sustainability were the only particularly relevant topics included. As we move into the SDG era, are food systems likely to feature more prominently in global development initiatives? Read More >
September 24, 2015
Water laps gently against the canoe as Felix paddles across Lake Volta. Once he reaches the floating cages, he scoops some pellets that look like typical fish food and sprinkles them over the water. Hungry tilapias dart to the top. They gobble the beads in such a frenzy the surface of the water erupts like a fountain.
Felix is feeding fish as part of a research study in Ghana. The tilapia fingerlings in this one-month growth trial have been divided into four groups. Felix feeds one group by tossing them a cupful of typical tilapia food enriched with vitamins, minerals, wheat, poultry by-products and fishmeal. The other three groups feast on the same feed, but instead of fishmeal, they get varying amounts of insect meal. Like fish, insects can be converted into a high-protein, high-energy feed.
Fingerling Food in Ghana
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September 21, 2015
Guests enjoying a meal at the Franciscan Center.
In December 2013, Pope Francis brought attention to what he called “a global scandal”—the 1 billion people in the world who are hungry. Earlier this year he launched an anti-hunger campaign, saying “The planet has enough food for all, but it seems that there is a lack of willingness to share it with everyone. We ought to set the table for all.”
Every year the soup kitchen at the Franciscan Center of Baltimore serves 100,000 meals and donates 8,000 bags of groceries to the hungry. Most of the food the Center serves is “recycled” or “repurposed,” meaning that it’s been recovered from catering companies, supermarkets, cafeterias, and farms before it has to be thrown away. The food is perfectly safe, but Read More >
September 21, 2015
Every year 50 million Americans go hungry. At the same time, about 40 percent of the food grown annually in the U.S. never gets eaten, ending up in landfills. So why not just give the wasted food to those who are hungry? That’s easier said than done.
An article from the Los Angeles Times highlights one of the roadblocks. The article illustrates the valiant efforts of Shirley Wei Sher, a member of the Southern California Chinese Lawyers Association (SCCLA), who wanted to end the annual cycle of having to throw away leftovers that could have potentially fed about 100 people. Sher planned to donate leftover food to a local charity, but was refused on the basis of being ‘“concerned about violating the local health code.”’ The refusal centered around the concern that donated food could make the recipients sick. This might be a legitimate concern, were it not for the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996, a federal law that shields potential food donors from liability. Read More >
September 16, 2015
At the Basque cuisine restaurant Txikito, in Manhattan, beet fronds flavor vinaigrette. The stems from chopped parsley infuse oil. Rabbits are stuffed with their own innards. “We never waste anything,” said Alexandra Raij, who owns Txikito with her husband, Eder Montero. Even cooking water—from chickpeas, from grains—is not wasted. Raij turns these into broth, frequently transporting gallons from one restaurant to another—the couple owns two other Spanish restaurants, La Vara and El Quinto Pino—to avoid menu redundancy. “We serve the chickpeas at La Vara and the chickpea broth at Txikito,” said Raij. Read More >
September 15, 2015
After two years of daily measuring, monitoring, feeding, and harvesting, three researchers felt like they’d reached an understanding of how their aquaponics facility really worked. With a new study, “Energy and water use of a small-scale raft aquaponics system in Baltimore, Maryland, United States,” the authors describe the relationship between inputs (energy, water, and fish feed), outputs (edible crops and fish), and operating conditions for their Baltimore-based facility. Basically, authors Dave Love, Michael Uhl and Laura Genello asked, What resources does it take to maintain an aquaponics facility and how could the system be optimized for profit? Read More >
September 14, 2015
The outbreak of several Asian-origin Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza A (HPAI) viruses is still wreaking havoc for industrial egg and turkey integrators. And the USDA has a vaccination program that’s supposed to address HPAI—but it’s naïve at best or ludicrous at worst.
It’s difficult to keep up with advancement of the HPAI viruses‑H5N2, H5N8, and H5N1—and difficult to keep up with the related data collected by the USDA’s Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS). As of mid-to-late July, 223 separate reported incidents had affected more than 49 million birds. Fewer than 9,000 of the birds have been grown in small, so-called “backyard” operations. Read More >
September 9, 2015
Debate over open ocean fish farms. Open ocean finfish farming is being considered four miles off the coast of San Diego in the Pacific Ocean, and similar ideas are being discussed in the Great Lakes region. The proposed San Diego farm is a joint partnership between Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute and private investors, and would be the nation’s largest, raising yellowtail and sea bass. Presently, it is unclear whether the proposed farm will be permitted. The Great Lakes is new to net pen aquaculture, but Michigan State University and Michigan Sea Grant are testing the waters by hosting a public forum about the topic. Supporters and critics of both regions are lining up to debate the issue. Read the articles at NPR and Michigan State University Extension. Read More >