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

Associate 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 >

March 25, 2016

Forced Labor and Worker Rights in Seafood Supply Chains

Dave Love

Dave Love

Associate Scientist, Public Health & Sustainable Aquaculture Project

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

seafoodexpo2016-dloveI was first introduced to labor rights in the food industry after watching the documentary Food Chain$. The film, which was screened in Baltimore, exposes the plight of Immokalee tomato pickers, organized by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), and their goal of raising wages by a penny a pound for tomatoes picked in Florida. They were successful in convincing most retailers and wholesalers to meet their demands, and CIW received national attention when the Obama Administration issued them a Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons. These high-profile campaigns are raising awareness among consumers and challenging food companies to discuss labor rights. Read More >

March 23, 2016

CLF Aquaculture Links: March 2016

Dave Love

Dave Love

Associate Scientist, Public Health & Sustainable Aquaculture Project

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

AQ-news-300An astounding 23 million farmed Atlantic salmon have died in Chile due to an algal bloom. About nine percent of salmon farms in southern Chile were affected, at a cost of about $800 million U.S. Chile is a major salmon exporter to the U.S. El Niño conditions have led to unusually warmer ocean waters that allow algae to multiply. Read more at Reuters.

In the past few months we have posted several stories about net-pen aquaculture in the Great Lakes. Recently, three Michigan state agencies have publicly stated opposition to net-pen farms in Lake Michigan because of environmental risks, and potential adverse effects on tourism and recreational fishing. Read more at the Detroit Free Press. Read More >

March 4, 2016

Limiting Antibiotics Misuse in Food Animals – Legislation We Need

Claire Fitch

Claire Fitch

Program Officer, Food System Policy Program

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

This blogpost is co-authored by Claire Fitch, Robert Martin, and Keeve Nachman.

RS47_E. Coli 104696230-scrAntibiotic resistance is a major public health crisis. Continued misuse of antibiotics will result in these lifesaving drugs no longer being effective in treating even the most routine infections.  Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide support for the need for immediate action to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics. Each year, at least two million Americans develop these infections, and of those, 23,000 die from them. Antibiotic-resistant infections are more costly to treat, can require lengthier hospital stays, and are more likely to require invasive procedures like surgery. Read More >

March 3, 2016

The Black Box – An inside look at the Dietary Guidelines process

Becky Ramsing

Becky Ramsing

Senior Program Officer, Food Communities & Public Health Program

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Frank Hu, February 26, 2016 at CLF.

Frank Hu, February 26, 2016 at CLF.

Every five years USDA and HHS hammer out a revised set of recommendations for how Americans should eat. The process, resulting in the Dietary Guidelines, is supposed to be transparent, accessible and systematic. But there is a black box in the process, says Dr. Frank Hu.

Dr. Hu is a member of the most recent Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) and a professor on the faculty of both the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. On February 26, he offered some insight into the process at the invitation of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, addressing students, faculty and staff at the Bloomberg School. Read More >

February 26, 2016

CLF Aquaculture Links: February 2016

Dave Love

Dave Love

Associate Scientist, Public Health & Sustainable Aquaculture Project

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

AQ-news-300Aquaculture and Fisheries Policy

This month NOAA released a draft proposal for new seafood traceability requirements for 13 species to stem imports of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fish. While the plan is a good first step, our colleague Beth Lowell of Oceana would like to see the plan go further by adding three components in the final rule: “1) it needs to apply to all seafood; 2) products need to be traced throughout the entire supply chain to final point of sale; and 3) if there is a phase-in implementation process, there must be a concrete timeline to expand the rule to all species and extend traceability from boat to plate in the final rule.” Read more: The Hill and Food Safety News.
Read More >