June 6, 2014

CLF Week in Links: School Lunch, Best-By Labels, and More

Robert Lawrence, MD

Robert Lawrence, MD

Director

Center for a Livable Future

Do these labels contribute to food waste?

Do these labels contribute to food waste?

Food fight. This Politico story provides an excellent review of the school lunch standards fight going on right now. I wrote about this two weeks ago, but the struggle is ongoing. The School Nutrition Association (SNA) has made an enemy of First Lady Michelle Obama by supporting Republicans in their attempt to relax federal school lunch standards. From Politico: “SNA’s decision to aggressively lobby for a controversial rider in a House agriculture appropriations bill that would force the USDA to give schools waivers from the nutrition standards next school year has Read More >

June 2, 2014

Aphids, Ants and Mites: Confronting Insects at the Aquaponics Project

Laura Genello

Laura Genello

Farm Manager

CLF Aquaponics Project

mosquito fish photo

Mosquito fish dart beneath the plants at the Aquaponics Project / L. GENELLO

The greenhouse enclosing the CLF Aquaponics Project affords us many advantages over farming in a field, including season-defying winter growing potential. However, even inside a greenhouse, a farmer’s control over nature is only an illusion. This is most evident when it comes to pest control.  Despite our plastic roof, or perhaps because of it, we attract swarms of insect visitors year-round.

While there are many different greenhouse designs, including some that feature bug screening and double-entry doors for biosecurity, our greenhouse is far simpler. It has roll up sides Read More >

May 29, 2014

Fast-food workers strike a blow against inequality

Leo Horrigan, MHS

Leo Horrigan, MHS

CLF Correspondent

Center for a Livable Future

Protesters find Ronald McDonald guilty of providing low wages and poor working conditions in a “trial” outside a McDonald’s in Seoul, South Korea. / FastFoodGlobal.org

Protesters find Ronald McDonald guilty of providing low wages and poor working conditions in a “trial” outside a McDonald’s in Seoul, South Korea. / FastFoodGlobal.org

The fast-food workers’ uprising that began 18 months ago has expanded to become a global salvo against inequality, with workers striking in 33 countries on May 15. Fast-food CEOs are paid 1,200 times as much as workers in that industry. That’s more than four times the amount of CEO-to-worker inequality in the U.S. economy as a whole, which already has an outrageous level of pay disparity.

It is easy to see pay disparity as an issue of economic fairness, but less intuitive to see it as a health issue. But, countries that have more economic inequality have been shown to have worse health outcomes and Read More >

May 23, 2014

CLF Week in Links: School Lunch, Sugar, and More

Robert Lawrence, MD

Robert Lawrence, MD

Director

Center for a Livable Future

Making cane syrup, 1981 / State Archives of Florida

Making cane syrup, 1981 / State Archives of Florida

Is junk food the new tobacco? And is sugar the new crack cocaine? The World Health Assembly convenes in Geneva this week and next, and two organizations, Consumers International and the World Obesity Foundation, are calling on the international community to tackle diet-related diseases using the same strategies that have been used to target tobacco. They’ve issued a 19-page report with recommendations such as improving nutrition labeling and imposing stricter regulations on food marketing. This is from the report’s introduction: “Ten years after the launch of the WHO Global Strategy on Diet Physical Activity and Health, no country has succeeded in significantly reversing the rising tide of obesity or diabetes. Read More >

May 21, 2014

Fighting Food Waste—with Gleaning and Facebook

Kathryn Rees

Kathryn Rees

Guest Blogger

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

2014-turnipThis is the third post in a series about food waste.

In the time it takes you to read this sentence, 16,872 pounds of food have been wasted in the U.S. A large portion of food grown in America is wasted every year because it is too expensive for farmers to harvest their excess yield.

In an activity known as “gleaning,” community members harvest excess produce. And the harvesters get to keep the food at no cost. Read More >

May 20, 2014

Let’s All Calm Down about the Dietary Guidelines

Christine Grillo

Christine Grillo

Contributing Writer

Center for a Livable Future

USDA Food Pyramid, 1992

USDA Food Pyramid, 1992

The year 2015 will bring a new set of Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and there are some changes afoot that could help us recalibrate our food ways. The shift in thinking boils down to this: Sustainability. There seems to be a new recognition that we should protect our food systems so that they serve us for generations to come. In other words, we should eat what’s healthy for now—and later.

If you’ve seen the (by now infamous) food pyramid, or MyPlate, you’ve seen the work of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Read More >

May 19, 2014

The Constant Conundrum: How Can One Person Mitigate Climate Change?

Christine Grillo

Christine Grillo

Contributing Writer

Center for a Livable Future

U.S. War Production Board, 1945 / Northwestern University Library

U.S. War Production Board, 1945 / Northwestern University Library

“Now, Judge,” said my 11-year-old daughter, “we can all agree on one thing. We have to do what we can to slow down climate change.” She was presenting her 1AC—first affirmative constructive—in a Baltimore Urban Debate League tournament about solar panels. “Judge,” she said, “Humans are the ones who made this mess, and so humans should be the ones to clean it up.” Thus spake the fifth-grader.

Over one semester and hundreds of hours, debaters from Baltimore City public schools spoke passionately about the need to cut down our use of fossil fuels and stop producing greenhouse gases. It’s refreshing to see the need to mitigate—or, as my daughter put it, “slow down”—climate change discussed so vigorously among the elementary school set. It’s a conversation that we adults seem to be tiring of. But who can blame us? News of impending doom from climate change has become this decade’s white noise. Read More >

May 16, 2014

CLF Week in Links: Fed Up with Fructose, Climate and More

Robert Lawrence, MD

Robert Lawrence, MD

Director

Center for a Livable Future

Fed up with fructose.

Fed up with fructose.

Fed Up. As the film Fed Up comes to Baltimore this weekend, I’ll take a few moments to focus on fructose. The movie is the end-result of Katie Couric’s quest to make a film that explores the obesity epidemic. A recent USA Today story says this: “Those causes, according to the film, include food policy that subsidizes cheap corn syrup and unhealthy school lunches, misleading corporate marketing, and lack of public awareness.” Mark Bittman wrote about the film in his column Read More >

May 5, 2014

CLF Week in Links: Post-Antibiotics, California, and More

Robert Lawrence, MD

Robert Lawrence, MD

Director

Center for a Livable Future

Water supply, Gettysburg, July 1913 / LOC

Water supply, Gettysburg, July 1913 / LOC

Post-antibiotic world. The WHO declared this week that “antibiotic resistance is now a reality.” This is from the WHO’s first global report on antimicrobial resistance. So now the CDC and WHO have both sounded the alarm on our need for new antibiotics and the urgency of adopting better use of existing antibiotics. One way we can better use these precious medicines is to ban the sub-therapeutic or low doses of antimicrobials that are used for disease prevention in livestock to compensate for unsanitary and crowded conditions. FDA’s flawed General Guidance 213 Read More >

April 29, 2014

Farming with Pen and Paper: Crop Planning at the Aquaponics Project

Laura Genello

Laura Genello

Farm Manager

CLF Aquaponics Project

Basil ready for its first harvest at the Aquaponics Project

Basil ready for its first harvest at the Aquaponics Project

Visitors to the CLF Aquaponics Project often ask, “As farm manager, what do you do all day? It looks like the system runs itself, right?” Although an aquaponics system, if managed efficiently, can require less labor than a soil-based farm, the lush rafts of swiss chard, kale, and sorrel need help to develop into quality produce. Every plant is seeded, transplanted, managed for pests and diseases, harvested, and sometimes even pruned or trellised as it grows. However, the trickiest part in managing any farm is in the planning that takes place behind the scenes.

A farm plan will determine the success or failure of a business; and since every piece of land, microclimate, and market is slightly different, it can take years of experience in one place to get right.  At the CLF Aquaponics Project, we are continually learning Read More >