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 >
August 26, 2015
August 21, 2015
Saying “no” to caramel coloring.
Good news for school lunches. I’ll start off this week’s update with some good news, coming from Marin County, California. Starting this month, the Sausalito Marin City School District will be serving 100 percent organic, GMO-free meals in two schools in Marin City and Sausalito. These schools serve about 500 students. All meals will be prepared on-site by The Conscious Kitchen, which rethinks school food based on five foundational terms: Fresh, Local, Organic, Seasonal and Non-GMO. This is the first school district in the nation to deliver food with this model. An important message to Big Ag is that transparency in labeling is essential for long-term monitoring of health and ecosystem effects of GMOs, and until we can have post-release surveillance and epidemiologic studies of possible health effects, the public will be attracted to approaches such as this one in Marin. Read More >