Meat consumption must drop by 90% to avert a climate crisis

October 16, 2018 by  
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While the meat industry’s negative impacts on the environment have proved troublesome for some time, an assembly of scientists from various European research institutes have released a thorough analysis of the Earth’s food system that shows if farming practices and food trends continue unchecked, the planet’s capabilities of feeding the global population will be decimated within the coming decades, and global warming will not be able to stay under 1.5 degrees Celsius. Greenhouse gas emissions, land and water consumption, deforestation , biodiversity loss and aquatic dead zones are the central burdens of agriculture evaluated by experts. However, this year’s research study determined a new problem — food supply — to be the most concerning of all. With a booming population that is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, the environmental damages are enough that widespread food insecurity is knocking on our door. Related: Look out, meat industry – flexitarianism is on the rise “It is pretty shocking,” said Marco Springmann, lead researcher from the University of Oxford. “We are really risking the sustainability of the whole system.” The team examined precise data from every country to assemble the most comprehensive assessment of food production and global environment to date. Their diagnosis? Surviving within environmental limits requires a drastic reduction in meat consumption. “Feeding a world population of 10 billion is possible, but only if we change the way we eat and the way we produce food,” explained Professor Johan Rockström from Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “Greening the food sector or eating up our planet: this is what is on the menu today.” While the problem requires multi-dimensional confrontation from technological , governmental and social standpoints, the experts are encouraging dietary changes on an individual level. The study recommends an astounding 90 percent reduction in meat consumption and a 60 percent cut in milk consumption for people in countries such as the U.S. and U.K., as well as the adoption of more sustainable farming practices, in order to keep temperature rise under control. “There is no magic bullet, but dietary and technological [farming] change are the two essential things, and hopefully they can be complemented by reduction in food loss and waste,” Springmann said. Calling it the “flexitarian” diet, the researchers recommended a surge in bean , pulse, nut and seed consumption to replace the standard meat intake. Taking the average world citizen, the diet stresses a 75 percent cut in beef, a 90 percent cut in pork and a 50 percent cut in egg consumption to halve livestock emissions and help the planet return to sustainable levels. “Ultimately, we live on a finite planet, with finite resources,” said University of Leeds professor Tim Benton on the study, in which he did not take part. “It is a fiction to imagine there is a technological solution allowing us to produce as much food as we might ever want, allowing us to overeat and throw food away.” + Nature Via The Guardian Images via Andrik Langfield and Deryn Macey

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Meat consumption must drop by 90% to avert a climate crisis

Bee hive vandalism in Iowa kills tens of thousands of honeybees

October 15, 2018 by  
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Bee vandals have struck again, this time at the Grateful Acres Farm northeast of Des Moines, Iowa. Last week, farmer Jake Knutson discovered that someone had trashed three of his strongest hives with cinder blocks, logs and bricks, causing him to lose tens of thousands of bees and 150 pounds of honey. The vandalism allowed bees from nearby farms to steal the honey from the exposed containers, and it also left Knutson’s insects to die in the rain. During the past year, hive vandalism has made news all over the world and killed hundreds of thousands of bees, including massacres in California , Ontario and Manchester, England, according to USA Today . Last winter, vandals also hit another Iowa farm, killing 500,000 honeybees. The insects do not fly in cold temperatures, and they died on the ground in the snow. Related: Bees addicted to pesticides much like smokers to nicotine, scientists say In last year’s Iowa vandalism case that caused over $60,000 in damages, two boys — ages 12 and 13 — ended up with felony charges. Knutson believes that kids are to blame for the current damage on his farm. Even though he doesn’t want to see kids get into trouble, he did contact authorities, because the vandals showed up two different times, and he doesn’t believe they should get a pass. “That means whomever did this came back within the last day and a half with the intent to destroy them,” Knutson wrote on Facebook. “The first time I guessed it was curious kids, and I was just wanting to speak to their parents, but after the recent incident I filed a police report and will prosecute when they find them.” Knutson saved as many bees as he could, and he plans to rebuild the hives for next year. One of Knutson’s friends created a GoFundMe account to help the farm recoup its losses. Knutson says that they will be able to recover, but “it just sucks” that someone would destroy everything after the huge investment of time and labor into the hives. Knutson also wrote on social media that bee vandalism seems to be a growing trend among kids, and parents need to teach their children about the importance of bees and seek out a local beekeeper to support . According to estimates, 35 percent of all food production depends on bee pollination. Meanwhile, honeybees continue to die off at an alarming rate. Via USA Today and EcoWatch Photography by Marisa Lubeck via USGS

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Bee hive vandalism in Iowa kills tens of thousands of honeybees

Barn-inspired home offers back-to-nature living with a crisp, contemporary twist

October 15, 2018 by  
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Reconnecting with rural roots has never looked better than at Silvernails, a beautiful hillside home fashioned as a rural barn in Rhinebeck, New York. Set on a picturesque 120-acre property near the east side of the Hudson River, the gabled holiday retreat is the first “ground-up” residential work of Manhattan-based Amalgam Studio . In addition to its modern good looks and spectacular outdoor views, Silvernails also boasts an energy-efficient design optimized for cross-ventilation and daylighting. Spanning 5,000 square feet, the timber-clad home is organized as a long and linear rectangular mass clad in timber inside and out. “Much like the traditional communal barn-raising events of the region, the double-height Bent Frames were raised and bolted into place, with the entire timber structure completed in one day,” explained Amalgam Studio founder Ben Albury, who noted that although many people are drawn to the airy and warm character of barns , the rural buildings’ lack of insulation and comfort are turn-offs. To make the barn-inspired residence a comfortable and welcome place to call home, the architects used high-performance glazing and insulation to ensure stable indoor temperatures year-round. In-wall heat-recovery ventilation units and operable windows also promote continuous fresh air. “From the very beginning, the clients wanted a comfortable house. I believe it would have been irresponsible for me not to look at, and ultimately follow, Passive House Standards,” Albury said. “As far as I’m aware, the home features the longest triple-glazed Passive House Certified residential skylight in North America.” In addition to natural ventilation and lighting, Silvernails features LED lighting, an energy-efficient multi-split heat-pump air conditioning system and locally sourced materials. Related: A Michigan farmhouse is reborn as a beautiful modern vacation retreat The exterior is clad with unpainted “plantation pine” treated to withstand rot and pests and applied using a “unique, innovative clip system to the standing seams of roof sheeting.” The interiors include white oak flooring and lining, walnut cabinetry and hickory vanity units. The timber palette is complemented with domestically quarried stone, including granite and slate. + Amalgam Studio Via ArchDaily Images by Oliver Mint

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Everything you need to know about online farmers markets

October 15, 2018 by  
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Online farmers markets are becoming increasingly popular with the rise in demand for locally sourced produce. With an industry that makes hundreds of millions annually, online farmers markets provide consumers with fresh food at their door for minimal costs. From how these markets work to the pros and cons of ordering online, here is everything you should know about online farmers markets. How do online farmers markets work? Online farmers markets typically operate within a geographically defined area, such as a single county. By only doing business in a defined location, these websites can easily work with local farms to market and ship fresh produce to individuals. The downside to this approach is that you can only participate in online farmers markets if you live within a specific area. It also leads to regionally based competition as farmers compete with larger grocery chains, which are increasingly offering deliverable food. The process of ordering from an online farmers market is pretty simple. After selecting the types of food you want to buy, you pay online and have it shipped to your home, or you can select a pickup option. Some online farmers markets will have several pickup locations in an area to make it more convenient on the customer. Larger marketplaces, meanwhile, will usually only ship produce to your home. Related: The ugly truth about the imperfect food movement Online farmers markets versus Community Supported Agriculture Community Supported Agriculture ( CSA ) programs were around long before online farmers markets came into existence. These models work on a subscription basis and give customers an allotment of produce every few weeks. The CSA usually picks the type of produce, and it is often whatever food is in season. It can sometimes be a bit of a gamble. In contrast, online farmers markets give customers an option of what they purchase, including a variety of vegetables, fruits, dairy products, meat, honey, baked goods, preserves and maple syrup. The customer also controls when they receive the goods, and everything is done online. Not only does this benefit the customer, but it also helps farmers with marketing and handling transactions. Pros of online farmers markets For customers, convenience and variety are the biggest pros of online farmers markets. Without having to leave your house, you get to choose from an assortment of fresh produce and goods and have them delivered within a week. While the system is great for consumers, online farmers markets also benefit growers. For farmers, the online market acts like a traditional co-op and benefits growers in a number of ways. This includes handling payments, packaging and distribution; saving time and energy; cutting down on marketing expenses and providing access to a larger market. The majority of growers that participate in online farmers markets operate small to mid-size farms. Without an online presence, these farms would likely struggle to sell their merchandise and compete with larger grocery stores, many of which are also advertising locally produced food. Click Fork, for example, is a co-op based out of Canada that helped save a handful of local farmers from shutting down. With their traditional businesses failing, farmers around Sudbury, Canada, joined forces and built a website to sell their goods. Their website was so successful that the group is looking to expand in the near future. Cons of online farmers markets Depending on where you live, you may or may not have access to an online farmers market. At the very least, your options are probably slim. There is also the issue of only being able to buy produce that is in season and that can grow in your location. While this gives you more options than a traditional CSA, it does not compete well with grocery stores that ship in produce from far-flung locations. For eco-conscious folks, this isn’t much of a problem, but it can be harder to attract larger crowds to eating local, seasonal foods. That said, many people are willing to sacrifice variety when it comes to convenience, and there are not too many things better than ordering food from the comfort of your own home. Another disadvantage to online farmers markets compared to traditional farmers markets is the lack of human connection — it just isn’t the same when you don’t get to shake the hands of the person who grew your food. Where can you order produce online? The number of online farmers markets is growing every year. The majority of these sites serve specific locations, but there are a few that are branching out to wider areas of the country. WildKale is an example of an online farmers market that ships to a wider customer base. The company collaborates with over 30 growers in the northeastern U.S. and plans on expanding across the country in the near future. Depending on your location, you might be able to find an online farmers market closer to home. Good Eggs , for example, serves customers in the Bay Area, while WyoFresh ships produce to locations in southeast Wyoming. If you cannot find an online farmers market that serves your area, there is a good chance one will pop up before long. The future of online farmers markets With the growth of large grocery chains, small farmers across the country are struggling to say afloat. Although selling produce online is preventing a lot of growers from going under, companies are finding it difficult to sustain their online presence. Farmigo, a farmers market based out of Brooklyn, just shut down its virtual market after raising $26 million in startup funds. The company was successful in selling produce online, but the creators discovered that their model was not sustainable over the long run. The company had trouble with the logistics of packaging and shipping a large amount of produce to customers while still turning a profit. There is a lot of promise for the industry as a whole, but figuring out how to scale it up sustainably is the next challenge. Although there are challenges facing online farmers markets , the future is bright. The grocery industry has always been huge, and the market for locally produced food is growing larger every year. Investors may be hesitant to invest in online farmers markets across the country now, but it is clear they are here to stay. Via Farm and Dairy , Supermarket News , Food + Tech Connect and CBC Images via Markus Spiske and Shutterstock

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A greenhouse is transformed into an experimental living space in Taiwan

September 26, 2018 by  
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Taipei-based design practice BIAS Architects recently completed “Greenhouse as a Home,” an experimental installation that reinterprets the living areas of a traditional house as five climatic zones. Created for the 2018 Taoyuan Green Expo, the project invited the public to experience the buildings with all five senses, from feeling the climatic differences to eating fresh vegetables hydroponically grown in the installation. Greenhouse as a Home consists of five independent yet interconnected steel grid structures with varying heights and climates ranging from 16 to 29 degrees Celsius (61 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit). Greenhouse as a Home was developed to promote a “culture of sustainability” with its interactive programmatic zones conducive to education. “Here, the human living space is intertwined with that of the plants and organized according to climatic zones, rather than traditional architectural areas,” the architects explained. “ Greenhouses building materials and structures are arranged to separate climatic areas, while the distribution of water and energy flows is technologically managed. The roof is covered with various combinations of agricultural gauzes and plastic films to control lighting and solar radiation.” The experimental project is divided into five structures: the Fern Living Room, Farm Dining, Photosynthesis Kitchen, Sun Garden and Theater of Mushroom. A defined walking path links the different volumes. The first zone visitors experience is the Fern Living Room, a shadowy and humid space dressed with potted ferns hung from the ceiling. The next room, Farm Dining, is slightly hotter and less humid and serves as the main activity zone organized around a large table. Related: 6 places where soil-less farming is revolutionizing how we grow food A vertical hydroponic farm is located in the Photosynthesis Kitchen, the middle zone where fresh vegetables are picked daily and cooked in the demonstration kitchen. The fourth zone, the Sun Garden, is the hottest and driest room of all and is used to desiccate vegetables. The fifth and final zone, the Theater of Mushroom, immerses visitors into a dark, highly humid environment with the coolest temperatures in the entire installation; the multisensory space is complemented by light and sound performances. + BIAS Architects Images by Rockburger

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A greenhouse is transformed into an experimental living space in Taiwan

Mars candy company plans to fix the "broken" cocoa supply chain

September 21, 2018 by  
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Some big changes are ahead for Mars Wrigley Confectionery. The company, which produces some of the most popular treats in America, is revamping its cocoa supply to help combat poverty, child labor and deforestation . Mars hopes its new strategy will be fully in place by the year 2025 and fix what it referred to as the “broken” cocoa industry. “The cocoa supply chain as it works today is broken,” said John Ament, the vice president of the company, in an interview with Reuters . Related: Colombia to produce free chocolate — deforestation-free, that is… Critics have targeted the cocoa industry this year, because it negatively affects farmers and has contributed to environmental issues like deforestation. Mars Wrigley hopes to change the industry by investing in a new strategy — one that will ensure that all its cocoa is purchased from responsible growers. Although the plan is great for the environment and sustainability, Mars expects to spend around $1 billion to get it done. This is not the first time Mars has initiated a sustainability plan. In previous years, the company promised to buy only certified cocoa . This goal was supposed to be met by 2020, but Mars now says that certification is not enough. Related: Mars Australia to go to 100% renewable energy in just over one year The new strategy means that the company will be able to trace all the cocoa it purchases back to the original source, and a third party will verify that the growers are not contributing to deforestation. Mars will also pay more for cocoa that meets its new standards. Not only will this help fight poverty and child labor among cocoa producers, but it also gives farmers more incentive to practice sustainability. Under the old certification plan, farmers were not paid more for producing sustainable cocoa, which is why the strategy came under fire in the first place. Mars also plans to educate farmers on better growing practices and give them better access to funding. The company hopes this will lead to greater sustainability and increased production. + Mars Via Reuters Image via Mars

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Mars candy company plans to fix the "broken" cocoa supply chain

The ugly truth about the imperfect food movement

September 11, 2018 by  
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The imperfect food movement continues to rise in popularity as companies, like Imperfect Produce in Silicon Valley, capitalize on a growing trend to fight food waste around the country. Imperfect Produce and similar companies offer boxes of ugly and misshapen produce to customers, saving a lot of food that would otherwise be discarded. While the movement is cutting down on food waste , small farmers are worried that it might have a negative affect on their livelihoods. Origins of the imperfect food movement Startups like Imperfect Produce are not the first to sell discarded produce at a discount. Farmers around the country have been doing it for years with the support of local communities. Many farmers engage in community supported agriculture ( CSA ), selling boxes of imperfect produce on a subscription basis and providing fresh food that is locally sourced. Although trends like the imperfect food movement are on the rise, small farmers have seen a decline in their sales as larger companies and grocery stores branch out into the organic marketplace. It is estimated that small farms throughout the country have seen a 20 percent dip year over year in CSA sales ever since the imperfect food movement took off in 2014. Related: New study finds food waste will increase to 66 tons per second if left unchecked An imperfect food movement on the rise Selling ugly and misshapen produce has really taken off over the past three years, and the movement is still going strong. Imperfect Produce sells produce in a growing number of cities across America. This past summer, Imperfect Produce started another round of financing that generated upward of $30 million, a clear sign that investors are interested in the growing movement. But as companies like Imperfect Produce benefit from the imperfect food movement, small farmers are struggling to keep up. The decline in sales has even forced some smaller farmers to shut down and seek work elsewhere. How are small farmers affected? The main problem with the imperfect food movement, at least as it relates to small farms , is that the market has become too large for these farmers to compete. Imperfect Produce is doing its best to help small farms by sourcing produce from farms across the Midwest — the company currently works with 25 small farms throughout the area — but the demand is higher than what these farmers can meet. To help fill the gaps, Imperfect Produce has turned to larger farms, which supply all of the demand and do so at a cheaper price. In fact, the majority of the produce the company sells actually comes from Mexico and California , especially when winter hits the Midwest. For all of the farmers who are not associated with the company, competing with them at that scale is nearly impossible. Related: Walmart introduces line of “ugly” fruit to combat food waste The ugly side of the imperfect food movement Small farmers are not the only ones hurt by the imperfect food movement. With most of the produce coming from California and Mexico , customers outside of these regions aren’t always getting local or seasonal foods — instead, more emissions are emitted as these companies try to get enough food to customers. Critics also point out that companies like Imperfect Produce are making money from food that would normally be donated to non-profit organizations, like local food banks. This in turn hurts local communities and low-income families who have used these resources for decades. That said, Imperfect Produce has made an effort to help out food banks in cities where it operates. In Chicago , for example, the company has gifted more than 130,000 pounds of produce to the city’s food bank, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, which gives this food to homeless shelters and food outlets. Benefits of the imperfect food movement The impact on small farms aside, the imperfect food movement is cutting down on overall food waste, which is a big issue in this country. As the movement rises in popularity, more and more produce will be rescued from the trash heap, a benefit that should not be overlooked. The imperfect food movement also teaches consumers — and farmers — that produce can look imperfect but still taste amazing and have nutritional value . It can also open the door for people to look into other programs, like CSA, that offer imperfect produce at a discount. Should you support the imperfect food movement or small farmers? The imperfect food movement has created a difficult problem for small farmers throughout the country, an issue that will likely worsen in the coming years. For consumers, picking between supporting local farmers or the imperfect food movement is a tough decision. On one hand, buying imperfect produce helps cut down on food waste. On the other hand, buying that produce from larger companies hurts small farmers who cannot compete with the growing demand. As the movement continues to grow, we can only hope that companies like Imperfect Produce will partner with more small farms. After all, helping small farms not only keeps their doors open, but it also boosts local economies and provides fresh food with a smaller environmental impact. Images via Alexandr Podvalny , Gemma Evans , Rebecca Georgia , Sydney Rae , Anda Ambrosini , Caleb Stokes and Shumilov Ludmila

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The ugly truth about the imperfect food movement

Recent figures reveal Spain’s human population is now outnumbered by pigs

August 23, 2018 by  
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Environmentalists are alarmed by recent data that reveals Spain’s pig population now outnumbers its human one by 3.5 million. This is the first time the number of pigs in Spain has exceeded that of humans, and the discrepancy is adding to concerns about the environmental impact of the pork industry. This impact stems primarily from greenhouse gas emissions , nitrate discharges, and water consumption. The number of pigs in Spain has increased by nine million in the last five years; in 2017 alone, Spain’s pork industry produced about four million tons of pork products. Environmentalists are calling on producers to slow down, and for good reason. Each pig in Spain drinks close to four gallons of water per day, and the total amount consumed is enough to satisfy the water needs of Spanish cities Zaragoza, Seville and Alicante combined. Pig farming also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions from livestock overall, which is the fourth-largest emissions generator in the country. Related: Muscle-packed pigs in Cambodia raise alarms The enormity of the industry also makes it difficult to regulate. “When you don’t control an industry in which traditionally there’s a lot of fraud, because there’s a lot of demand but not a lot of product, this is what happens,” said Francisco Espárrago, a  jamón ibérico de bellota producer in Extremadura, in reference to numerous quality control issues that have plagued Spain’s pork industry. It appears that stricter – or perhaps better enforced – regulations would benefit Spain’s longstanding pork traditions that have existed since Roman times, protect local producers, and alleviate environmental infractions which are cause for national concerns. Via The Guardian  

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Recent figures reveal Spain’s human population is now outnumbered by pigs

How Dr. Bronner’s is cleaning up its agricultural supply chain

August 13, 2018 by  
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Dr. Bronner’s may have a crunchy reputation, but it also has a down-to-earth focus on regenerative agriculture.

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How Dr. Bronner’s is cleaning up its agricultural supply chain

Concerned About GMOs in Your Food?

August 7, 2018 by  
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Remember when organic farming took the food world by storm … The post Concerned About GMOs in Your Food? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Concerned About GMOs in Your Food?

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