Are you up for the Plastic Free July challenge?

July 1, 2020 by  
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How hard would it be to say no to single-use plastics for an entire month? People who sign up for Plastic Free July are about to find out. The global movement is asking people around the world to be part of the plastic pollution solution. Plastic Free July started back in 2011. Last year, about 250 million people from 177 countries took part in the movement. A survey about Plastic Free July found that participants reduced their household waste about 5% per year and made changes that became long-term habits. Related: How to replace single-use and plastic items in the kitchen Brought to you by the Plastic Free Foundation Rebecca Prince-Ruiz founded the Plastic Free Foundation as a not-for-profit in 2017 along with a team of committed folks in Western Australia. Now, the organization promotes Plastic Free July. The foundation’s ambassador, musician Jack Johnson, is instrumental in spreading the word. “Plastic Free July inspires me to step up my commitment to reducing single-use plastic in my daily life and on tour,” he said on the organization’s website. “A great first step is to commit to using reusable water bottles . I’m also working with the music industry (artists, venues, festivals and fans) to reduce plastic waste through the BYOBottle campaign.” The foundation’s website is its most accessible resource for people around the world. It inspires visitors with stories about ordinary people trying to escape the siren song of convenient plastic. A section called “What others do” features — and invites readers to submit — their stories about alternatives to plastics they use in their everyday life. For example, a mother of two in New Zealand has found strategies for working toward a zero-waste household, and another woman managed to talk her hospital coworkers out of using 70,000 single-use cups each year. You can download posters from the website urging people to avoid single-use straws , takeout containers, plastic bags and other pitfalls of modern life. The posters are suitable for hanging at work, school or local businesses. Ways to avoid single-use plastic People who take the Plastic Free July pledge probably figure they can do without straws for a month or more and remember to bring their reusable cloth bags to the market. But some plastic products are harder to avoid. The web page called “What you can do” provides solutions to many of these problems. For many people, menstruation seems to bring an unfair burden: cramps, moodiness and the responsibility for plastic tampon applicators and used sanitary napkins piling up in landfills or blocking sewage pipes and even causing ingestion issues for marine animals. Instead, the Plastic Free Foundation recommends using menstrual cups, period underwear or reusable pads. Worldwide, people struggle with what to do about bin liners. While putting a plastic bag in your trash can is exceedingly convenient, plastic stays in the landfill forever, eventually breaking down into microplastics that can harm animals. Instead, you can line your bin with newspaper, or let your bin go “naked” and wash it frequently. Of course, composting all your food scraps will cut down on the bin’s ickiest contents. Audit your bin Before you can improve, you need to know how bad the problem is. The Plastic Free Foundation recommends auditing your bin. Doing a bin audit will help you understand what kind of waste you’re creating and how you can minimize it. You can do a bin audit at home or in your workplace. Try to get your family or coworkers onboard to help with the audit and to implement changes based on your findings. Choose an auspicious day for the bin audit. This should be long enough after trash day so that some stuff has accumulated in your bin but not long enough for it to stink. Find a sheltered outdoor place with good airflow. Spread a tarp on the ground and dump your bin. Separate your trash into categories, such as paper , food, cans, batteries, plastics, etc. Estimate the volume and percentage of each category and write it down in a notebook. Later, after cleaning up, you can assess your findings. Some things will be obvious, like if you’ve been too lazy to carry your apple cores and potato peels to the compost and have been chucking them in the bin instead. Or maybe you’ll notice lots of food packaging and realize you could be buying more of those items in bulk instead. Focus on one or two behaviors that will be the easiest to change. Do another bin audit about six months later, check your improvement and pick a new goal. Take the plastic-free challenge Ready for a meaningful sustainability challenge? You can sign up on the Plastic Free July website. The web form asks for your name, email address, country and post code. You’ll get weekly motivational emails in your inbox with tips for avoiding plastic and news on the global movement. The form also gives you choices about the level of your participation. You can commit to going plastic-free for a day, a week, the whole month of July or indefinitely. You can also select whether you’re taking part in the challenge in your workplace, at your school or at home. + Plastic Free July Images via Laura Mitulla , Volodymyr Hryshchenko , Jasmin Sessler ( 1 , 2 ) and Good Soul Shop

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Are you up for the Plastic Free July challenge?

Sustainable Meat Production: The Blue Goat

June 29, 2020 by  
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Modern mass production of meat, or factory farming, has become … The post Sustainable Meat Production: The Blue Goat appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Summer gardening tips for a great harvest

June 19, 2020 by  
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When the much-anticipated summer season finally arrives, make the most of your garden time with a checklist of ongoing tasks that will keep your plants healthy year-round. Clean up Much of your clean up might have taken place in the spring. However, if winter rolls straight into summer in your part of the country, or you haven’t had the time or motivation to tackle the task, get busy pulling weeds, mowing the lawn and cleaning the patio furniture. Avoid harsh chemicals and instead borrow a pressure washer to blast the deck, fencing, porch and paver stones. Also, tidy up any concrete blocks along your raised beds. Related: Where to order vegetable seeds online Continue to plant Again, your garden is probably well underway from your spring plantings. But in addition to monitoring the growth of your current plants, continue planting for late summer and fall crops. Plan to keep your garden producing by planting fall crops such as pumpkins and squash. Create a calendar for planting based on where you live and how long crops need until harvest. Use mulch Summer heat zaps moisture out of the soil, and many plants suffer without mulch to help them retain much-needed water. Check your trees, shrubs and flowering bulbs a few times each month and supplement the mulch as needed.  Plant bulbs Although spring and summer steal the show for flowering bulbs, the fall months can dazzle too if you think ahead. Use the warm days of late summer to plant bulbs such as autumn crocus, winter daffodil and Guernsey lily that will burst to life in the fall. Be sure to mark where you placed them, so you don’t plant over them. Install a timer Using water efficiently not only benefits your pocketbook and the planet’s resources, but it also results in better plant production. The best way to water where you need when you need is to use timers that automatically turn the system on and off. Timers can be used for complex underground sprinkler systems with several zones and also for simple drip systems for hanging baskets or berry patches.  Water  in the early morning or late evening, when temperatures are cool and evaporation is less likely. Make sure to turn the timers off when rain is in the forecast. Prune and deadhead As plants continue to thrive throughout the season, they’ll benefit from a trim here and there. Identify plants that bloom early winter to late spring and prune them back during the summer. Deadhead current blooming plants as blossoms die off; this diverts the energy away from spent blooms and towards active ones.  Support your plants Early in the season, get cages around your brambling plants, such as raspberries and tomatoes . Other plants also need support as they grow, including bush beans, snap peas and flowers like delphinium. Check on your plants at least every other day to keep them in line.  Train them to climb Summer is also a productive season for your climbers, and without training, they may grow to undesirable places within or even outside your yard. Keep up with your hops, grapes, clematis and wisteria, guiding them up trellises or along wires as they reach new heights. Close the buffet for animals Your garden full of flowers or fruits is a tempting invitation for the neighborhood  animals . Summer is the time to protect your plants against critters large and small. Put up fencing around your food garden and make sure it is tall enough that deer can’t jump over it. Inside your garden, further protect plants from smaller animals that may squeeze in, such as rabbits and chipmunks. To protect against the smallest of hungry animals, keep ladybugs around to feed on aphids, move old plants to another area of the yard, use natural insecticides and place short, open cans or cups of beer nearby to draw in slugs. You can also use netting over the top of your crops to keep birds from having a free meal at the plant buffet. Feed your plants Even after your plants are well established, most need a little boost now and then to keep up energy for production. Around midseason, provide your plants with some fertilizer to help them out.  Turn your harvest into a meal plan Growing a garden can take a lot of work and money, so you don’t want your resulting harvest to go to waste. The best way to use up fresh vegetables is to plan for their arrival. You can add the tops of radishes, beets and carrots to pesto, which can be eaten fresh or frozen/canned for later. Plan to use your lettuce promptly after harvest with myriad salad options that can incorporate your carrots, beets, snow peas, broccoli, strawberries and more. The point is, as your garden produces various foods , create an upcoming meal plan to match.  Protect wood products Summer is also the time to restain fencing and decking. Apply a fresh coat of paint or stain to furniture and the garden bench. Invite pollinators to the party Pollinators such as  bees, butterflies, birds  and bats can really benefit your yard, so as summer progresses, cater to their needs. Build and install bat, butterfly, bird and bee houses. Keep the bird feeders and baths clean and supplied. Finally, plan your seasonal garden flowers around those that attract your feathered and winged friends to the party.  Start a compost pile Anytime is a great time to start a compost pile. Still, the heat of summer can help the stratified material break down faster than it would during other seasons.  Set up rain barrels Even if you have rare summer rains, getting rain barrels set up now will give you ample water when the rains return. You can then use this to water plants, the lawn or even the animals. Check your state’s rainwater harvesting laws before getting started, though. Preserve your harvest Finally, preserving food is a quintessential part of summer. Rows of canning jars, a freezer full of fresh crops and the dehydrator working overtime all represent the fruits of your labor. Images via Pexels and Pixabay

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Finally, a one-stop shop for researching food systems data

June 19, 2020 by  
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Finally, a one-stop shop for researching food systems data Jim Giles Fri, 06/19/2020 – 00:15 Parts of our food systems are so bewilderingly complex that attempts to answer even basic questions can result in hours of frustrated searching. If you can relate to this, I have some good news for you — not quite a fully-fledged solution, but certainly a step toward one. The genesis of this solution dates to around six years ago, when Lawrence Haddad, who leads the nonprofit Global Alliance on Improved Nutrition , was editing an article on nutrition. “The authors had so little data to go on they had to make crazy assumptions about food systems,” he recalled when we spoke this week.  Haddad and his co-editor, Jessica Fanzo of Johns Hopkins University, set about assembling the people and funding needed to fix that. Earlier this month, they unveiled the Food Systems Dashboard . “It’s very much something we built in our garages in evenings and weekends,” Haddad said. “Much to our surprise, it has gathered momentum. We now see the potential is huge.” The dashboard is a data smorgasbord that covers everything from food waste and greenhouse gas emissions to food security and agricultural productivity. In total, there are more than 170 indicators, culled from 35 sources and covering nearly every country. There are gaps in the coverage, which Haddad says the team is working to fix, but the dashboard looks likely to become a first point of call for questions about food systems.  It’s for governments and businesses — the people who make decisions about actions. Poking around it this week, for instance, I found it easy to check something I had been curious about: Are young people in the United States eating more vegetables? Sadly not. Consumption hasn’t changed much in a decade. Presumably, this is related to other data I came across in the dashboard: The quantity of vegetables available per person in the U.S. food supply has been trending slowly down over the past 20 years. Businesses also can benefit from exploratory analyses such as these, suggested Haddad. There’s data on food infrastructure, government regulations and the amount of money that families have available to spend on food, all factors that guide decisions about whether to move into an emerging market. “If this is only for researchers, we’ve failed,” Haddad said. “It’s for governments and businesses — the people who make decisions about actions.” To make the dashboard more useful, the team is working on adding subnational data for large countries and developing guides for specific types of users. The dashboard also likely will be used by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization as part of its 2021 Food Systems Summit .  If your organization has thoughts on data you’d like to see added to the dashboard, Haddad and the dashboard team invite you to drop them a line via the site’s contact form . As always, I’d also love to hear your thoughts on this project and other issues you’d like to see covered in Food Weekly. You can reach me at jg@greenbiz.com . This article was adapted from the GreenBiz Food Weekly newsletter. Sign up here to receive your own free subscription. Pull Quote It’s for governments and businesses — the people who make decisions about actions. Topics Food & Agriculture Food Systems Technology Data Featured Column Foodstuff Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Finally, a one-stop shop for researching food systems data

Finally, a one-stop shop for researching food systems data

June 19, 2020 by  
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Finally, a one-stop shop for researching food systems data Jim Giles Fri, 06/19/2020 – 00:15 Parts of our food systems are so bewilderingly complex that attempts to answer even basic questions can result in hours of frustrated searching. If you can relate to this, I have some good news for you — not quite a fully-fledged solution, but certainly a step toward one. The genesis of this solution dates to around six years ago, when Lawrence Haddad, who leads the nonprofit Global Alliance on Improved Nutrition , was editing an article on nutrition. “The authors had so little data to go on they had to make crazy assumptions about food systems,” he recalled when we spoke this week.  Haddad and his co-editor, Jessica Fanzo of Johns Hopkins University, set about assembling the people and funding needed to fix that. Earlier this month, they unveiled the Food Systems Dashboard . “It’s very much something we built in our garages in evenings and weekends,” Haddad said. “Much to our surprise, it has gathered momentum. We now see the potential is huge.” The dashboard is a data smorgasbord that covers everything from food waste and greenhouse gas emissions to food security and agricultural productivity. In total, there are more than 170 indicators, culled from 35 sources and covering nearly every country. There are gaps in the coverage, which Haddad says the team is working to fix, but the dashboard looks likely to become a first point of call for questions about food systems.  It’s for governments and businesses — the people who make decisions about actions. Poking around it this week, for instance, I found it easy to check something I had been curious about: Are young people in the United States eating more vegetables? Sadly not. Consumption hasn’t changed much in a decade. Presumably, this is related to other data I came across in the dashboard: The quantity of vegetables available per person in the U.S. food supply has been trending slowly down over the past 20 years. Businesses also can benefit from exploratory analyses such as these, suggested Haddad. There’s data on food infrastructure, government regulations and the amount of money that families have available to spend on food, all factors that guide decisions about whether to move into an emerging market. “If this is only for researchers, we’ve failed,” Haddad said. “It’s for governments and businesses — the people who make decisions about actions.” To make the dashboard more useful, the team is working on adding subnational data for large countries and developing guides for specific types of users. The dashboard also likely will be used by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization as part of its 2021 Food Systems Summit .  If your organization has thoughts on data you’d like to see added to the dashboard, Haddad and the dashboard team invite you to drop them a line via the site’s contact form . As always, I’d also love to hear your thoughts on this project and other issues you’d like to see covered in Food Weekly. You can reach me at jg@greenbiz.com . This article was adapted from the GreenBiz Food Weekly newsletter. Sign up here to receive your own free subscription. Pull Quote It’s for governments and businesses — the people who make decisions about actions. Topics Food & Agriculture Food Systems Technology Data Featured Column Foodstuff Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Can eating cicadas solve the sustainable protein problem?

June 16, 2020 by  
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Have you ever considered eating insects as a source of protein? If your answer is no, now may be the time to reconsider. According to a  study  by the University of Copenhagen, eating insects is more sustainable than eating livestock. The same study shows that there are over 2,000 species of edible insects, though some are rare. Thankfully, some edible insects are easily available in numbers large enough to supplement global protein needs. One of the insects seen as a possible remedy for global protein needs is the cicada. Cicadas are safe to eat and among the most nutritious insects. These insects are rich in protein and can be harvested in large numbers during their breeding seasons. The argument for eating insects A shift from eating livestock to consuming insects could reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to the U.N., the global livestock industry makes up about 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions. Consuming fewer livestock products can thus help reduce the effects of greenhouse gases on the environment. Further, some edible insects are richer in protein than livestock protein supplies. For instance, crickets are 20 times more efficient as protein sources compared to cattle. As  The Balance SMB  reports, cricket harvesting produces 80 times less methane than cattle rearing. If we are serious about conserving the environment, now is the time to consider shifting our dietary preferences. Another reason to consider eating insects is that they thrive on organic matter and require much less food than livestock. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), insects consume just two pounds of food to produce one pound of meat. This contrasts starkly with cattle , which have to consume at least eight pounds of food to produce one pound of meat. While the conversation about eating bugs might not be an easy one, the merits outweigh the discomfort. The U.N. is now calling on meat processing firms to start considering bugs for burgers. Bug meat could easily be used in most processed foods without consumers noticing the difference. Why cicadas and why now? Cicada re-emergence has spurred the conversation about eating them. According to an  NPR publication , millions of cicadas are expected to emerge from the ground this year. In most parts of the United States, over 1.5 million cicadas per acre are expected to emerge. Regions that can expect a high influx of cicadas include southwestern Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia. The cicadas that will be emerging belong to a special brood that only shows up once every 17 years. While cicadas are not harmful to humans and do not bite, they present a different challenge. Cicadas chirp — a lot. This presents a noise problem, considering that over 1.5 million of these insects could emerge from an acre of land. According to Eric Day of  Virginia Tech Department of Entomology , the biggest concern that the people of Virginia should worry about is managing the noise. Once the insects set in, they will be busy day and night, and they are likely to cause excessive noise. This year’s cicadas come with more vigor than most annual cicadas. This special brood only appears once every 13 to 17 years. They last appeared in 2003 in parts of the eastern U.S. If you live in regions that are prone to cicadas, you can learn about their mapping by looking at this  cicada mapping site . How to eat cicadas Considering this influx of cicadas and the issues with livestock, there are many benefits to eating insects . For these reasons, more people are now shifting from mainstream protein sources to sources such as cicadas. If you have never tried eating insects, you might find the suggestion of eating cicadas absurd. However, insect-eating is not something new and is a practice that should be embraced. According to a  Live Science publication , over 2 billion people eat bugs regularly across the world. This means that about a quarter of the world already consumes insects. Given that insects are a good source of protein and considerably cheap, they provide nutrition to many people. In fact, many scientists are now looking at insects as the future of nutrition . All this considered, it may be in your best interest to try eating some bugs. If you are going to eat cicadas, here are a few tips to help you prepare and enjoy your delicious bugs. First, blanch your cicadas. Cicadas are wild insects and may come in contact with harmful microorganisms . Chefs recommend boiling cicadas for five minutes to get rid of impurities from the soil. After boiling your cicadas, dump them in a cold water bath to remove the legs and wings. If you do not mind the legs and wings, skip this step. There are many options for cooking and flavoring cicadas. For cicada scampi, place a cooking pan on medium heat and sautee the cicadas in butter, garlic and basil. Cook your cicadas for about five minutes or until they are crispy. You can also marinate cicadas if you want them juicier. Try an overnight Worcestershire sauce marinade, then sautee them for a tasty meal. Once you’ve tried cooking your cicadas, you can also prepare them as a sweet dessert. Serving them dipped in chocolate makes a great treat. The bottom line For most people who have not tried eating cicadas, this is foreign territory to explore. However, those who have tasted cicadas say they are tasty, with a nutty/earthy flavor. They cook similar to shrimp and can be consumed alongside most dishes that are normally served with white meat. If consuming cicadas can help the environment, we should all give it a thought. Cicadas are easily available and much healthier than most meat. There is nothing wrong with trying out a bug diet if it’s for the better. Images via Pixabay, Sharon Hahn Darlin , and istolethetv

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Inside Cargill’s experiment to pay farmers for carbon sequestration

June 15, 2020 by  
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Inside Cargill’s experiment to pay farmers for carbon sequestration Heather Clancy Mon, 06/15/2020 – 00:15 Over the past year, agricultural commodities giant Cargill stepped up its global sustainability initiatives substantially, with a series of programs created to support its science-based target of reducing supply chain emissions by 30 percent by 2030.  Like many other food companies, it’s dedicating resources to promoting regenerative agricultural practices among the farmers and seeking ways that farms can profit from their efforts to sequester carbon dioxide. That’s the backstory behind its relationship with the Soil & Water Outcomes Fund , a program intended to support farmers who design and implement initiatives aimed at improving water quality and mitigating flooding and runoff, increasing carbon sequestration, reducing emissions from on-farm operations, and creating or protecting habitat. These include practices such as planting cover crops, reducing tillage and preserving edge-of-field wilderness buffers or wetland. The effort, which includes close to 10,000 acres in the pilot phase this year across 15 farms in Iowa, is administered by the Iowa Soybean Association , promoting the idea with members and advising them on best practices; and investment firm Quantified Ventures , helping with cost-benefit analyses and other operational aspects of the effort, including fundraising. The goal is to include up to 100,000 acres in Iowa next year and expand into at least two more states, according to the companies managing the program. They come to us with a program. We analyze and pay them on a tiered approach depending on what they do. Progress against a farm’s individual carbon removal or water stewardship efforts will be measured using COMET-FARM , a carbon reporting and accounting system developed by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Division and Colorado State University. “[Farmers] come to us with a program. We analyze and pay them on a tiered approach depending on what they do,” said Adam Kiel, director of conservation and external programs at Iowa Soybean. Farmers will be paid between $30 and $45 per acre this season, depending on the outcomes. The metrics for success are being defined by the fund in collaboration with local municipalities that feel the downstream effects of agricultural activities within their watersheds. To be clear, the program isn’t limited to soybean operations but it does require that the approaches being adopted are additive or new — farmers won’t be rewarded for regenerative practices that were already in place. The program started specifically to address water quality measures but evolved to embrace the broader carbon sequestration mandate.     Cargill’s role is twofold: Not only is it encouraging farmers to participate as way of helping address its Scope 3 emissions, it also will buy carbon credits through the fund on an annual basis. “The innovative nature of this program was compelling,” said Ryan Sirolli, director of row crop sustainability at Cargill. While Cargill is the only named company participating in the new fund, Mark Lambert, director of Quantified Ventures, said it is in discussion with other large companies. “We want a diversity of customers,” he said. “We see a variety of opportunities to support sustainability goals.” What does success look like? A program that touches “millions” of acres, he said. Given the disruptive effects of the COVID-19 pandemic across the global food system , it’s more important than ever to help farmers reap the financial benefits of investing in a more sustainable approach, Sirolli said. “Agriculture is getting absolutely hammered right now,” he said. Aside from this specific effort, Cargill is a founding member of the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium, which seeks to create a national marketplace by 2020. “We would love to see customers, competitors, others saying, ‘I would love to be in this space,’” Sirolli said. This isn’t the only carbon marketplace scheme in the works — and the model is raising questions about how actions are measured and verified. Startup Indigo Ag, backed by companies including recent investor FedEx , for example, is planning to pay farmers based on how much carbon they have stored in their soil — it collects soil samples to that end. Software company Nori, another rising player, is using blockchain to manage the transactions. An important actor Cargill’s influence on transforming to a more sustainable food system cannot be underestimated — it employs 160,000 people in 70 countries. The footprint of its sustainability activities, detailed in its latest sustainability report published in early June, is extensive. Among some notable highlights of its work: Using digital technologies and barcodes, the company can trace 50 percent of its “sustainable cocoa beans” supply from farm to factory; it’s also using mapping services, which will be important for identifying regions where forests are at risk. The company has reduced its “aggregated gross CO2 reduction” related to its maritime vessels — it owns an ocean fleet of over 600 vessels — by 800,000 metric tons. It’s also working closely with the Global Maritime Forum.  It’s “on track” to eliminate deforestation related to commercial palm concessions in its “third-party supply chain” by the end of 2020.  Cargill also has completed a Brazilian supply chain mapping exercise related to building “deforestation-free” supply chains for soybeans. Earlier this year at GreenBiz 20, Cargill CSO Ruth Kimmelshue acknowledged that progress to protect forests has been tougher within the soy supply chain than it has been for cocoa or palm oil. The company’s overall pledge has been to halve deforestation within its supply chains by the end of 2020 and to eliminate it entirely by 2030. Pull Quote They come to us with a program. We analyze and pay them on a tiered approach depending on what they do. 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BlueNalu is developing innovative cell-based seafood

June 9, 2020 by  
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Scientists are leaning into the idea of lab-grown food as a solution for food shortages around the globe, and while the idea may not sound appetizing, advancements in cell technology have moved towards more palatable, and even enjoyable,  food options. While 3D printed steak and lab-produced chicken are on their way to the market, one innovative company has set their sights on providing a well-rounded menu of seafood options that don’t come from the sea. BlueNalu’s mission is to be the global leader in cellular aquaculture, a type of food development aimed at creating sustainable solutions for overfishing and seafood shortages.  Lou Cooperhouse, CEO of BlueNalu said, “As a planet, we need to do something immediately. The United States is regarded as having the most sustainable fisheries management program in the world. However, the U.S. imports 94% of its seafood according to the FDA, and the global supply of seafood is increasingly diminishing, insecure, variable, vulnerable, fraught with issues of animal suffering and bycatch, associated with considerable damage to our oceans  via effects of trawling and nets, associated with inefficient fishing operations and potentially dangerous and illegal labor practices, and also associated with products that are frequently mis-represented to consumers and potentially contaminated with mercury, microplastics, parasites, and pollutants.” Related: What do Americans think about fake meat products? Speaking of pollutants, the fishing industry also contributes heavily to beach and coastal pollution through petroleum and  plastic waste  in the form of broken nets and other debris. As with many other types of animal harvest, fishing has yet to achieve a balance between production and environmental and animal protection. With this in mind, BlueNalu has invested in innovative technology to not only supplement naturally-harvested seafood, but to make it a sought after option for pescatarians and other environmentally conscious groups.  The process starts by isolating living cells from fish tissue. Those cells are then rapidly reproduced through a process of proliferation and subsequently turned into fresh and frozen seafood products. “So, our mission is to provide consumers with great tasting seafood products that are healthy for people, humane for sea life, and sustainable for our planet. We will produce a wide array of seafood products directly from fish cells, that are trusted, safe, and free of mercury and environmental contaminants,” Cooperhouse said. BlueNalu is all about looking into the future of food production . Forecasts show an increase in problems when it comes to feeding the world population. Working with the goal of becoming “the global leader in cell-based seafood that can sustainably support our need to feed the planet over the decades ahead,” BlueNalu will offer an alternative to wild-caught and farmed fish, rather than a blanket substitute for those options. The company is not there yet, but research and development is well underway. BlueNalu recently secured $20 million in financing from notable companies in the food industry; this funding will be used for healthy ingredients to feed the fish and to help the company break into domestic and international markets. BlueNalu’s products can help alleviate pressure on the fishing industry in Asia , for example, where seafood is consumed at a rate four or five times higher than in the U.S. and increased demand is expected. This influx of financing and partnerships may secure a path for BlueNalu to bust into a marketplace seemingly ripe to accept their offerings. Especially with a continued spotlight on workers’ rights in the fishing industry,  pollution reduction,  animal protection and concerns over the amount of microplastics and mercury found in seafood, lab-grown alternatives may help alleviate some issues. To further address these concerns, all of BlueNalu’s food will be produced locally, reducing transportation emissions that come from shipping fish around the world. BlueNalu centers sustainable practices by growing only the fish fillets to reduce waste, avoiding animal testing and focusing “on species that are overfished, primarily imported, or difficult to farm-raise.” While consumers continue to seek eco-friendly alternatives, BlueNalu is still 12 to 18 months from having products in the test market phase. The company is on plan, however, and worth watching as it expands production capabilities to accept product test manufacturing in the second half of 2021. BlueNalu will also seek approval from the FDA when ready to launch. Throughout the initial stages of development, the executive team at BlueNalu has continuously sought guidance from the FDA to work within guidelines. Hopefully, this will allow for quick approval when the company is ready to apply. BlueNalu is quick to recognize it is only one of three options for seafood, with the other two being wild-caught and farm-raised. To distinguish itself, the company aims to inform potential consumers about the benefits of the product, including that it will be free of microplastics and mercury. The company also acknowledges that its product is cell-based, stating on the BlueNalu website, “We believe that truthful and accurate labeling is necessary on all seafood products in a way that demonstrates whether it comes from wild capture, fish farming or via cellular aquaculture.” Rather than hiding the fact that its fish is made in a lab, the company plans to advertise it, insisting, “Labeling is of utmost importance to protect those consumers who are allergic to fish.” + BlueNalu Images via BlueNalu 

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How on-demand food delivery apps could encourage low-carbon food

June 8, 2020 by  
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How on-demand food delivery apps could encourage low-carbon food Anna Zhang Mon, 06/08/2020 – 02:00 The COVID-19 crisis has affected most aspects of daily life, including how we get our food. Because the COVID-19 response has restricted restaurants to pick-up and delivery orders in many areas, business for on-demand food delivery apps such as DoorDash, Grubhub, Seamless and Uber Eats has increased dramatically.  Uber Eats claims to have experienced a tenfold increase in new restaurant signups, and some local restaurants say the percentage of orders placed through third-party apps has risen from around 20 percent to roughly 75 percent .  Even before the COVID era, food order and delivery apps were growing rapidly, and the sector was on track to more than double in value by 2025 — from $82 billion in 2018 to $200 billion by 2025. Projections showed that by 2023 about one-quarter of smartphone users , or 14 million Americans, will use these apps.  For the environmentally minded, the increased adoption of app-based food delivery services presents a unique opportunity to affect carbon emissions in the food supply chain. One of the leading climate change solutions is the widespread adoption of a plant-rich diet, particularly in countries with a more “Western” diet. Adopting these habits has the potential to reduce carbon emissions by 66 gigatonnes CO2-equivalent, according to Project Drawdown. Compared to business as usual, choosing vegan options could reduce emissions by as much as 70 percent . Third-party food delivery apps offer a valuable opportunity to connect consumers to the knowledge they need to adopt a climate-friendly diet.  We believe that food delivery apps can implement some basic features to help consumers be more aware of the environmental impact of their food choices. While systematic change in food production at all levels is necessary to achieve goals for carbon emission reductions, influencing consumer behavior to shift towards low-carbon food options has the power to simultaneously encourage food producers up the supply chain to reduce the carbon impact of their offerings, while also empowering consumers to reduce their own personal carbon footprints. A recent study in Science magazine noted that “dietary change can deliver environmental benefits on a scale not achievable by producers.” However, a major roadblock is the lack of transparency surrounding the carbon impacts of food.  Many consumers recognize that animal products have some negative impact on the planet, yet most don’t truly know the extent to which meat consumption can drastically increase carbon emissions.  Indeed, according to a recent study by the Yale Center on Climate Change Communications, about half of surveyed Americans (51 percent) would be willing to eat a more plant-based, low-carbon diet if they had more information about how their food choices affected the environment. Through a six-week climate innovation program at Yale , we envisioned two ways that on-demand food delivery apps could empower their users to make more climate-friendly food choices. We based our idea off a successful project at Yale demonstrating the effectiveness of environmental impact ratings on consumers — in this case, students at Yale’s dining halls. Rate the Plate is an initiative designed by current Yale students through which dining halls display posters containing the calculated range estimates for the amount of carbon emissions from each available entree. After running both a small-scale pilot and then expanding to all Yale residential colleges, the organizers had students complete a survey to analyze the effectiveness of the posters and ratings. The results show that 62 percent of students had a positive response when asked if they reconsidered their food choices after seeing the ratings.  Additionally, when asked if they would like to continue seeing the environmental impact posters in the dining halls, more than 86 percent of students said yes.  The results of this project inspired us to consider other ways to empower consumers to make climate-friendly food choices. We believe that food delivery apps can implement some basic features to help consumers be more aware of the environmental impact of their food choices.  First, food order and delivery companies can create short monthly quizzes for users to test their knowledge about the carbon impacts of various food options. An interactive, visually appealing quiz can inform consumers about how their own food choices can affect the planet as a whole. Positive messaging alongside discounts or other incentives can encourage users to take the quizzes and act on the information they learn.  For example, online consignment retailer ThredUp already runs an online quiz that consumers can take to determine their environmental impacts in the apparel sector. Additionally, companies could implement carbon labeling within their order menu interface. There are various existing methods to estimate and label the carbon emissions associated with food dishes, but a simple number or range of carbon equivalents would allow consumers to compare meal options within the app.  Using color coding or symbols such as trees to indicate high- and low-carbon footprint items also would be a non-obtrusive way to represent the information. The methodology could be explained in one of the quizzes released each month so consumers feel that they have both easy-to-read and accurate data. Order and delivery apps could include discounts for consumers opting into low-carbon food selections. What’s in it for companies such as DoorDash and Snackpass?  Companies would be able to analyze the data on these strategies to fulfill internal corporate sustainability metrics on reducing GHG emissions, and such information could be advertised to demonstrate the company’s drive and success in sustainability compared to competing apps.  There is growing demand for sustainable business practices and purchasing options, especially among younger consumers . Being known as a climate-friendly option in the food-delivery ecosystem likely will be a selling point for many companies. If food delivery apps implemented these various features, tracking the environmental impact would be relatively straightforward because it relies on digital technology and data collection. By looking at the number of people taking the carbon-impact quiz every month, companies could get a sense of the reach of these efforts among their customers. Eventually, they also could use the consumer order data to look for significant shifts in the carbon impacts of dishes people order.  What’s the role for restaurants?  While the relationships between restaurants and food delivery apps sometimes can be contentious , restaurants could benefit from advertising themselves as a climate-friendly option.  Restaurants would provide information about the ingredients lists of their dishes, allowing food delivery apps to calculate carbon impacts. As previously mentioned, discounts are offered to consumers who take the food carbon quizzes, which can help restaurants draw in new customers as well as highlight some of their vegan and vegetarian options. Ideally, there would be a shift towards vegetable-based options and away from meat-heavy dishes after the carbon ratings and quizzes are implemented, which would demonstrate a positive impact on consumer decisions in terms of carbon emissions. This data from before and after the intervention also could be used to create a baseline to calculate how many kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions were avoided due to lower demand for meat-heavy dishes.  As food-delivery apps continue to gain popularity over the next decade, integrating information about the climate impact of food options has the potential to address the large impact the food-supply chain has on carbon emissions. This information gives consumers power in their food choices and allows food-delivery apps to demonstrate climate-friendly values. Pull Quote We believe that food delivery apps can implement some basic features to help consumers be more aware of the environmental impact of their food choices. Contributors Tracy Zhou Luke Browne Abbey Warner Topics Food Systems Innovation Technology E-commerce Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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How on-demand food delivery apps could encourage low-carbon food

Discrimination in our food system is everybody’s problem

June 5, 2020 by  
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Discrimination in our food system is everybody’s problem Jim Giles Fri, 06/05/2020 – 00:30 The team at GreenBiz started Food Weekly to track progress toward a better food system. But as protestors filled streets across America last week, I was reminded that a critical question about this effort often goes unasked: Better for whom? We have to ask this question because we can’t assume that any progress we make will be inclusive. Systems can evolve and remain discriminatory. We’ve seen this happen in housing, education, criminal justice and so many other areas of our society where people of color are marginalized or punished. Food and farming are no different.  If this seems questionable, take a look at farm ownership. A century ago, there were a million black farmers in the United States. Now there are around 45,000. On average, they earn a fifth of white farmers. Reasons include predatory practices by developers and systematic discrimination by government loan officers . Communities of color also lose out at the other end of the food chain. In a disproportionate number of low-income black neighborhoods, redlining, segregation and weak zoning laws have led to the proliferation of junk food outlets and a lack of healthy alternatives. Food deserts — or “food swamps,” which one researcher argues is a better term — are linked to obesity and other health problems.  These disparities are systematic and ingrained and very much with us today. They are one reason among many for the anger we are seeing right now. And history tells us that these forces, unless we actively resist them, will distort attempts to improve our food system. They will prevent “better” from meaning better for everyone. Yet advocates for sustainable food — and I’m including myself here — are often guilty of treating racism as an urgent problem that somehow isn’t our problem. It’s an issue across the sustainability profession, in fact. Climate journalist Emily Atkin even has a name for it : a “Climate Chad” is an environmentalist who says they “care about pervasive racial inequality and police brutality but don’t believe these issues are related to the climate fight.” There’s no magic wand to be waved here. But there are many things that people in privileged positions can do. One that feels relevant to this newsletter is to insist that people of color are always present during critical discussions about the future of food. This has certainly not been the case in the past. With that in mind, rather than signing off with my usual list of essential reads, I’ll end with links to pieces about individuals and organizations combating racism and promoting diversity in food and agriculture. Each is an opportunity to participate in change. My request to you is to consider how you might involve some of these remarkable people and projects in your work.  John W. Boyd Jr. is a fourth-generation black farmer and the founder and president of the National Black Farmers Association. More in this Guardian feature . The Castanea Fellowship is a two-year program for diverse leaders working for a racially just food system. Meet the fellows for 2019 and 2020 . The National Black Food and Justice Alliance organizes for black food and land by promoting black leadership and influence in food systems and land stewardship. New Orleans chef Tunde Wey uses food and dining to push people to confront issues of race. Learn more in this GQ profile . The Seeding Power Fellowship invests in leaders creating a more equitable food system in the New York area. Here are the 2019-2020 fellows . There’s a wealth of information on how to craft better strategies for food equity at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and the Healthy Food Access Portal . Want more? Civil Eats has a longer list . This article was adapted from the GreenBiz Food Weekly newsletter. Sign up here to receive your own free subscription. Topics Food Systems Food & Agriculture Featured Column Foodstuff Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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