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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Discrimination in our food system is everybody’s problem

Discrimination in our food system is everybody’s problem

June 5, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Green

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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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Discrimination in our food system is everybody’s problem

How racism manifests itself in clean energy

June 5, 2020 by  
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How racism manifests itself in clean energy Sarah Golden Fri, 06/05/2020 – 00:00 As our institutions strain under the uprising in cities across the country, I’ve been struggling to comprehend the depth of racism in America. I understand why these moments of police violence, the senseless destruction of black bodies caught on tape, would spark a fire that rages across this country. I also know that the tinder has been building for generations and is about so much more than this one horrific moment. Every sector plays a part. Including clean energy.  It’s no secret that there are grave inequities in clean energy. In the spirit of this moment, I turned the microscope on my own sector to ask, how does racism manifest in clean energy?  Manifestation 1: ‘I can’t breathe’ “I can’t breathe” refers to more than police violence. Black communities have been struggling to breathe for decades.  “The right to breathe isn’t just related to surviving interactions with police,” said Alexis Cureton, former electric vehicle fellow at GRID Alternatives , an organization that works to bring clean energy jobs and access to low-income communities. “It pertains to surviving and being able to breathe clean air.” Dozens of studies document the racial disparity in environmental impacts, and I’ve linked to a number of those below. To name a few, consider that in America black people: Are on average exposed to 1.54 times more hazardous pollution than white people — regardless of income. Breathe 56 percent more pollution than they create. Are exposed to 50 percent higher rates of particulate pollution than the general population. Are more likely to live near highways, airports, refineries and other sources of hazardous air pollutants. Are disproportionately exposed to toxic air pollution from the fossil fuel industry. The impacts are also real. African Americans have higher rates of lung cancer and asthma , and are more like to have (and die from) heart disease . It’s no coincidence that African Americans are three times more likely to die from coronavirus than white people. To make matters worse, inequities in health care result in black communities paying almost twice as much in premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.  In this way, the story of George Floyd is symbolic of many struggles in the black community.  We have to remove the repercussions for constructive criticism around programs that don’t address racial equity. “A cop put his knee in the back of his neck and choked him to death, amid his cries for help. You can hear the dude calling for his mom,” said Bartees Cox, director of marketing and communications at Groundswell , an organization that brings community solar to low-income customers. “You look at black people in America and our journey, every opportunity that we’ve had to get ahead has been choked out, fully, over time. Every bit of progress gets choked out.” But here’s the thing: Clean energy technologies exist to reverse this problem. The missing piece is getting them deployed at scale in the communities most affected by dirty energy.  Manifestation 2: Paying more and getting less from energy  More than any other racial group in the United States, African Americans struggle to afford baseline energy needs, a state known as energy insecurity or energy poverty. As a percentage of their income, black households pay upwards of threefold more than white households for energy. They’re also disproportionately affected by utility shut-off policies , leaving them more vulnerable to dangerously hot and cold days.  Why? It’s expensive to be poor. Many solutions that save money in the long run — electric vehicles, rooftop solar, energy efficiency upgrades — require upfront costs or access to capital that exclude many black communities.  Paying more and getting less means black households are often playing catchup. According to Cox, in some places African Americans pay more for energy than for rent.  “We’re not putting people in a situation where they can succeed if they’re spending that much on their energy consumption,” Cox said.  That’s especially true for a community with fewer economic opportunities.  “We have a lack of jobs, we have a lack of access, we have a lack of money in communities,” said Taj Eldridge, senior director of investment at Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator ( LACI ). “Economics are a huge part of it. All of the other issues that we see, from health disparities to educational disparities, the root of that is racism and economic discrimination.” Manifestation 3: Myopic clean energy equity programs  Well-meaning programs and incentives can go only so far if they fail to take a broader view of inequalities.  Take, for instance, a California program that aims to increase access to electric vehicles by providing incentives to install a charging station at your home — provided, of course, that you’re a homeowner. That does little to help African Americans who have been systematically denied homeownership through redlining and lack of access to capital.  “Inherently, that’s racist,” said Cureton, who worked with the program while at GRID Alternatives. “Programs like these aren’t targeted at black people. They’re targeted at people who always lived in California, who always had access to capital. Programs like that don’t help to alleviate the systemic racism that is not only within this country but within this industry.” Cureton says that in order for these programs to work better, it’s essential for those who work in clean energy and equity to be able to talk about the shortcomings of policies without fear of losing funding or negatively impacting the organization.  “This equity push, it looks good and it sounds good,” Cureton said. “But for people of color who are suffering right now, it doesn’t feel good. We have to remove the repercussions for constructive criticism around programs that don’t address racial equity.” All of the other issues that we see, from health disparities to educational disparities, the root of that is racism and economic discrimination. To be clear, this critique isn’t to marginalize the hard work of GRID Alternatives — or other equity organizations working to support underserved people, such as Greenlining Institute , The Solutions Project and New Energy Nexus . Rather, it’s a reminder that systems of oppression are intertwined and that support needs to flow to those that understand the complexity of the problem.  “I think people get that there is an issue here,” Cox said. “‘Equity’ and ‘intersectionality’ are, like, the foundation buzzwords of the last four years. It’s where the big-money people are moving with their strategies. I think the next step is making sure the money gets to the right people.” Manifestation 4: Lack of representation  Organizations that design policies, programs and products usually are controlled by white people. That lack of diversity around the table leads to a lack of diversity in solutions.  The clean energy sector and companies with climate goals have tremendous power to change this.  Cox, who grew up in Oklahoma, never considered a job in clean energy. His turning point was when professional peers told him about the sector and encouraged him to get involved. That type of proactive engagement is what is needed to change the racial balance.  “The onus is on these companies to do outreach,” Cox said. “Not just in the big cities, not just at Howard and Hampton, take it to Texas Southern. Go to Dillard. Go into the deep south, go into rural areas, recruit at these community colleges. Tell people about the jobs that are available, and push people into them.” Eldridge echos this sentiment, noting that white professionals are often disconnected from the deep bench of talent in the African American community. “There’s not a pipeline issue. There never was. It’s a relationship issue,” Eldridge said. “It amazes me when people say they can’t find people to interview or to have these conversations with, because I see them in the room all the time.” This isn’t alteristic. It’s well documented that companies that embrace diversity perform better and have a happier workforce.  It also isn’t tokenism. Getting the people in the room that understand the black experience is key to finding the policies that untangle the systems of injustice.  “As it relates to shifting power and creating change, your voice can’t be taken seriously if you yourself don’t have an entity that represents you,” Cureton said. “That’s extremely important.” Pull Quote We have to remove the repercussions for constructive criticism around programs that don’t address racial equity. All of the other issues that we see, from health disparities to educational disparities, the root of that is racism and economic discrimination. There’s not a pipeline issue. There never was. It’s a relationship issue. Topics Energy & Climate Equity & Inclusion Featured Column Power Points 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 racism manifests itself in clean energy

How Commercial Composting Works

October 29, 2019 by  
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Despite the proliferation of plastics in the last century, biodegradable … The post How Commercial Composting Works appeared first on Earth911.com.

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How Commercial Composting Works

Fill Your Windows With Year-Round Edible Produce

October 29, 2019 by  
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There are many reasons to grow your own food. Avoiding … The post Fill Your Windows With Year-Round Edible Produce appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Fill Your Windows With Year-Round Edible Produce

We Earthlings: The CO2 Impact of Shipping Apples

October 29, 2019 by  
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Everything we eat has been transported to us, adding CO2 … The post We Earthlings: The CO2 Impact of Shipping Apples appeared first on Earth911.com.

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We Earthlings: The CO2 Impact of Shipping Apples

‘Single-use’ is announced as the Word of the Year 2018

November 8, 2018 by  
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Collins Dictionary has announced its choice for 2018 Word of the Year — single-use. This term describes items, often plastic, that are made to be used just once before they are thrown away. The frequent use of these items has been blamed for damaging the environment and negatively affecting the food chain. Since 2013, use of the word has increased fourfold with a rise in public awareness thanks to news stories, images of plastic items adrift in oceans and the global campaign to reduce the proliferation of single-use items, including the infamous plastic straw. Collins Dictionary selects the word of the year after its lexicographers monitor the 4.5-billion-word Collins Corpus, which is an analytical database that contains written material from websites, newspapers, magazines and books published around the world. The Collins Corpus database also includes words from spoken material on TV and radio, plus everyday conversations. Related: Plastic straws are a thing of the past, but which reusable straw is best for the future? After the lexicographers monitor the Collins Corpus, they create a list of new and notable words that reflect our ever-changing culture. Things that rose to the top this year included environmental issues, political movements, dance trends and technology. Other words on the shortlist included ‘floss,’ a dance where you twist your hips in one direction while swinging your arms with fists closed in the opposite direction, made popular by the game Fortnight; ‘VAR,’ or video assistant referee, which became popular in 2018 after being used in the FIFA World Cup; ‘gammon,’ a red-faced, angry person who is the opposite of a “snowflake”; and ‘plogging,’ or picking up litter while jogging, which has become successful following the increase in awareness of humanity’s impact on the environment. Collins ended up choosing single-use because of the global movement to kick the addiction to disposable products and the increase in awareness of how people’s habits and behaviors impact our world. + Collins Dictionary Image via Jonathan Chng

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‘Single-use’ is announced as the Word of the Year 2018

Eco-friendly geodomes provide a luxurious stay in an idyllic Quebec forest

November 8, 2018 by  
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Tucked into the picturesque countryside in a remote area outside of Quebec City, the Dômes Charlevoix are three dome-shaped eco-retreats that offer luxurious stays for guests wanting to reconnect with nature. In addition to their swanky accommodations, the geodomes, which were designed by Bourgeois / Lechasseur Architects , are open year-round thanks to the numerous passive features that make them resilient to Canada’s strong winters. Perfectly integrated into the quaint landscape of Petite-Rivière-Saint-François, the canvas-covered domes offer guests all the amenities of a top-rated hotel. The structures are set on large wooden patios, which are elevated off the ground on large supports to reduce their impact on the land. The decks are installed with hot tubs, offering a serene place to take in the incredible views. Related: Explore the world’s driest desert at these eco-friendly geodomes Erected on the sloped mountainside, the domes are orientated to make the most of not only the breathtaking vistas but to also offer maximum exposure to natural light . For a resiliency that withstands the bitterly cold months, the domes were built with radiant concrete floors, which help maintain a comfortable, uniform temperature indoors. The luxurious domes sleep up to four adults, with a large queen-sized bed on the ground floor and a second queen-sized bed on a mezzanine level. Guests will enjoy a full kitchen with a dining table, a spa-like bathroom and a large chimney with ample firewood supplied to keep the living space warm and cozy. Large windows enable guests to take in the views from the comfort of the interior, or on a nice day, they can enjoy the surroundings from the outdoor deck. All of the basic amenities such as linens are provided. Guests just need to bring their own food and plenty of energy for exploring this beautiful location. + Dômes Charlevoix + Bourgeois / Lechasseur Architects Photography by Maxime Valsan  

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Eco-friendly geodomes provide a luxurious stay in an idyllic Quebec forest

Global movement will call out consumer brands most responsible for plastic pollution

September 13, 2018 by  
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The Story of Stuff Project is launching a global call to action in combating plastic pollution . The ambitious initiative plans to identify the most pervasive polluting companies while simultaneously cleaning up coastal and inland communities around the world. The plastic waste brand audit is the first of its kind and intends to underline responsibility and accountability at the very source of our world’s growing trash crisis. “Every year, thousands of people get together to clean up the waste that washes onto beaches around the world — but more plastic always reappears,” said Stiv Wilson, campaigns director for The Story Stuff Project. “To break the cycle of plastic pollution, we need to do things differently.” Related: Indonesia mobilizes 20,000 citizens to clean up plastic pollution Members and volunteers all over the world will join forces for a week-long series of events that will help clean our cities, towns, beaches , riverfronts and parks of invasive pollution. Wilson said, “This year, we’re not just cleaning up trash — we’re collecting data that will illuminate the most problematic brands in the environment and help us bring accountability to the companies that bear ultimate responsibility for the plastic pollution crisis.” The data collected from the 75 global locations where the clean-up audits are taking place will be compiled at local and global levels in order to identify which companies are polluting the most overall. The data will also show what areas face more challenges in reducing plastic consumption, information that will help with efficient disposal and recycling initiatives. “Corporations cannot greenwash their role out of the plastic pollution crisis and put the blame on people all the time,” said Von Hernandez, global coordinator of the environmental movement. “Our brand audits make it clear which companies are primarily responsible for the proliferation of throwaway plastic waste that’s defiling nature and killing our oceans . These events provide undeniable evidence of this truth.” Those who wish to lend a helping hand can learn more and join  here . The global results are set to be released in early October. + The Story of Stuff Project Image via Vaidehi Shah

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