Archive for the ‘Food & Agriculture’ Category

[This post was written by Christopher Milton, Sara Davenport, Kimberly Sherwood, and Jan Steinbock.]

Our Growing Communities group is researching sustainability as it relates to local food systems, food bank gardens, permaculture and light pollution.

The idea of local food systems is a sustainability issue that is being addressed in society today, through such things as farmers markets, community gardens, and local fruit and vegetable delivery programs. However, the potential for sustainability from utilizing local food systems could be addressed much more extensively. Local food systems can provide fresh, healthy food options that make societies that utilize them more sustainable and more self-sufficient. Local food systems can also benefit communities by allowing them to see where their food is coming from and how important it is to take care of the earth that produces the food.

One component of a healthy food system are food bank gardens. There is little research available on food bank gardens, but community gardens are very similar Most peer-reviewed studies and news articles focus on the economic and social benefits of community gardens. Yet, as Brundtland stated, “The environment does not exist as a sphere separate from human actions, ambitions, and needed . . .” (Kates, 2005).

By gardening locally these groups are doing good things for the environment. (more…)


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[This post was written by Megan Foster, Grant Russ, and Sara Scott in response to viewing the documentary Foodmatters]

The documentary Foodmatters is shocking and revealing. The film brings up several points that the public should be aware of but are not. Most people are aware that fast food and processed food is bad for them, but are not aware of how much healthier they can be with raw foods (i.e. fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds). Many people do not realize that what we eat is what is causing many diseases that several thousand people die from yearly. This documentary really puts a new spin on the phrase “you are what you eat.”

Not many people are aware how effective nutrients and vitamins can be to our bodies. Yes, some people take vitamin supplements, but do they really know what those vitamins are good for? Do people even stop to think that instead of taking supplements daily, they should instead change their diet? America’s society is so fast-paced that it is hard to be able to eat healthily. Unfortunately, our way of living is costing us our health, therefore, our lives.

The film pointed out that vitamin deficiency is most likely the cause of many ailments, so when someone takes vitamin C to help fight a cold, they are really just giving their body the vitamin it already wanted. If that person did not have a vitamin C deficiency, there is a good chance they would not have gotten a cold in the first place.

Some interesting facts: (more…)

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I discovered the graphic above in a recent Slate.com article by Chris Wilson, Dinner at the Kwik-E-Mart: Food Deserts in America.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention defines food deserts as “areas that lack access to affordable fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk, and other foods that make up the full range of a healthy diet.”

One of the key lines of research and discussion that the SHP pursues is the degree to which “sustainable” methods can be measured. In fact, an important component of the working definition that we use includes the stipulation that “sustainability” must integrate methods of quantitative measurement, tracking, and evaluation.

U.S. Department of Agriculture provides a quantitative and accessible tool to evaluate food deserts in in specific counties throughout the country: The USDA’s Food Environment Atlas.

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Ellen Tarlin has recently started an online experiment at Slate.com to investigate some of the ways of thinking about food and nutrition at the individual and household level. She calls this project “Clean Plate: Outrageous Experiments in Sensible Eating.”

Tarlin’s experiment is quite accessible. She writes brief posts in a conversational style, and engages her readers in the comment threads. Among the pages on her blog are brief analyses of nutritional guidelines (i.e., the USDA food pyramid) and diet schemes, photos and prices of each item she’s eaten during the day, and questions to her readers about what she’s doing.

Tarlin’s project got me thinking about related initiatives, films, books, etc., on the topic of of food, food systems, and nutrition. Below the fold you’ll find a list of some of these other projects. The list is by no means exhaustive, so feel free to recommend others in the comments.


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