everyone's harvest

Transforming our food system, one sustainable blog at a time

For Hudson Bay Polar Bears,
 The End is Already in Sight August 9, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — everyonesharvest @ 7:43 pm


FEATURED ARTICLE: For Hudson Bay Polar Bears, The End is Already in Sight

 

DISCLAIMER: the following content does not necessarily represent the beliefs, values and opinions of Everyone’s Harvest as a whole. These blog posts are written by individuals associated with this organization and are their personal views of food and our food systems. The sole purpose and mission of Everyone’s Harvest remains the same: “to create vibrant, healthy communities and equitable food webs.” 

 

Blog by Chiara Cabiglio, Everyone’s Harvest Intern

Featuring the Yale Environment 360 article, For Hudson Bay Polar Bears, The End is Already in Sight

 

You are probably wondering what on earth polar bears and global climate change have to do with food. Well, I will tell you in

this blog. When I woke up this morning, I read the headline of the following article: For Hudson Bay Polar Bears,
The End

is Already in Sight. You can imagine how this was not the most cheerful news to start my day with, especially because since

I’ve been a little girl, polar bears have always been my favorite animal. This Yale Environment 360 article, which I highly

implore everyone to read, features an interview with biologist Andrew E. Derocher of the University of Alberta. According to

Derocher and his colleagues, by evaluating projected sea ice declines, it is highly probable that western Hudson Bay’s polar

bear population could become extinct within 25 to 30 years. It is absolutely unfathomable to me to think that the entire polar

bear species could very well become extinct within my lifetime.

 

When you think of polar bears, the extinction of other species and global climate change, you probably think instantly of

carbon dioxide, cars and transportation. But did you know that our current industrial-food system is the

number one cause of global climate change? The following paragraphs explain why and are taken directly from the

book Comfortably Unaware by Dr. Richard A. Oppenlander, which I strongly suggest everyone to read. “Both methane and

nitrous oxide are much more powerful than carbon dioxide as greenhouse gases. Methane has twenty-three times the global

warming effect potential as carbon dioxide. Approximately 40 percent of all methane produced by human activities is from

livestock and their flatulence and manure, to the point where atmospheric concentrations have risen 145 percent in just the

last fifteen years. Nitrous oxide is 310 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Our livestock industry

generates 65 percent of all human-related nitrous oxide (Page 6).”

 

“The livestock sector is responsible for nearly 20 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, measured in CO2 equivalent.

Global transportation, on the other hand, accounts for 13 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. Put another way, what

you currently decide to eat every day creates more global warming than all the cars, planes, trains, buses, and trucks in the

world combined. The reason I say “currently decide to eat” is because through your food choices, you are ultimately

responsible for the demand of meat and raising the 65 billion animals each year that causes this large part of the global

warming issue and the much larger global depletion problem. If you simply stop the demand by choosing a plant-based diet,

and the largest component of global warming and depletion will go away (Page 16-17).”

 

“Over 70 percent of the Amazon rainforest has been destroyed – lost forever – due to cattle ranching. The United States is the

single largest consumer of Central and South American beef. A startling 95 percent of Brazil’s Atlantic coast rainforest has

been slashed and burned, the vast majority of it to raise cattle. Although it is not commonly known, approximately 34 million

acres of rainforest on earth are lost each year…As much as 80 percent of all global rainforest loss is turned into grazing for

cattle or crops for livestock, and the process is extremely land-intensive. It requires fifty-five square feet of rainforest to

produce just one quarter-pound burger. The crops grown on cleared rainforest are used to feed not only cattle but also

chickens, turkeys, and pigs. In one crop season alone, 2004-2005, more than 2.9 million acres of rainforest were destroyed,

primarily to grow crops for chickens used by Kentucky Fried Chicken. Another crop that is grown is soy, but not for direct

human use. Soy used directly for veggie burgers, tofu, and soy milk in America is almost exclusively grown in the United

States, but 80 percent of the entire world’s soy crop is produced and fed to farmed animals. Most of this soy is now grown on

rainforest-cleared land…So with every acre of rainforest lost to support the meat industry, the earth loses part of its lungs and

the ability to breathe and produce a fresh supply of oxygen – fourteen tons of oxygen per acre per year – while taking out tons

of global warming CO2 (Pages 22-23).”

 

And if any of this isn’t enough, according to Dr. Oppenlander, “more than 260 million acres of U.S. forest have been cleared

just to grow grain to feed livestock. Livestock occupy 30 percent of all land mass on earth, and another 33 percent of all

agricultural land is used to produce genetically modified organism (GMO) crops to feed these animals (Pages 27-28).” As you

can see, meat and dairy have a much larger carbon footprint than do fruits, vegetables and grains.

 

All of the forests that are being cut down to support cattle ranching, soy and corn production is resulting in tons of carbon

dioxide being released into the atmosphere. According to TIME Magazine’s article, Getting Real About the High Price of

Cheap Food, “add to the price tag the acceleration of global warming — our energy-intensive food system uses 19% of

U.S. fossil fuels, more than any other sector of the economy.” It is no wonder, then, that Michael Pollan, one of the

nation’s most prominent thinkers and writers on food issues, says, “When we eat from the industrial-food system, we are

eating oil and spewing greenhouse gases.” This is why the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen from

315 ppm in 1958 to 385 ppm in 2008.

 

“How willing are consumers to rethink the way they shop for — and eat — food? For most people, price will remain the

biggest obstacle. Organic food continues to cost on average several times more than its conventional counterparts, and no

one goes to farmers’ markets for bargains. But not all costs can be measured by a price tag. Once you factor in crop subsidies,

ecological damage and what we pay in health-care bills after our fatty, sugary diet makes us sick, conventionally produced

food looks a lot pricier.”

 

Whether or not our food system becomes sustainable depends on the choices that we as individuals make everyday: what we

choose to eat three times a day (and sometimes more). Every time you buy organic, you are voting with your dollar in favor of

a more sustainable and just food system that has a smaller carbon footprint. The next time you think about getting your

groceries from Safeway or Costco, think about the present state of Planet Earth and instead, get your food from farmers’

markets and stores that sell local and organic products, such as New Leaf and Whole Foods. Do you want a more sustainable

world for your children and grandchildren to grow up in, a world where polar bears and honeybees actually exist? The choice

is up to you. In order to truly make a significant impact on global climate change, we as eaters must co-create a more

sustainable food system. Change will come not so much from the car you drive or the light bulb you use, but from what you

put in your mouth.

 

“It’s not a lot of fun for somebody who’s spent over 30 years studying polar bears,” says Derocher. “The first paper I

coauthored about this came out in 1993 and at that time I was still under the impression that even though climate change

was a concern it was really going to be for the next generation of biologists — or perhaps even the one after that — to deal

with the issue. And I’ve been really shocked at the rate of change, and I’ve probably been even more shocked at the lack of

concern of political bodies to deal with this… It’s been quite disheartening to watch this lack of interest, and I think it’s really

unfortunate that people don’t understand that we have a limited time to deal with this issue if we want to save the polar

bears.”    If we want to save the polar bears and other species from extinction due to global climate change, habitat loss and

environmental degradation, and if we want to save ourselves, then the world must wake up and change the way it eats and

the way our food is produced. Period.

 

 

The Food Movement and Your Food Choices Can and Will Save the Planet August 2, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — everyonesharvest @ 8:40 pm

 

FEATURED ARTICLE: “Access to Good Healthy Food Should Be a Basic Human Right

 

DISCLAIMER: the following content does not necessarily represent the beliefs, values and opinions of Everyone’s Harvest as a whole. These blog posts are written by individuals associated with this organization and are their personal views of food and our food systems. The sole purpose and mission of Everyone’s Harvest remains the same: “to create vibrant, healthy communities and equitable food webs.” 

 

Blog by Chiara Cabiglio, Everyone’s Harvest Intern

 

FOOD. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It’s what we put into our bodies to keep us alive, to sustain us. Pop that cheddar and bacon

melt hot pocket into the microwave. Slap on some Skippy peanut butter and Smucker’s jam on some Wonder bread and voilà,

you have a ten-second PB and J sandwich. Or better yet – drive through McDonald’s and order a Big Mac. You may or may

not eat like this, but regardless, the sad truth is that a majority of the human beings in the world today do eat like this, or do

not have enough to eat. And the inconvenient truth we must all face sooner or later is that nothing is “simple” about our food

today. In fact, our food is becoming increasingly complex. The truth is, what we eat three times a day does matter, and the

way our food is being produced has an enormous impact not just on our personal health and well-being, but on the health of

other human beings, animals, the planet, as well as future generations. Our current system of food production is inflicting

tremendous harm on the environment. Have you seen the documentary Vanishing of the Bees? Known as Colony Collapse

Disorder, the honeybees are mysteriously disappearing all across the world and abandoning their hives. Some believe that

this is a consequence of chemical pesticides and, in particular, the new systemic pesticides used in conventional farming. We

must now import honeybees into the United States from foreign countries in order to compensate for our loss. A world

without bees means no fruits, vegetables or our sweet and beloved honey. Additionally, the Amazon rainforest, also known

as the lungs of our planet, is being deforested at an alarming rate for cattle grazing, corn and soy production. This means

that tons of carbon dioxide is released into our atmosphere and that hundreds of crucial plant and animal species become

extinct each day.

 

Eric Schlosser and Will Allen do an excellent job of highlighting the problems with our current food system in their “Access

to Good Healthy Food Should Be a Basic Human Right” article. They make a compelling argument for why industrial

agriculture must become sustainable agriculture. But we must be sure to also include in this conversation how the oceans are

being negatively impacted by our fossil-fuel intensive industrial-food system, as well as by the commercial fishing industry.

After all, we are talking about food, aren’t we? Industrial agriculture emits a staggering amount of greenhouse gases into the

atmosphere and, consequently, exacerbates global climate change. This is causing the oceans to experience a phenomenon

called ocean acidification, (an increase of carbon dioxide in the oceans), which is making the lives of sea creatures very

difficult. Furthermore, the continual runoff of chemical fertilizers from conventional farms into the ocean is causing a

phenomenon called dead zones, low-oxygen areas where there is little to no life. What’s more, our insatiable demand for

seafood combined with the unsustainable commercial fishing industry is causing the over-fishing of the oceans and is

devastating the ocean’s food webs, ecosystems and biodiversity. And that’s not all. Once again, the lives of human beings are

being affected by the way in which we harvest fish from the oceans. Have you seen the documentary The End of the Line?

Large and sophisticated foreign fishing fleets, called Super Trawlers, have overfished the waters off of Senegal to such an

extent that Adama Mbergaul, an artisanal fisherman, now has a meager two dollars left in which to feed his family.

 

Yet, hope is not lost. Food activists, students, community members, founders and members of nonprofit organizations,

educators, academics, farmers, ranchers, gardeners, researchers, doctors, dietitians, chefs, environmentalists, merchants

and handlers, celebrities and so many others, young and old, currently are a part of a growing worldwide movement to

change the way our food is produced as well as the way the world eats. The people in this movement are committed to local,

organic and sustainable food and understand the absolute necessity of occupying and transforming our food system. “A new

food system is now emerging, as more Americans see what’s happening, understand the consequences — and start to take

action. This new system will be much more diverse, resilient, and democratic. It will take the long view. Across the United

States, communities are rejecting the industrial model of food production and creating a new one. People are shopping at

farmers’ markets, building school gardens, planting vegetables in their backyards. Perhaps the most important change is a

new attitude toward food, a change in mindset. Instead of being passive consumers, eating the junk food marketed on TV,

millions of people are educating themselves, changing what they eat and where they buy it. They are becoming empowered.”

 

Everyone’s Harvest, a nonprofit organization based in Marina, California whose mission is to create healthy, vibrant

communities and equitable food webs, is empowering the Monterey County through its four certified farmers’ markets,

nutrition education, and community gardens. The organization is a partner in the Salinas-Marina Community Food Project

that works with three collaborative gardens: the Chinatown Community, Shoreline, and Pueblo Del Mar Garden. These

gardens provide fresh and organic produce, employment training, and a free public green space for the marginalized and

low-income populations in the area. Furthermore, through its free Edible Education healthy inter-active cooking workshops,

Everyone’s Harvest teaches youth and their families in Pacific Grove, Marina and Salinas about nutrition and how to prepare

mouth-watering meals that consist of more fruits and vegetables. Following the workshop, the participants receive market

vouchers that enable them to purchase local produce from the markets and use what they learned from the workshop to

prepare a wholesome meal at home. Small-scale family farmers also are being empowered through the organization’s USDA-

supported farm scholarships to aid in the expansion of farmers’ businesses in order to bring more of a diversity of produce to

Everyone’s Harvest Certified Farmers’ Markets.

 

This is the wave of the future. This grassroots food movement is the solution to the one percent, overfishing, energy, health

care, climate change, global outbreaks like swine flu, global depletion, environmental degradation, cancer and other

diseases, world hunger, species extinction, and the list goes on. And “as the food movement matures and grows, it could end

up being the best vehicle available for achieving environmental goals. The industrialized way we farm today damages our

land, our water and our climate. Reforming agriculture and promoting sustainability won’t just help us get better and

healthier food; it will also fight greenhouse-gas emissions and water pollution. The food movement has been criticized as

elitist, but that reputation belies recent efforts to get low-cost fruits and vegetables to urban poor who suffer

disproportionately from obesity and diabetes.”

 

FOOD. Sounds more complex now, doesn’t it? Be conscious of what you eat. Join with us so that this sustainable food

movement grows, because our health, the planet and our children and grandchildren depend on every individual and

collective action we take from here on out.