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This week in food and sustainability…
After Washington Post columnist argued that the number of people who care about their food and where it comes from is “surprisingly small”, Chellie Pingree and Anna Lapp√© responded: “The level of awareness and concern for the food we are eating is higher than it has ever been– and shows in changing attitudes and in changing habits, too.” ¬†Signs that people’s attitudes towards food are continuing to change are Walmart’s declining profits, Costco becoming the US’ largest seller of organic food, and continued work from dedicated activists to raise awareness and change the food system.
“They are doing it not just through purchasing decisions but also by holding their elected officials accountable and demanding better food policy at local, state and national levels- all against the backdrop of billions in marketing by the processed food and fast-food industries.”
Pulses are not only nutritious, but are also sustainable! It only takes 43 gallons of water per pound of pulses grown, compared to the 1857 pounds of water it takes to produce a pound of beef. Pulses have the remarkable ability to “directly draw nitrogen from the atmosphere and convert it into nutrients vital for plant growth. Growing pulses makes soils fertile, reducing need of fertilizer even for other crops.” As a result, they don’t require¬†fossil fuel based nitrogen fertilizers to grow.
France became the first country to ban supermarkets from tossing food. The French senate passed a law on Wednesday banning supermarkets from binning food before its best-before date.¬†“Supermarkets will also be barred from deliberately spoiling food in order to stop it being eaten by people foraging in stores’ bins… Now bosses of supermarkets with a footprint of 400 sq metres (4,305 sq ft) or more will have to sign donation contracts with charities or face penalties, including fines of up to¬†‚ā¨75,000 (¬£53,000) or two years’ imprisonment.”
If you go grocery shopping, chances are you’ll notice the price difference between organic and conventional food. Why does this price difference exist, and is it worth it?¬†John Reganold, a professor of soil science and agroecology, looked at 40 years of data to see how sustainable organic farming was, and found that the “value [organic farming brings] in areas like biodiversity, pollination, soil quality- if you put an economic value on those, and some researchers have, then it more than makes up for the higher price or price premium of organic food.”
“‘If I had to put it in one sentence, organic agriculture has been able to provide jobs, be profitable, benefit the soil and environment and support social interactions between farmers and customers,’ Reganold says. ‘In some ways, there are practices in organic agriculture that really are ideal blueprings for us to look at feeding the world in the future.'”¬†Research also shows that organic farming requires less energy and crop yields are “consistently greater than conventional” during drought.
Your edible plant enthusiast,