Photo: Mary Vincent
On April 23, 2013, Al Gore gave a riveting and engaging Stanford University lecture on the topic 'Peril and Opportunity: Solving the Climate Crisis and Reinvigorating Democracy', and he discussed a variety of food and agriculture issues during the 1st Annual Stephen H. Schneider Memorial Lecture. A full video of his lecture is below.
Al Gore highlighted several examples from his new book: The Future Six Drivers of Global Change. For background, the Drivers are:
- Earth, Inc Ever increasing economic globalization has led to the emergence of what Gore labels "Earth Inc." - an integrated, holistic entity with a new and different relationship to capital, labor (outsourcing and robo-sourcing), consumer markets, national governments than in the past. Over the last 25 years, coal production has increased 133%, but jobs have decreased 33%. By 2016 Foxconn, the Chinese manufacturer of Apple devices will replace 1 million workers with robots. Federal officials believe cybersecurity is a more important national-security issue than terrorism. In 1975, corporations spent $100 million lobbying - in 2010, they spent $3.5 BILLION. 50% of Senators and 40% of House Reps become lobbyists when they retire. "I.n yet another illustration of the dangerous imbalance in political decision making, a truly shocking 80% of all U.S. antibiotics are still allowed to be legally used on farms in livestock feed and injections in spite of grave threats to human health"
- Global Mind The worldwide digital communications, Internet, and computer revolutions have led to the emergence of "the Global Mind" which links thoughts and feelings of billions of people and connects intelligent machines, robots, ubiquitous sensors, and databases.
- Shift in Balance of Power The balance of global political, economic, and military power is shifting more profoundly than at any time in the last five hundred years - from a U.S-centered system to one with multiple emerging centers of power, from nation-states to private actors, and from political systems to markets. In 2013, the economy of developing nations will exceed that of developed nations for the first time.
- Growth A deeply flawed economic compass is leading us to unsustainable growth in consumption, pollution flows, and depletion of the planet's strategic resources of topsoil, freshwater, and living species. The GDP metric excludes pollution flows. A survey of global executives reveals 80% are not willing to trade long term sustainability for next quarter's earnings target. Over the last 40 years, we have lot more than 1/3 of the arable land on Earth.
- Reinvention of Life and Death Genomic, biotechnology, neuroscience, and life sciences revolutions are radically transforming the fields of medicine, agriculture, and molecular science - and are putting control of evolution in human hands. Almost all the seeds in the world now belong to one company - Monsanto.
- Relationship between Humanity and the Earth There has been a radical disruption of the relationship between human beings and the earth's ecosystems along with the beginning of a revolutionary transformation of energy systems, agriculture, transportation, and construction worldwide. Global warming pollution traps the equivalent of 400,000 Hiroshima bombs in the lower atmosphere every 24 hours. More than 65% of the US suffered from drought conditions in 2012
Many people have told me that reading John Robins' Diet for a New America changed their lives by teaching them about factory farming, and as a result, they radically changed their food choices.
John Robbins has just released a 25th Anniversary Edition Diet for a New America - How Your Food Choices Affect Your Health, Your Happiness, and the Future of Life on Earth with a new Epilogue discussing Climate Change and additional Health Data.
I'm very happy he has updated his book with this information, and more people at all levels of society are realizing the environmental and health consequences of our governmental food and agricultural policies, business strategies and personal choices. We must all continue to make changes and the right investments very quickly on all these fronts.
Ocean Robbins, John's son, has also written a new article called:
Diet for a New America: How the Food Movement is Gaining Strength, and it is below for your reference (published with permission).
By Ocean Robbins
Our food chain is in crisis. Big agribusiness has made profits more important than your health — more important than the environment — more important than your right to know how your food is produced.
The United States now spends nearly 20% of GDP on health care, and levels of obesity, diabetes, and chronic illness are higher than ever.
But even as so many people are suffering, beneath the surface, a revolution has been building.
From rural farms to urban dinner plates, from grocery store shelves to state ballot boxes, people are rising up and taking action. We’re beginning to reclaim our food systems and our menus, and we’re taking responsibility for our health.
In the seven years after my dad and colleague, John Robbins, released the first edition of his landmark bestseller Diet for a New America in 1987, beef consumption in the United States dropped by 19%. The National Cattlemen’s Association, not pleased, pointedly blamed Diet For A New America. Since then, beef consumption has continued to slowly drop, while organic food sales have increased over 26-fold, to now exceed 4% of market share.
This year marks the release of the 25th anniversary edition of Diet For A New America, and it couldn’t come at a more opportune time. People are taking an increasing interest in the way that the animals raised for food are treated. In fact,
a poll conducted by Lake Research partners found that 94 percent of Americans agree that animals raised for food on farms deserve to be free from cruelty. Nine US states have now joined the entire European Union in banning gestational
crates for pigs, and Australia’s two largest supermarket chains now sell only cage-free eggs in their house brands.
The demand is growing for food that is organic, sustainable, fair trade, GMO-free, humane, and healthy. In cities around the world, we’re seeing more and more farmer’s markets (a nearly 3-fold increase in the last decade), and more young
people getting back into farming. Grocery stores (even big national chains) are displaying local, natural and organic foods with pride. The movements for health food are growing fast, and starting to become a political force.
Earlier this year, California voters put an initiative on the ballot that called would have mandated the labeling of food containing GMOs. Monsanto and their buddies in the pesticide and junk food business were forced to spend $46 million
burying California’s voters under an avalanche of deception in order to narrowly defeat California’s Proposition 37 in the November election. Although they won the battle, more than 5.5 million California voters had come out in favor of the
“right to know”. It was clear that the natural foods movement was becoming not just a lifestyle choice for a few hippies, but a political force to be reckoned with.
Now organizers in 30 other states have begun building GMO labeling campaigns, and efforts to improve treatment of animals, to make factory farms pay for the pollution they produce, and to reform the food offered in school lunches are all
What You Can Do
Go to the movies. Eric Schlosser’s Food, Inc., Drs. Caldwell Esslestyn and T. Colin Campbell’s Forks Over Knives, and Jeffrey Smith’s Genetic Roulette are some of the most popular and insightful films currently on the market.
Boycott the bad guys. Many people are choosing to boycott companies that oppose labeling of GMOs, that treat farm animals cruelly, or that profit from the sale of junk food. Other consumers are choosing to buy from the good guys. For example, the non-profit Non-GMO Project, which offers a 3rd party certification program, has now verified 764 products, and had a record-shattering 189 new enrollment inquiries in October. You can also check out the farmer’s market nearest you.
Sign petitions for GMO labeling. Want to work for policy change? A team of organizations, led by Care2 and the Food Revolution Network, have launched a petition demanding that Congress label GMOs, and it has already generated more
than 57,000 signatures. And last year’s JustLabelIt petition to the FDA, which generated more than 1.3 million signatures, is being revived in hopes that the FDA might eventually dig itself out of Monsanto’s back pocket.
Get politically engaged. For the passionate activist, there’s always more you can do, like lobbying your member of Congress, your mayor, your governor, your local media outlets, or your relatives. You can also join the Humane Society's campaign for farm animal protection, or Farm Sanctuary's work for animal welfare legislation.
Get engaged and informed. For a directory of organizations working for healthy, sustainable and humane food, as well as free access to dozens of cutting edge articles and tools to help you make a difference, you can join the Food Revolution
Network. Or check out the newly released 25th anniversary edition of Diet for a New America, the book that helped to launch the modern food movement.
Big agribusiness would probably like us all to sit alone in the dark, munching on highly processed, genetically engineered, chemical-laden, pesticide-contaminated pseudo-foods. But the tide of history is turning, and regardless of how much they spend attempting to maintain their hold on our food systems, we will prevail.
---------Additional Gratitude Gourmet Reading:John Robbins, Farm Bill & Prop 37 GMO Right to Know Scientist Update
Credit: Washington Post
Please see this latest article from the Washington Post called: 2012 hottest year on record in contiguous U.S., NOAA
Gratitude Gourmet was founded in May 2008 due to the fact that reducing meat consumption would significantly reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions.
(18% Greenhouse Gases are from Animal Agriculture
) Also a portion of this Washington Post article states:
"In the United States, a combination of high temperatures and dry conditions last year took a serious toll on the nation’s agricultural sector. NOAA’s Karl noted that the Midwest had been relatively wet for several years, which had curbed the impact of warmer temperatures.
In 2012, he said, “both the day and the nighttime temperatures were breaking their all-time records,” and that combined with drier conditions amounted to “a double whammy.”
The warmest March on record meant vegetation levels were 25 percent higher than normal that month, but many of those crops dried up because 39 percent of the United States experienced severe or extreme drought in 2012."
Many Gratitude Gourmet readers have already acted and continue to act beyond the call of duty.
Please share how you're acting on our Facebook Page.
Dr Jason Clay, WWF
Dr. Jason Clay, Senior Vice President Market Transformation, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is a James Beard Foundation Award Winner for his efforts to study and address the global social, environmental, and economic impact of a variety of commodities, and his cross-sector work to improve the sustainability and supply chain management of these commodities. Our interview is below.
Gratitude Gourmet: Congratulations on your James Beard Award! Please tell me your thoughts on the James Beard Foundation (JBF) honor you received.
Dr. Jason Clay: I've been involved in a lifetime of work on sustainable development and more sustainable supplies of food which started in the 80's with how groups in the rainforest can develop products instead of cutting trees down, such as rainforest products with Ben and Jerry's. Palm oil in Indonesia and soy are recent projects.
Gratitude Gourmet: Please tell me about your cross-sector work to improve the sustainability and supply chain management of these commodities such as palm oil and soy.
Dr. Jason Clay: Agriculture uses 35% of the planet’s land. The production of food and fiber is also the primary driver of deforestation globally and greenhouse gas emissions. Yet by 2050, the world will need to double food production to meet anticipated needs due to increases in population, income and consumption. As agricultural production increases, we must find ways to minimize its impact on biodiversity. In short, we need to freeze the footprint of producing food and fiber. What should we care about the most? It's not just about being right but about building consensus of what needs to be done. It's important to get all the stakeholders - producers, brands, retailers, NGOs - these are the things that are most significant. Having focus lets you accomplish something. We don't want to encourage farmers to adopt one practice over another. What we're interested in is the result that is achievable on the ground - type of land farmers have/labor etc - working with them to have a measurable improvement in their performance. When farmers become more efficient in the most competititve industries, they will make a 4-6% net improvement in income, including managing how they use pesticides which improves net profit.
We work with companies 1:1 on water availability and climate change - we only have 1 planet - we're going to double food consumption by 2050 per capita. We have worked with a group called the Consumer Goods Forum, and by 2020 they have the goal of not buying products from deforested areas - we're getting more companies to sign up for the same commitment. We need to change how we think about pollution - we need companies to be colluding about sustainability - we do need to manage this.
Global estimates for degraded lands (including abandoned, severely degraded and underproductive) range from 1.5 to 2 billion hectares, larger than the entire current agricultural estate. This land is marginal for biodiversity and for ecosystem services, yet
much of this land could be used to produce commodities such as palm oil, soy, or pulp wood. By shifting agricultural expansion from high-carbon lands to degraded, low-carbon lands, especially those that have been used previously for agriculture. we achieve agricultural targets while maintaining biodiversity as well.
Shifting all agricultural expansion to degraded lands is too big a task to tackle all at once. Reasonable goals would be 50 M ha by 2020, 100 M ha by 2030 and 250 M ha by 2040. Moreover, we are not starting with a clean slate. Brazil, China, Ethiopia, South Africa and the US have each rehabilitated areas of at least a million hectares, often far more. Brazil for example has already rehabilitated 10 M ha and has a 2020 target of additional 25 M ha.
In fact, WWF has documented efforts to rehabilitate degraded land in Brazil and Borneo. In each case, the studies showed that rehabilitating degraded lands is financially viable and in fact provides a higher rate of return than clearing forests. As important, the works suggest that there is sufficient degraded land in both areas to double production of soy and palm oil in the respective countries without any additional deforestation.
Strategy: The proposed work on degraded lands will focus on priority areas and commodities for WWF and our corporate partners and donors. The initial focus includes soy in Brazil, pulp and paper and palm oil in Indonesia, and coffee, cocoa, palm oil, and rubber in Central and West Africa.My Guardian blog has more information about my work http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/jason-clayPost Interview:
After our interview, Dr Jason Clay shared more information about World Wildlife Fund's continued expansion with its innovative program seeking to link investments in climate change mitigation with the sustainable production of agricultural commodities via the Carbon and Commodities program because the production of food and fiber is one of the largest sources of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. "In 2009, the Conference to the Parties (COP15) of the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) established a policy framework known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) and created a potentially potent mechanism for supporting forest conservation. It is now widely recognized that for REDD+ to succeed, the drivers of deforestation must be reduced and this requires for the planet’s existing agricultural production models to become more efficient, more Carbon and Sustainability productive, and more sustainable.
The objective of the Carbon and Commodities program is to assist retailers and manufacturers who have made voluntary commitments to reduce the carbon footprints of their brands to engage the producers of agricultural commodities that generate the largest component of those emissions. The goal is to create a framework which increases revenues for farmers that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or increase carbon stocks on production landscapes."
As many of my Gratitude Gourmet Readers know, Agriculture's significant contribution to Earth's Greenhouse Gas Emissions was the main reason I started Gratitude Gourmet May 2008. I first publicly mentioned the connection as a Speaker at the 2008 Women in Technology Silicon Valley Conference. Here's a new TEDx Video featuring Jonathan Foley discussing several startling Global Agriculture Statistics and time-lapse images.What are your thoughts on the Video?
The USDA sponsored an Agricultural Outlook Forum
on 'Sustainable Agriculture: The Key to Health and Prosperity'
February 18-19, 2010 in Arlington, Virginia. The speakers included Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, USDA, Fedele Bauccio, CEO Bon Appétit Management Company, Walter Robb, Co-President & COO Whole Foods Market, and Nina Fedoroff, Science and Technology Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of State.
I recently met with Fedele Bauccio, and he provided me the details of his speech on 'Sustainability: A Transparent Dialogue With Customers'
which I thought you would find enlightening.
For background, you may remember my previous interview
with Fedele Bauccio from last year's Fortune Brainstorm Green Conference. Bon Appétit Management Company has onsite restaurants for corporations, colleges, and universities and specialty venues with 400 locations in 30 states, $550+ million in revenues, 10,000 employees, and over 120 million meals annually served. It has recently won awards
from NRDC and EDF and introduced the Low Carbon Diet Online Calculator
In Fedele's Agricultural Outlook presentation
, he detailed his customers' interest in knowing where the food originated. As a result:
- At least 20% of their ingredients are purchased from a small local farm or artisan within 150 miles of each kitchen and are seasonally and minimally processed.
- A code of conduct for farmworker treatment was created and a ground-breaking agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers was signed.
Fedele says there are remaining challenges:
- Lack of transparency in supply chain for commodity products
- Veil of silence hiding unfair farm labor practices
Bon Appétit Management Company also found that customers want to know if the company is environmentally responsible. The company knows that:
- The Food system contributes as much as 1/3 of total greenhouse gas emissions on a global basis
- Livestock operations contribute 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, more than the transportation sector
As a result, they have:
- Implemented the Low Carbon Diet Program
- Reduced beef purchases by 33% and cheese by 10%
- Purchase vegetables and non-tropical fruit from North America
- Reduced food waste by 20%
- Conducted energy and water audits
Fedele says the remaining challenges and concerns include:
- Water issues: nearly half of the water consumed in the United States is used to grow feed for cattle and other livestock, while fresh water in the United States is decreasing at an alarming rate
- 70% of antibiotics are used for Animals and not humans
- Lack of Country of Origin requirements for all sectors
- Lack of information about transportation method information, and
- Inadequate data collection infrastructure
You can see the full Transcript, Presentation, and Webcast of Fedele's Presentation here
Fedele has also recently testified for a Pew Commission Hearing on the House side regarding Antibiotics.
Fedele is a perfect example of a CEO running a large, successful, and growing company while doing great things for the World. We need more CEOs and Business Owners like him.