Tomorrow, October 16 is World Food Day, and the theme for 2013 is "Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition".
World Food Day (WFD) was established by FAO's Member Countries at the Organization's 20th General Conference in November 1945. The Hungarian Delegation, led by the former Hungarian Minister of Agriculture and Food, Dr. Pál Romány has played an active role at the 20th Session of the FAO Conference and suggested the idea of celebrating the WFD worldwide.
It has since been observed every year in more than 150 countries, raising awareness of the issues behind poverty and hunger.
See the video on Hunger below, and here's an Events Page showing what you can do in your area.
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:
Credit: Fedele Bauccio
Gratitude Gourmet readers know that Fedele Bauccio, CEO of Bon Appétit Management Company, is my Hero.
Fedele's company was the Environmental Defense Fund's (EDF) 2009 Innovations Review Food and Beverage Innovator, recognized for reducing the environmental and carbon footprint and Winner of the National Resource Defense Council's (NRDC) 1st Annual Growing Green Awards.
Fedele has written a wonderful February 2013 Sustainability Editorial called: Redefining Sustainability - or Practicing What We Preach. His Editorial is a must-read for those concerned about our food policies, health, farm worker treatment, humane animal conditions, antibiotics ... and our Future.
The article link is here: http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/SUS.2013.9900
Please share with your colleagues, friends, families, communities, and policymakers. Thank you.
Mari-Lyn Harris, Founder Food 4 Social Change, interviewed me about why I founded Gratitude Gourmet, and you can listen to the Podcast here.
Thank you very much, Mari-Lyn!
Think.Eat.Save – Reduce your foodprint!
Did you know there is an extended environmental impact of Food Waste?
Not only does discarded food produce harmful methane emissions when stashed in landfills, but it also wastes the resources used in food production and transport.
The Theme for this year's United Nations Environmental Programme World World Environment Day is Think-Eat-Save.
Photo Credit: UNEP
The World Environment Day celebration began in 1972 to increase worldwide awareness of the environment and encourages political attention and action by empowering YOU to become agents for change in support of sustainable and equitable development. World Environment Day is also a day for people from all walks of life to come together to ensure a cleaner, greener and brighter outlook for themselves and future generations.
Everyone counts in this initiative and World Environment Day relies on you to make it happen!
How are you reducing Food Waste in your businesses and your households?
Let us know what you're doing on our Gratitude Gourmet Facebook Page and UNEP's Page.
For History: As a United States Peace Corps Volunteer serving in Hungary, my role was to teach Business English and Focus on Environmental Awareness. In addition to helping Business Owners Green Their Businesses, I also setup an Earth Week in the local town and school. Each day had a theme, including recycling and vegetarian days. I wasn't vegetarian at that time but understood the impact meat had on the planet's water and grain resources, i.e. 2,500 gallons/pound. Newsweek once put it another way: "the water that goes into a 1,000 pound steer would float a destroyer." It also takes 10 to 16 pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef. It made sense to be vegetarian 1 Day a Week, and I wasn't vegetarian. Now we've become aware that methane emissions are 23 times more powerful than carbon, and cows are a significant emitter of methane (18% Greenhouse Gas Emissions according to UN FAO). Now the UN and other countries are advocating that being vegetarian once a week has immense benefits to the planet. This is why Gratitude Gourmet was founded in May 2008: to share news on globally innovative, practical and sustainable agriculture programs and practices, and empower the individual to make changes within households, communities, and with your Vote, so we can ALL make a real difference for the Planet.
Now, we've become aware about the Food Waste impact on the planet due to methane emissions which are 23 times more powerful than carbon, and UNEP is doing wonderful work bringing more awareness on this issue for this year's World Environmental Day. I look forward to hearing more about your ACTIONS on this year's World Environmental Day and
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We wanted to thank you for your support of Gratitude Gourmet.
Since we launched in May 2008, we've featured news on sustainable food policy, science, health and inspiring entrepreneurs, and fun events and giveaways.
We've also received a great response on own fair trade chocolate line & healthy food snack boxes launched last year. Thank you for your great feedback and support along the way, including your Facebook comments!
We hope our Gratitude Gourmet news has provided helpful food perspectives for you and your communities. Our tagline from the start has been 'Fun, Sustainable Lifestyle' and that's the theme we've worked to maintain.
Would you like to see additional story ideas and themes? Have a favorite Thanksgiving Veggie Recipe you'd like to share? Please leave a comment on Facebook and let us know. Thanks and we wish you a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving! :)
Food Price Hikes, Water Scarcity and Human Health Related to Climate Change Says Helen Clark UNDP & Former New Zealand Prime Minister
Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator and Former New Zealand Prime Minister, spoke at Stanford University on the topic: Why Tackling Climate Change Matters for Development.
She discussed current food shortages, water scarcity, and human health challenges as a result of climate change.
I highly recommend you watch the full video recording and/or read the full text of her speech on my Clean Tech News site HERE. Please Share.
Video Interview: Fredi Kronenberg Stanford School of Medicine on Women's Health and Alternative Medicine
Fredi Kronenberg Stanford School of Medicine
Fredi Kronenberg is a Stanford School of Medicine Physiologist with expertise in women's health and alternative medicine and is very involved in bringing healthy food and Information to hospitals and health professionals. Our video interview is in two parts below, and here are some highlights.
She mentions "there is a tremendous surge of interest in bringing healthy food to hospitals...however, a missing piece of the equation is that Doctors are not trained in Nutrition and Food."
She says that "what you eat affects gene expression so just because you have a particular genetic propensity doesn't mean that you will get that particular condition because you can, in fact, impact that by the food you eat, so it's really critical that doctors learn more about food."
"We know now that there are particular foods, for example, that help Cancer patients and many illnesses which are inflammatory-driven. There are certain foods that promote inflammation and certain foods that reduce inflammation...Tumeric (curcumin) is one of the most anti-inflammatory herbs and spices we know, and it's valuable for Cancer patients and other patients that have inflammatory-driven conditions."
Over the last 10 years, she has worked with Dr Andrew Weil in these areas, and they have also established a 2 1/2 day Annual Conference for Doctors, Nurses, and Health Care Providers which presents the latest research in nutrition and specific health conditions, and how food can prevent and treat conditions. She says, "why not use nutrition to control diabetes and cardiovascular disease first?" There are no donuts served at this conference, and the food is healthy.
More information is on their website at http://nutritionandhealthconf.org
In addition to this conference, she's working on a new initiative to bring in Chefs to Stanford University who can produce food that has the herbs and spices especially made for Cancer patients, create a conference and bring experts to it. She's looking for funders, and if you're interested, please contact her at fk11 (at) stanford (dot) edu
Part 1 of 2
Part 2 of 2
John Robbins - Photo: M Vincent
John Robbins, Author of Diet for a New America, spoke at Stanford University yesterday October 24, 2012 and discussed his book's positive impact on his father's illness, the fact that Climate Change unfortunately wasn't discussed in the US presidential debates, and California's Prop 37 Right to Know.
Highlights are below, as well as a follow-on Stanford Farm Bill discussion and Scientific Feedback I received from a Scientist and MIT alum at a large pharmaceutical company regarding GMOs.
When John's father, founder of the Baskin Robbins ice cream chain, was dying from Diabetes complications, his doctor told him that he should read Diet for a New America. At that time, the doctor did not know the Author and Father were related. His father then followed the book's advice and lived for 18 more years.
John Robbins also touched on the fact that Climate Change unfortunately was not mentioned in the US presidential debates. (I agree.) He also mentioned that the planet and all life on Earth are being affected and food is a large part of greenhouse gas emissions, more than transportation.
As many Gratitude Gourmet readers know. this fact and connection between Animal Agriculture and Greenhouse Gas Emissions is why I founded Gratitude Gourmet in May 2008.
Stanford Food Bill Discussion Photo: M Vincent
As to the Yes on Prop 37 Right to Know initiative, John mentioned that "the GMO industry wants to keep you ignorant - Ignorance is subservience - subservience to Monsanto and their agenda" and "we're going to pass Prop 37. " The Stanford audience enthusiastically clapped.
John's keynote was followed by Farm Bill Renewal Panel discussion including Buzz Thompson, Stanford Professor of Law and Co-Director Woods Institute of the Environment, Karl Hamerschlag, Environmental Working Group, Jon Scholl President, American Farmland Trust, and Michele Simon, President Eat Drink Politics. The bill is very complex to say the least, and here are a few points which were mentioned: There is a massive disconnect between the Farm Bill and Public Health needs. It's focused on the meat and processed-food-centric diet, however the ADA says that half of our plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables. Right now, the Farm Bill only includes a small sliver of a plate's recommended fruits and vegetables.
John Robbins suggested that a tax be levied on unhealthy foods to subsidize healthy foods, i.e. a tax on white bread to subsidize whole grain breads etc. Intriguing idea.
The Panel members at the end each gave one point that the audience should take with them, and they are:
- Go to the newly-launched website: Foodpolicyaction.org to see how your legislators voted
- Get Political
- Vote with your Dollars
- Share your opinions with people and family most important to you
- Go Vote & Go Eat.
Yes on Prop 37 Right to Know Supporters
I also met a scientist at a large pharmaceutical company and MIT alum, who gave a scientific explanation regarding GMO risks. This person asked to be kept Anonymous.
"I work in the pharmaceutical industry as a scientist and thus am very familiar with genetic engineering. We use it to engineer cell lines to produce the protein biologicals we engineer as medicines, such as antibodies. It is a common and well known concept that the species that one produces those proteins in matters very much, ie, if you take a single gene and express it in various species of cell lines, you will not get the same final protein due to something called post translational modifications. For example, the protein may have parts of it cut off, it may be folded differently, different phosphorylations may occur, or glycosylations (sugars) will get added on in different patterns. Sometimes those differences have little effect, and sometimes those effects are quite huge - you just don't know until you test it. This is what a lot of geneticists fail to convey when talking about genetic engineering. Sure, when you move DNA from species to another, that DNA is all made of the same nucleotides that exists in all species and you'll get the same string of amino acids resulting from it. But moving a gene from one species to another will not result in the exact same protein getting expressed. This is why our stuff has to go through clinical trials and post market surveillance, and rightly so. But the FDA requires no testing of our food which utilizes similar technologies." - Anonymous, scientist at a large pharmaceutical company and MIT alum
As Editor of Gratitude Gourmet, I urge Californians to Vote Yes on 37 - Because we have the right to know what's in our food.
Learn more on the Yes on 37 Website: http://www.carighttoknow.org/
Interview with Kathleen Merrigan Deputy Secretary of Agriculture USDA, James Beard Foundation Award Winner
Kathleen Merrigan, USDA
Kathleen Merrigan, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is a James Beard Foundation Award Winner for her efforts to strengthen the critical connection between farmers and consumers, create new opportunities for farmers, support regional food infrastructure and bring agriculture into our daily conversations through efforts such as USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative.
Our interview is below.
Gratitude Gourmet: Congratulations on your Award! Please tell me more about your efforts to strengthen the connection between farmers and consumers.
Kathleen Merrigan: There has been a renaissance of interest in the world of agriculture and how food was produced. For me it is so exciting. Before people didn't want to talk about this, but we've really come into a new time period where people are just all about food, where it's local/regional, i.e. the drought farmers are dealing with. I have been to over 30 college campuses talking to young people about American agriculture.
The average Farmer age is 59, most are over 65 – we need to talk to people about getting engaged in policies relating to agriculture and transition people into agriculture. I was just up in Portland, Maine and Cleveland discussing how food systems can connect to jobs.
Gratitude Gourmet: How has the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative grown since its inception in 2009 and where do you see the program headed in the future?
Kathleen Merrigan: It's a huge bureaucracy. How does someone know how to navigate system? We want to decode and demystify that to help people figure out what systems are available. On the GIS map, communities can go to the map and have their own conversations. It gives them more information about our resources, how do we build up our local resource systems and empower communities across the US.
Gratitude Gourmet: Can you share some case studies of Communities which have benefited?
Kathleen Merrigan: I can't share the community names but there are three community examples in cities and rural areas, i.e. a hoop house, a seasonal high tunnel structure and we've funded a variety of them. What an amazing difference it has made in their production. In Alaska, we have a cost-share program which has been transformative. When I was up in Maine and New Hampshire, farmers have said it has been great to provide local products to consumers including during colder weather.
Gratitude Gourmet: Thank you.
Note: Post Interview per the USDA site, I noticed that in Ohio, Flying HIGH will use Farmers Market Promotion (FMPP) funds to "recruit and train young urban adults as farmers, showing them how to grow and sell produce at new farmers markets in Youngstown and throughout Mahoning County. A combination of production and marketing education, technical support services, supplies and professional development will have significant impact on the long-term success of young farmers in the community."
Related James Beard Foundation Leadership Award Articles:
Interview with Tensie Whelan, President Rainforest Alliance
Interview with Dr. Jason Clay World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
Have you tried Original Oaten Biscuits from Duchy Originals, where profits benefit charities through The Prince of Wales's Charitable Foundation?
This product is an example of the message Prince Charles gave in his Documentary, Harmony, where I was on a conference call with the Executive Producers.
See my article on the Harmony Documentary here.
The Prince has an initiative called Dutchy Originals which acts a lot the way Newman’s Own does where natural and organic products are sold and proceeds are given to charities. Named after the Duchy of Cornwall estates, Duchy Originals was launched in 1990. Their first product, the oaten biscuit, was launched in 1992. They grew the wheat and oats themselves on Home Farm, before sending it just down the road to Shipton Mill, where they were stone-ground. As the biscuits have grown in popularity, they've expanded the number of farms used for wheat and oats. They're all from organic farms in the UK and most grow a traditional variety of wheat called Maris Widgeon - which grows unusually tall. As a result, it gives protection to native birds and insects while preventing weeds without the need for pesticides. And by the way, these biscuits are delicious!
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-clay
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."
Related James Beard Foundation Leadership Award Articles:
Interview with Tensie Whelan, President Rainforest Alliance, James Beard Foundation Leadership Award Winner
Interview with Tensie Whelan, President Rainforest Alliance, James Beard Foundation Leadership Award Winner
The James Beard Foundation Leadership Awards recognize people taking a bold step towards the important and complex realms of sustainability, food access, and public health. Excellence of work, innovation in approach, and scale of impact within a community or the nation were among the criteria used to select this year’s 2012 winners.
Tensie Whelan, President, Rainforest Alliance, and Co-Chair, Sustainable Food Lab Advisory Board, is an Award Winner, and our Interview is below.
Gratitude Gourmet: Please tell me about this honor from the James Beard Foundation (JBF) and how were you able to transform the Rainforest Alliance into a respected international organization that works to transform land-use practices, business practices, and consumer behavior to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods?
Tensie Whelan: It's thrilling to have our work honored by the Foundation. We're excited to be included and to have the Foundation focus on sustainable food. We have certified millions of small producers in agriculture who then sell to restaurants, retailers, and brands to deliver high quality food. We've designed a comprehensive farm management program, helped improve productivity and quality, and the secret to success has been a sustainable agriculture standard - a win win that helps farmers succeed in the long term and help consumers feel confident about their purchases.
Gratitude Gourmet: Please tell me more about some successful Farmer Partnerships you have.
Tensie Whelan: Farmers from Kenya, Brazil are renaissance people - they have to understand both supply chains and nature that throws surprises at them - I'm humbled when I meet a farmer.
I was recently in Kenya - there are 560,000 small tea producers and each has 3-5 hectares of land. Tea is a cash crop, and what they use to send their kids to school - we have partnered with them and Lipton to established farmer field schools to get Rainforest Alliance Certified. Now, 350,000 have been certified. Farmers saw a benefit - field quality was improving. They started to see their water coming back, yields and productivity were going up - now we're up to the world's 10% of the world's tea-certified. Lipton made the difference -- they said we are going to help you and buy your product.
Gratitude Gourmet: Are there other Companies similar to Lipton partnering with Farmers?
Tensie Whelan: Mars has been an amazing partner in Cocoa - Chiquita in bananas - Kraft in coffee - Staples in paper products.
Gratitude Gourmet: If a large Company or Country wants to get involved in your Projects, how would they proceed?
Tensie Whelan: With a company, we would help them map their supply chain and work with their suppliers to certify the farms they buy from. We are working with governments to help them encourage more climate friendly agriculture. The government of Norway has funded us to help tropical countries get ready to access carbon markets with agriculture and logging practices that protect forests, water and wildlife.
Gratitude Gourmet: Would you like to share any final thoughts with our Gratitude Gourmet Readers?
Tensie Whelan: Sometimes choice becomes overwhelming - how do you choose between certificaton systems? What is a high priority in your business/restaurant? Solutions may not be available now, so you will need to help create that solution. Yet, as I'm traveling around the world, I'm impressed by all the innovation happening.
Buy Rainforest Alliance Certified products.
Whatever choices you're making, you're helping others to innovate that creates solutions for the world that is going to need them.
Quivira Wildlife Refuge Kansas Aug 7 Reuters/Jeff Tuttle
Many of you know I founded Gratitude Gourmet because of our food's impact on climate emissions and reducing global meat consumption is key.
Please see this recent Reuters article called:
'Climate Change poses risks to food, beyond U.S. drought'.
At the end of the article, you will see the last line saying shifting to vegetarian diets would help. This article is an important read.
What are your thoughts? Tell us on Facebook.
National Park Week is April 21-29, and ALL 397 of our US parks will offer free admission, all week long! The National Park Service is again joining with the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America's national parks, to present National Park Week. Find a Park by Name, Location, Topic here.
Which Park Will You Visit, and what food and drink will you bring on your picnics and hikes?
We have an incentive to encourage you in your goals.
Nominate Gratitude Gourmet for the Social Impact Crunchies 2011 Award, sponsored by Techcrunch. Gratitude Gourmet was founded in May 2008 to bring awareness on food & climate emissions - we've spoken around the US & World. Organizations, journalists & magazines took note & published articles based on our work & asked us to speak at conferences. We also enjoyed our opportunity as a Stanford Engineering for Good Class GreenTech Advisor. More information about Gratitude Gourmet's Work is here.
Thank you very much in advance for nominating us here,