Sustainable Intensification to Meet Growing Demand
From an article published 27 February 2012
It probably comes as no surprise that global population growth is on the rise, total land available to sustain that growth is limited, and beyond that, more of us will be living in urban areas when compared to anywhere else. So how is food production going to keep up with a growing population, when more and more of it has to be produced in the exact same amount of space? Tough question, this.
And if that’s not enough, throw in climate change and the prospects of global warming, and things begin to look very tricky. Enter, Sustainable Intensification — how farmers and ranchers will intensify production in a limited space, and how that growth can be made sustainable over time. According to a new article, “The concept of sustainable intensification – growing or even maintaining production while minimizing inputs and enhancing ecosystem services – was addressed on both sides of the Atlantic last week.” Continue reading
A newly formed alliance dedicated to promoting sustainable agriculture has appeared on the horizon of U.S. farmers and cattle ranchers. The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) consists of high-level, important farm and ranch-led organizations, and has under its umbrella a number of significant partners as well. What is all this effort in aid of, you may be asking?
Nothing short of a miracle, really, when you think about it. Why? Because from as low as regional-level organizations, to as high as national-level organizations, and everything in between (including those partners functioning at the state level), have all joined forces in order to create a dialog about American sustainable farming and ranching practices. And all this is really in order to be more open to the American consumer, and to listen to what the American consumer is asking for when it comes to food.
The USFRA wants to fill in the gap between agricultural companies and organizations, and the people to whom their food is going. Americans have more and more questions, every day, especially with an unprecedented amount of access to information, via the Internet. And the questions are about the practices governing how farmers and ranchers raise the food that ends up in the market and the butcher. With the shift toward local and seasonal eating ever on the rise, this marks an important shift, whereby national organizations in control over much of the nation’s food supply, finally appear to be entering the conversation about sustainable agriculture. Continue reading
Laughing Planet Café Supports the Food Alliance
Laughing Planet in Portland, OR, supports a number of sustainable agriculture pioneers, including local farmers and organizations that foster the growth of sustainability. For example, back on Tuesday, December 13th, Laughing Planet Café donated a portion of sales to Food Alliance. All purchases made at any Laughing Planet Café location in the Portland, Oregon area that day were eligible. If you’re ever in Portland, you can help to support sustainable food and farms, just by watching for the next time Laughing Planet supports this organization.
In and around Portland area just like in many cities both large and small, farmers markets and locally-focused or community-based agriculture continues to rise in popularity. In cities like Portland, this has a great deal to do with the increasing push for sustainability, and a greater demand for accountability in terms of what we eat, and where/how it’s grown — concerns voiced by the public and dealt with by grocers, restaurant owners and household shoppers alike.
But according to a recent Willamette Week article, “taxpayers may soon be asked to step up and help out this local food base.” While across the nation, subsidies for farm operations and farmers is nothing new, sustaining or in the worst case scenarios, artificially propping up large growers of staples like corn and soybeans, the tradition dictates that the largest government subsidies go to the largest farms. So where does this leave community-based agriculture? Continue reading
What is Sustainable Food?
Defining Sustainable Food
Sustainable food is food that is healthy for consumers and produced in an humane, ecologically benign, socially responsible and economically fair way. That’s a wide range of criteria, but true sustainability extends beyond merely reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
While climate change is one of the most visible concerns for proponents of sustainability, there are numerous other concerns that must be considered when advocating for a food system that can sustain us indefinitely. Wage inequity, the unethical treatment of animals and the destruction of the natural resources on which agriculture depends are all pressing issues that need to be addressed.
Everything from maintaining those finite natural resources to efficiently satisfying human needs to improving our communities must be taken into account in a truly “sustainable” model of the food industry. But what do those concerns mean in concrete terms? Continue reading