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A Sobering Reminder of the Importance of Dietary Choice

Posted by Chuck Benbrook | July 16, 2013

A growing number of Americans are learning that doctors don’t have miracle cures for all that ails us.  The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington has just released chilling data on the burden of disease in America, the driving forces behind disease and ill health, and modifiable risk factors for contemporary health problems.

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Filed under Community and Society, Food Systems, Nutrition
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Can incremental change pave the way for system transformation?

Posted by Marcy Ostrom | December 18, 2012

As several CSANR faculty members have agreed to do, including Andy McGuire and David Granatstein, I am responding to the question posed by Center Director Chad Kruger on September 18: Achieving farm and food system sustainability: incremental vs. transformational pathways? Read more »

Reflections on Savory: The Science and the Philosophy Pt. 2

Posted by Chad Kruger | December 14, 2012

Managing Change Northwest recently brought Allan Savory of the Savory Institute to the Pacific Northwest to speak to the Washington Cattleman’s Association, the Tilth Producers of Washington, and a special workshop and keynote in Seattle for consumers. CSANR co-sponsored Savory’s PNW tour because we thought he brought a challenging message that many in our region needed to hear. Below is the second of a two-part post of my reflections on what Savory had to say when he was here.

Part 2: The Philosophy

In my previous post on this topic I shared my thoughts on the controversial nature of the science behind Allan Savory and Holistic Management (HM). In this post, I will focus on my view of the philosophical challenge Savory presented when he was here. Read more »

Frequently Asked Questions about climate change and agriculture: Part 5

Posted by Chad Kruger | November 27, 2012

I’ve made it to the fifth and final question.  I’ve been delving into the five most frequently asked questions I receive about climate change and agriculture over the past several months, and I personally think this last one is the most interesting and possibly the most important. The question is: Will climate change lead to a food system collapse?  It is also the question that we have the least scientific certainty about because it involves projecting forward into the future regarding both the climatic system and human responses. I published an article describing our early research assessing the impacts of climate change on PNW agriculture in Rural Connections last year. I also recently presented a webinar on this topic relevant to Pacific Northwest Agriculture with some of our latest research results. In this post I will highlight the limited available science on the question and identify the critical issues from a more global perspective.  Read more »

Filed under Climate Change, Food Systems
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Reflections on Savory: The Science and the Philosophy

Posted by Chad Kruger | November 20, 2012

Managing Change Northwest recently brought Allan Savory of the Savory Institute to the Pacific Northwest to speak to the Washington Cattleman’s Association, the Tilth Producers of Washington, and a special workshop and keynote in Seattle for consumers. CSANR co-sponsored Savory’s PNW tour because we thought he brought a challenging message that many in our region needed to hear. Below is the first of a two-part post of my reflections on what Savory had to say when he was here. Read more »

Another take on achieving sustainability

Posted by David Granatstein | October 4, 2012

As several CSANR faculty members have agreed to do, including Andy McGuire, I am responding to the question posed by Center Director Chad Kruger on September 18: Achieving farm and food system sustainability: incremental vs. transformational pathways?

First of all, my own bias is that we are not likely to achieve farm and food system sustainability. This implies that there is a line that is crossed that moves one from “unsustainable” to “sustainable.” Since the world is constantly changing, what we consider sustainable today may not be valid at the end of a five- or ten-year period over which we pursue that goal. I would rephrase the question to begin: improving (rather than achieving) farm and food system sustainability. Read more »

Stepping, rather than jumping, towards sustainability

Posted by Andrew McGuire | September 25, 2012

As several CSANR faculty members have agreed to do, I am responding to the question posed by Center director Chad Kruger on September 18th: Achieving farm and food system sustainability: incremental vs. transformational pathways?

In sustainable agriculture circles, and especially among agroecology proponents, it is asserted that a well-designed farming system will encourage self-regulating populations of pests (called homeostatis) while sustaining yields at acceptable levels. Furthermore, this state of self-regulation is claimed to be a property of the system as a whole (system-level emergent). Therefore, when pests do more damage than acceptable, the system is assumed to be wrong; lacking in diversity, using the wrong inputs, too much of this or too little of that, or the system has not been in place long enough to allow these properties to emerge. This assumption has led to the call for more systems-level research, the “transformational pathways” of this Blog series. Read more »

Achieving farm and food system sustainability: incremental vs. transformational pathways?

Posted by Chad Kruger | September 18, 2012

While the general concept of “sustainability” has largely gained acceptance in mainstream society, there remain significant differences in what people mean when they use it. Perhaps the most fundamental difference of opinion is whether sustainability can be achieved (if it can be achieved at all) through incremental changes or whether it requires societal transformation. For farm and food system sustainability, is it possible to shift our existing system in the right direction with small, positive changes or do we actually need to completely redesign our farm and food systems? Read more »

Feeding the World?

Posted by Chad Kruger | September 6, 2012

Earlier this year The Economist posted an entry entitled “How to Feed the Planet (continued)” on their Feast and Famine blog. The author presents data that demonstrates the role of international trade (particularly the increase in agricultural exports from Brazil and Russia) in meeting the increased demand for food for the growing populations in Africa and Asia over the past two decades. The author argues that in order to continue meeting the increased demand for food to feed a growing population, we will need to find another region currently under-producing its resource potential (available arable land, water, sunlight, etc.). The Economist suggests that Sub-Saharan Africa is the next logical region of investment in agricultural productivity growth. Read more »

Filed under Food Systems
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Doin’ the Dots: farmers market data collection engages community participation

Posted by Colleen Donovan | August 30, 2012

How many customers do we have? What do customers care about most? How much do they spend?

And how do you answer these questions with no turnstiles, barcodes, or cash registers to be found? The very charms of shopping a farmers market – a weekly intimacy with the product and producer; low-tech, hand-crafted displays; and the intermittent transformation of parking lot or city street into colorful, bustling marketplace – can make data collection a real challenge. And these questions don’t just matter to farmers and other vendors, they matter to the farmers market as a whole. Read more »

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