Posted by Chad Kruger | May 5, 2014
Over the past several months we’ve seen: a freak early-season snow storm in the Dakotas that killed tens of thousands of cattle that could take affected ranchers more than a decade to recover from, continued and expanding drought conditions in the corn belt of the Upper Midwest, extended drought cutting off irrigation water in the “produce basket” of the Central Valley of California, massively destructive storms and flooding in the Gulf Coast, and a deadly virus killing piglets in more than half the country. In spite of this, we’re just finally seeing reports that the price of food is creeping higher – a whopping 0.4% two months in a row! – with the increasing price of bacon the one most people are complaining about. Read more »
Posted by Chad Kruger | September 17, 2013
While the nationally televised Seahawks game was delayed for lightning Sunday night, much of the inland Pacific Northwest braced for the fourth major storm event this summer, with warnings for high winds and severe dust storms, massive electrical storms, heavy rainfall with localized flash flooding, mudslides and extensive power outages. Fortunately, my family did NOT get struck by lightning during this storm as we did in the August 10th storm and this storm also doesn’t seem to have sparked any new wild fires! In light of the on-going flood events in Colorado this week, it looks like we probably had it easy this time with only some inconveniences that should be corrected in the next 24-48 hours. However, given that September is National Preparedness Month, this seems like a good opportunity to highlight a recent commentary paper that I co-authored with some colleagues around the country evaluating research needs regarding the vulnerability of the food system to climatic disruptions. As with most commentary articles, this activity included a review of published literature coupled with expert assessment of where there are gaps in our understanding of vulnerabilities. Read more »
Posted by Chad Kruger | September 6, 2013
Full disclosure: I come from a livestock-producing family tradition and I eat meat. And I like it. A lot.
In his latest provocative post, my colleague Andy McGuire reflects on a new paper that assesses the potential to feed a growing global population by shifting from meat consumption to a vegetarian diet. The paper presents a very compelling scientific rationale for the shift and has Andy contemplating his future dietary choices. Go read Andy’s post – it’s worth your time. In the conclusion of his post, Andy asks readers whether they would quit meat to feed the planet.
My answer to Andy is an unequivocal “No.” Read more »
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.
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »