by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Food-system

Oct 26 2023

Who knew? III. Corn-plus-soybean share of US crop acreage

Here’s my third Who Knew post of the week, this one an at-a-glance explanation of what’s wrong with the US food system, courtesy of FarmDocDaily.

In 1980 or so, corn and soybeans comprised about 20% each of total crop acreage.  Now it’s 30% each.

To bring this point home:

Recall that more than 40% of US corn is used to feed animals and another more than 40% is used to make ethanol.

Monoculture, anyone?  Lack of biodiversity?  Greenhouse gas emissions?  A focus on feed and fuel, not food?

Time to rethink the food system!

 

Jun 7 2022

USDA issues new Framework for fixing the food system


Last week, the USDA announced its new Framework for Shoring Up the Food Supply Chain and Transforming the Food System to Be Fairer, More Competitive, More Resilient.

The Framework document is long and hard to read.  Here’s a summary:

Framework goals:

  • Building a more resilient food supply chain that provides more and better market options for consumers and producers while reducing carbon pollution
  • Creating a fairer food system that combats market dominance and helps producers and consumers gain more power in the marketplace by creating new, more and better local market options
  • Making nutritious food more accessible and affordable for consumers
  • Emphasizing equity

Framework actions: where the money goes:

Food production

  • $300 million for an Organic Transition Initiative
  • $75 million for urban agriculture

Food processing

Food distribution and aggregation

  • $400 million for regional food business centers
  • $60 million to leverage commodity purchases through Farm-to-School
  • $90 million to prevent and reduce food loss and waste

Food markets & Consumers

Civil Eats has an interview with Secretary Vilsack about all this.  Its point:

While it’s billed as a “transformation,” the framework does not change the foundational structures or practices of the American food system. It does, however, emphasize regionalism, support for organic and urban farming, and nutrition in new ways. That’s a significant shift for the agency, which has historically prioritized efficiency over all else.

The White House was also at work last week.  It released an Action Plan on Global Water Security.

Summary: FACT SHEET: Vice President Harris Announces Action Plan on Global Water Security and Highlights the Administration’s Work to Build Drought Resilience.

Strategies (Pillars):

  • Pillar 1: Advancing U.S. leadership in the global effort to achieve universal and equitable access to sustainable, climate-resilient, safe, and effectively managed WASH services without increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Pillar 2: Promoting sustainable management and protection of water resources and associated ecosystems to support economic growth, build resilience, mitigate the risk of instability or conflict, and increase cooperation.
  • Pillar 3: Ensuring that multilateral action mobilizes cooperation and promotes water security.

Will any of this do real good?  Specific initiatives will benefit from the increased funding.

Transforming the food system?  Not quite yet.

 

 

Sep 4 2020

My editorial with Nick Freudenberg

The American Journal of Public Health has just published an editorial I did with Nick Freudenberg, who directs the Urban Food Policy Institute at the CUNY School of Public Health.

“A Call for a National Agenda for a Healthy, Equitable, and Sustainable Food System” [it’s open access and you can read it at that link]

Here’s the abstract:

In less than a month, US voters will choose their next president and Congress, creating the opportunity for food, farm, and social justice activists to shape a new federal food agenda. Whether Democrats sweep the election or Republicans retain the Senate or White House, the devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, the deepening economic crisis, and the continuing disruptions from climate change demand rethinking how federal food policies can contribute to improved human and planetary health. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print August 27, 2020: e1–e3. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2020.305926)

Our goals:

  1. Reduce hunger and food insecurity
  2. Dismantle systemic racism in the food system
  3. Make healthy affordable food available to all Americans
  4. Reduce burden of diet-related diseases
  5. Support agricultural practices that reduce carbon emissions and other forms of pollution
  6. Protect food workers
  7. Promote food democracy