21 Nov 2011

Reducing Food Waste During the Holiday Season

Crossposted from the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet. The holiday season is a time for gifts, decorations, and lots and lots of food. As a result, it’s also a time of spectacular amounts of waste. In the United States, we generate an extra 5 million tons of household waste each

08 Nov 2011

Global Expansion of High-speed Railroads Gains Steam

Interest in high-speed rail (HSR) is growing around the world and the number of countries running these trains is expected to nearly double over the next few years, according to new research by the Worldwatch Institute for Vital Signs Online. By 2014, high-speed trains will be operating in nearly 24

20 Oct 2011

Celebrating Nutrition on America’s “Food Day”

Crossposted from the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet project Hamburgers, pizzas, french fries, and sugary drinks-in today’s fast-paced world, these foods have become staples for many Americans. But this unhealthy diet has led to an increase in chronic health problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and high blood

11 Oct 2011

Global Meat Production and Consumption Continue to Rise

Crossposted from the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet. Global meat production and consumption have increased rapidly in recent decades, with harmful effects on the environment and public health as well as on the economy, according to research done by Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet project for Vital Signs Online. Worldwide

03 May 2011

Fishing for Sustainable Practices to Conserve Fisheries

Crossposted from the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet. Global fish production has reached an all-time high, according to Nourishing the Planet’s latest research for the Worldwatch Institute’s Vital Signs Online publication. Aquaculture, or fish farming—once a minor contributor to total fish harvest—increased 50-fold between the 1950s and 2008 and now

28 Apr 2011

Getting “More Crop Per Drop” to Strengthen Global Food Security

Crossposted from the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet. Increasing demand for water continues to put a strain on available water sources, threatening the livelihood of millions of small-scale farmers who depend on water for their crops. At a time when one in eight people lack access to safe water, Nourishing

19 Apr 2011

Agriculture: The Unlikely Earth Day Hero

Crossposted from the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet.

For over 40 years, Earth Day has served as a call to action, mobilizing individuals and organizations around the world to address these challenges. This year Nourishing the Planet highlights agriculture—often blamed as a driver of environmental problems—as an emerging solution.

Agriculture is a source of food and income for the world’s poor and a primary engine for economic growth. It also offers untapped potential for mitigating climate change and protecting biodiversity, and for lifting millions of people out of poverty.

This Earth Day, Nourishing the Planet offers 15 solutions to guide farmers, scientists, politicians, agribusinesses and aid agencies as they commit to promoting a healthier environment and a more food-secure future.

1. Guaranteeing the Right to Food. Guaranteeing the human right to adequate food—now and for future generations—requires that policymakers incorporate this right into food security laws and programs at the regional, national, and international level. Governments have a role in providing the public goods to support sustainable agriculture, including extension services, farmer-to-farmer transmission of knowledge, storage facilities, and infrastructure that links farmers to consumers.

2. Harnessing the Nutritional and Economic Potential of Vegetables. Micronutrient deficiencies, including lack of vitamin A, iodine, and iron, affect 1 billion people worldwide. Promoting indigenous vegetables that are rich in micronutrients could help reduce malnutrition. Locally adapted vegetable varieties are hardier and more dependable than staple crops, making them ideal for smallholder farmers. Research organizations like AVRDC/The World Vegetable Center are developing improved vegetable varieties, such as amaranth and African eggplant, and cultivating an appreciation for traditional foods among consumers.

3. Reducing Food Waste. Experts continue to emphasize increasing global food production, yet our money could be better spent on reducing food waste and post-harvest losses. Already, a number of low-input and regionally appropriate storage and preservation techniques are working to combat food waste around the world. In Pakistan, farmers cut their harvest losses by 70 percent by switching from jute bags and containers constructed with mud to more durable metal containers. And in West Africa, farmers have saved around 100,000 mangos by using solar dryers to dry the fruit after harvest.

4. Feeding Cities. The U.N. estimates that 70 percent of the world’s people will live in cities by 2050, putting stress on available food. Urban agriculture projects are helping to improve food security, raise incomes, empower women, and improve urban environments. In sub-Saharan Africa, the Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization (ECHO) has helped city farmers build food gardens, using old tires to create crop beds. And community supported agriculture (CSA) programs in Cape Town, South Africa, are helping to raise incomes and provide produce for school meals.

30 Mar 2011

A “Revolution of Greens” Needed to Curb Food Price Crisis

Crossposted from the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet. Food prices have soared to record highs and are projected to increase further in the coming decade, pushing millions of people into hunger — and fueling political unrest around the world. But diversifying food production to include local and indigenous vegetables can

28 Feb 2011

Siwa Dates: A Chewy Treat in the Desert Heat

Crossposted from the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet. Many deserts that appear bone-dry actually have plenty of water flowing just below the ground’s surface. In these cases, when the ground level dips below sea level, the water will literally gush to the surface and create an oasis—a fertile, lush space

25 Feb 2011

Lasting Skills for Sustainable Change

Crossposted from the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet. The Land O’ Lakes company is best known for its butter, but the company also has a nonprofit division—Land O’ Lakes International Development (IDD). Land O’ Lakes IDD is part of the U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council, a group of organizations that