Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Respecting the Value of Food: Eating What We Grow

Food
Respecting the Value of Food: Eating What We Grow

Hannah Semler, founder of food system consulting, Whole Crops, and co-founder of online farmers market, FarmDrop, guides her work with a simple message: respect. "An equitable food system has to start with respect for people and respect for nature." Semler is trying to change the story of food from production to consumption through better integrating collaborative supply chains with "food education, sharing economies, and social impact opportunities" that will lead to no waste and less loss.


Through Whole Crops, Semler "works with a diverse array of organizations, institutions, and partners who want to address the problem of food insecurity with increased food access and a reduction of on-farm food loss." Additionally, Semler works as a fellow with The Fink Family Foundation to expand her work approaching food access in innovative ways with various organizations across different states. She is also co-facilitating a Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, "Farm Level Surplus Working Group." Finally, Semler is the interim Maine Gleaning Network Coordinator and co-facilitates the Portland, ME Food Recovery Coalition.

"Whole Crops is shifting the story of how food gets to people," says Semler. "Our goal is to increase access to sufficient, quality food through all channels. We are working with hundreds of local food producers, food businesses, non-profit organizations, and governmental agencies with a food systems design approach that builds connectivity and reciprocity." Whole Crops has a mission to build a more collaborative, less wasteful food system within a vision of food production models that work together to feed communities.

Farmers need an advocate to ensure that they can sell their whole crop to buyers, instead of sorting crops for quality and letting "ugly-looking" crops rot in the field. To do this, Semler is trying "to prove to the farmers and the market that what is left in the field has economic and social value." She said, "both need to be considered simultaneously along with the ecological footprint of leaving good food in the field. Why on Earth aren't we eating what we grow?"

To advocate for farmers, Semler co-founded FarmDrop, an online farmers market to help producers secure a steady income, grow their businesses, and reduce post-harvest farm loss. With FarmDrop, producers only deliver what they have already sold online, but provide the variety and choice customers are looking for. In discussing the types of food systems to sustainably feed communities, Semler said, "FarmDrop is showcasing the power of local agro-ecological food producers that know best how to take care of the land on which they depend and can further support each other through the effects of climate change."

Ultimately, recovering lost crops in fields from small localized farms back into the food system can create an opportunity for local food to become more affordable and accessible to more people. Reducing the stresses of post-harvest handling and promoting a Whole Crops purchasing system can eliminate sorting for cosmetic standards, reduce the cost of production and make local food systems more viable. Educating volunteers and consumers about the work that each crop requires can influence food purchasing behavior to be more accepting of all produce regardless of appearance. After all, Semler said, "the fruits and vegetables available on our local farms are fresh, nutritious, and can fill the bellies of an ongoing conversation on how communities can take care of each other while impacting the national agenda on the future of food."

A crowd of climate activists march behind a banner in NYC during Climate Week on September 20, 2020. Erik McGregor / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Breanna Draxler

After decades on the political periphery, the climate movement is entering the mainstream in 2020, with young leaders at the fore. The Sunrise Movement now includes more than 400 local groups educating and advocating for political action on climate change. Countless students around the world have clearly communicated what's at stake for their futures, notably Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who just finished her yearlong school strike for climate. Youth activists have been praised for their flexible, big-picture thinking and ability to harness social media to deliver political wins, as Sunrise recently did for U.S. Sen. Ed Markey's primary campaign. They necessarily challenge the status quo.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Presidential nominee Joe Biden has not taken a stance on gas exports, including liquefied natural gas. Ken Hodge / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Simon Montlake

For more than a decade, Susan Jane Brown has been battling to stop a natural gas pipeline and export terminal from being built in the backcountry of Oregon. As an attorney at the nonprofit Western Environmental Law Center, she has repeatedly argued that the project's environmental, social, and health costs are too high.

All that was before this month's deadly wildfires in Oregon shrouded the skies above her home office in Portland. "It puts a fine point on it. These fossil fuel projects are contributing to global climate change," she says.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Eating lots of fruits and vegetables will boost the immune system. Stevens Fremont / The Image Bank / Getty Images

By Grayson Jaggers

The connection between the pandemic and our dietary habits is undeniable. The stress of isolation coupled with a struggling economy has caused many of us to seek comfort with our old friends: Big Mac, Tom Collins, Ben and Jerry. But overindulging in this kind of food and drink might not just be affecting your waistline, but could potentially put you at greater risk of illness by hindering your immune system.

Read More Show Less
A graphic shows how Rhoel Dinglasan's smartphone-based saliva test works. University of Florida

As the world continues to navigate the line between reopening and maintaining safety protocols to slow the spread of the coronavirus, rapid and accurate diagnostic screening remains critical to control the outbreak. New mobile-phone-based, self-administered COVID-19 tests being developed independently around the world could be a key breakthrough in making testing more widely available, especially in developing nations.

Read More Show Less
A meteorologist monitors weather in NOAA's Center for Weather and Climate Prediction on July 2, 2013 in Riverdale, Maryland. Mark Wilson / Getty Images

The Trump White House is now set to appoint two climate deniers to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in one month.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch