What Does the Future Hold for Food? We Have 5 Questions
You may not know her, but Stacy Malkan is fighting for you.
For over 15 years Malkan has worked as a consumer advocate to make the products we buy safer. Through the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, which she cofounded, she's helped reduce hazardous chemicals in personal care products like shampoo, deodorant and makeup. Now, in her work as cofounder and co-director of the nonprofit consumer and public health watchdog group U.S. Right to Know, she advocates for transparency and accountability in the food industry to build a healthier food system.
The industries Malkan works to reform are large, powerful and protected, but her dedication and vision are supporting an explosion of consumer interest in healthier products and better food. At this cultural turning point, we sat down with Malkan to ask her about the current state of food—and what the future may hold.
So, what's on your dinner plate today?
Simple foods that work for a toddler! I buy organic as much as possible, especially when it comes to the grain products my child consumes in large quantities. I also try to avoid plastic food containers due to concerns about toxic chemicals leaching. For breakfast we often go with oatmeal, and a typical dinner is baked chicken and a vegetable, usually broccoli or asparagus (the only two vegetables my toddler will eat), or beans and rice, or pizza, which is always the most popular choice in my house.
Food defines us and our cultures in so many ways. Does that make it easier or harder to encourage healthy food production?
One of my favorite weekly activities is the local farmer's market. We try to go every Sunday. They always have a live band and wonderful food that stays fresh for so much longer than produce I buy in the supermarket. So in a very tangible way, food defines my community for me and my community helps encourage healthy food production. But conscious eating gets a lot more difficult when it comes to eating in restaurants and other communal eating situations that rely on mass production of cheap foods, such as school food—although local groups are trying to change that. The community has a huge role to play in supporting healthy food systems and local food production, and we need to step it up.
Where do we stand at this point? Is our food system getting more transparent or are things getting worse?
There are many positive signs. Organic demand is growing across all demographics. The largest group of organic buyers is millennial moms, and most women in that age group haven't even had children yet. Food companies are scrambling to meet the demand for foods free of pesticides and chemical additives. It's a disruptive time for the food industry, and full of possibility for transformation. On the other hand, large food and chemical corporations are pushing back with mighty force—spending hundreds of millions on propaganda and lobbying campaigns—to prop up an unhealthy food production system that depends on GMOs and pesticides and keeps consumers in the dark about what they're eating. So it's also a dangerous time and unfortunately I hear many consumers and reporters parroting industry propaganda without questioning it.
Where do you think the most (or least) progress is being made?
Most progress: consumer demand for healthy food and the rising awareness about the healing power of food are unstoppable trends, and the smart companies are stepping up to meet that demand. Least progress: bad policies that rig the market in favor of chemical-intensive, unsustainable agriculture, and factory farms that are not being challenged with enough power. The good food movement needs to figure out how to become an effective political movement to create a fair playing field.
Speaking of propaganda, what tip would you give people to help them see past fake "experts" like SciBabe?
There's an aggressive, condescending attack style common to the corporate propaganda campaigns to manufacture doubt about science and risk. The message is: "Don't worry your pretty little head and keep buying our chemical food." If people suggest you are ignorant, or try to shame you for raising concerns about our food system or insisting on transparency, ignore them.
Reposted with permission from our media associate The Revelator.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
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Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
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While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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