Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Ever Wonder How Rainfall Affects Your Peanut Butter Sandwich Habit?

Food
Ever Wonder How Rainfall Affects Your Peanut Butter Sandwich Habit?
Pixabay

By Angela Fichter

Almost 800 million people are currently facing chronic hunger, and we waste one-third of all the food we produce. Americans are eating nearly a quarter more than they did in 1970, but we're not just eating more than we used to—we're eating way more than we need to. While our consumption is up, we're misinformed and less connected to what we're putting in our mouths.


Many people don't know where their food comes from—where their vegetables or the grains in their bread are grown, or the farming methods used to harvest them, or how they arrive in the store from which they were purchased. According to a 2017 survey by the Innovation Center of U.S. Dairy, 7 percent of American adults believe chocolate milk comes from brown cows. This reflects a broad social trend—we generally don't learn about farm-to-fork food systems in school. But the Center for Ecoliteracy is trying to change that.

CEL recently released a free digital suite containing an interactive guide on the connection between food and climate. Understanding Food and Climate Change: An Interactive Guide, which debuted on International Mother Earth Day at the United Nations, promotes thinking about food systems and their connection to climate.

Written at a six-grade level, the suite is for science curricula for secondary schools, though universities and organizations that serve adults are interested in using the suite. CEL hopes the guide will help personalize food systems for readers in a fun and accessible way, according to suite co-author and CEL creative director Karen Brown. "One of the best ways you can have people learn something new is to start with the concrete and move to the abstract … which is what makes food such an excellent starting point because everybody eats," she said.

An unexpected number of Americans are agriculturally illiterate. This matters because climate change will impact agriculture and food supplies through extreme weather patterns like more frequent droughts, crop failures and increased flooding. And addressing coming challenges will require new policies—and an informed public.

When we understand "our relationship with food as a dynamic system of interacting elements of seeds, soil, water, people, livelihoods, and financial transactions, we are less likely to think of food as the end product of linear agricultural food production. ... Understanding [this] helps us grasp the key elements of climate-resilient food systems," said CEL co-founder Zenobia Barlow. "Then we will be better able to encourage healthier personal, community, and production practices. We will discover improvements in human health and the health of soil and the environment."

The guide makes surprising ecological connections between seemingly unrelated and otherwise mundane things, like "What do changes in rainfall patterns to southern states in the U.S. have to do with a peanut butter sandwich?" or "How are farmers in the Philippines using drones to identify climate risks, like drought and flooding?"

The authors behind the new suite, Brown and science educator Margo Crabtree, are eager to see young people make climate change a part of their everyday conversations. Crabtree, who has worked for decades promoting science literacy in education, believes teaching climate change is critical. "Climate change is not getting a lot of play in classrooms, in part due to politics, and the amount of time available in science classrooms, and the fact that it's restricted to science, that's it not in social studies."

Various states are trying to undermine climate science standards in public education, thwarting efforts to establish a cohesive curriculum that can be taught nationwide. A 2017 survey by The National Center for Science Education shows that few teachers have taken a college course on climate change, possibly because climate change is a fairly new topic to most teachers; it isn't an established academic mainstay like other sciences or mathematics.

As people across the globe suffer the far-reaching consequences of climate change, our food systems aren't left untouched; they will need to adapt as ecosystems rapidly change. By 2030, The World Food Program estimates, a 35 percent increase in food supply demand will require stronger food systems that effectively address the excesses of waste, consumption, and pollution related to the production of our food.

Food waste—a byproduct of inefficient food systems—is considered one of the greatest threats to the climate. But it's not all doom and gloom. Global efforts to adapt to and mitigate the effects of a changing environment are growing. Brown is especially excited by smaller shifts with large impacts, for example, universities that are abandoning cafeteria trays to reduce food waste, farmers in Africa using termite tunnels for water infiltration or California farmers planting hedgerows to support biodiversity. "When people start to see modifications like that, they get inspired," Brown said.

For her, food systems work starts with the individual. "Understanding what it takes to get food to you is probably the best way to modify a food system that serves you. Some of the best answers may be local—certainly more local than a global industrial food system."

It's certainly a start.

Reposted with permission from our media associate YES! Magazine.

Eat Just's cell-based chicken nugget is now served at Singapore restaurant 1880. Eat Just, Inc.

At a time of impending global food scarcity, cell-based meats and seafood have been heralded as the future of food.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

New Zealand sea lions are an endangered species and one of the rarest species of sea lions in the world. Art Wolfe / Photodisc / Getty Images

One city in New Zealand knows what its priorities are.

Dunedin, the second largest city on New Zealand's South Island, has closed a popular road to protect a mother sea lion and her pup, The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less

Trending


piyaset / iStock / Getty Images Plus

In an alarming new study, scientists found that climate change is already harming children's diets.

Read More Show Less
Wildfires within the Arctic Circle in Alaska on June 4, 2020. Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data processed by Pierre Markuse. CC BY 2.0

By Jeff Masters, Ph.D.

Earth had its second-warmest year on record in 2020, just 0.02 degrees Celsius (0.04°F) behind the record set in 2016, and 0.98 degrees Celsius (1.76°F) above the 20th-century average, NOAA reported January 14.

Read More Show Less

In December of 1924, the heads of all the major lightbulb manufacturers across the world met in Geneva to concoct a sinister plan. Their talks outlined limits on how long all of their lightbulbs would last. The idea is that if their bulbs failed quickly customers would have to buy more of their product. In this video, we're going to unpack this idea of purposefully creating inferior products to drive sales, a symptom of late-stage capitalism that has since been coined planned obsolescence. And as we'll see, this obsolescence can have drastic consequences on our wallets, waste streams, and even our climate.

Read More Show Less