By Agostino Pestroni
Take a dozen banana peels, wash them gently with a brush under running water, then chop them into small pieces. Next, blend the peels with five spoons of cacao and a cup of ice water. Once the lumps have been removed, place the mixture in a hot, buttered pan and stir it for five minutes. Let it cool down to thicken, and then roll the resulting dough into small spheres. Lastly, dip the balls into sesame or peanut powder, and you'll have a brigadeiro, an iconic Brazilian dessert.
But this is not the standard version of the sweet: It's a unique variant created by Regina Tchelly, a 39-year-old Brazilian chef and resident of Rio de Janeiro's Babilônia slum.
Regina Tchelly giving a talk about the impact of food on health in a Rio de Janeiro hospital. Favela Organica
A class on how to use juicing residue for skin care. Favela Organica
Favela Organica's work focuses on the cycle of life and uses yoga and meditation as part of its classes. Favela Organica
'Tabuli de broccoli,' a salad created by Tchelly made with broccoli stems. Favela Organica
Tchelly at a food bank in Curitiba, Brazil, teaching how to make pumpkin risotto. Favela Organica
Tchelly teaching a class at a food bank in Curitiba, Brazil, on how to use all parts of the produce. Favela Organica
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Katell Ané
The European Commission launched a new Farm to Fork strategy in an effort to reduce the social and environmental impact of the European food system. It is the newest strategy under the European Green Deal, setting sustainability targets for farmers, consumers, and policymakers.
By Danielle Nierenberg
Since the first episode of Food Talk Live aired on March 19, our twice-daily live conversation series has featured nearly 150 food system experts, advocates, scientists, chefs and more.
How do we rectify racial inequities in land ownership?<p>"As a result of colonial genocide, land grabbing, USDA discrimination, state-level nativism, lynching, and expulsion, over 98% of the farmland in this county is owned by white Americans today. Ralph Paige of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives put it simply, "Land is the only real wealth in this country and if we don't own any we'll be out of the picture." We need a nationwide commitment to share the land back, so that all communities can have the means of production for food security."</p><p>— Leah Penniman, founder and director of Soul Fire Farm. <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10460-020-10055-3" target="_blank">Read more here</a>.</p>
How impactful can collective agricultural labor unions be to protect farm workers?<p>"In 2019, through our collective bargaining procedures, we resolved cases on wage issues amounting to over US$800,000 dollars. If they were non-union, that money would have been lost to the worker's pocket. If this is what we recoup for workers in the union setting, imagine what must be happening in non-union settings."</p><p>— Baldemar Velásquez, founder and president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee. <a href="https://foodtank.com/news/2020/06/new-on-the-podcast-baldemar-velasquez-on-amplifying-the-voices-of-migrant-farmworkers/" target="_blank">Listen to more here</a>.</p>
What does it mean to support local, regional, and sustainable food by engaging in good food purchasing?<p>"This is a time I think of as a great reckoning. Seeing the public interest in food and how important food is as a public service is how procurement works — it aligns the purchasing power of government institutions with what the values of the public are. I think an important next step would be to have city or municipal leaders set aggregate purchasing targets and invite, encourage, persuade all large food service institutions to participate in setting these aggregate targets. And then you can really start making accelerated change in the local food economy, which is something we know we need to build back right now. The idea of good food purchasing is to support equity and to support creating economic opportunity for those who have not had that economic opportunity."</p><p>— Paula Daniels, co-founder, chair of the board, and chief of what's next at the Center for Good Food Purchasing. <a href="https://foodtank.com/news/2020/07/new-on-the-podcast-didier-toubia-on-cultivated-meat-and-paula-daniels-on-good-food-purchasing-policies/" target="_blank">Listen to more here</a>.</p>
What is the importance of “middle-man” food processors in supporting local farm-based food systems?<p>"Can we imagine how to circle out of this in a way that is better than what we had before? I want to shine an uncomfortable light on the farm-to-table movement. It turns out to have a very weak link. I don't know that the answer is to return to that moment, because what this shows is that it wasn't as strong in conception of feeding people and a food system moving forward as we would've imagined."</p><p>— Dan Barber, executive chef and co-founder of Blue Hill at Stone Barns. <a href="https://foodtank.com/news/2020/04/dan-barber-and-luke-saunders-on-keeping-the-farm-to-community-connection-during-covid-19/" target="_blank">Listen to more here</a>.</p>
What can we do to make regenerative farming not only the norm, but affordable?<p>"We need to realize that economic justice and the growth of organic and regenerative food and farming and land use go together. We can't have one without the other. That's what's so beautiful about this Green New Deal."</p><p>— Ronnie Cummins, executive director of the Organic Consumers Association. <a href="https://foodtank.com/news/2020/04/cummins-talks-green-new-deal-regenerative-agriculture-covid-19/" target="_blank">Listen to more here</a>.</p>
How can traditional resource-management techniques lay the foundation for food sovereignty?<p><em>"Tagal</em> is a traditional fisheries management practice in [the Malaysian state of] Sabah, in which communities swear oaths to nurture wild fisheries until they teem with river carp, and then open them, by agreement, for communal consumption at special times. During COVID-19 the power of tagal has therefore also become a key topic: how communities who have reinvigorated their culture of river stewardship have been able to access their own protein resources in their places."</p><p>— Cynthia Ong & Kenneth Wilson of Forever Sabah in Sabah, Malaysia. <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10460-020-10082-0" target="_blank">Read more here</a>.</p>
What role can mutual aid and distributive food systems play in feeding our communities?<p>"Resilience and regeneration are not a given, they need to be purposefully nurtured. We therefore need to invest and facilitate the creation of distributive food systems based on local needs and capacities that assure a fair redistribution of value, knowledge and power across actors and territories to deliver sustainable food for all."</p><p>— Ana Moragues-Faus, professor of economics and business, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain. <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10460-020-10087-9" target="_blank">Read more here</a>.</p>
How can greater public funding drive food innovation in Latin America and the Global South?<p>"One of the forgotten links in all these food systems, connections between agriculture, nutrition, and health, is that you need knowledge. You need to do some research, and then you need to innovate. … If we can put trillions and trillions of dollars into good research on safeguarding the economy, we should also be putting in quite a bit of funding for health and food systems."</p><p>— Ruben Echeverria, senior research fellow at International Food Policy Research Institute and research associate at the Latin American Center for Rural Development. <a href="https://foodtank.com/news/2020/05/new-on-the-podcast-john-piotti-discusses-a-farmers-relief-fund-and-ruben-echeverria-talks-global-food-policy/" target="_blank">Listen to more here</a>.</p>
What role can entrepreneurs play in building a better food system?<p>"We have this really beautiful rich, diverse country where we can produce and we can create so much wealth for all of us, and it's now about zooming in and resourcing these gaps that we know exist."</p><p>— Caesaré Assad, CEO of accelerator Food System 6. <a href="https://foodtank.com/news/2020/03/caesare-assad-on-the-food-system-covid-19/" target="_blank">Listen to more here</a>.</p>
How do we build a new European community-based sustainable food system that doesn’t replicate the past?<p>"My vision is for a new food economy with more and more of us growing a percentage of our own food, and preferentially purchasing in season and local food from local and sustainable farmers. This future food system will not be identical to those that I remember from my childhood in the '50s and '60s, since the world has changed since then. The internet and other related digital innovations including on-line marketing, and the emergence of farmers markets and community supported agriculture, are all expressions of the boundless innovation of humanity. So, let us hope that the farming community will prosper and come to play a more central role in our future food systems. Let the new food revolution flourish and thrive!"</p><p>— Patrick Holden, British farmer and founder of Sustainable Food Trust. <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10460-020-10049-1" target="_blank">Read more here</a>.</p>
How can we understand and prepare for the connections between COVID-19 and diet health?<p>"Because [the pandemic of diet-related disease] has happened over 30 to 40 years, we've ignored that equivalent or even larger pandemic. And now they're coming together, and we're seeing that we set up an environment of people with poor metabolic health who are predisposed to COVID. … We have not invested in the science that we should have invested in up until this point, to have answers to these questions. People are talking about stocking personal protective equipment and stocking ventilators and stocking vaccines — but what about stocking science on food and health and nutrition? That would've been incredibly important."</p><p>—Dariush Mozaffarian, cardiologist and dean of the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. <a href="https://foodtank.com/news/2020/05/new-on-the-podcast-dr-dariush-mozaffarian-on-creating-healthier-american-diets-and-nutrition-programs/" target="_blank">Listen to more here</a>.</p>
How is localized, diverse seed security vital to our food security and national security?<p>"As the world slowly rebuilds and recovers, we all have a fresh opportunity to regenerate and share a greater diversity of seeds—and to honor and return benefits to traditional seed keepers from many cultures. We would be remiss not to sow true, place-based seed sovereignty in every region and among every culture on this planet, well before a future crisis could uproot us again."</p><p>— Gary Paul Nabhan, ethnobotanist and co-founder of Native Seeds/SEARCH. <a href="https://foodtank.com/news/2020/07/a-call-for-community-based-seed-diversity-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/" target="_blank">Read more here</a>.</p>
How has the COVID-19 crisis played into forces of industrialization threatening Iranian smallholder farmers?<p>"There is an irony in expecting governments to kick into action in an emergency to support people and production systems that they actively undermine in the best of times. This shows that COVID-19 is not impacting food systems in a vacuum, but is in fact a shock to an ongoing struggle for power and survival. Like many smallholder producers worldwide who make a massive contribution to food security, pastoralists struggle against forces that seek to upend their way of life in favor of industrial food systems."</p><p>— Maryam Rahmanian & Nahid Naghizadeh of the Centre for Sustainable Development in Tehran, Iran. <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10460-020-10093-x" target="_blank">Read more here</a>.</p>
How do we encourage young Africans to stay on farms and improve agriculture on the continent?<p>"I would argue that what is missing in the [agricultural] sector is those young people who have access to productive resources and have the knowledge and the skillset that can help improve productivity. … If we want young people to stay in agriculture, then we have to make agriculture profitable for those young people. And for agriculture to be profitable, it has to be productive. Giving them access to those productive resources that will allow them to increase the productivity of agriculture will be critical."</p><p>— Felix Kwame Yeboah, social science researcher and professor of international development at Michigan State University. <a href="https://foodtank.com/news/2020/06/new-on-the-podcast-dr-felix-kwame-yeboah-on-youth-powered-agricultural-development/" target="_blank">Listen to more here</a>.</p>
Finally, what will it take to help us use suffering as a springboard into liberation?<p>"We're all suffering. But at the end of the day, folks, what makes us strong is our belief in one another, that we will come together to help one another get back on our feet. … This is our time, this is our moment to not go back to politics and Wall Street, but to move forward. It's more about people than profits. This is our time to move forward and change the system."</p><p>— Karen Washington, farmer and founder of Rise and Root Farm. <a href="https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=227538081894588&ref=watch_permalink" target="_blank">Watch more here</a></p>
By Katie Howell
A new tool called The Food Systems Dashboard aims to save decision makers time and energy by painting a complete picture of a country's food system. Created by the Johns Hopkins' Alliance for a Healthier World, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Dashboard compiles food systems data from over 35 sources and offers it as a public good.
By Emma Charlton
Gluts of food left to rot as a consequence of coronavirus aren't just wasteful – they're also likely to damage the environment.
Methane on the Rise<p>Not only is this a tragic waste of food at a time when many are going hungry, it is also an <a href="https://donatedontdump.net/2014/07/07/the-effects-of-food-waste-on-the-environment-by-junemy-pantig/" target="_blank">environmental hazard</a> and could contribute to global warming. Landfill gas – <a href="https://www.epa.gov/lmop/basic-information-about-landfill-gas" target="_blank">roughly half methane and half carbon dioxide (CO2)</a> – is a natural byproduct of the decomposition of organic material.</p>
Food decay leads to production of greenhouse gases, methane and carbon dioxide. EPA<p>Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, 28 to <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/SYR_AR5_FINAL_full.pdf" target="_blank">36 times more effective than CO2 at trapping heat</a> in the atmosphere over a 100-year period, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.</p><p>"Many export-oriented producers produce volumes far too large for output to be absorbed in local markets, and thus <a href="https://unctad.org/en/pages/newsdetails.aspx?OriginalVersionID=2333" target="_blank">organic waste levels have mounted substantially</a>," says Robert Hamwey, Economic Affairs Officer at UN agency UNCTAD. "Because this waste is left to decay, levels of methane emissions, a greenhouse gas, from decaying produce are expected to rise sharply in the crisis and immediate post-crisis months."</p>
Food supply chains are easily disrupted. UN FAO<p>Dumping food was already a problem before the crisis. In America alone, <a href="https://www.refed.com/?sort=economic-value-per-ton" target="_blank">$218 billion is spent growing, processing, transporting</a> and disposing of food that is never eaten, estimates ReFED, a collection of business, non-profit and government leaders committed to reducing food waste. That's equivalent to around 1.3% of GDP.</p><p>Since the pandemic took hold, <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-52267943" target="_blank">farmers are dumping 14 million liters</a> of milk each day because of disrupted supply routes, estimates Dairy Farmers of America. A chicken processor was forced to <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/11/business/coronavirus-destroying-food.html" target="_blank">destroy 750,000 unhatched eggs a week</a>, according to the New York Times, which also cited an onion farmer letting most of his harvest decompose because he couldn't distribute or store them.</p>
Food Prices Collapsing<p>The excess has also seen prices collapse. The <a href="http://www.fao.org/worldfoodsituation/foodpricesindex/en/" target="_blank">FAO Food Price Index</a> (FFPI) averaged 162.5 points in May 2020, down 3.1 points from April and reaching the lowest monthly average since December 2018. The gauge has dropped for four consecutive months, and the latest decline reflects falling values of all the food commodities – dairy, meat, cereal, vegetable – except sugar, which rose for the first time in three months.</p><p>All this while the pandemic is exacerbating other global food trends.</p><p>"This year, some 49 million extra people may fall into extreme poverty due to the COVID-19 crisis," said António Guterres, Secretary-General of the UN. "The number of people who are acutely food or nutrition insecure will rapidly expand. <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGhLKAbNDiY&feature=youtu.be" target="_blank">Even in countries with abundant food, we see risks of disruptions in the food supply chain</a>."</p>
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By Meg Wilcox
As U.S. food assistance programs grapple with overwhelming demand during the coronavirus pandemic, some in New England are finding support from unusual partners—renewable energy companies.
By Sonya Diehn
More than 2 billion hectares of previously productive land is degraded. For Desertification and Drought Day on June 17, DW spoke with Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
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- UN: Climate Crisis Has Doubled Natural Disasters in Last 20 Years - EcoWatch ›
By Peyton Fleming
Gerison Ndwiga, a small rural farmer in Kenya, felt the economic sting of COVID-19 just days after the government announced a curfew and travel restrictions in late March.
Uncertainty and Hope<p>To be sure, the situation has improved the past few weeks, particularly as flight restrictions to Europe are loosening a bit and more passenger planes are being converted to carry cargo. But major obstacles remain, including in-country transport bottlenecks and prohibitively high air freight costs. Shipping costs to Europe are averaging $2.80 to $4 per kilogram, more than double previous rates.</p><p>Companies are not sitting and waiting. AAA Growers is scrambling to sell more produce locally through popular Nairobi retailers like Carrefour, Quick Mart and KFC. The company's 'sell-local' efforts began last year, and it gained urgency when COVID-19 hit. Local sales now total 12 to 15 tons a week. </p><p>TwigaFoods, which sells all of its fresh produce within Kenya, responded to COVID-19 with a new e-commerce push. In late April, it launched a <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2020/04/28/goldman-backed-ventures-jumia-and-twiga-partner-on-produce-in-kenya/" target="_blank">partnership</a> with e-commerce company Jumia to deliver bundles of fruits and vegetables directly to people's homes. The effort is aimed at affluent Nairobi customers who want to avoid buying at more expensive supermarkets.</p><p>"We'd been thinking about the idea and we were starting to see more home deliveries (due to COVID-19)," said TwigaFoods CEO Peter Njongo. "For now, it's something we'll do in Kenya. We'll see how it works."</p>
By Peter Beech
Using waste food to farm insects as fish food and high-tech real-time water quality monitoring: innovations that could help change global aquaculture, were showcased at the World Economic Forum's Virtual Ocean Dialogues 2020.
Fly fishing. nextProtein
BiOceanOr's AquaREAL system. BiOceanOr
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By Jared Kaufman
Upcycled food is now an officially defined term, which advocates say will encourage broader consumer and industry support for products that help reduce food waste. Upcycling—transforming ingredients that would have been wasted into edible food products—has been gaining ground in alternative food movements for several years but had never been officially defined.
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Something is fundamentally wrong in the food supply chain. More and more people are going hungry and applying for food assistance. Meanwhile, farmers are dumping milk and eggs and plowing under their fields. Major food buyers like schools, hotels and restaurants have shut down, leaving nowhere for the food to go. This is the largest amount of food destroyed since the Great Depression.
A strawberry field in Ventura, California on Jan. 18, 2020. Tracie Hall / Flickr
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By Courtney Lindwall
If you're one of those people cooped up safely at home, with creative energy and free time to spare—count yourself lucky. Here, we've rounded up a list of two dozen environmental projects that can make your time indoors, or right outside, a little brighter. Whether you're ready to start rescuing more of your kitchen scraps, sewing your own cloth napkins, or documenting those backyard butterflies, we hope these simple green ideas will provide a calming means of coping during these unprecedented times. Have fun and stay safe.