By Jared Kaufman
Nearly one-third of the land on Earth is forested, but because of agriculture and infrastructure development, nearly 27 soccer fields' worth of forest are destroyed every minute.
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By Kendra Klein
Biden's election has boosted hopes that scientific integrity will be restored in the federal government. To make good on that promise, the administration will need to take action to safeguard against the risks of an entirely new type of pesticide, one developed by genetic engineers rather than chemists.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
By Amy Martin
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By Amanda Fong
Food Tank is highlighting 26 books that help show young people that food can be a universal language. These stories illuminate the ways that food is used to show love, bring together communities, pass on traditions, and teach lessons. And their authors show that no matter a person's background and culture, nutritious food shared with loved ones can help bring anyone together.
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By Ashia Aubourg
As Thanksgiving approaches, some Indigenous organizations and activists caution against perpetuating further injustices towards Native communities. Indigenous activist Mariah Gladstone, for example, encourages eaters to celebrate the harvest time in ways that do not involve stereotypes and pilgrim stories.
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By Danielle Nierenberg and Sabrina Endicott
On November 17th, Food Tank is co-hosting a panel with the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center on COVID-19's impact on the restaurant and culinary industry and what is being done to help save restaurants. Panelists will include Camilla Marcus, Founder of Independent Restaurant Coalition and Co-founder of the Relief Opportunities for All Restaurants, Naama Tamir, Co-owner of Lighthouse and Lighthouse Outpost, JJ Johnson, Owner of FIELDTRIP, Tom Colicchio, Founder of Crafted Hospitality, Andrew Rigie, Executive Director of NYC Hospitality Alliance, and Salil Metah, Chef and Owner of Laut Singapura Restaurant.
By Emily Payne
The World Health Organization and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that diet-related diseases like obesity, diabetes, and hypertension lead to an increased risk of severe COVID-19 infection. As the pandemic wears on, eaters are preparing more food at home and focusing on healthier meals. Cooking and recipe website traffic surged at the start of quarantine, as did curiosity for meat alternatives.
1. Plant-Based Foods Cannot Provide Enough Protein<p>The <a href="https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/chapter-2/current-eating-patterns-in-the-united-states/" target="_blank">U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports</a> that about three-fourths of Americans are eating diets low in fruits and vegetables, while more than half are meeting or exceeding protein recommendations. Meat is often touted as an eater's most important source of protein, but protein is found in all foods—even whole-grain pasta, oats, or vegetables. Beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds are just a few protein-packed plants. One cup of lentils contains 18 grams of protein, for example, compared to 22 grams in one serving of beef. By focusing on a diversity of whole foods, plant-forward eaters can consume more than enough protein each day.</p>
2. Plant-Based Meat Alternatives Are Flavorless (and Have No Texture)<p>Tofu has long been a meat-alternative staple, but plant-based eating has much more to offer. Seitan, often called "wheat meat," is made by filtering the starch from wheat to create high-protein gluten with a similar texture to chicken. Tempeh is made by fermenting soy and can be marinated, fried, steamed, or eaten raw. It has a subtly nutty flavor, and companies like <a href="https://lightlife.com/our-food/?active_filter=tempeh" target="_blank">Lightlife</a>, the largest U.S. tempeh manufacturer, also offer flavors like three-grain, flax seed, smoky, and buffalo tempeh. Countless combinations of beans, chickpeas, lentils, herbs, spices, and grains can be made into flavorful plant-based burgers, meatballs, ground meat, and even bacon.</p>
3. Plant-Based Ingredient and Restaurant Options Are Limited<p>From restaurants to the grocery aisle, chefs and companies are responding to consumers' demand for plant-based options. In March 2020, The Good Food Institute and the Plant Based Foods Association <a href="https://www.gfi.org/blog-spins-data-release-2020#:~:text=Plant%2DBased%20Food%20Retail%20Sales,Billion%20%2D%20The%20Good%20Food%20Institute&text=2019%20marked%20another%20impressive%20year,total%20U.S.%20retail%20food%20sales." target="_blank">calculated</a> that total plant-based retail sales reached US$5 billion in 2019, growing 11 percent over the previous year, a rate almost five times faster than total U.S. retail food sales. And <a href="https://restaurant.opentable.com/news/features/year-in-review/firmly-rooted-support-for-plant-based-dishes-on-the-rise/" target="_blank">OpenTable reported</a> that in 2019, plant-based reviews on its platform increased by 136 percent compared to 2017. From sliced bologna to ground Mexican beef, there's a plant-based option for virtually any meat craving.</p>
4. A Plant-Based Meal Won’t Be as Filling<p><strong></strong>Processed foods are high in refined starches and sugar that are easier to digest, meaning they're less filling. Whole foods are naturally high in dietary fiber that breaks down slowly, keeping the body feeling full longer. With both fiber and protein, some plant-based proteins can even be more filling than animal meat options. Incorporating healthy fats from nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, and coconuts also lends to a more filling dish. As long as there are plenty of whole foods, a plant-forward diet can fuel sustained energy throughout the day—and with fewer cravings.</p>
5. Eating a Plant-Forward Diet Is Too Expensive<p>By focusing on minimally processed foods, shopping seasonally at farmers' markets when possible, and buying staples like nuts, beans, and legumes in bulk, many eaters save money by moving to a plant-forward diet. The rise in consumer demand for plant-based products also means more companies are joining the market and supermarkets are introducing their own private labels. With a more established supply chain, plant-based meat, cheese, yogurt, and egg alternatives can become more accessible to all budgets.</p>
6. It’s Difficult to Eat Complete Proteins on a Plant-Forward Diet<p>The idea that plant-based proteins must be combined in the same meal to provide a complete protein is a long-standing myth. The <a href="http://www.eatrightpro.org/~/media/eatrightpro%20files/practice/position%20and%20practice%20papers/position%20papers/vegetarian-diet.ashx" target="_blank">Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics</a> says that "the terms complete and incomplete are misleading in relation to plant protein. Protein from a variety of plant foods, eaten during the course of a day, supplies enough of all indispensable (essential) amino acids when caloric requirements are met." Even if consumed at different meals and times, the body will combine the essential amino acids it needs on its own.</p>
7. Plant-forward Diets Are Nutrient-Deficient<p>Plants are some of the most nutrient-dense food options available. Dark leafy greens and legumes, for example, are rich with calcium. Beans and lentils are high in protein and fiber, low in fats, and provide essential vitamins and minerals. Many plant-forward eaters cook with nutritional yeast, which contains B12, a nutrient primarily found in animal products. Focusing as much as possible on a variety of whole foods will supply more than enough nutrients. A good trick is to eat the rainbow: colorful foods contain many essential vitamins and antioxidants, and different colors ensure a variety of ingredients (and flavor!).</p>
8. Meat Alternatives Are Ultra-Processed and Unsustainable<p>As plant-forward eating becomes more popular, meat alternatives are appearing everywhere from baseball stadiums to fast-food chains. But many products labeled "plant-based" actually undergo the same amount of processing as typical junk foods, just without the use of animal products. With added processing comes a larger environmental footprint, as well. The best way to choose alternative meat is to check the ingredient label, opting for those with short ingredient lists of recognizable names. The <a href="https://lightlife.com/product/plant-based-burger/" target="_blank">Lightlife Plant-Based Burger</a>, for example, is made from only 11 ingredients with nothing synthetically processed, and the company has committed to <u>reducing its environmental footprint</u> by 50 percent by 2025.</p>
9. Children Shouldn’t Eat a Plant-Forward Diet<p>An article <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6356233/" target="_blank">published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)</a> notes that plant-forward diets can meet the nutritional needs of not only children but pregnant mothers, breast-feeding mothers, and infants. And educators agree; Los Angeles public schools adopted meatless Mondays in their cafeterias in 2013, and New York City, the largest public-school system in the U.S., began meatless Mondays in 2019. As plant-forward eating gains popularity, more plant-based alternatives children's favorite classics like hotdogs and chicken nuggets are reaching grocery shelves.</p>
10. Plant-Based Products Are Always Healthier<p>Not all plant-based products are created equal. While french fries are derived from plants, they are also high in oil and salt. The plant-based Impossible Whopper may have fewer calories than the original Whopper, but it contains significantly more sodium. A frequent culprit of this is the veggie burger, deemed a health food but often full of sugars and unrecognizable ingredients. The key to a healthy and nutritious diet is minimally processed whole foods. Look out for plant-based products with a small ingredient list (which often translates to a more environmentally sustainable choice, as well).</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://foodtank.com/news/2020/11/ten-myths-about-plant-forward-eating/" target="_blank">Food Tank</a>. </em></p>
By Elena Seeley
In response to the 2020 election results, Food Tank and Table 81 hosted a panel to make sense of the election results and discuss what it means to the food system.
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By Sean Taylor
MilkRun, a Portland, Oregon-based company, is supporting small, local farmers by enabling them to sell produce safely and directly to consumers' homes.
By Leslie Brooks
More than 75 percent of the world's food crops rely on pollinators, according to the United Nations Environment Program. Through their pollination, bees not only promote biodiversity, but also secure our food supply.
But one in four species of bee is at risk of extinction in North America, according to the United Nations Environment Program. And the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has recorded declines in bee populations in Europe, South America, and Asia.
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By Danielle Nierenberg
The production and disposal of plastic food packaging is energy-intensive and leads to polluted air, soil, and water resources. And once plastics are in circulation, they accumulate in oceans, harming marine life, and break down into smaller microplastics that make their way into food and beverages. Currently, the world's oceans are polluted by more than 5 trillion plastic pieces, collectively weighing over 250,000 tons. And of the 30 million tons of plastic Americans throw away annually, only 8 percent is recycled, according to the Plastic Pollution Coalition.
1. Purchasing Products Using Innovative Plastic Replacement Technologies<p>Keeping coffee fresh can be difficult, and <a href="https://sprudge.com/the-truth-about-compostable-coffee-bags-105358.html" target="_blank">several companies claim their bags are compostable</a>—but the plastic parts, which help with ventilation, are not. <a href="https://elevatepackaging.com/" target="_blank">Elevate Packaging</a> has created the first coffee bag with fully compostable valves, and <a href="https://donmaslowcoffee.com/blogs/sustainability/elevate-packaging" target="_blank">Don Maslow Coffee</a> is one of the first brands to adopt them. For their chocolate truffles, Alter Eco uses compostable wrappers made of eucalyptus and birch trees with <a href="https://www.newhope.com/supply-news-amp-analysis/guayaki-announces-ultimate-green-packaging-biodegradable-compostable" target="_blank">microscopic aluminum layers</a> that maintain freshness; these are fully compostable and biodegrade in oceans. And Guayaki, a sustainability-focused yerba mate company, now sells their loose-leaf teas in compostable <a href="http://www.biomasspackaging.com/brands/natureflex/" target="_blank">Natureflex</a> bags, which contributed to reducing their annual packaging use by 44,000 pounds.</p>
2. Drinking Tap Water Instead of Buying Plastic Bottles<p>Around 20,000 plastic waste bottles are sold every second around the world, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/28/a-million-a-minute-worlds-plastic-bottle-binge-as-dangerous-as-climate-change" target="_blank">according to figures from Euromonitor International</a>—a total of 480 billion in 2016. And not only are many of these wasted, but they also deposit microplastics in our digestive systems. And according to <a href="https://www.boell.de/en/2019/11/05/plasticatlas?dimension1=ds_plastic_atlas" target="_blank">the 2019 Plastic Atlas</a>, compiled by the Heinrich Böel Foundation and Break Free From Plastic, "people who drink water from plastic bottles wash something like 130,000 microplastic particles down their throats every year," compared with 4,000 particles present in tap water.</p>
3. Trying to Avoid Disposable Plastic Utensils<p>The wave of plastic straw bans in summer 2018 drew attention to the massive plastic waste associated with the products: Based on beach cleanup data, <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/347/6223/768.abstract?ijkey=BXtBaPzbQgagE&keytype=ref&siteid=sci" target="_blank">researchers calculated</a> that around 7.5 billion straws are currently littering America's beaches. But straws make up only <a href="https://phys.org/news/2018-04-science-amount-straws-plastic-pollution.html" target="_blank">around 4 percent of plastic trash</a> on a piece-by-piece level, making it important to examine other commonly disposed utensils, like plastic forks and spoons. Cutlery has been <a href="https://oceanconservancy.org/trash-free-seas/take-deep-dive/threat-rank-report/" target="_blank">rated by the Ocean Conservancy</a> as one of the items "most dangerous" to sea life—but if everyone in the U.S. switched from plastic to reusable cutlery, it would stop the use of <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/06/carrying-your-own-fork-spoon-help-plastic-crisis" target="_blank">more than 100 million</a> plastic forks, knives, and spoons.</p>
4. Buying in Bulk<p>Although many grocery stores' bulk bins have temporarily closed due to COVID-19, purchasing in large quantities, along with meal planning, can still be an effective way to minimize the number of individual packages sold. And switching from prepackaged foods to the bulk aisle can <a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2012/04/12/149931279/whats-the-scoop-on-bulk-foods" target="_blank">save around 56 percent on food costs—what</a> NPR's The Salt described as "a permanent two-for-one sale on dozens of organic foods and ingredients.</p>
5. Choosing Personal Care Products Without Microplastics<p>Personal care products with microbeads, such as certain toothpastes and soaps, <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0025326X16308657" target="_blank">are a major contributor of microplastics</a>, or small plastic fragments that build up in the environment as a byproduct of plastic products breaking down. One study of particular exfoliant products found that <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0025326X1500449X?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">between 4,500 and 94,500 microbeads</a> were released per use. Microplastics can <a href="https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/es501090e" target="_blank">get stuck in fish gills</a> and enter animals' digestive tracts, which can be problematic given microplastics' ability to <a href="https://civileats.com/2015/01/15/how-microplastics-from-fleece-could-end-up-on-your-plate" target="_blank">absorb and retain potentially toxic substances</a>.</p>
6. Publicly Demonstrating Your Commitment to Cutting Down Your Plastic Footprint<p>When artist and activist Dianna Cohen first started learning about plastic pollution, she said her first instinct was to find ways to clean up the plastic in the oceans—but she realized those efforts would pale in comparison to the new plastic waste generated every day. "The bigger picture is: we need to find a way to turn off the faucet. We need to cut the spigot of single-use and disposable plastics, which are entering the marine environment every day on a global scale," she said <a href="https://www.ted.com/talks/dianna_cohen_tough_truths_about_plastic_pollution/" target="_blank">in her TED Talk</a>. She founded the Plastic Pollution Coalition, which is <a href="https://p2a.co/DUghpK4" target="_blank">collecting signatures on eight petitions</a>, from calling on Amazon to reduce plastic use to encouraging legislators to adopt anti-plastic policies. The coalition is also encouraging people to <a href="https://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/pledge" target="_blank">take the 4Rs Pledge</a> to refuse disposable plastic, reduce your plastic footprint, reuse single-use items, and recycle what you can't refuse, reduce, or reuse. In addition, anyone can <a href="https://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/the-coalition" target="_blank">become a member of the Plastic Pollution Coalition</a> and join 1,200+ businesses and individuals, including Ben & Jerry's and actors Fran Drescher, Jeff Bridges, Jane Fonda, and more.</p>
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By Alejandro Argumedo
August 9 is the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples – a celebration of the uniqueness of the traditions of Quechua, Huli, Zapotec, and thousands of other cultures, but also of the universality of potatoes, bananas, beans, and the rest of the foods that nourish the world. These crops did not arise out of thin air. They were domesticated over thousands of years, and continue to be nurtured, by Indigenous people. On this day we give thanks to these cultures for the diversity of our food.
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