When a new mobile grocery market launched in Wayne County, Pennsylvania, its first stop was Maple City Apartments, a 40-unit complex for low-income, elderly relatives. Maple City’s residents have felt the region’s lack of grocery stores acutely. The nearest full-service grocery store is at least five miles away, which leaves few options for people who don’t have access to a car or good public transit. But the County’s residents can now buy groceries from a farmers market on wheels. It started when the Cooperage Project, a regional nonprofit organization, wanted to get fresh, healthy food to people during the pandemic, rather than having them settle for the shelf-stable, highly processed options that chain dollar stores offer.
The Gulf Islands Food Co-op was created in 2018 to foster inter-island co-operation and develop new resources and practical supports for food producers and consumers on Galiano, Mayne, Pender and Saturna islands (the Southern Gulf Islands SGI). The co-op’s main goals are to help sustainably increase island food production, food security and resilience by encouraging the growing and purchasing of local food. Its initiatives range from educational programs, such as “healthy soils and regenerative agriculture,” to sharing of local resilient seeds, supporting an Indigenous Venison/Deer workshop offered by The Galiano Conservancy Association, bulk buying of farm supplies, setting up free tables for producers at local markets and supporting growers donating to local food banks.
At a meeting in Havana on August 11 attended by government ministers and the press, Cuban National Assembly President Esteban Lazo communicated a message to Cuba’s Minister of Agriculture from the Assembly, whose recent session ended on July 22. The ministry would be “transforming and strengthening the country’s agricultural production,” to initiate “a political and participatory movement that would unleash a productive revolution in the agricultural sector.” The National Assembly dealt primarily with Cuba’s present food disaster. The lives of many Cubans are precarious due to food shortages, high prices, and low income.
In late July, I visited two settlements of the Landless Rural Workers (MST) on the outskirts of São Paulo (Brazil). Both settlements are named for brave women, the Brazilian lawmaker Marielle Franco – who was assassinated in 2018 – and Irmã Alberta – an Italian Catholic nun who died in 2018. The lands where the MST has built the Marielle Vive camp and the Irmã Alberta Land Commune were slated for a gated community with a golf course, and a garbage dump, respectively. Based on the social obligations for land use in the Brazilian Constitution of 1988, the MST mobilised landless workers to occupy these areas, build their own homes, schoolhouses and community kitchens, and grow organic food.
Why is Amsterdam, a city famous for its progressive culture, so determined to build a big-box distribution center on a 60-hectare plot of unspoiled land on the edge of the city? Despite the obvious downsides of the idea, politicians and city officials seem more eager to cater to the Amazon retailers of the world than to plan for climate disruption, a carbon-frugal economy, and wiser land use. The City seems poised to sell or lease the public’s crown jewels – land – on behalf of a world of economic growth, consumerism, and carbon emissions. Thanks to a spirited campaign by thousands of Amsterdam citizens, however, an alternative future for the land may yet materialize.
Red amaranth, which provides a protein boost for pregnant mothers; spider plant, which is believed to inhibit the growth of cancer cells; and eggobe, which is said to be handy for treating diabetes and hypertension. These are just some of the fresh fruit, vegetables, dairy, meat and other produce sold by farmers at a recent ‘Earth Market’ in Nkokonjeru, a trading centre to the east of Uganda’s capital, Kampala. The weekly market (which, at the time of publishing this article, is on hiatus) allows local growers to sell their agroecological produce – including those that are at risk of extinction, rare or Indigenous – directly to buyers.
Anywhere between 691 million and 783 million people across the globe faced hunger in 2022, according to this year’s State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report published by five specialized agencies of the UN on Wednesday, July 12. As per the report, even with the mid-range figure of 735 million, around “122 million more people faced hunger in 2022 than in 2019, before the pandemic,” despite the fact that “hunger is no longer on the rise at the global level.” The report records that 9.2% of the world’s population faced chronic hunger in 2022, compared to 7.9% in 2019. The figure is slightly better than 2021 when it stood at 9.3%.
Charley Cummings had a vision of creating a new, sustainable, local food system. In 2013 he and his wife started their own company in Concord, New Hampshire, delivering grass-fed beef and pasture-raised pork and chicken purchased from farmers in the region and delivered directly to consumers. Along the way, he’s found farmers, food processors, distributors and consumers who are excited to be part of it. But the banks haven’t been interested. “There were farmers and also other types of food businesses, processors and things that wanted to scale alongside us, but seem to have trouble accessing the right type of capital,” says Cummings, who previously worked in commercial composting and management consulting.
One of my pet peeves is ecomodernism. Ecomodernist authors have a knack for adeptly elucidating the polycrisis, and then offering nothing useful for dealing with it. Even if you are unfamiliar with the terms ecomodernism/ecomodernists, you are likely aware of their schtick, as it has come to dominate contemporary environmentalism. It is a groovy eco-philosophy that tells mostly urbanized, highly educated, white-collar folks that although the Earth is in danger, their lifestyles are not. Perfect for inserting a do-gooder vibe into political and business circles, and then fundraising.
More than half of all people on Earth live in cities, and that share could reach 70% by 2050. But except for public parks, there aren’t many models for nature conservation that focus on caring for nature in urban areas. One new idea that’s gaining attention is the concept of food forests – essentially, edible parks. These projects, often sited on vacant lots, grow large and small trees, vines, shrubs and plants that produce fruits, nuts and other edible products. Unlike community gardens or urban farms, food forests are designed to mimic ecosystems found in nature, with many vertical layers. They shade and cool the land, protecting soil from erosion and providing habitat for insects, animals, birds and bees.
As the country ushers in commemorations for ‘International Women’s Month’, 42 million households have been hit with a significant reduction in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits impacting the ability of millions of mothers to feed their children. In December 2022, Congress voted to end the pandemic emergency allotments after passing the government funding package the previous year. After nearly three years, the program that temporarily increased federal SNAP benefits for low-income families came to an end on March 1st.
Out of the nearly 200 countries in the world, there is one country that does not behave like the others, even remotely. There is one country that is outside the norm in almost every regard. It’s a rogue nation – and it’s about time we called it to account! The agents of the United States used to refer to any country that wasn’t acting in the interests of the empire as a “rogue state.” Countries like Iran, Iraq, Cuba, Syria, Libya, Venezuela, Russia, and Nauru were all labelled as such at various times. Nowadays, the U.S. government has a new expression that seems to mean the same thing. U.S. officials say, “That country is not abiding by the rules-based international order.”
El Paso, Texas - Medical student Preetha Rajkumar is studying to become a surgeon. But the 24-year-old El Paso resident has already impacted hundreds of local families’ well-being, through the work she began as a college student. While studying cell and molecular biology at the University of Texas at El Paso five years ago, Rajkumar – a self-described foodie – came across the concept of food rescue. Working with a group of friends on campus, she founded the volunteer-run nonprofit organization No Lost Food. “I have the luxury to go to a restaurant and eat what I want,” she says. “I can cook with all these expensive ingredients, but there are people who can’t even have a basic morsel of rice. That’s how my love for food turned into a community service passion.”
In Indianapolis’ Northeast Corridor, a predominantly Black area with a growing Latinx population, more than half of residents live in a food desert. One community-led initiative seeks to build a local food ecosystem, one that will not only feed them in times of crisis but will sustain their health, wealth and wellbeing for generations to come. In 2021, in the climate of the ongoing pandemic, the Equitable Food Access Initiative (EFAI) was created to address these dueling public health crises, in one of the top five cities in the country with the most people living in “food deserts,” or areas where low-income people don’t have ready access to fresh food retailers within reasonable traveling distance from their homes.
Food can be a great social and cultural leveller. But as the cost of meeting this basic need rises fast for all, the impact is anything but level. Access to nutritious food is uneven and people’s resilience to price rises and scarcity varies massively. Food campaigner and chef Jack Monroe highlighted how rising supermarket prices are not impacting all shoppers evenly. In January, they calculated some basic food items rose by over 300% while the official inflation rate was 5.4%. Meanwhile, the Food Foundation reported that those on the lowest incomes need to spend 47% of cash to meet the government’s healthy diet guidelines, compared with 11% for those with highest incomes. This isn’t a “cost of living” crisis; it’s a cost of inequality crisis.