Whether you have resolved to get healthier in 2018 or to lead a more earth-friendly lifestyle, choosing plant-based foods is a great place to start. It’s becoming increasingly easy to do so as the plant-based market shifts from niche to mainstream. Citing everything from personal wellness and public health to ethical concerns and environmental responsibility, a growing number of consumers are opting for plant-based products. Investors like Bill Gates and even Tyson Foods are betting on the plant-based businesses. According to recent Nielsen data commissioned by the Plant Based Foods Association and the Good Food Institute, plant-based food and beverage retail sales in the U.S. grew by 8.1 percent from August 2016 to August 2017. In contrast with the 0.2 percent decline of total food sales through the same channels, this growth is especially noteworthy.
Nobody panic, but honey bees are lousy pollinators.
They get a lot of credit for keeping our crops afloat, and an entire industry has evolved around trucking hives across the country to pollinate plums and almonds in California and tangerines in Florida, but it’s the 4,000 species of native bees who are the heroes of our produce aisles. From teddy bear bees and tickle bees to mud bees and squash bees, the diverse world of wild pollinators is critically important to our farms. In many cases, native pollinators do the heavy lifting while the honey bees get the glory.
America’s farm-to-table food movement and the ever-growing emphasis on local food are good news for both the environment and our economy. From haute cuisine to small food businesses, owners are increasingly sourcing local, seasonal, and sustainable products. These ingredients that make for fresher, tastier dishes not support the local economy and promote sustainability, but they cater to a growing audience of conscientious consumers and offer array of marketing opportunities.This movement towards fresh and local produce, however, lacks focus in one very important area, one that will determine the future of local food and American agriculture: affordability and accessibility.
With the global population expected to reach nine billion by 2050, new agricultural strategies are needed in order to produce significantly more food on roughly the same amount of arable land—all while using fewer of the world's precious resources. Edible bugs may be a crucial component to meeting these challenges. Insects are packed with nutrients, insect farming is more environmentally friendly than traditional animal agriculture, and bugs can make for good business.
According to a World Resources Institute study, the average American daily diet causes nearly twice the greenhouse gas emissions as the average daily diet worldwide. The same study reports that the average American could reduce the environmental impact of their diet by 50 percent simply by scaling back on their consumption of animals products. A slow but steady push for alternatives to meat is driving innovation and investment in future-friendly food by everyone from Google to Bill Gates to, yes, even Tyson Inc. — the U.S.’s biggest meat producer.
The microbial population in our bodies exceeds our human cell count ten to one. If it’s a numbers game, the microorganisms have us beat. The good news is that most of these microorganism are on our team. In fact, many bacteria are vitally important to our health and well being. In a sense, our microbes are our bodies—and taking good care of these microorganisms is taking good care of ourselves.
Concordia is a nonprofit organization that enables public-private partnerships to create a more prosperous and sustainable future. As equal parts convener, campaigner, and idea incubator, Concordia is creating a new model for how a nonpartisan, nonprofit can have a global impact. The Concordia team recently connected with FoodFutureCo's 2017 cohort companies and shared the learnings from these conversations on their blog.
The local food movement has deep roots in urban centers, but the juxtaposition of urbanites’ locavore enthusiasm with the shortage of arable land in cities raises the question: how local is local enough? In terms of geography, there is no consensus or regulation around what “local food” should be. Depending on your definition (or marketing strategy), the term could refer to anything from food produced in your own backyard to food produced 100 miles away or simply within the state.
Community gardens and urban farming are obvious—if partial—answers to this paradox. And while urban farming is nothing new, there’s no denying that in recent years, rooftops gardens, vertical farms, and the like have become increasingly seductive to enterprising young farmers. Increasingly, consumers, the media, and even investors are climbing on board with new urban farming initiatives, as 21st century innovation pushes the limits of how and where food is grown.
With the growth of these aggregator models, we are reaching a tipping point. Now that there are more than 400 food hubs around the country, we have the beginnings of the physical infrastructure needed to support a new, alternative supply chain that sources exclusively from regional, sustainable producers with technology-enabled transparency every step of the way – once again putting a face and a voice to our food. As food ports scale, the next generation is emerging: food ports. These aggregate the smaller regional hubs and include processing, production, and distribution functions so that good, small, and mid-scale food can finally make its way into the institutional and large wholesale supply chains.
In the last two years, we’ve witnessed celebrity chefs transform vegetable trimmings, damaged apples, and otherwise wasted food into ‘Dumpster Dive Vegetable Salad’ and other artful dishes for New York City diners. Denmark opened its first food surplus supermarket selling expired food with Princess Marie of Denmark in attendance. We may even soon be saying goodbye to the confusing “sell by” date labels that have caused consumers to throw out perfectly good and nutritious food.
Fighting food waste may be the trend du jour, but with almost 1 billion people malnourished, another 1 billion going hungry every year, and a third of all food produced globally (1.3 billion tons of food) going unused, we are still facing a serious food waste crisis.