Why Urban Farming Is Key in the Fight Against Hunger and Climate Change (Video)

A new study has found that urban farms are “critical to survival” in a changing climate.


The urban farms sprouting up and across cities around the world aren’t just feeding mouths—they are “critical to survival” and a “necessary adaptation” for developing regions and a changing climate, according to a new study.

Urban farms—which include plain old allotments, indoor vertical farms and rooftop gardens nestled amongst busy streets and skyscrapers—have become increasingly popular and important as the world’s population grows and more and more people move to cities.

The United Nations predicts that by 2030, two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in cities, with the urban population in developing countries doubling. That’s a lot of mouths to feed.

The new paper, published in the journal Earth’s Future and led by the Arizona State University and Google, finds that this expected urban population boom will benefit from urban farming in multiple ways.

Urban Farmer Transforms Community Into Thriving Local Food Haven https://t.co/oj7J048THf @urbangardens @UrbanFarmMag

— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch) April 12, 2017

As the Thomson Reuters Foundation explained from the study, “Urban farms could supply almost the entire recommended consumption of vegetables for city dwellers, while cutting food waste and reducing emissions from the transportation of agricultural products.”

According to the study, urban agriculture can help solve a host of urban environmental problems, from increasing vegetation cover (thus contributing to a decrease in the urban heat island intensity), improving the livability of cities, and providing enhanced food security to more than half of Earth’s population.

After analyzing multiple datasets in Google Earth Engine, the researchers calculated that the existing vegetation on urban farms around the world already provides some $33 billion annually in services from biocontrol, pollination, climate regulation and soil formation.

The future of urban agriculture has even more potential, the researchers found.

“We project potential annual food production of 100–180 million tonnes, energy savings ranging from 14 to 15 billion kilowatt-hours, nitrogen sequestration between 100,000 and 170,000 tonnes, and avoided stormwater runoff between 45 and 57 billion cubic meters annually,” the authors wrote.

“In addition, we estimate that food production, nitrogen fixation, energy savings, pollination, climate regulation, soil formation and biological control of pests could be worth as much as $80–160 billion annually in a scenario of intense [urban agriculture] implementation.”

Others have praised urban farming for its many benefits.

“Urban agriculture won’t resolve all food production and distribution problems, but it could help take pressure off rural land while providing other advantages,” wrote environmentalist Dr. David Suzuki.

He cited an example of how one patch of Detroit land, where 12 vacant houses were removed to grow food, “has supplied almost 200,000 kilograms of produce for 2,000 local families, provided volunteer experience to 8,000 residents and brought the area new investment and increased safety.”

“Local and urban agriculture can also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and recycle nutrient-rich food scraps, plant debris and other ‘wastes,'” Suzuki continued. “Because maintaining lawns for little more than aesthetic value requires lots of water, energy for upkeep and often pesticides and fertilizers, converting them to food gardens makes sense.”

Writer and former Vancouver city councillor Peter Ladner also wrote in The Urban Food Revolution: Changing the Way We Feed Cities, “When urban agriculture flourishes, our children are healthier and smarter about what they eat, fewer people are hungry, more local jobs are created, local economies are stronger, our neighborhoods are greener and safer, and our communities are more inclusive.”

Watch a video posted by The Good Stuff about Ken Dunn’s crusade to turn food waste into productive farmland in Chicago:

 

 

Related Stories

Read more

Trump Epitomizes the Personal Failures He Tries to Pin on Black Folks


His racist attacks give us insight into his own shortcomings.


Donald Trump doesn’t know the words to the national anthem. There was some evidence of this as far back as Memorial Day, when during an otherwise solemn Arlington Cemetery ceremony for fallen soldiers, Trump belted out select lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner” exactly like someone who oversings the only parts he knows. It happened again at the NCAA title football game Monday night, when Trump mumbled and stumbled his way through the anthem, falling out of step with the words here, keeping conspicuously mum there, and only convincingly singing along after the song’s climax. (In both instances, “rockets’ red glare” seemed to be where Trump’s lyrical knowledge finally kicked in.) 

For a president not to know his own nation’s anthem seems both an embarrassment and a shame, emotions that require a kind of self-awareness Trump is incapable of feeling. But this president’s failure at knowing the anthem is especially galling, since he’s made the song such an indispensable weapon in his racist culture war.

It should be obvious by now that everything Trump excels at is also a case-in-point of why he’s so awful. He insults women like a true-blue misogynist and lies like a con-man possessed of a singularly profound dishonest streak. An inveterate racist, his bigotry is so virulent, it makes itself apparent in almost every outburst, both online and off. He deftly invokes tired but politically efficient African-American stereotypes both because he genuinely believes them and to remind his supporters their racism is justified, and reflexively condemns black people, always with an eye toward humiliation. And yet, as we’ve seen time and again, Trump embodies all the worst traits he erroneously faults in “the other.” His attacks on, and proposed correctives for, black folks’ behavior are actual reflections of his own failings. The subtext of every racist Trump utterance inevitably turns out to be a truth about himself.

It is not difficult to find examples. There’s Trump’s more than two-dozen tweeted gripes about how much time President Obama spent golfing and vacationing, which lean hard into the “lazy black people” trope favored by white racists. As of last August, Trump had already chillaxed three times as many days as Obama had the entire first year of his presidency, and a new Axios report finds this shiftless president is too busy watching TV in bed, tweeting and chatting on the phone to get to work before 11am. (Obama worked out in the early mornings and got his first briefing—in actual written words, not pictures—by 8:30am.)

Trump regularly accuses black people of stoking racial fires even as he retweets white supremacists, labels neo-Nazis “very fine people,” propagates fake statistics exaggerating black crime rates, and elevates alt-right leaders and racist “Chicago” dog whistles about black violence (sometimes in the very same tweet!). He has come time and again for Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players kneeling to protest police brutality, once disparaging them as “sons of bitches” who should be “fired” for their “disrespect.”

On Monday, Trump fired off yet another tweet targeting the players and using the anthem as a political and cultural signifier. “We want our flag respected – and we want our NATIONAL ANTHEM respected also!” Trump wrote, implicitly contrasting a patriotic (white) “we” against an unpatriotic (black) “them.” The message posted just a few hours before Trump took to the football field in Atlanta and mangled a national anthem that Kaepernick and Obama undoubtedly know by heart. Given weeks of advance notice that he would be singing live on television, Trump still didn’t bother dedicating one of his leisurely mornings to committing the whole song to memory. Some patriot. Some “very stable genius.”

This latest Trump anthem flub was funny in meme form, but depressing in the wider context of this whole godawful presidency. Sure, it’s absolutely possible that Trump once knew the lyrics to the anthem, but simply forgot them in the moment—twice. While that might make his flub more excusable, it also makes his presidency more terrifying, considering the questions about mental competency that have dogged him as of late. (And particularly since he seems to have perfect recall of Smash Mouth’s “All Star,” which has not been designated a national song by any official body.) Far more likely, Monday night’s pathetic display was just another reminder, as if it were needed, of this president’s fraudulence and basic incompetence. It was Trump inadvertently demonstrating his ethos of office and a fundamental belief of his base, which is that someone else deserves the blame for your difficulties and failures, and that person is by default black or brown.

Hypocrisy is a cornerstone of racist thinking, and of Trumpism as a political movement. How else to explain the rush of white conservatives applauding his performance? These same people refuse to acknowledge the extrajudicial murder of a black man when it’s captured on camera, but they’ll make any excuse for Donald Trump miserably failing to sing a song they claim to cherish.

And the garbage heap rises.


[Reuse options]Click here for reuse options!


 

Related Stories

Read more

Trump Epitomizes the Personal Failures He Tries to Pin on Black Folks


His racist attacks give us insight into his own shortcomings.


Donald Trump doesn’t know the words to the national anthem. There was some evidence of this as far back as Memorial Day, when during an otherwise solemn Arlington Cemetery ceremony for fallen soldiers, Trump belted out select lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner” exactly like someone who oversings the only parts he knows. It happened again at the NCAA title football game Monday night, when Trump mumbled and stumbled his way through the anthem, falling out of step with the words here, keeping conspicuously mum there, and only convincingly singing along after the song’s climax. (In both instances, “rockets’ red glare” seemed to be where Trump’s lyrical knowledge finally kicked in.) 

For a president not to know his own nation’s anthem seems both an embarrassment and a shame, emotions that require a kind of self-awareness Trump is incapable of feeling. But this president’s failure at knowing the anthem is especially galling, since he’s made the song such an indispensable weapon in his racist culture war.

It should be obvious by now that everything Trump excels at is also a case-in-point of why he’s so awful. He insults women like a true-blue misogynist and lies like a con-man possessed of a singularly profound dishonest streak. An inveterate racist, his bigotry is so virulent, it makes itself apparent in almost every outburst, both online and off. He deftly invokes tired but politically efficient African-American stereotypes both because he genuinely believes them and to remind his supporters their racism is justified, and reflexively condemns black people, always with an eye toward humiliation. And yet, as we’ve seen time and again, Trump embodies all the worst traits he erroneously faults in “the other.” His attacks on, and proposed correctives for, black folks’ behavior are actual reflections of his own failings. The subtext of every racist Trump utterance inevitably turns out to be a truth about himself.

It is not difficult to find examples. There’s Trump’s more than two-dozen tweeted gripes about how much time President Obama spent golfing and vacationing, which lean hard into the “lazy black people” trope favored by white racists. As of last August, Trump had already chillaxed three times as many days as Obama had the entire first year of his presidency, and a new Axios report finds this shiftless president is too busy watching TV in bed, tweeting and chatting on the phone to get to work before 11am. (Obama worked out in the early mornings and got his first briefing—in actual written words, not pictures—by 8:30am.)

Trump regularly accuses black people of stoking racial fires even as he retweets white supremacists, labels neo-Nazis “very fine people,” propagates fake statistics exaggerating black crime rates, and elevates alt-right leaders and racist “Chicago” dog whistles about black violence (sometimes in the very same tweet!). He has come time and again for Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players kneeling to protest police brutality, once disparaging them as “sons of bitches” who should be “fired” for their “disrespect.”

On Monday, Trump fired off yet another tweet targeting the players and using the anthem as a political and cultural signifier. “We want our flag respected – and we want our NATIONAL ANTHEM respected also!” Trump wrote, implicitly contrasting a patriotic (white) “we” against an unpatriotic (black) “them.” The message posted just a few hours before Trump took to the football field in Atlanta and mangled a national anthem that Kaepernick and Obama undoubtedly know by heart. Given weeks of advance notice that he would be singing live on television, Trump still didn’t bother dedicating one of his leisurely mornings to committing the whole song to memory. Some patriot. Some “very stable genius.”

This latest Trump anthem flub was funny in meme form, but depressing in the wider context of this whole godawful presidency. Sure, it’s absolutely possible that Trump once knew the lyrics to the anthem, but simply forgot them in the moment—twice. While that might make his flub more excusable, it also makes his presidency more terrifying, considering the questions about mental competency that have dogged him as of late. (And particularly since he seems to have perfect recall of Smash Mouth’s “All Star,” which has not been designated a national song by any official body.) Far more likely, Monday night’s pathetic display was just another reminder, as if it were needed, of this president’s fraudulence and basic incompetence. It was Trump inadvertently demonstrating his ethos of office and a fundamental belief of his base, which is that someone else deserves the blame for your difficulties and failures, and that person is by default black or brown.

Hypocrisy is a cornerstone of racist thinking, and of Trumpism as a political movement. How else to explain the rush of white conservatives applauding his performance? These same people refuse to acknowledge the extrajudicial murder of a black man when it’s captured on camera, but they’ll make any excuse for Donald Trump miserably failing to sing a song they claim to cherish.

And the garbage heap rises.


[Reuse options]Click here for reuse options!


 

Related Stories

Read more

Don’t Be Fooled by These 5 Misleading Dairy Ads Peddling the Preposterous Myth of the ‘Happy Cow’


Happy cows are just an advertising ploy.


For most of my life, I genuinely believed the false advertising used to sell dairy. When I learned the truth—that nearly all cows used for dairy are kept inside, locked up, forcibly inseminated, and hooked up to painful milking machines—I was heartbroken. How had I never put two and two together: that for humans to consume cow’s milk, mother cows must have their calves taken?

I had been duped by dairy brands, whose misleading ads have never been regulated, despite truth-in-advertising laws. This discrepancy prompted a 2003 lawsuit involving the “Happy Cows” campaign, but the case was thrown out over a technicality. “The state’s false advertising law simply doesn’t apply to the government,” explains Mercy For Animals lawyer Rachel Faulkner. The ‘Happy Cow’ ads were run by the California Milk Advisory Board, a marketing arm of the California Food and Agriculture Department.

It’s troubling that you can’t sue the government for false advertising, but the case presents another issue that needs unpacking: how the dairy industry uses advertising to sell a false narrative about the lives of cows.

Here are common myths in dairy advertising, and the truth behind them.

A disclaimer: The images of actual cows used here are from MFA undercover investigations into dairy farms. While they are not from the following brands’ facilities, the images show the standard conditions and abuses at typical factory farms, where such products are manufactured.

The Advertisement:

The Reality:

Cows used for dairy do not spend their lives on open green pastures, grazing in the sun. Nearly all cows live on factory farms, which make up 99 percent of farms, and they spend their lives almost entirely indoors.

According to a recent study, fewer than 5 percent of the 10 million lactating cows in the United States have access to pasture during grazing season. The most common type of housing is the stanchion barn, where cows are tied up and have little freedom of movement, usually without access to natural light.

Equally heartbreaking, their young are repeatedly taken from them. Much like humans, cows naturally nurse their young for six to nine months, weaning their babies gradually. Female calves stay with their mothers for life. But on dairy farms, calves are taken within hours of birth so that their mother’s milk can be consumed by humans. This is the case even at organic or local dairy farms.

These mother cows know their babies are being taken from them, and they have been known to cry for hours after the separation. Case in point: In 2013, locals in Newbury, Massachusetts, called the police because of crying they’d heard from a nearby dairy farm. Upon investigation, authorities discovered that the cries had come from mothers whose newborns had been ripped away.

The Advertisement:  

 

 

 

The Reality:

The image of the happy cow is everywhere. “Not only do we not listen to cows, we also replace their story with one we feel comfortable with: cows want to give us their milk, they want to get pregnant and give us their calf,” says Elise Desaulniers, author of Cash Cow: Ten Myths About the Dairy Industry. “A term has been coined to describe those advertising images produced to make us feel good: suicide food. Animals that are delighted to be killed, and sometimes robbed and tortured, for you.” 

In reality, the dairy industry forces a cow to produce around 6.5 gallons of milk per day—at least 10 times the amount she would naturally produce for her calf. As a result, cows often develop mastitis, a potentially fatal mammary gland infection. Imagine the unbearable pain of producing 10 times the milk your body naturally makes, for almost your entire life.

Cows raised for dairy are slaughtered after their milk production decreases or their bodies give out, usually around age four (under natural conditions, they could live as long as 25 years). Slaughter awaits all cows and steers, but there is arguably more suffering in a glass of milk than in a hamburger.

The Advertisement:

The Reality:

If your milk claims to be humane or ethical, beware. “There is no regulation for the word ‘humane’ in advertising,” Faulkner says. Terms such as “natural” also aren’t regulated. And “free-range” doesn’t mean animals live outdoors; it just means they must have some access to grazing (and it’s usually very little).

A dairy brand’s use of the name “Fairlife” is both audacious and offensive. There’s nothing fair about it.

The Advertisement:

The Reality:

We’re told we need milk to grow up big and strong, but milk actually makes us sick. An astonishing three-quarters of people lack the enzyme to properly digest cow’s milk, causing an array of digestive issues. Dairy is also linked to cancer. Studies show that one connection is through dietary hormones, especially estrogen, as dairy accounts for 60 to 80 percent of estrogens consumed by humans today.

Milk is high in estrogen even if it is labeled “hormone-free”; you can’t omit the cow’s naturally occurring pregnancy and lactation hormones. Low consumption of milk and other dairy products, on the other hand, is linked to significantlydecreased risks of lung, breast, prostate, and ovarian cancers as well as a decreased risk of Parkinson’s disease.

Dairy is also connected to acne,asthma and migraines.

And calcium? That’s another myth we’ve been sold. Many nutritionists argue that dairy products are an inferior source of calcium. While we absorb about 30 percent of the calcium in milk, our absorption rate with other foods, especially kale, broccoli and bok choy, maybe twice as high.

We can get all the calcium we need from plant-based foods, without the cholesterol and saturated fat in dairy products. Ironically, high consumption of cow’s milk is also associated with increased risk for bone fractures, according to a recent study in the British Medical Journal. Women who consumed three or more glasses of milk per day had a 60 percent increased risk for hip fractures and a 16 percent increased risk for other fractures.

The Advertisement:

The Reality:

The dairy industry is built on theexploitation of female bodies. Cows are impregnated and their babies are taken. The argument “that’s what they’re designed for” is no more true than when it’s used against women. No living creature wants to be used solely for her reproductive system and denied the right to motherhood, bodily autonomy and freedom.

Cows are intelligent, sensitive beings who experience pain and develop social bonds, just like we do. They hold grudges against other cows for months or years, feel joy after they solve a complex problem, and even seek out human help in anticipation of a difficult birth.

Cows’ bodies, their offspring and their milk are their own. Cows don’t exist for our consumption any more than a woman’s body exists for a man’s pleasure. By leaving animals off our plates, we can help create a world where happy cows are more than just an advertising ploy.



[Reuse options]Click here for reuse options!


 

Related Stories

Read more

A statue’s hidden story

A story that began over 30 years ago in Tucson comes back to life today through the personification of a statue. Marge Pellegrino and Marianna Neil wrote “The Sculpture Speaks: A Story of Survival” after they discovered a statue in the Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson. Their story follows events in the 1980s involving the […]

Read more