A Food Crisis Is Coming, But Urban America Already Has It Solved – COLORLINES

 

Community gardens are bringing better food closer to home.

Community gardens are bringing better food closer to home. Photo: Getty Images/David McNew

 

A Food Crisis Is Coming, But Urban America Already Has It Solved by Imara Jones. Click to read the whole article. Below is a snippet.

A Better Way: Urban Farms

One response to America’s susceptibility to oil shocks is to move food production closer to where people live. Drastically reducing the distance between consumers and their food would lower costs substantially. Lower prices could soften the blow of price hikes and ensure that food remains at levels that most Americans can afford. It would also have positive health impacts, putting downward pressure on illnesses caused by poor diets, decrease health care costs and improve the quality of life of millions.

Moving agricultural production to cities and suburbs would also dramatically alter the business of farming. Rather than leaving it concentrated in a few large companies based in far away places, food production would be spread throughout a larger segment of society. A greater share of consumers would be more active in generating the nutrients that sustain them. Farms would have to shrink and people would eat less meat. Cattle feedlots that can hold 150,000 animals at one time would not work in urban areas.

Overall, municipalities would develop a direct relationship with their food. As Bed-Stuy Farm shows, this both improves the wellbeing of residents and the community as a whole. But whatever happens the way Americans get their food in the future is set to change.

Sparked by the urban farm movement, a predicted growth of cities, and impending resource crises, futurists are thinking of additional ways to bring agriculture to cities. Vertical farms, for instance, would place the growth of fruits and vegetables in sky scrapers. Several hundred feet high, these buildings would mix people and agriculture. Certain floors would be dedicated to raising food, others to housing people.

Another idea is converting empty warehouses into hydroponic farms. These massive soil-less greenhouses could produce a range of products using far fewer resources. There is even a proposal to convert the roofs of supermarkets into greenhouses. This would create a closed-loop food production system where produce is picked and sold in the same place. The bottom line is that a lot of research energy is going into how we can do things differently.

But the future is actually now. As we seek ways to feed in new ways, policy makers should start by getting behind a homegrown solution already inaction: urban farms. Grown out of crisis, the example of these neighborhood agricultural centers are life rafts that could help us weather the oil-shock-induced difficulties that lie ahead. Despite the choices futurists and leaders make, the rest of us will have to do what those in America’s most challenged communities have known for years: learn how to create, not just consume.

Imara Jones is a New York based blogger who writes about economic justice for Colorlines.com.

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Here’s How to Avoid Roses That Support Violent Labor Abuses This Valentine’s Day – Culture – GOOD

Good.
“GET THE DAILY GOOD
One good thing a day.”

New to me. Seems like a great place for socially conscious thoughts and actions and — like the article below — socially conscious purchasing. I’ll keep my eye on this on and sign up for their daily email alert. Copied the entire post below or link to the Good entry.

Here’s How to Avoid Roses That Support Violent Labor Abuses This Valentine’s Day

  • February 9, 2011 • 2:00 pm PST

flowersecuador
Valentine’s Day is coming up, and that means a spike in American flower sales. Unfortunately, despite their romantic connotations, a lot of flowers sold in America have ugly, cruel, and, occasionally, violent origins.

In Ecuador and Colombia, for instance, which furnish a large bulk of America’s flowers, many flower farm workers—most of them female—are subjected to sexual harassment, poor wages, and unsafe working conditions. One worker interviewed for Frontline documentary about flower abuses said her employers used to fumigate greenhouses while she and her colleagues were still inside. They also refused to pay her when she became pregnant.

On Kenyan flower farms, workers have reported being forced to work 12-hour days for less than a dollar in wages. Others say they’ve been raped while on their dangerous, dark routes to work at five in the morning.

On Kenyan flower farms, workers have reported being forced to work 12-hour days for less than a dollar in wages. Others say they’ve been raped while on their dangerous, dark routes to work at five in the morning.

What makes these abuses particularly upsetting is that they needn’t exist. There are many fair-trade flower producers in business around the world, and they’re creating sustainable flowers while offering workers competitive wages, daycare programs, and safety. The problem is getting major flower distributors to sell them.

Currently, 1-800-Flowers offers not a single fair-trade stem, nor will the company tell activists where its wares originate. And a search of FTD’s website also returns nothing fair-trade certified.

This Valentine’s Day, if you want to make sure your token of affection doesn’t also support violence against women in the third world, try getting roses from one of these companies, which stamp all their flowers with the “fair-trade certified” seal: One World FlowersWorld FlowersInbloom Group

Help spread the love.


Culture Editor

photo (cc) via Flickr user Andrea Guerra

Also see Calling All Conscious Crafters: Put a Cap on Infant Mortality

Naomi Klein on Environmental Destruction for Profit

TedWomen Talk, December 2010.

Naomi Klein talks about big business and the risks they take with our world and the life on it. Naomi is not risk averse but her point, well taken, is that if you take a big risk, you should have a plan for recovery just in case it fails. BP Oil, are you listening? Sarah Palin and George Bush, if the guns fail? Canada! O Canada! I never thought you would allow such destruction of your beautiful land for oil that whose production will emit more greenhouse gases than the burning of the oil itself will. Think about it. Can you ever reclaim that land?

Naomi always talks straight.

Water—On Women’s Burdens, Humans’ Rights, and Companies’ Profits – Monthly Review

Water is a basic human need. There is no life without it.  The UN and other humanitarian organizations have worked years to bring critical consciousness to those of us who have rarely if ever been without water. For many, the availability of water every day is invisible, as expected as sunrise. And if we’re out, we think nothing of stopping at a convenience store and purchasing it.

In an article from the Monthly Review by Zuhal Yeşilyurt Gündüz, associate professor at the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Baskent University, she illuminates in very clear and understandable language the impacts of the commercialization and privatization of water. The US/EU economics vs. the UN and Human Rights. Public vs. Private. And the extreme effects this is having on the women and their families — those who live in the poorest countries.

  • 884,000,000 people worldwide do not have access to safe drinking water
  • More than 2.6 billion people (or 40 percent of the global population) do not have access to basic sanitation services
  • Every year, 3.5 million people die from water-related diseases
  • Diarrhea caused by lack of safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, and poor health and nutritional status, is the second most important cause of death among children under five
  • Around 1.5 million children die of diarrhea each year
  • Every twenty seconds, a child dies from a water-borne disease such as diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, guinea worm, and hepatitis

Water is now, first and foremost, a commodity, and the public ownership of water is the major block to the massive profits that can be gained through privatization by large neo-liberal conglomerates who see water as the “twentieth century oil.”

After a bottled water company opened a plant in Java/Indonesia in 2002, it consumed such a high amount of spring water, only twenty meters away from the region’s main water source, that farmers had less and less irrigation water, and their wells started to run dry. Several farmers lost their livelihood and had to stop farming. Coca-Cola, after exploiting the groundwater reserves, turned parts of Kerala/India into a desert. Entire rivers have been sold in India. (emphasis mine)

Read this excellent article by Zuhal Yeşilyurt Gündüz, associate professor at the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Baskent University (Ankara/Turkey).

Water—On Women’s Burdens, Humans’ Rights, and Companies’ Profits – Monthly Review January 2010, v62 n8.

Kenya: Risking rape to reach a toilet: Women’s experiences in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya | Amnesty International

Kenya: Risking rape to reach a toilet: Women’s experiences in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya | Amnesty International. July, 2010

Amnesty International Report

200 years that changed the world – Gapminder.org – DATA Visualization!

Data visualization is so powerful. At http://www.gapminder.org they have taken over 400 tables of data from reputable sources (e.g., ILO, WHO, UN)  collected over spans of years and dynamically graphed them to show parts of the world (poor, middle, and wealthy, etc.) and allow a time lapse view of the changes. It’s incredible!

Watch this one first. Hans Rosling explains the process.  Fabulous teaching tool.

200 years that changed the world – Gapminder.org

Wealth & Health of Nations from gapminder.org

Here are more examples. Note the categories of the two axes and the play button which will display the period of time the data covers from oldest to most current (usually around 2008 for the latest data).  I find you can also manually (and slowly) go through the visualization, mousing over the various circles to identify each country as it moves.

In the top menu, click on DATA to see all the different charts and tables available. You also can search on a particular facet.

Lots of presentations to download, TED talks by Hans Rosling, and help for instruction.  I believe students will understand the big issues presented in this manner.

Let me know if you have used them or use them in the future or find a particularly effective visualization which makes a global view and understanding  more apparent to your students.

Vital Voices Blog » Profile of Success – Egyptian Businesswomen’s Association Grows Its Membership to More than Fifty

June 8, 2009 from Vital Voices:

Vital Voices Blog » Profile of Success – Egyptian Businesswomen’s Association Grows Its Membership to More than Fifty

Think of all the cities in the world where the “green” movement is taking hold. Cairo, Egypt, a desert megalopolis of 17 million people, probably isn’t at the top of your list. But don’t tell Shereen Allam.

Shereen, of Maadi, Cairo, is co-owner of Eco-Tek, an innovative printer cartridge recycling company that she launched ten years ago with her husband, Mr. Ahmed Hegazy. Since then, she’s convinced scores of businesses, schools and universities all over Cairo to buy into the program, and the list of partners keeps growing. It’s a win for Shereen and a win for the environment. Eco-Tek grows its business and Cairo is spared thousands of spent printer cartridges choking its landfills. “I would love to start an environmental awareness campaign where all the official, nonprofit and individual parties get involved and a complete plant could be established to recycle all parts – plastics, metal, electronic parts, etc. This would develop the sense that by recycling you save lives, help society and generate money at the same time,” says Shereen.

With the same entrepreneurial drive that makes Eco-Tek a success, Shereen “gives back” to her country as president of AWTAD (Association for Women’s Total Advancement and Development). In just one year as a Network Hub in the MENA Businesswomen’s Network, the association grew its membership to over 50 in record time.

Women are changing the world! Read the complete blog post.

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