Posts Tagged ‘Environmental Working Group’


Hungry for Change: Five Blogs Every U.S. Food Activist Should Follow

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By Sophie Wenzlau

Blogs are a dynamic medium to share and learn information about topics related to sustainable agriculture (e.g., rooftop gardening, Farm to School programs, and agricultural policy). Today, Nourishing the Planet recommends five blogs that provide useful information and insightful commentary on current issues in sustainable agriculture in the United States—blogs every food activist should follow.

(Photo Credit:

1. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Blog 

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is an alliance of grassroots organizations that advocates for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities.

NSAC publishes weekly blogs on agricultural policy as it relates to topics such as the U.S. Farm Bill, beginning farmers, Farm to School programs, agriculture appropriations, minority farmers, and organic agriculture. NSAC envisions an agricultural system where “a safe, nutritious, ample, and affordable food supply is produced by a legion of family farmers who make a decent living pursuing their trade, while protecting the environment and contributing to the strength and stability of their communities.”

Recent posts you won’t want to miss include: Strengthening Policy for Soil Health and a Food Secure World, Path to the 2012 Farm Bill: Is a Deal Possible and What Would A Good Deal Look Like?, and What’s at Stake: Energy Savings and Renewable Energy for Producers and Rural Businesses.

2. The Seedstock Blog

Seedstock is an organization focused on innovation and sustainability in agriculture; it promotes agricultural startup companies, university research, urban agriculture initiatives, and farmers employing innovative agricultural techniques.

The organization publishes an informative daily blog on topics related to agricultural innovation and sustainability, current events, and sustainable farms. Recent posts include: National Farmers Market Directory Sees 52 Percent Spike in Winter Listings, Hydroponic Urban Ag Startup Seeks to Create Scalable, Sustainable and Affordable Model to Feed Cities, and N.C. State CEFS Report Lays Out Strategies to Reduce Environmental Impact of Outdoor Hog Production.

3. City Farmer News

City Farmer News, an organization based in Vancouver, Canada, encourages urbanites to plant food gardens in lieu of grassy lawns. The organization believes that “shoemakers, fashion models, computer geeks, politicians, lawyers, teachers, chefs…all city dwellers…can grow food at home after work in back yards, community gardens or on flat roofs.”

The City Farmer blog is a collection of stories about urban farmers from around the world. It is an excellent resource for anyone interested in urban farming and urban agricultural policy.

4. The Environmental Working Group Blog 

The mission of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a lobby and research organization, is to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment. The organization is perhaps best known for criticizing the continuation of subsidies to big agribusinesses.

The EWG food blog provides a critical perspective on topics like the U.S. Farm Bill, school nutrition, local food, and food system transparency. Recent posts include: Americans Eat Their Weight in Genetically Engineered Food, Dairy’s Downward Spiral a Consequence of Broken Biofuels Policy, and California Boosts Funding Opportunities for a New Generation of Sustainable Farmers and Local, Healthy Food.

5. Civil Eats

Civil Eats is a daily news source for critical thought about the U.S. food system. The organization, founded in 2009, is a community resource of more than 100 contributors who are, “active participants in the evolving food landscape from Capitol Hill to Main Street.” Civil Eats is committed to building socially and economically just communities by promoting sustainable agriculture.

The blog is divided into sub-topics: business and technology, eating culture, energy policy, environment, food access, food policy, grow your own, health, in the kitchen, life on the farm, re-localize, and take action. It also features multiple blog series, such as Young Farmers Unite and Local Eats.

Other notable agriculture blog sites are: Wasted Food, U.S. Food Policy, La Via Campesina, Yale Sustainable Food Project, Think Forward, and Food Politics.

Sophie Wenzlau is a staff researcher with the Worldwatch Institute.  


Saturday Series: An Interview with Kari Hamerschlag

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By Emilie Schnarr and Carly Chaapel

In our new Saturday Series, we interview inspiring people that our readers have nominated. These people are working on the frontlines to improve the global food and agricultural systems. Want to nominate someone?  E-mail your suggestions to Danielle Nierenberg!

Kari Hamerschlag, Senior Food and Agriculture Analyst of the Environmental Working Group. (Photo credit: Kari Hamerschlag)

Name: Kari Hamerschlag

Location/Affiliation: Environmental Working Group (EWG)

Bio: Kari is the Senior Food and Agriculture Analyst at the Environmental Working Group. Her work focuses on food and agriculture policy for local, healthy, organic, and sustainable options. The agriculture branch of the EWG is best known for its extensive farm subsidy database and its voice for strong environmental health standards within agricultural policy.

In your opinion, what is the best way for the public to become involved in Farm Bill decision-making processes?

First the bad news: It’s unfortunately not easy to get involved since so much goes on behind closed doors in Congress. The good news is that you should get involved anyway, because if people don’t, we’ll get more of the status quo, and I think we can agree that the status quo is failing us. Here are four easy ways to jump in:



Environmental Working Group recommends less meat and cheese

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By Kamaria Greenfield

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently released their findings on the climate impacts of eating twenty different proteins, ranging from lentils to lambs. The data took into account all of the resources put into producing these common foods, a method known as life cycle assessment. One resource that sometimes goes without notice is the production of animal feed, which uses vast amounts of land, water, pesticides, and chemical fertilizer, each of which have their own environmental impact. The study even takes into account the disposal of unused foods post-production.

With this chart, EWG shows how different foods have a different impact on the environment. (Photo credit: EWG)

Lamb, beef, and pork were the three meats with the highest carbon footprint, but cheese ranked third worst overall.  Two percent milk, by contrast, ranked third best. This discrepancy is caused by the intensive production of cheese. “It takes about ten pounds of milk to make one pound of cheese,” said Kari Hamerschlag, author of the report. To give the data more real-world impact, a colorful chart shows the footprint of each food in terms of car miles driven per four ounces consumed. Lamb, the highest, is more than seven miles for each portion eaten.

Lentils, tomatoes, milk, and beans were the four best proteins, each contributing a fraction of one mile per four ounce serving. Chicken, the most environmentally-friendly land animal on the list, comes in at about 1.75 miles. Tuna is much better than chicken, but salmon, especially farmed salmon, is slightly worse. Smaller, plant-eating fish like tilapia, not listed, have a smaller impact because they are lower on the food chain.

Rather than promoting strict vegetarianism or veganism, the EWG instead points out the American over-consumption of meat and suggests a reduction in portion sizes. In 2009, the United States produced 208 pounds of meat per person for domestic consumption alone, almost 60 percent more than Europe. Additionally, the study states that eliminating meat and cheese from one meal a week for a year would be the equivalent of taking 7.6 million cars off the road.



Interactive Map Highlights Country Vulnerability to Food Price Hikes

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Check out this interactive map created by ActionAid International and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) that shows the countries that are most vulnerable to food price hikes.