Sustainable Food News

GM Supports Detroit’s Food Independence Drive

(3BL Media/Just Means) - ​Jim Jarmusch’s latest movie, Only Lovers Left Alive, is partially set in Detroit—its derelict streets and abandoned neighborhoods provide​s​ the ideal ​hideaway for a world-weary vampire​ in search of peaceful solitude​.

Cellulosic Ethanol Finally Beginning to Reach Scale

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - There was big news in Emmetsburg, Iowa this month—the opening of a major cellulosic ethanol plant. The plant, which is the first commercial-scale cellulosic facility in the US, is a joint venture between Poet and Royal DSM. Code-named Project Liberty, the plant was christened in a ceremony featuring His Majesty Willem-Alexander, King of the Netherlands, along with a host of others including U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Deputy Under Secretary Michael Knotek of the Department of Energy, and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad.

The plant will initially process 570 million pounds of biomass, primarily crop residue in the form of corn stover, each year, converting it to 20 million gallons of ethanol. At full capacity those numbers will increase to 770 and 25 million, respectively.

Traditional corn ethanol production uses the age-old process of distilling starches into alcohol, the same way that distilled spirits are made. The ability to convert the leaves and stalks and other waste material containing lignocellulose was something that had never been done before. The science was difficult and it has taken longer than expected, leading the EPA to revise the numbers in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), a mandate for the production of bio-fuels to help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

Concerns have been raised as to the implications of removing potential nutrition from the soil. This is offset, at least in part, by the fact that crop densities have nearly doubled over the past thirty years. Additionally, only 17% of the residue is currently being taken. Studies have shown a range of impact between a slight decrease in yield to an actual increase.

The entire bio-ethanol program has been under attack since its inception from a variety of sources including the oil industry, which fears the loss of business, environmentalists who are concerned about water and air pollution, and consumer, food industry and anti-hunger groups who have expressed concern that using crops and/or cropland for fuel production could lead to higher prices or worse. This latter concern was realized to some degree last year, with the Midwestern drought leading to a falloff in production. The good news was that much of the shortfall, which primarily impacted animal feed prices, was offset by increased production in other parts of the world. Then of course, there are those people who don’t like the government telling them anything.

Eco-friendly “GreenBox” Pizza Packaging Launched in Boston

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – America’s love for pizza knows no bounds. 93 percent of Americans eat pizza at least once a month. Out of total five billion pizzas consumed worldwide each year, the US alone consumes three billion. Across the US, around 70,000 pizzerias are in operation, and the average pizzeria uses 55 pizza boxes per day. That translates to about 1.4 billion pizza boxes used in the country each year.

PepsiCo to Support Food Insecure U.S. Kids

Wal-Mart and General Mills Join to Optimize Sustainable Agriculture

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – The global population is expected to grow up to 7.5 billion people over the next six years. Food security is likely to be one of the most important issues that the world will face in the next few decades. Sustainable agricultural techniques are the way forward that can improve productivity of the farms, while conserving natural resources and reducing the environmental impact.

Growing More with Less: Ag Innovation by Monsanto

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Ica is a large desert region on the coast of Peru. Called by Peruvians the “Land of the Sun,” its many days of sunshine allow crops to be grown year round, among them cotton, grapes, asparagus, olives, and other produce.

Top Notch Affordable Housing

Guest Blog by Lauren Mandel, green roof designer, author of Eat UP!

Walmart, General Mills, Coca-Cola, Unilever Push to Improve Sustainability: Ceres Report

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Leading food makers including Walmart, General Mills, Coca-Cola and Unilever are engaging closely with farmers to achieve greater food sustainability. The companies are putting in place measurable goals and firm deadlines to deliver real results in terms of environmental improvements. These companies have begun taking clear steps to ensure that farmers grow crops in ways that minimize damage to water, soil and the environment.

Military and Business Leaders Alike Cite Costs and Risks of Climate Change

Conservatives have been reluctant to talk about or acknowledge the actual cause of climate change, because they fear that doing so will lead to action that will cost money. But despite their efforts to cast doubt on the reality of the issue, awareness is steadily  growing that not only is climate change real, but that over time, the cost of not taking action will far exceed the cost of actions being proposed.

Red state politicians and talk radio hosts continue to press the denial agenda, but among the more respected leaders in traditionally conservative areas such as big business and the military, the tone has shifted considerably.

According to the Climate Disclosure Project (CDP), 60 major American companies from Google to Gap, have reported significant impacts to their business as the result of climate change. Business leaders are making strategic investments now, to reduce future risk. Says CDP President Tom Carnac, “Dealing with climate change is now a cost of doing business.”

Large companies with large supply chains are particularly vulnerable. In a new report entitled, “Major Public Companies Describe Climate-related Risks and Costs,” impacts are described confronting ten business sectors ranging from Consumer Discretionary, to Energy, to Industrial, to Health Care.
Over the three year period since the first report was issued, the average likelihood of physical risks, according to the companies responding, grew from 34% to 50%. And the fraction expecting to see impacts within the next 1-5 years also grew from 26% to 45%. Four of the top five assessed physical risk drivers remained the same over the three years. These were:

  • Changes in precipitation extremes and droughts
  • Major storms (hurricanes, cyclones,etc.)
  • Induced changes in natural resources
  • Uncertainty of physical risks

Sea level rise emerged as a top risk driver this year. The top 3 impacts also remained the same. These were:

  • Increased operational cost
  • Reduction/disruption in production capacity
  • Inability to do business

Other impacts included reduced demand for products and services, and increased capital cost.

Some specific examples include soft drink companies like PepsiCo and Dr Pepper Snapple Group stating concerns over changing temperatures, unreliable crops, uncertain water availability and surging energy costs disrupting business and putting US$2.5 billion of their sales costs at risk.

Data centers are becoming more expensive to cool as temperatures rise.

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