Food System Sustainability and Public Health
Our long-term food security is under increasing stress. A convergence of issues—climate change, resource depletion, dysfunctional farm policies, and loss of biodiversity, among them—now threaten the availability of healthy food for an ever-increasing population.
The Center’s Food System Sustainability and Public Health program, established in 2013, stimulates research, practice, policy, education, and communications activities, to spur the transition to a more environmentally sustainable and resilient – and less wasteful - food system that provides adequate, affordable, nutritious, and safe food to all people, at all times. The program also includes efforts related to “social sustainability” in the food system, particularly occupational safety and health and justice issues for food system workers.
The program has two “tracks.” In the first track, we aim to make a material impact on reducing the 30 to 40 percent of food wasted each year in the U.S. With multiple projects, the program examines and addresses wasted food across the food system. The second track addresses food system environmental and social sustainability more broadly, with projects on themes including urban food system resilience, sustainable dietary guidance, food and climate change, and meat consumption. We are interested in discussing additional ways to engage. We also teach a Food System Sustainability Practicum through the Bloomberg School, lecture in diverse settings, and engage in listening and dialogue on related issues.
Here are some of our projects.
- Nationally-representative consumer survey on wasted food
- Quantification of US seafood waste
- Focus groups to identify preferred language for a revised system of food date labeling
- An examination of date labels on poultry product packages
- Tracking unsold food from farmers markets
- Evaluating the Southern Maryland Hub and Spoke program for recovery and distribution of farm-level excess food (student project)
- Crop donations and policy incentives – data analysis
- Salad bar plate waste in Baltimore City schools
- Serving on the EPA Food Too Good To Waste Advisory Committee
Other Environmental and Social Sustainability Issues
- Food system resilience and food security in Baltimore
- Sustainable dietary guidance
- The US Farm Bill and environmental public health
- Communication, outreach, and research on other related topics
Lectures for audiences around the US and to classes at the Bloomberg school
Supervision of student capstones, final essays, practica and related projects
Scientific sessions at conferences
The program’s research activities build on the Center’s extensive history of work on food system sustainability issues, including in partnership with CLF-Lerner Fellows, Innovation grantees, and other colleagues. The program brings these efforts together under one “roof,” while working to expand and focus them. Completed projects include:
- Protecting Environmental Compliance Programs (Report | Brief)
- “Addressing soil impacts on public health: Issues & recommendations.” A chapter in: Brevik EC. and Burgess LC, eds. Soil and Health. CRC Press: 2012.
- Peak Oil, Food Systems and Public Health. American Journal of Public Health, 2011.
- Engaging Youth in Sustainable Agriculture: An Evaluation of Baltimore’s Real Food Farm Internship Program. 2011 Carl Taylor project.
- Measurement and communication of greenhouse gas emissions from US food consumption via carbon calculators. Ecological Economics, 2009.
- Yesterday's dinner, tomorrow's weather, today's news? US newspaper coverage of food system contributions to climate change. Public Health Nutrition, 2008.