FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD The challenges of feeding a growing world family
SUSTAINABLE FARMING IN INDIA The importance of small-hold farmers
ORGANIC ENGINEERING Converting organic food fanciers into actual consumers And so much more insideâ€Ś
Guest Editorial: Peter-Erik Ywema
Fostering Diversity And Reconnection In our hemisphere, harvest time is over. The fields are empty. The first autumn storms have touched down. All but a few grapes remain in the garden greenhouse, and my wife Karin is spending her day off work preparing our kitchen garden for a winter cover crop. But what is our hemisphere? You might well be reading this in Brazil, South Africa or New Zealand, where the crops are just coming up and spring is in the air? Let me introduce myself. I am Peter-Erik Ywema and I live in the Netherlands behind the dyke of the Rhine river. I’m married with three kids, two of whom have left home to study, and I have worked my whole career in ‘sustainability’. I’m pleased to say that even after more than 20 years, it’s still a topic which fascinates me. A diamond that reveals a different facet every time you look at it.
I am pleased to be the guest editor of this issue of 2050, an issue dedicated to the multi- facetted topic of food and how best we can rise to the challenges of sustainably feeding an expanding global population. And no, I don’t agree with all views expressed, but I am pleased to see the diversity of views. Diversity being the key word when it comes to sustainable food and agriculture: diversity in crops, in our cooking and in our diets. I disagree for example that monoculture is universally regarded as being ‘good for business’ as Max Horstink suggests in our lead article, ‘The Devil is in the Chickpea’. I personally believe that today’s farmers already know that one of the best ways to increase yields year after year, is to adopt the crop rotation methods. Having said that, the interesting concept of agroecology that Max highlights comes very close to what I would call sustainable farming. Applicable as it is on both large and small scales and for its ability to enhance biodiversity and nutrient cycles while reducing our dependency on fossil inputs.
Diversity being the key word when Before the 1990’s, sustainability was mainly about chemicals and it comes to sustainable food and the need to reduce the waste and pollution of traditional production methods. To do this we studied the agriculture: diversity in crops, in our life cycles of our raw materials, cooking and in our diets. and discovered a decidedly linear Although I’m not so sure I agree that it approach. A linear approach which could result in 10 to 20 fold increases saw valuable resources being in yields, simply because such good results would have been dug from the ground, processed into a smorgasboard of copied long ago. Views and facts are difficult to judge, but disposable forms, and then fed to unwitting consumers. With your food is important enough to do some thinking, as Max no real plan for getting those valuable raw materials back to did. the beginning of the process. To counter this, we began developing process-integrated solutions and are still working our way towards truly sustainable, circular production methods. That experience got me thinking about agriculture and food and eventually led me to one of my most exciting undertakings to date, leading the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform. This platform brings together the world’s main food and drinks companies in a joint effort to promote understanding of the main issues, while at the same time giving their suppliers / farmers the tools they need to be more sustainable. Those companies do this, not out of a sense of corporate social responsibility, but because they know that stable supply chains are vital to the success of their businesses.
Agriculture and food are different from any other subject because we are so dependant on food, not only in a calorific or nutrient sense, but culturally as well. That sets food apart from smartphones, electric cars and computers. Food is both daily and holy. Food has the ability to create communities by bringing people together at the table. More than anything, food brings daily pleasure and joy. Growing and consuming food connects the world, farmers and consumers in a really unique way. But we, again mostly in my northern hemisphere, take food for granted, eat without attention, become obese from empty eating; whereas others still don’t have a decent meal. Sustainable food is about reconnecting the broken chain, more than anything else.
ABOUT US: 2050 Magazine is all about sustainability. Our journey towards the day when the whole world will have access to cheap, clean, sustainable energy and resources. Something which we think will happen by 2050. As long as we all pull together and do our bit. This is our bit.
In a reconnected agriculture-food system, of which the trend of going local is a clear expression, we can similarly decide if we think a certain drought-tolerant, high-yielding GMO variety is desirable or not. In a reconnected world, Indian small-holders will be encouraged to collaborate in the formation of local trade groups rather than further subdividing land and then watering what remains in a wasteful manner. I have seen examples of such collaboration near Bangalore from small tomato growers who have jointly established markets and teamed up with drip irrigation suppliers to help them use their precious water supplies more efficiently. Those farmers were proud to tell me that their new irrigation tools also allowed them to improve the taste of their tomatoes. On our way back in the bus, from these Indian tomato farmers, I happened to sit next to a marketer of a big name soup brand. “For 20 years you’ve been telling me that sustainable agriculture saves water, and uses less chemicals and fertilizers,” he said accusingly. “But you’ve never told me how much better sustainably produced tomatoes taste. That’s what I can sell.” That is what I learned that day; Consumers don’t want to hear about water and chemical reduction. An observation, which connects the stories of Abhay (on page 24) and Isolde (page 26). We have tried to approach the topic from many angles; a farmer in the Midwest, a marketer, a consumer trying to find his way through a myriad of information, small-scale farming experts from India, and a scientific take on the dangers of dwindling bee populations. We hope this diversity tickles your brains as it does ours. I hope you enjoy reading this as I did. Peter Erik Ywema
EDITORIAL: We are very fortunate to have constant access to an incredibly talented pool of people, some of them with decades of experience in the field of sustainability. They tell us things and we write it down and add pretty pictures. Then we send it, all wrapped up in tinsel, to the world at large. That’s it in a nutshell really.
DISTRIBUTION: 2050 is a free publication which is distributed around the world through a variety of ‘friend’ networks. We are currently connected to more than 1 million supporters. A number which is growing on a daily basis. Please feel free to pass us on to your own networks if you think they might be interested in keeping in touch with what’s going on in the world of sustainability.
PUBLISHERS: 2050 Magazine is a joint effort by Planet B Ventures and Spinning Plate Media contact: Editorial: email@example.com Advertising: firstname.lastname@example.org DESIGN Glenn Goodwin contact: email@example.com PAGE 3
Page 6 Food Facts Key statistics on a plate. Page 10 ‘The Devil is in the Chickpea’ Brother and sister writing team, Max and Lanka Horstink argue the case for agroecology. Page 18 Food in the News A rundown of some of the positive food initiatives going on in the world right now - the wheel is in motion! Page 24 Sustainable Farming - An Indian Perspective Abhay Goghari looks at the important role of small-hold farmers in India.
Page 26 “Will Nobody Buy My Beautiful Organic Veggies...?” Isolde Schram wonders why it is so difficult to convert sustainably produced food fanciers into actual consumers. Page 30 A Buzz in the Air? What to do about the pollinator decline phenomenon… by Robin Whitlock. Page 34
My Top Ten Cookery Books, by Karin Kramer Our guest editor’s wife, herself something of a foody, has kindly prepared, like a tray of amus-bouches at an ambassador’s party in Vienna, a list of her favourite and most inspiring cookery books.
Page 36 The Crowd A round up of the goings on in the exciting world of crowdfunding. Page 44 Climate Change Opinions 2050’s climate change expert, Christine Lancaster, reports from the aptly named ‘Bright Green Island’ in Denmark. Page 46 Our Cars, Our Power Stations Professor Ad van Wijk has a whole new idea for our cars. Page 48 Food in the Community A community based restaurant initiative in Amsterdam. Page 50 “Now Here’s a Good Idea...” A bank underpinned not by cash, but by valuable works of art.
Food Facts PAGE 6
Agricultural land covers 5 billion hectares (about one-third or 35% of Earthâ€™s ice-free land area), of which 1.5 billion is for growing crops (11% of the Earthâ€™s ice-free land surface) and 3.5 billion for livestock (25%). The land area used for growing crops is equivalent to the continent of South America, while our pastures amount to an area the size of Africa. We grow crops to feed ourselves, but around 35% of the total is produced to feed the animals that we feed on, and another 5% to produce biofuels. The irrigation water used globally to grow food that is wasted would be enough for the domestic needs (at 200 litres per person per day) of nine billion people - the number expected on the planet by 2050. Of the seven billion people on this planet today, more than one billion are going hungry, while another billion are overeating to the point of obesity.
We waste no less than one third of all the food we produce.
of the fresh water we consume globally is used for irrigation.
The use of fertilisers and pesticides has doubled since 1960.
In 2010, an estimated 7.6 million children â€” more than 20,000 a day â€” died from hunger. Nearly 98 percent of worldwide hunger exists in underdeveloped countries. The 40 million tons of food wasted by US households alone would be enough to alleviate global hunger.
If we planted trees on land currently used to grow all the food we end up wasting, this would offset a theoretical maximum of 100% of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion.
of worldwide hunger exists in underdeveloped countries.
Food Facts PAGE 8
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that agriculture causes 30% of GHG emissions, making it the single largest anthropogenic source of global warming. There are 2.5 billion subsistence agriculture smallholders around the world producing half of the world’s food.
of the world´s tropical forests have been cleared, along with 50% of the savannahs.
The total amount of water used to ‘grow’ a one pound hamburger (including the water used to grow the cattle feed) is about 500 gallons; compared to about 5 gallons to grow a pound of potatoes.
24 to 35%
of school lunches in the UK end up in the bin.
An estimated 20 to 40% of UK fruit and vegetables is rejected before it even reaches the shops â€“ mostly for aesthetic reasons. 4600 kilocalories per day of food are harvested for every person on the planet; of these, only around 2,000 on average are eaten â€“ more than half of it is lost on the way. The worldâ€™s poorest people spend 50-90 per cent of their income on food, compared with just 10-15 per cent in developed countries.
In Cuba, farmers claim to achieve yield efficiencies several times higher than those achieved by industrial agriculture.
The Devil is in the Chickpea
THE DEVIL IS IN THE CHICKPEA
The world’s population is set to float past the nine billion mark by 2050, raising the inevitable question, ‘how on Earth are we going to feed everyone in a sustainable manner?’ A dilemma which brother and sister research team, Max and Lanka Horstink, think could be answered by an alternative approach to farming (or to feeding the world) known as Agroecology. And no, we can’t just carry on It seems the challenges are vast. Most of the food I buy comes from Agriculture uses up and contaminates our planting more fields. local sources. It just seems ridiculous to fresh water, is destroying biodiversity, buy pasta flown in from Romania, and soil fertility and forests, and is one of the According to Foley, a researcher at the chickpeas shipped from Turkey when there are so many local alternatives here main contributors to climate change . Our Institute on the Environment at the current agricultural activities place a very University of Minnesota, 40% of global in South Africa. It requires some effort land is devoted to agriculture, the largest heavy strain on our natural resources, initially to check the small print of each use of land by humans . The area devoted product (especially if you’re also checking in fact more so than any other activity. to growing crops is equivalent to the All in all, this makes agriculture one of for MSG, preservatives, etc.), but you continent of South America, while our the largest environmental threats of our soon get to recognise the local products. pastures amount to an area the size of time. I also pride myself on buying organic Africa. produce when I can, and I stay clear of GMOs. But when people We are already using the best ask me why, I’ve never really had “The Inconvenient Truth” was Al land, apart from the rainforests a proper answer to hand. and savannahs, which are Gore´s wake up call to the effects important areas to conserve in So I decided it was time to learn of biodiversity and fighting the truth, and nothing but the of human-induced climate change, terms climate change. However, even truth, about sustainable food. are giving way to more which is the area I work in. The other these arable land. 25% of the world´s First stop: the Internet. forests have been cleared, ‘inconvenient truth’ I discovered, is tropical along with 50% of the savannahs. I emailed my sister, who has been researching Food Democracy about agriculture, which I knew little We grow crops to feed ourselves, for the last few years, and while but around 35% of the total is waiting for her answer, I started about. produced to feed the animals that browsing for clues. The first we feed on, and another 5% to thing I found was a TED talk by produce biofuels (which ironically Jonathan Foley called “The Other are meant to halt climate change). So Inconvenient Truth”. if we increase the area of cropland In the meantime, the world population is for biofuel production we more or less expected to rise to over 9 billion people Bang! Welcome to the global agricultural decrease the area for food production. by 2050 and the Food and Agricultural crisis. Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations estimates that global agricultural But surely modern farming “The Inconvenient Truth” was Al Gore´s techniques will continue to improve production will need to increase by 60% wake-up call to the effects of humaninduced climate change, which is the area from 2007 levels by 2050 in order to feed and increase our crop yields? that number of people. Meanwhile, even I work in. The “other inconvenient truth” today not everyone is able to access or I discovered, is about agriculture, which I purchase the food they need. knew little about. PAGE 11
Todayâ€™s prevailing system for growing crops and livestock is called modern, a.k.a. commercial, or industrial agriculture. Historically, this system is characterised by large-scale farming by few and large corporations, a heavy dependency on fossil fuels, the use of fertilisers and pesticides to enhance production, and the cultivation of single crop types on large areas of land for many years (a method also known as monoculture). Scientists such as Miguel Altieri, professor at the University of California, Berkeley, are of the opinion that these systems are not efficient, cause environmental damage, and will be the first to collapse under the effects of climate change. The use of fertilisers and pesticides can also lead to health problems.
Others do not have access to food.
Water use and pollution
On top of that, we waste no less than one third of all the food we produce. On a daily basis restaurants throw away fresh food that has not been sold. People are led by the (conservative) expiry dates on products and get rid of food thatâ€™s still edible. And perhaps most remarkably, supermarkets reject food on the basis of colour, shape, and size.
In a context of increasing water scarcity, 70% of the fresh water we consume is used for irrigation. As a result, the yield of rivers and aquifers from which we take our water is declining, in some cases even drying up completely. The use of fertilisers and pesticides has led to widespread water pollution and degradation. Fertilisers and pesticides are the biggest driver of biodiversity loss and can be found in nearly every ecosystem, having doubled since 1960.
To raise awareness, the United Nations hosted a dinner last February for government ministers and officials, serving them blemished fruit and vegetables rejected by European supermarkets to highlight how perfectly edible food is senselessly wasted.
Also, a large proportion of food is wasted at farm level due to the lack of good storage and infrastructure facilities.
In short, monoculture is good for business, but not that good for the land, biodiversity, or food security. As opposed to polyculture (variety of crop rotation) it deprives the earth of the nutrients it needs, leading to more use of chemicals or simply the expansion of the cultivated land area as yields per acre drop. In addition, monoculture crops are more prone to being destroyed by diseases. According to Altieri, the environmental and health costs related to modern agriculture in the USA alone amount to US$4 billion
Food security and efficiency Another problem lies in efficiency. According to the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change, of the seven billion people on this planet today, more than one billion are going hungry, while another billion are over-eating to the point of obesity. Global riots in 2008 and 2011 were not sparked by a lack of food, but by the fact that people could not afford a balanced diet due to rising prices.
Also, a large proportion of food is wasted at farm level due to the lack of good storage and infrastructure facilities. In some African countries, the inadequate infrastructure makes it next to impossible to transport oversupplies of food from the green regions to the dry regions where famine exists. Food diets There is a correlation between increases in purchasing power and the increase in meat consumption, as people move out of lower income classes. As the world population is
growing, so is the average GDP in developing countries. Already around 35% of our agricultural produce is used to feed animals, which, as demand for meat grows, will require more land both for grazing and to produce feed. This growing number of animals also contributes significantly to climate change . Food diets are also becoming less diverse as food supply expands through large modern farms focused on monoculture sending their produce to a small number of large food processors, who in turn supply it to the world through a similarly small number of large retail chains.
Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that agriculture causes 30% of GHG emissions, making it the single largest anthropogenic source of global warming. These figures include emissions from crop and livestock production, deforestation, and associated land-use changes. The resulting global warming can significantly affect human society, and ironically, the agricultural production system that is helping to cause it.
sovereignty to promote the goal of an alternative food system that not only produces enough food for everyone, but is also socially just and ecologically sound while prioritising local food production and consumption. It argues that individuals and peoples should be allowed to make decisions about local and global food systems, products, and related policies, rather than leaving this to a handful of multinational corporations, powerful governments and supranational market institutions, like the WTO and OCDE. Who, the proponents of food sovereignty believe, now control the world´s food prices and food chain, and are ultimately the cause of the problem.
Eric Holt-Giménez of the NGO Food First argues that the current system will sustain hunger rather than solve it
According to the FAO, most people in the global North depend for their food on only about 12 species of plants and 5 species of animals, whereas rice, wheat and corn make up a staggering 60% of humans’ vegetable intake. As a consequence of this concentration in our diet, we have already lost 75% of our agrobiodiversity just in the last century. People’s food choice is declining, and so is the quality of their food. Climate change Agriculture is one of the major contributors to climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on
Food sovereignty At present there are over a billion people classified as undernourished. According to the FAO this is not because of food shortages, but rather a combined effect of the global economic crisis and continuing high food prices. The Via Campesina movement, represented by around 200 million small-scale farmers around the world, believes the solution is not just a matter of food security, i.e. producing enough food for everyone. This social movement coined the term food
Eric Holt-Giménez of the NGO Food First, argues that the current system will sustain hunger rather than solve it. According to Holt-Giménez, multinationals and organisations like the WTO sustain high food prices while expanding monoculture practises in developing countries, gradually pushing small-scale peasants who practise sustainable agriculture out of the market and off their land. There are 2.5 billion smallholders around the world, most of whom are practising subsistence agriculture, and they are still producing half of the world’s food. If the trend
THE DEVIL IS IN THE CHICKPEA
continues, small-scale agriculture will ultimately disappear, and with it agro-biodiversity. Moreover, rather than feeding themselves, these people will need to buy food under conditions of high and rising prices, potentially increasing malnutrition and hunger levels. Holt-Giménez argues that the Structural Adjustment Policies of the 1980s and 1990s (placing conditions on developing countries for receiving new loans from the IMF or World Bank) prevented the global South from protecting their own markets. The ETO’s subsequent freetrade agreements destroyed the capacity of the countries in the South to feed themselves. While developing countries had a joint trade surplus of $1 billion a year in the 1970’s, they now import to the tune of $11 billion annually, and many are dependent on food aid.
tripled and many Haitians could not afford it anymore. 80% now live in poverty.
food through our organisational inefficiencies. These types of quick wins should not require much effort.
The billion-dollar question
As Foley puts it, agriculture is the single most powerful force unleashed on this planet since the ice age. Yet at the same time we depend on it for our survival and it is a major contributor to our economy, which is why the topic is politically sensitive and underaddressed. So, considering these great challenges, how are we going to feed 9 billion people in 2050?
Changing people’s diets is possible. Governments are already focusing on the obesity problem. But these efforts should be expanded to persuading the whole population to eat less food in general, especially less meat. Reducing meat consumption can have a very positive impact on land use, GHG emissions and food security, not to mention public health, but will require the production of a sufficient amount of high quality food from agro-biodiverse sources. Political will and a joint public and private sector effort is key as it is not just a question of implementing policies and (awareness) programmes but also of changing product offering, marketing, and essentially the food supply system in general.
Changing people’s diets is possible.
One striking example is that of Haiti, where the local rice producers could no longer compete with international markets, forcing the peasants to the city and the country to import 80% of its rice. By 2008, the price of rice
Options for sustainably feeding over 9 billion people in 2050 We can start by focusing on eliminating the silly ideas and practices, such as growing crops in the desert (Aral Sea, Arizona, South of Spain), transforming food into biofuels, distorting markets by subsidising industrial agriculture, rejecting food for aesthetic or logistical reasons, and wasting large quantities of
Biofuel production is not sustainable if it conflicts with food security or causes deforestation (as is the case with palm oil plantations in Malaysia
and Indonesia). Demand for biofuels can however be regulated, as is being proposed in the EU . Improving conventional farming Aiming to farm the land better brings a variety of options. But what is better? Foley proposes boosting the productivity through improved crop genetics (better seeds) and management (better tillage). There are many places around the world where only partial yields are realised, some achieving no more than 20-30% of the yield. Research shows that total food production could be increased by 50 to 60 per cent by focusing on closing the yield gap for the worldâ€™s top 16 crops, although it has only increased by 20% on average over the last 20 years. Foley stresses that this should happen without further harming the environment, by employing methods that potentially reduce the strain on resources, or enhance productivity. Examples of ways to reduce water use include drip irrigation and waste-water recycling. Productivity may be enhanced with techniques and management systems such as precision agriculture, integrated agricultural production, agricultural biotechnology (including hybrid breeding and GMOs), hydroponics, vertical farming and others. Foley advocates using the best ideas of industrial agriculture and simultaneously the best ideas of organic farming and environmental conservation.
Foley stresses that this should happen without further harming the environment, by employing methods that potentially reduce the strain on resources, or enhance productivity.
Other ideas include providing incentives for farmers, new crop varieties, smarter diets, the promotion of local food and the phasing out of subsidy systems . All of which, along with the methods mentioned earlier, can provide a combined solution. However, increasing productivity with conventional methods usually means using more water and more fertilisers, which is already taxing the limits of chemical and water use. Incremental improvements within the current system are not likely to both increase yield and provide adequate solutions to the environmental and social problems. The continued practice of monoculture will not be sustainable in terms of environmental and social objectives and will eventually create a supply problem, through the depletion
THE DEVIL IS IN THE CHICKPEA
Agroecology can be described as a science, a movement and a practise combined. of fossil fuels and the exhaustion of croplands. Some of the productivity enhancement techniques are controversial, such as the use of GMOs, which is being contested due to growing suspicion about human, animal and plant contamination. Moreover, by focusing on 16 crops only, Foley misses one of the points. This is not a guarantee for agro-biodiversity, food diversity or food sovereignty. Guaranteeing food sovereignty Technical solutions for the existing system also fail to address the current marginalisation of 2.5 billions smallholders. Holt-Giménez argues that solving the food crisis is not just about starting up more organic gardens but that we need to transform the whole economic system. The Via Campesina movement asks that food be declared a constitutional right, advocating an agrarian reform that addresses land rights and the return of land to indigenous people, while also promoting the idea that farmers should be allowed to exercise ownership and control over the land they cultivate, regardless of ownership. According to the movement, the rights to use and manage lands, territories, water, seeds, livestock and biodiversity should be in the hands of those who produce food and not of the corporate sector or central governments. Via Campesina believes that food and agricultural production should be taken out of the WTO and other international trade agreements, so that countries and peoples from the
South can regain control over their domestic markets and rebuild their local production capabilities, i.e. start feeding themselves instead of global export markets. Shifting to Agroecology Proponents of agroecology, such as Miguel Altieri, professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and Olivier de Schutter, UN Rapporteur for the Right to Food, believe that it is possible to change farming practices more profoundly. Agroecology can be described as a science, a movement and a practise combined. The basic philosophy is that the agroecosystem should work like the local ecosystem thus enhancing biodiversity and the nutrient cycle, and minimising dependence on high agrochemical and energy inputs. Hence there is no uniform methodology involved. Agroecology goes beyond the use of alternative practices, such as organic farming or permaculture, and seeks the best way to farm the land taking the four system properties of agroecosystems into account: productivity, stability, sustainability and equitability. Methods are sciencebased, which can be enhanced by traditional and practical knowledge. De Schutter sees it as a way of using the resources of nature more efficiently, and reducing agriculture´s dependency on depleting fossil fuels. “Agroecology needs to be scaled up because it is the only way to have sustainable food systems and at some point there will be no choice, so we
have to plan for this” . A pre-requisite would be putting policies in place that favour the organisation of farmers and a bottomup approach. Essential steps are the education of farmers and the promotion of information sharing amongst them, as agroecological farming is very knowledge intensive and location specific. Altieri sees agroecology as the solution to hunger and food-security. His take on scale is that we should look not at the total area used to farm, but rather the number of farmers, and their productivity per hectare, which he claims can be enhanced. Research shows that small farms can be more productive than large farms if total output is considered rather than the yield from a single crop. As an example, Altieri points to Cuba, where farmers are able to achieve efficiencies that are 10 to 20 times higher than the average efficiency of industrial agriculture . Agroecology systems are not only more efficient, they are also very biodiverse and resilient. Various climate studies have concluded that monocultures would be more vulnerable than agroecological systems to the impacts of climate change and would be able to resist better and recover faster precisely because of their biological diversity. Agroecology can thus be economically viable while simultaneously improving the livelihoods of people in developing countries, thus addressing the food sovereignty issue by creating the conditions for people to live off the
land again. Studies by the World Bank and FAO have shown that investment in small-scale agriculture has better potential than any non-agricultural sector to pull people out of poverty and feed populations. The report by the Panel on Agricultural Knowledge (IAASTD, which is regarded by many as ‘the’ authority on farming) also heralds small-scale, agroecological farming as the way forward, through a new interdisciplinary, holistic and system-based approach that welcomes traditional and local knowledge . Although agroecology seems to be a promising alternative practice to industrial farming, because it addresses all the underlying issues, implementing it will not be easy. There is no uniform approach, which means that capacity building and knowledge transfer is more intensive and challenging, requiring cooperation instead of competition, and the solving of a myriad of national and international legal obstacles (land reform, trade agreements on agriculture that limit a country’s options for farming, intellectual property regimes that privatise the use of natural resources, excessively restrictive food regulation, etc.). Scientists and farmers will need to work together to develop and test agroecological techniques tailored to local circumstances, requiring
a redirection of resources from supporting industrial practices to supporting agroecological farming, thus requiring political support. To attract people back to the land and create a wider base of food producers, both in the South and the North, we need the political support to create the right conditions. Not just access to land, but access to public services like health and education outside of the urbanised centres. Being a farmer should not have to mean being poor and uneducated. Farmers should receive the recognition and support they deserve as producers of our food and guardians of our agroecosystems.
A recently released UNCTAD report advocates a two-track approach: drastically reforming existing industrial agriculture while shifting the focus to small-scale, agro-ecological food production, in what they call an “ecological intensification” approach. The biggest challenge will be to find the political support to transform the current food system, taking into account the current balance of economic power and the legal challenges to agrarian reform. Nevertheless, to sustainably feed the world, we may not have any other option.
Seeing agroecology through as the new paradigm means reforming the whole current food production system. The main obstacle to this shift may be political will, not scientific or technical expertise. However, research suggests that agroecology can feed 10 billion people, if the right conditions are present. How to move forward We have concluded that feeding over 9 billion people in 2050 in a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable manner is theoretically possible. We have the knowledge and tools to achieve this and we have enough options to increase efficiency in the system.
FOOD IN THE NEWS
THE NEWS World’s First Lab-Grown Burger Is Eaten. The world’s first lab-grown burger has been cooked and eaten at a news conference in London. Scientists took cells from a cow and, at an institute in the Netherlands, turned them into strips of muscle that they combined to make a patty. One food expert said it was “close to meat, but not that juicy” and another said it tasted like a real burger. Researchers say the technology could be a sustainable way of meeting what they say is a growing demand for meat. The burger was cooked by chef Richard McGeown, from Cornwall, and tasted by food critics Hanni Ruetzler and Josh Schonwald. The world’s population is continuing to increase and an ever greater proportion want to eat meat. To meet that demand farmers will need to use more energy, water and land - and the consequent increase in greenhouse gas emission will be substantial. The plan for lab-grown burgers has won support from some animal welfare and vegetarian groups, who feel it addresses their concerns about animal suffering. But critics say technological fixes, whether it is lab-grown meat or GM crops address the symptoms rather than the causes of world hunger. What is needed, they say, are policies that enable more farmers to produce more food more efficiently and to distribute it more equitably. (Source: BBC. To read the full article, click HERE)
Why Mondays Should Be Meatless Ottawa-based political pundit Canadian Stephen Hampton and Humane Society International campaigner Sayara Turston, argue the case for meat-free Mondays. Oprah champions it. Bill Clinton lives it. The New York Times has said that it “can have positive effects on the environment, on our personal health and on world hunger.” Meatless Monday is a global initiative that highlights the enormous benefit — for us, for animals and for the planet — of going meat-free just one day a week. Started at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Meatless Monday now has supporters all over the world. The City of Vancouver recently
endorsed the meat-free day, and Israeli hospitals are the latest to adopt the more-plants approach to eating. In the U.S., schools from New York City to Los Angeles are leaving meat off the menu on Mondays, giving students the chance to try new dishes and get the week off to a healthy start. (Source: The Toronto Star. To read the full article, click HERE)
The average American family of four ends up throwing away an equivalent of up to $2,275 annually in food; Food waste is the single largest component of solid waste in US landfills; Just a 15 percent reduction in losses in the US food supply would save enough food to feed 25 million Americans annually.
Food Waste Could Be A Thing Of The Past Says Leading U.S. Agency
guilty, a lot of that food gets wasted long before it makes it to their plates.
Discarded food is one of society’s most pervasive problems, and was recently reported to be the leading cause of “green guilt.” While consumers may feel
Among the NRDC paper’s key findings:
A paper by Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) adeptly frames the increasingly popular topic and summarises the opportunities to reduce wasted food – and money – along its journey from farm to fork to landfill.
Americans trash 40 percent of our food supply every year, valued at about $165 billion;
“As a country, we’re essentially tossing every other piece of food that crosses our path – that’s money and precious resources down the drain,” says Dana Gunders, NRDC project scientist and the issue paper’s author. “With the price of food continuing to grow, and drought jeopardising farmers nationwide, now is the time to embrace all the tremendous untapped opportunities to get more out of our food system.” NRDC isn’t the only group making this observation. In a recent report identifying opportunities in the area of resource productivity, the consulting firm McKinsey & Company ranked food waste as number 3 out of 130 areas. (Source: Grace Communications Foundation. To read the full article, click HERE)
Sustainable Livestock Production Is Possible Consumers are increasingly demanding higher standards for how their meat is sourced, with animal welfare and the impact on the environment factoring in many purchases. Unfortunately, many widely-used livestock production methods are currently unsustainable.
and ethically-sourced food, including production without negative impacts on animal welfare, the environment and the livelihood of poor producers. Silvopastoral systems address all of these concerns with the added benefit of increased production in the long term.”
However, new research out today from the University of Cambridge has identified what may be the future of sustainable livestock production: silvopastoral systems which include shrubs and trees with edible leaves or fruits as well as herbage.
Current cattle production mostly occurs on cleared pastures with only herbaceous plants, such as grasses, grown as food for the cows. The effects on the local environment include the removal of trees and shrubs as well as the increased use of herbicides, all of which result in a dramatic decrease in biodiversity. Additionally, there is also contamination of soil and waterways by agricultural chemicals as well as carbon costs because of vehicles and artificial
Professor Donald Broom, from the University of Cambridge, who led the research said: “Consumers are now demanding more sustainable
fertiliser necessary to maintain the pasture.
The researchers advocate that using a diverse group of edible plants such as that in a silvopastural landscape promotes healthy soil with better water retention (and less runoff), encourages predators of harmful animals, minimizes greenhouse gas emissions, improves job satisfaction for farm workers, reduces injury and stress in animals, improves welfare and encourages biodiversity using native shrubs and trees. (Source: Science Daily. To read the full article, click: HERE)
FOOD IN THE NEWS
THE NEWS Scientists unite to provide basis for food security. NETHERLANDS - Scientists investigating world food issues should unite to provide a sound scientific basis for food security policies. “The way climate scientists have organised themselves in the IPCC, but then a lighter version.” The idea arose during the First International Conference on Global Food Security in Noordwijkerhout, organised by Wageningen UR (University & Research centre) and publisher Elsevier.
Food waste harms climate, water, land and Biodiversity – new United Nations Report Direct economic costs of $750 billion annually – better policies required, and “success stories” need to be scaled up and replicated The waste of a staggering 1.3 billion tonnes of food per year is not only causing major economic losses but also wreaking significant harm on the natural resources that humanity relies upon to feed itself, says a new FAO report (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations).
Positive energy It shows how much positive energy there was at the conference that highlighted a wide variety of research disciplines working on food security issues. “I’ve received many positive responses from conference-goers”, said Martin van Ittersum , Professor Plant Production Systems at Wageningen University. Together with his colleague, Professor Ken Giller, he initiated this four-day conference, which was held from 29 September to 2 October 2013 in Noordwijkerhout.
Food Wastage Footprint: Impacts on Natural Resources is the first study to analyse the impacts of global food wastage from an environmental perspective, looking specifically at its consequences for the climate, water and land use, and biodiversity. Among its key findings: Each year, food that is produced but not eaten guzzles up a volume of water equivalent to the annual flow of Russia’s Volga River and is responsible for adding 3.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases to the planet’s atmosphere. And beyond its environmental impacts, the direct economic consequences to producers of food wastage (excluding fish and seafood) run to the tune of $750 billion annually, FAO’s report estimates. “All of us - farmers and fishers; food processors and supermarkets; local and national governments; individual consumers -- must make changes at every link of the human food chain to
Professor Van Ittersum said: “Usually, conferences bring scientists together from the same discipline. Ken and I wanted to unite researchers from all disciplines involved in food security. As a result, most people that visited the conference were unknown to me. That is good. It shakes things up. You meet new people, hear refreshing ideas and create new networks.” (Source: ThePoultrySite News Desk. To read the full article, click HERE)
prevent food wastage from happening in the first place, and re-use or recycle it when we can’t,” said FAO DirectorGeneral José Graziano da Silva. “We simply cannot allow one-third of all the food we produce to go to waste or be lost because of inappropriate practices, when 870 million people go hungry every day,” he added. (Source: The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). To read the full article, click HERE)
Can cook, am Cooking App matches people pining for home cooked food with local budding chefs who have leftovers to sell. (Source: Daily Mail, UK) Craving a nice, fresh home-cooked meal but too lazy to whip one up yourself? A new website and app that connects home cooks to hungry people in the same area thinks it has the answer. Cookisto allows amateur chefs to sell their food to hungry, time-poor people living nearby.
‘The public is getting accustomed to using collaborative marketplaces,’ says Nikki Finnemore, Cookisto’s UK marketing director. ‘And you can easily see that a lot of the home chefs who have signed up are legitimate - they run supper clubs or have their own YouTube channels, or a food blog.’ On the Athens site, you can purchase delights such as boeuf bourguignon and beetroot gnocchi in orange and sage sauce.
cook to create a particular meal, whether it’s a Malaysian curry or canapes for a cocktail party. Users can then rate cooks and meals, leading to some chefs becoming pretty in-demand. Prices on the London version will be higher than the Greek version, with meals on sale for around £8. For more information, click here.
The site is also set to launch a bespoke service where you can get your favourite
Launching in the UK this month, Cookisto is already a popular concept in Athens, Greece, where over 12,000 people have signed up to purchase leftover meals for as little as £3 per portion. The site, which takes a 15 per cent cut from the cook’s earnings, is ideal for people looking to earn a little extra cash from leftover meals, as well as budding chefs who want to share their culinary skills. Anyone can join, as long as chefs sign up to the terms and conditions relating to UK health and safety standards.
Microalgae – the food of the future The most abundant biological resource on earth, marine microalgae, has not previously been used directly in food production. Researchers at Uni Research are hoping to change that through the MIRACLES research project. (Source: Uni News.) According to the United Nations, increased aquaculture production and exploitation of new marine resources are the main basis for food production in the future. Norway produces salmon corresponding to roughly 37 million dinner-sized portions each day, and demand is increasing annually. However, the growing demand for increased production also poses a major challenge for the aquaculture industry, partly because further growth is restricted by the supply of the raw materials used to produce fish feed.
Fish oil that is rich in omega-3 is a key ingredient in today’s feed, but the global supply of fish oil is limited to one million tons per year. Most of the fish oil used in fish feed comes from herring fished off the coast of Peru and Chile. The combination of declining fish stocks, reduced annual quotas and high demand has resulted in record-high prices in recent years. It is essential for both the growth of the industry and environmental sustainability that new resources are found, preferably from further down the food chain. Right at the bottom of the food chain, microalgae are the “marine rainforest” – they convert carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into valuable biomass by means of photosynthesis. Also called phytoplankton, microalgae can grow up to 50 times faster than land plants. Indeed one gram of microalgae can grow to several tons in only 10 days.
With such a high productivity rate, this resource therefore offers a huge potential for intensive production of food or animal feed in the future. Researchers at Uni Research are now joining forces with 25 European partners to work on the EU-funded project MIRACLES over the next 5 years. The project aims to develop new concrete value chains for value creation using microalgae. The research partners will collaborate with some of the world’s largest companies in the food, dietary supplements and pharmaceuticals industries to determine how microalgae can best be produced and used to develop new products. For more information, click here
FOOD IN THE NEWS
THE NEWS Now This Is Natural Food Future of Farming: Mark Bittman speaks to Wes Jackson from The Land Institute, who predicted that a prairie-like system capable of providing food for humans would be viable within 100 years. (Source: New York Times.) A few weeks ago at the annual Prairie Festival in Salina, Kansas — a celebration, essentially, of true sustainability — I sat down with Wes Jackson to drink rich beer and eat delicious, chewy bread made from the perennial grain Kernza. The Kernza we ate was cultivated at the Land Institute, the festival’s sponsor and the organization Jackson founded here 37 years ago. At 77, Jackson is a big man with big ideas. Clearly he was back then as well, when he became determined to change the face of agriculture from being dependent upon annual monoculture (that is, planting a new crop of a single plant each year) to one that includes perennial polyculture, with fields containing varieties of mutually complementary species, planted once, harvested seasonally but remaining in place for years. Jackson has a biblical way of speaking: “The plow has destroyed more options for future generations than the sword,” he says. “But soil is more important than oil, and just as nonrenewable.” Soil loss is one of the biggest hidden costs of industrial agriculture — and it’s created at literally a glacial pace, maybe a quarter-inch per century. The increasingly popular no-till style of agriculture reduces soil loss but increases the need for herbicides. It’s a short-term solution, requiring that we poison the soil to save it. Annual monoculture like that practised in the Midwestern Corn Belt is one culprit. It produces the vast majority of our food, and much of that food — perhaps 70 percent of our calories — is from PAGE 22
grasses, which produce edible seeds, or cereals. For 10,000 years we’ve plowed the soil, planted in spring and harvested in fall, one crop at a time. In an essay he published 26 years ago, called “The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race,” Jared Diamond theorised that this was essentially our downfall: by losing our hunter-gatherer roots and becoming dependent on agriculture, we made it possible for the human population to expand but paid the price in the often malnourishing, environmentally damaging system we have today. That’s fascinating, and irreversible; barring a catastrophe that drastically reduces the human population, we’ll rely on agriculture for the foreseeable future. But if we look to the kind of systems Jackson talks about, we can markedly reduce the damage. “We don’t have to slay Goliath with a pebble,” he says of industrial agriculture. “We just have to quit using so much fertiliser and so many pesticides to shrink him to manageable proportions.” For more information, click here.
No Scientific Consensus on Safety of Genetically Modified Organisms There is no scientific consensus on the safety of genetically-modified foods and crops, according to a statement released by an international group of more than 90 scientists, academics and physicians. (Source: Independent Science News) The statement comes in response to recent claims from the GM industry and some scientists, journalists, and commentators that there is a “scientific consensus” that GM foods and crops were generally found safe for human
and animal health and the environment. The statement calls these claims “misleading”, adding, “this claimed consensus on GMO safety does not exist.” “Such claims may place human and environmental health at undue risk and create an atmosphere of complacency,” states Dr. Angelika Hilbeck, chairperson of the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER) and one of the signatories. “The ENSSER statement draws attention to the diversity of opinion over GMOs in the scientific community and the often contradictory or inconclusive findings of studies on GMO safety. These include toxic effects on laboratory animals fed GM foods, increased pesticide use from GM crop cultivation, and the unexpected impacts of Bt insecticidal crops on beneficial and non-target organisms,” Dr Hilbeck continues. In spite of this nuanced and complex picture, a group of like-minded people makes sweeping claims that GM crops and foods are safe. In reality, many unanswered questions remain and in some cases there is serious cause for concern. For more information, click here.
â€œBut soil is more important than oil, and just as nonrenewable.â€?
Sustainable agriculture: The Indian perspective Abhay Goghari looks at the important role of small-hold farmers in India and why it is so important for the country, and the world, to support their endeavours India is a predominantly agrarian society. Despite the country’s 2-decades old reformist practices and the push for urbanisation and modernisation, over 55% of its workforce is still employed in agriculture and rural sectors. The country’s agricultural ‘heritage’ is rich and diverse – it hosts as many as fourteen different agri-climatic zones which produce a variety of food grains, pulses, cash crops, fruits and vegetables. A typicality of Indian agriculture is that over 75% of its farmers own less than 2-acre plots. The key to sustainable agriculture lies in enhancing the production and productivity of these marginal landholdings. Ironically, this landholding pattern is highly unlikely to change for the better, while it stands every chance for a change for the worse. For example, two neighbouring farmers are not likely to ever merge their operations and form a single plot of four or five acres, but a single plot of two acres is almost certainly likely to get divided further as generations change and the number of hereditary claimants to the land increase. Apart from this inevitable division of land, the requirement for urbanisation and industrialisation also erode the aggregate agricultural landmass in India. Against this backdrop, the onus of increasing the productivity of these small farms falls on initiatives hinged
to grass-roots innovation, technological interventions, modernisation and mechanisation, better infrastructure and market linkages, and more. Towards this end, the full spectrum of stakeholders including the farmers, policy makers, opinion builders, pressure groups, ancillary and peripheral industries, etc. must strive to device and implement measures which are empathetic, sympathetic and strategic in nature. A farmer, especially a marginal farmer, is a very hard working person anywhere in the world. He does not need dole-outs but favorable circumstances in which his labour of love can translate into handsome yields. In the Indian context, the following initiatives will prove to be effective. Increasing the per-unit efficiency of resources has to dominate all efforts. Be it land or water, getting more out of the same amount of resources is imperative for sustainable Indian agriculture. This sector consumes almost 70% of the world’s available fresh water, which makes it the largest consumer of this resource. Increasing the effectiveness of every drop of water in this sector is called for not only in India, but at a global level. ‘Water empowerment’ should be the new mantra in agriculture. Micro irrigation technology, especially drip and
sprinkler watering methods have a big role to play in the areas of food and water security, which are inseparable. Not only do these methods reduce the water consumption in agriculture by over 50%, but increases yield up-to 250% or even more. Additionally, since these methods deposit water only in the plant root zone where it is required and not the entire farm, they offer valuable spin-off benefits like soil fertility conservation, improved quality disease resistant crop, less weeding, shorter crop life-cycles, etc.
dependence on farm income for sustenance. Better inputs at various stages of crop life cycles, like seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, etc. can be viewed as an integrated part of the modernisation drive. The role of IT and ICT in sustainable agriculture is becoming vital in the Indian context. Since the country has over 20 mainstream mother tongues, regional services can play both a preventive and proactive role in enhancing farm productivity. Daily weather forecasts through SMS service in regional languages and release of daily satellite pictures on MMS are already gaining popularity. Improved infrastructure, especially postharvest storages and better market linkages are also now a part of any strategy aimed at long term welfare of Indian agriculture.
A farmer, especially a marginal farmer is a very hard working person anywhere in the world
Offering localised, custom solutions to smallholder farmers should be another thrust area. Cluster farming practice is being increasingly propagated as an ideal solution for farming communities distributed in various agricultural zones in India. Farm mechanisation is a promising prospect too. It will enhance and accelerate almost all farming processes – right from pre-sowing to the post-harvest stages. From an economic perspective, it will unlock manpower from the farms and deploy it to other occupations which will increase aggregate family incomes and reduce
Any change in India’s agricultural GDP has an inevitable and significant impact on the country’s cumulative GDP. A single digit drop or increase can swing the country’s fortunes either way. This is a pointer that for any inclusive and sustainable growth in India, agriculture must be considered at par with industry. At the heart of Indian agriculture is the marginal farmer, so it is he who should be considered the driver of India’s next economic boom. The Indian marginal farmer is no less important than an industrial entrepreneur, and should be awarded his due place in growth strategy and planning.
SUSTAINABLE FOOD MARKETING
“Will Nobody Buy My Beautiful Organic Veggies…” Isolde Schram wonders why it is so difficult to convert sustainably produced food fanciers into actual consumers. Despite the steady growth in the production and popularity of ‘sustainable food’, marketers are still struggling with a problem known as ‘the green gap’. The gap between how ‘green’ we think or say we are, and how environmentally (or socially) careful our actions actually are.
introductions fail, or do not perform as well as anticipated. Because, it would seem, as soon as consumers turn into shoppers, a new set of rules and values seem to determine their behaviour.
Indeed, one of the most-heard frustrations of marketers is that when it comes to putting their money where their mouths are, consumers aren’t actually that willing to pay extra for sustainable food, and, even more surprisingly perhaps, sometimes value it less than regular products.
It is clear that sustainability affects consumer preferences. But not always in a positive way or as it was intended.
The result being that many wellintentioned sustainable product
The sustainability liability
Research demonstrates that in product categories where gentleness is valued, sustainability enhances preference for the product. While in product categories where strength is valued, sustainability can have a
negative effect on product preference (1). Sustainability can also have an effect on how taste is perceived. When the Dutch chocolate brand Verkade decided to switch to 100% fair trade chocolate for their chocolate bars, they were in for a surprise. Before the switch, the new product was carefully tested in blind tests and rated positively. The introduction also provided the company with a lot of positive free publicity. But as soon as the ‘fair trade bars’ entered the stores, their loyal customers called in, telling them that they disliked the taste of the new fair trade product. An unexpected and unwanted result of the prominent fair trade logo on the packaging. Coffee is another category where sustainability messages can have a negative effect if they aren’t carefully orchestrated. Apart from the ‘green consumer segment’, research constantly shows that consumers can respond negatively to ‘fair trade’ and, to a smaller extent, to environmental messages. It seems that when consumers are enjoying their cup of coffee, the last thing they want to be confronted with is all the ‘misery in the world’. A way around this sustainability
liability is to emphasise what’s in it for the individual consumer or their inner circle, instead of focusing on what’s in it for society as a whole. In the case of food, a focus on ‘healthier, tastier and fresher’ rather than ‘better for the environment’ seems to pay dividends. Restaurants have long understood this, hence their tendency to try and sell their dishes to us in an almost poetic way. What’s in it for me? To sell products to the masses, marketers focus on self-interest (what’s in it for me) with sustainability as the proof point instead of the promise. Building on the ‘feel good’ factor It would seem that the key to successfully selling sustainable products to the masses is not trying to sell sustainability but to sell a better product. A conclusion which might suggest that with so much ‘what’s in it for me’ hanging around, consumers will never have an interest in ethical or socially conscious products. But fortunately that’s not the whole story. For example, besides functional benefits like taste and freshness, emotional benefits also play a role. This is where ‘the feel good’ factor comes in. And, very importantly, the social context in which the product is purchased or consumed. A point best illustrated perhaps by imagining a conversation between two friends over lunch. “Absolutely loving this salad
sister. Tell me where you got these divine red peppers, or I’m afraid I’m going to have to kill you.” - “Yes they are rather special aren’t they. From an organic farm just a few miles away as it happens. I bought them in that new grocery store we just passed. And now that I’ve told you my secret, I’m afraid it is you who must die.” (Throws head back and laughs the laugh of the truly insane.) The perception of taste and freshness are supported by the origin of the food (organic and local). The ‘feel good factor’ is triggered by emotional aspects and individual and social norms such as: ‘supporting local entrepreneurs’, ‘buying ethical food’, or ‘only the best for my friend’. Together they form compelling reasons to purchase the organic peppers. Both for the functional aspects (taste, freshness) and the emotional ‘feel good’ factor. The opposite of ‘feel good’ is the guilt factor. Often used by environmental organisations and animal welfare groups to pressure people to take action. However just telling people to buy green or ethical products, doesn’t seem to work all that well for everyone. Contrary to what one might think, consumers respond better to pushy requests in domains they view as important, but they need more suggestive appeals in scenarios in which they lack initial conviction(2). This possibly explains why the ‘go green’ or ‘eat healthy’ message mostly works for people who are already displaying the desired behaviour. Appealing to ‘guilt’ in subjects
that are of importance to a target audience requires deep understanding not only of their needs but also of their set of values and norms. A category of food where you can see this in its ‘purest’ form is baby food. Across the world there are many local initiatives, often by mothers, that market their home cooked organic baby food, tapping into the emotional need and social norm of mothers to do what’s best for their child. This specific category of healthy food does lead to a dilemma for regular baby food brands. Should they do nothing, ‘upgrade’ their product, or also offer an organic variety? And if they introduce an organic line, what does it say about their regular products? For marketers, sustainability adds extra challenges in successfully bringing their innovations to the market. More than ever it requires sophisticated understanding of needs and values and segmentation of consumer groups in targeting them with the right message. (1) The sustainability liability; M Luchs, Journal of Marketing, September 2010. (2) (*Go Green! Should Environmental Messages Be So Assertive? Journal of marketing January 2012, Grinstein)
Isolde Schram is Managing consultant at VODW and known as a speaker and writer on strategy, innovation and sustainability. Isolde manages a variety of business innovation projects for large international companies, both greenfield and within existing businesses across Europe, Latin America and Asia.
A Buzz in the Air:
What to do about the pollinator decline phenomenonâ€Ś By Robin Whitlock
We all love to hate a bee or wasp when it comes buzzing round our summer outdoor dining table or picnicking spot, somewhat hypocritically perhaps if part of our meal includes honey either directly or as an ingredient. However, it is only in recent years that the extent of our myopia regarding the importance of the honey bee (Apis mellifera) has become apparent, with the realisation that this often annoying insect is actually vital to the richness and productive quantity of our diets. Hannah Nordhaus wrote in her 2011 book The Beekeeper’s Lament that the bee is the “glue that holds our agricultural system together.” Now, it seems, largely because of the way in which we have tended to ignore the pollination services that honeybees and other animal pollinators, particularly insects, provide, those systems may very well be about to become unstuck, with enormous implications for national diets all over the world.
(2001) and Ghazoul (2005) found that only a few of the main caloric inputs so vital to our diets originate from staple food crops that are not dependent on pollinators or from animals that are themselves fed on those same staple food crops. This indicates, rather bluntly, that most of the food we eat is indeed dependent on pollinators. All of a sudden, the decline of the pestilential bee buzzing round our picnic table has
themselves on the decline according to a phenomenon first identified in 2006 in the USA when it was termed ‘Colony Collapse Disorder’ (CCD), subsequently also being noticed by beekeepers in Spain, Portugal, Belgium, France, The Netherlands and Italy during 2007. Germany and Switzerland have suffered lesser incidences of CCD but the Northern Ireland Assembly has reported declines greater than 50 percent.
We have basically taken our eye off the ball on this one, and quite seriously so.
The extent of the problem has been exposed by repeated studies investigating the issue. One of the most useful of these that I have encountered recently is the review of existing studies conducted for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in 2006 and published in Proceedings of the Royal Society in 2007. This extensive survey is thorough in its investigation and therefore extremely detailed, which can make for difficult reading for those not habitually drawn to reading scientific studies. However, the basis of its conclusion is that without the services of pollinators, particularly insects, global diets all over the world are severely impacted. Two studies in particular examined by the review, conducted by Richards
become a subject of overwhelming concern, particularly given that many of the crops that are affected by the pollinator decline are fruit crops that provide important macro- and micronutrients that are essential to a healthy diet. Without the pollination services provided by bees and other insects, staple foods from coffee to numerous varieties of fruit, seeds and nuts, decline by more than 90 percent, the RSPB review finds. Furthermore, the only viable solution to the decline is the management by farmers of hived bee populations, a method that is cheap, convenient but not all that efficient. Worse, managed bee populations are
Primarily the culprits with regard to domestic been populations seem to be pests such as parasitic mites, the small hive beetle (Aethina tumida) and the microsporidian parasite (Nosema ceranae), but the ageing of beekeeper populations in Europe and North America and declining market prices for beekeeping services has acted to exacerbate the problem. The fact that the studies that have been conducted on this issue are often obsolete means that our knowledge of the way in which pollinators perform their vital services to agriculture is urgently in need of updating. However, it is now fairly obvious that for centuries the value of pollinators with regard to the maintenance of our food supplies has been overlooked. While there is at least a community of people, beekeepers, who have
around 200,000 hectares, as part of an ‘urgent review’ of measures intended to halt the decline of pollinators. A fundamental part of the review will be increased research to further investigate the causes of pollinator decline and what can be done about it. Led by Minister Lord de Mauley, the government’s plan has come under Alongside the parasitic mites, another criticism by Friends of the Earth whose major issue is monoculture commodity Andy Atkins commented that the plan crop production, for example huge must be put into action by Spring 2014 fields of wheat and grain which when the bees come out of hibernation. produce little in the way of pollen for Meanwhile the environmental foraging bees, habitat Plantlife has launched destruction and pesticides. A positive sign in this respect is the recent charity a campaign to persuade local authorities all over the promise by the UK government in June to country to stop cutting down With regard to the large swathes of wildflowers latter, the big finger has support farmers in the planting of drawing attention to the been pointed firmly at fact that wildflowers have neonicotinoids such as wildflower meadows themselves declined in Britain thiamethoxam, clothianidin by 98 percent since 1930. and imidacloprid which the ban was swiftly implemented at are three of the most widely used It seems therefore that we have, as the end of April 2013 and will remain pesticides in the world. These a society, now started to wake up in force for the next two years. pesticides are often used as seed to an issue that has been lurking in coatings and can be distributed into the shadows for many years, noticed While this may be a cause for the atmosphere via the seed drilling only by environmentalists and a small celebration, the problem may not be process through inclusion in particulate number of scientists whose shouts over yet. Some scientists maintain that matter thrown into the air by drilling have previously been largely ignored. although neonicotinoids are indeed a machinery. The resulting effects have It may be that this episode is therefore major factor, they aren’t the only one, been observed by beekeepers and just the stimulus we need to encourage and that the real cause of pollinator the link between colony deaths and us to move away from intensive, decline is a combination of factors of exposure to these pesticides has monocultural, factory-farmed which neonicotinoids forms only a part. been demonstrated by experimental agriculture systems and away from A positive sign in this respect is the investigation, provoking a worldwide the industrialisation of the landscape, recent promise by the UK government call to ban neonicotinoids or at least towards something infinitely more in June to support farmers in the some reform of the manner in which sustainable and holistic, and probably a planting of wildflower meadows, they are delivered. Further studies lot more interesting as well. with a projected increase in these of have shown that these substances consistently occupied their time with carefully watching over domestic bees, no-one, as Brian Walsh pointed out in an article for Time magazine in early August, has been doing the same for wild bees. This is something that needs urgent and swift attention.
adversely affect the bees’ sense of direction and thus their ability to both forage and return to the hive after foraging. This has now so alarmed the European Union (EU) that earlier this year they announced plans to ban neonicotinoids, much to the dismay of the chemical companies that produce them but a decision widely celebrated by environmentalists. And you can see why. Bees contribute over €22 billion to the European economy as well as being vital to agriculture. In the event,
A worldwide connected service
MY TOP 10
MY TOP 10 COOKERY BOOKS
Lest we forget, there’s so much more to food than just its nutritional value. We meet at our dinner tables to share dishes with our families, our friends and our loved ones. To socialise, discuss, enjoy, impress and indulge. While cookery is essentially about how to process ingredients and display the results, beyond that, it is (increasingly) about where the ingredients are from, how they were grown and how best we should cook them to fully appreciate their often unique flavours. The joy of cooking. This selection of cookery books, lovingly put together for us by our guest editor’s wife, Karin Kramer, are a great illustration of this complex and wonderful pastime. Bon apetit!
1. “Plenty” by Yotam Ottolenghi A wonderful mix of veggie ingredients and tastes. One for the tastebuds.
2. “Vegeterranian” by Alberto Musacchio & Malu Simoes Authentic Italian vegetarian recipes that look so beautiful you’ll find yourself licking your fingers as you read them.
3. “Ma Cuisine” by Door Escoiffier The French cookery bible. A must-have for all passionate cooks.
4. “Curry Fast and Easy” by Madhur Jaffrey The undisputed queen of Indian food; 175 quick and simple curry recipes.
5. “Happy Days with the Naked Chef” by Jamie Oliver Does Jamie still need recomendations?
9. “Beer-Can Chicken and 74 Other Offbeat Recipes for the Grill” Essential bookshelf
6. “Leith’s Latin American Cooking” by Valeria Vieira Sisti From the Latin-American part of our family, a beautiful combination of traditional and modern cooking.
material for every BBQ addict!
10. “Dedikkevandam” by Johannes van Dam A joy to read for its humour, knowledge and
7. “River Cafe Kookboek Green” by Rose Grey and Ruth Rogers
Inspired cooking for all the seasons!
8. “Chez Panisse Café Cookbook” by Alice Waters Veggie recepies, all great.
THE CROWD CROWDFUNDING ROUND UP Solar crowdfunding site ‘Mosaic’ launches largest project to Date Mosaic, an online crowdfunding platform that connects investors to high-quality solar projects, just released its largest solar project to date with $698,775 available for investment, reports J.D. Alois at crowdfundinsider.com. The project is the second in the Golden State Series, a $100M series of solar investments available to residents of California. The first project in the series, a $152,700 project on a charity in San Diego, sold out in less than six hours.
Mosaic’s newest investment offering is a 487 kW solar project located on the roof of the Wildwoods Convention Center. Wildwoods has hosted over a million visitors since it first opened in 2002 and is within a day’s drive of one-third of America’s population. Their project provides 24% of the convention centre’s electricity and reduces the facility’s CO2 emissions by 179 tons annually, equating to 387,500 vehicle miles not travelled. “We want to give people the opportunity to do good and do well at the same time,” said Mosaic CEO and Founder Dan Rosen. “Investing in real, tangible solar projects that generate electricity is a great way to do that.” In January, Mosaic launched its first return on investment solar projects to the public, selling out
all three in less than 24 hours with over $300,000 invested. Since then, Mosaic has partnered with Standard & Poor’s, DuPont and Distributed Sun, among others, as part of the truSolar working group to standardise risk assessment and develop a score — similar to a credit rating — for each solar project. Source: crowdfundinsider.com, J.D. Alois; for more information, click here.
Space Solar Power: Could crowdfunding change the world? What if crowdfunding could effectuate the change necessary to overhaul the way we create and consume energy? What if the public chose to support and partially fund large-scale, transformative projects aimed at helping to solve the world’s biggest problems? Could we align investor interests with this type of collective benefit? One researcher in the United States that hopes to take solar power to new heights.
John C. Mankins is President of Artemis Innovation Management Solutions LLC. He is an “internationally recognised leader in space systems and technology innovation, and as a highly effective manager of large-scale technology R&D programmes.” Mankins also spent 25 years at NASA and CalTech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Among his many accomplishments while at NASA: he was the lead for critical studies of Space Solar Power (SSP).
concept, a huge opportunity and – for most – an absolutely unimaginable engineering feat. Despite the challenges, John C. Mankins believes the first stages of SSP deployment could happen within the decade. Source: crowdfundinsider.com, Charles Luzar; for more information, click here
What is SSP? In a nutshell, the idea is simple: put solar collectors in space and get the energy back down to Earth. Why is this so advantageous over terrestrial solar? Because in space, the sun is always out. Also, sunlight in space isn’t subject to our atmosphere or weather. At once SSP is both an intriguing
Via Oneplanetcrowd.nl entrepreneurs can finance the development of their innovative products and services with 'crowdfunding'. Projects of Oneplanetcrowd take care of a better planet, they are environmentally friendly and have a social and societal impact. Oneplanetcrowd is the largest sustainable crowdfundingplatform of the Netherlands. PAGE 37
Invest and Enjoy!
THE CROWD You, too, can be a startup millionaire (or failure) with SEC’s proposed crowdfunding rules “Soon, common folk like you and me will be able to invest in the startup (or small business) next door. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last month voted unanimously to propose regulations for equity crowdfunding, which will enable unaccredited U.S. investors to invest in startups and small businesses. The long-overdue rules, which the JOBS Act called for by no later than January 2013, will likely undergo a lengthy comment period before they go into effect. The SEC is seeking input on 295 questions, according to SEC commissioner Dan Gallagher. The full set of rules is a bureaucratic 585 pages. Crowdfunding industry experts are still digesting the various regulations and their ramifications, but their initial reaction is largely positive. The rules “seem like they’re sticking very closely to the intent of the [JOBS Act],” said Sherwood Neiss, a principal at consulting firm Crowdfund Capital Advisors, referring to the legislation that legalised equity crowdfunding when it was signed into law April 2012. “I feel optimistic that the rules won’t be burdensome for small businesses.” While critics of the JOBS Act have largely focused on the potential for fraud, very few startups defraud their investors, but most do end up failing for legitimate reasons. Thankfully, the SEC rules protect new investors from losing more than $5,000 a year as a result of their own inexperience. “It’s important to note that the SEC is taking a calculated approach to protect these new investors, in part by dramatically limiting how much they can invest by capping annual investment at around $2,000 to $5,000 PAGE 38
per year,” said Chance Barnett, CEO of Crowdfunder, a crowdfunding platform that currently offers equity crowdfunding to accredited investors. Indiegogo CEO Slava Rubin agrees that the proposed rules adequately protect investors — though like the aforementioned experts, Rubin and his company stand to benefit from the new regulations. “I think the SEC did a good job balancing investor protection and allowing innovation to keep moving forward,” Rubin told VentureBeat. “I think there’s a lot of nuance and interpretation that still has to happen, though, which is why the comment and feedback period will be very important.” Asked if Indiegogo will eventually offer crowdfunding for equity, Rubin offered a tacit yes. “We’re definitely interested, definitely moving forward,” he said, noting that he’s wanted to allow Indiegogo users to profit from crowdfunding campaigns since its inception in 2008, but that regulation has held him back until now. One revelation from the proposed rules is that startups will be able to solicit investment from accredited investors (through Title II of the JOBS Act) while simultaneously raising a round from the unaccredited crowd (through Title III).
FreshDirect and RocketHub Team Up to Find the Next Major Food Innovation If you’re an entrepreneur and the kitchen is your happy place, then this is your tune: FreshDirect and RocketHub are partnering up to find the newest, coolest food-related innovation. The online grocer and the crowdfunding site announced today that they are collaborating to launch a contest called the “Next Big Food Thing,” seeking the latest and greatest food products, kitchen gadgets, farming advancements or any other innovation that involves what you eat and how you eat it. Applicants have until the end of the month to submit their ideas online. Finalists will be announced in November and will then have to crowdfund their businesses on RocketHub.com. The winner will be chosen based on the amount of money raised, the quality of the idea and engagement with the crowd. “This partnership will leverage the massive power of crowdfunding to incubate innovative food endeavours,” says Brian Meece, the CEO of RocketHub, in a statement.
Companies have been unable to sell shares to unaccredited investors without first registering with the SEC. That will remain true until these proposed rules are approved and enacted.”
The winner will get $10,000 and an opportunity to partner with FreshDirect. Second and third place contestants will each receive $2,500 to put towards their businesses, the companies said in a statement.
Source: venturebeat.com, Erik Blattberg; for more information, click here.
The judges for the foodie contest include David McInerney, the cofounder of FreshDirect; Geoff Bartakovics, the CEO of Tasting Table; Natasha Case, the CEO of Coolhaus; Sarah Copeland, the food director of Real Simple; and John Craven, the founder of BevNet. Source: entrepreneur.com, Catherine Clifford; for more information, click here.
Crowdcube wins Conservative Party search for Britain’s top entrepreneurs Crowdcube has won a national competition at the Conservative Party Conference to find Britain’s top startups. During the conference last month, Crowdcube was voted by the delegates as the winner of the 2013 Start-up Initiative and was rewarded with a Fujitsu M532 tablet. Crowdcube is one of a dozen British start-up businesses that showcased their businesses at the Start-up Hub in front of thousands of delegates, the nation’s media and business leaders from across the country.
Crowdcube is the world’s first equitybased crowd-funding platform, and enables everyday investors to fund British businesses in return for a share in the company. Since February 2011, over 46,000 savvy investors have registered with Crowdcube, helping to raise more than £13.5m for over 70 UK businesses. The groundbreaking model lets entrepreneurs showcase their investment opportunity online and bypass the traditional business angel, venture capital or bank route, giving them more control and access to more investors. The national competition, launched two years ago, was a chance for 12 new businesses to demonstrate their ideas or designs during the four day conference which ran from Sunday,
September 29th to Wednesday, October 2nd. Welcoming the news, Damian Collins, MP and Chairman of the Start-Up Hub competition said: “I am thrilled that Crowdcube was chosen to exhibit at Conference. This is a unique opportunity for the winning entrepreneurs and a fantastic chance to show off their work to thousands of delegates, the nation’s media and business leaders from across the country.” Source: crowdcube.com; for more information, click here
Sexy Green Gadgets Another irresistible round-up of some of our favourite green gadgets with our usual shameless leaning towards those brought to life through crowdfunding. ION Glasses
The Waka-Waka light
ION Glasses are the first-ever glasses â€” optical or sunglasses â€” which interact with your smartphone or tablet. They offer you several functions, such as notifications, remote control, alerts in case of loss and customization.
A sturdy, highly efficient, sustainable, solar-powered LED lamp brought to reality by green crowdfunding site One Planet Crowd (.com) the Waka-Waka Light is as much an indispensable product for those in the west, as it is the solution for the 1.5 billion people living without electricity. Twice as efficient as any other solar lamp on the market and making a significant impact in the world already.
All of this is possible because ION Glasses incorporate a Bluetooth 4.0 chip, a battery, a multi-color LED set, a buzzer and two buttons. All these components are inserted into one of the frame temples. But you will be the only one that knows it, because ION Glasses boast a fashionable and appealing design, whether used as optical glasses or as sunglasses. Even if your phone is on silent mode or in your bag or pocket, if someone calls you, or you receive a chat message, or an SMS, or an update in your social networks, or an e-mail, or an alarm for your date or meeting, ION will notify you privately through your pre-selected light code (you can set the colour and the intermittence of the signal). You will be the only one that sees it, and only you will know what it means. You just have to download the ION app, available in iOS and Android, and choose when and how you want the LEDs to turn on and let you stay on top of your smartphone or tablet activity. Currently available through indiegogo.com for less than $100. For more information, click here
It provides 16 hours of safe light on a single day of sunlight. Currently selling for about 29 euros. For more information, click here
The Bin Genie
The Ginko Tree Desktop Solar Charger
The Bin Genie is a recycling bin cover manufactured in Vermont, USA by Trip Trap Recycling. It is made from recycled fabric, woven from reclaimed fishing net.
When Smart Imitates Life – a desktop solar charger for your smartphone based on the Ginko Tree. By UK-based XD Design
90% of Americans recycle – isn’t that fantastic? – yet in towns across the U.S., recycling often becomes trash once the recycling bin is brought to the curb. On a windy day, it takes just seconds to literally lay waste to the good work people are doing all week to recycle. The result is frustration, trashy neighborhoods, and less recycling at its intended destination. Furthermore, when recycling gets drenched with rain or snow, it weighs more, so haulers are spending more on fuel. Down the line, wet product is harder to sell because of its degraded state, which only raises the costs of recycling long term. The Bin Genie is durable, washable, waterproof, and easy to use for homeowners and haulers alike.
There are 1.4 billion smartphones charged every day, which requires an awful lot of electricity. The Ginko Solar Tree seeks to reduce this need, and take your mobile devices off the grid in a more efficient way than traditional solar panels. Taking inspiration from the Ginko tree, they maximize the surface area of three solar panels, which also fold in to reduce the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging. The product is made from sustainable and bio-based materials, and can charge a phone in 2 hours. A pledge of just £65 will get you your very own desktop unit (the eventual price will be £95). For more information click here
Currently available through theecohub.org for $40. For more information click here
THE CROWD The QU-BD One Up Open Source 3D printer
The MAB Automated House Cleaning System
The QU-BD One Up is the least expensive, production-ready, high quality 3D printer available on the market! ...It’s OPEN SOURCE TOO!
(As featured on inhabitat.com) - Why spend time vacuuming and dusting - when you could have an army of tiny flying robots clean your house for you! Well, you’ll still have to tidy up and do the dishes, but this futuristic MAB Automated Cleaning System could take care of all the dust and dirt. Columbian Adrian Perez Zapata’s flying cleaning system recently won the grand prize in the 2013 Electrolux Design Lab Competition, which received 1,700 designs from students across 60 countries.
The QU-BD One Up is the world’s first production ready 3D printer to break the $200 barrier. It uses industry standard technology and electronics and everything is OPEN SOURCE! For more information click here
The ball-shaped shuttle acts as a base for hundreds of minirobots that fly out to reach the farthest corners of the house, scan the entire space and start cleaning in a choreographed swarm-like play that can be both breathtaking and spooky. Each of the mini-robots has three points, while on the surface of the Mab, the mini-robots have their wings folded. Once they leave the base, the wings first act as propellers and then engage in a more complex flight mode similar to that used by RoboBees. The tiny cleaners feature capsules filled with water and deposited into pills in a special compartment. Especially interesting, as long as the base functions properly, the cleaner can never break down. Damaged or malfunctioning flyers are easily replaced with new ones. It is not hard to imagine those being common supermarket items. Price yet to be confirmed. One for the future perhaps? For more information click here
The Eco-Amp smart phone speaker
This cool speaker (designed for the iPhone) is made entirely from recycled FSC-certified cardboard. Folds up into your pocket and comes in a variety of colours. The Eco-Amp produces an amazing sound that you would normally expect with larger, far more expensive equipment. Sells for about $10.
Can’t decide what to cook? Time perhaps to roll the Foodie Dice, a completely random way of making those difficult choices.
For more information click here
A fun new way to shake up your cooking routine, Foodie Dice is a set of 9 dice designed to inspire creative, wholeingredients meals. Even foodies fall into cooking ruts sometimes. Recipes have their place, but they can be restrictive and intimidating. Foodie Dice, on the other hand, encourages you to play with your food! Cooking doesn’t have to be complicated or take a lot of time or skill when you start with whole, seasonal ingredients and a playful spirit. Bound to increase your interest in the foods you eat, where they come from and what different combinations are like. Selling for about $12 through kickstarter.comv
Climate Change Opinions The Bright Green Island
2050’s climate change expert, Christine Lancaster, was on Bornholm Island (the Bright Green Island) in Denmark recently for the Eco-island conference where there was an amazing exchange of ideas on continuing to transition islands off fossil fuels and increasing economic resilience. The energy company on Bornholm , Østkraft, has made significant strides by reaching 75% renewable energy penetration. They acknowledge that the next stage will be the hardest and the most expensive and there is a need for sharing knowledge regarding storage technologies. Østkraft is heading the EU Ecogrid project that provides a unique opportunity to test an island energy
infrastructure. Other impressive initiatives on the island that are increasing economic resilience and reducing climate impacts are: • EcoGrid EU is introducing marketbased mechanisms to encourage the 2000 households on the island to participate in actions to balance capacity, particularly in relation to flexible consumption. Read more at http://www.eu-ecogrid.net • The Bright Green Island Construction programme, which educates construction workers on sustainable construction for private housing, has just won a national award for creating a sustainable transition of the built environment. The award was presented EU Climate Commisioner Connie Hedegaard. The programme so far has resulted in fifth of the workforce taking the diploma • Waste and recycling programmes – Denmark and in particular Bornholm has one of the world’s best waste management recycling programmes and has significant support from the local population. The Local Waste Management Company BOFA http://
www.bofa.dk has setup an education programme for young people to acquire knowledge relating to waste disposal and recycling. The programme has had a big impact on the behavior of families in relation to waste and consumption patterns. • A local investment programme for backing local and sustainable island transition projects. The LAG Bornholm has for over 10 years actively supported and initiated projects to revitalise the fishing industry, create local jobs within the crafts sector, tourism, and develop city areas to attract new citizens. • Citizen innovation platform and crowd visioning is a process developed on Bornholm where citizens set up a think tank for creating island transition initiatives on Bornholm. A key part of the visioning process involved engaging all the island’s citizens in creating and debating ideas for island development. This involved 10 major public meetings involving at least 450 participants per time and live television transmission. To ensure an ongoing innovation involvement for citizens to develop and put new initiatives into action, a digital island innovation platform has been launched. See http://www.voresbornholm.com
• A series of projects has been carried out over the last few years to revitalize and retrofit Bornholm Harbours and ports after the local fishing industry went into severe decline. The new initiatives focus on using ports as recreation centers for local citizens and tourists, as well as developing new local industries. • Bornholm has made crafts into a major development sector with a leading European education programme, crafts maker spaces, artist in residence,
common exhibition spaces and an international Art Bienale. The sector has a high strategic value in helping to drive the local economy, as well as attracting creative people to the island and branding Bornholm internationally. There are now a number of pilot island nations that are successfully moving to being free of fossil fuels and it would be helpful for the exchange of “good news” stories to be documented and shared.
Christine Lancaster: climate change lawyer and consultant with more than 15 years experience. Legal adviser to the Qatar Government for COP 18 in Doha. Operation Lead of the Smart Island Economy Operation of Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room. Advisory Board member of Code REDD and Eco-island network. Currently advising energy companies and geospatial companies on business development, project initiation and finance.
For more information, please click here.
A question of Impact If you think wind farms and solar arrays have a negative impact on the countryside, have you ever imagined what the landscape might look like if we let climate change continue unabated? Talk about an elephant in the room. By Robin Whitlock Over the last few years there has been an explosion of interest in renewable energy, but unfortunately not all of it is supportive. Onshore, and sometimes offshore, wind farms for example, have been widely criticised and opposed across the land, often with increasing prominence in various sections of the national media, particularly those publications that play to populist, often right-of-centre, politics. A great deal of opposition to wind farms, and increasingly solar farms as well, derives from rural communities located in proximity to planned projects and is focused primarily on impacts on the landscape supported by technological criticisms. Such as the claim that wind turbines don’t actually work that well and are therefore inefficient and inexpensive. These concerns and claims are then subsequently taken up by national media commentators and woven into their general political argument. However the main impetus as far as impacts are concerned, seems to remain with communities who then go on to form dedicated campaign groups in order to oppose their local renewable energy project. An example of one such campaign group is “Stop Common Barn Wind Farm”, based in Cambridgeshire in the UK. This group is opposing a plan for the erection of 3 wind turbines on land close to the villages of Southoe, Perry, Grafham, Hail Weston and Buckden. Each of the turbines, according to the group’s website, will
be in excess of 410 feet tall, and so the main concern of the campaign is that these wind turbines will dominate the skyline and that more will follow. A predictable list of subsequent concerns follows the mention of this initial main issue on the website. The turbines will affect house prices they say, they will adversely affect a quiet area of countryside frequented by walkers and cyclists, bird-watchers and horse riders. It will create ‘shadow-flicker’ by interrupting the path of the sun’s rays and thereby cause stress and irritation. The traffic generated by the construction of the wind farm will add to the traffic problems on the nearby A1 thereby causing further loss of life. Generally, the wind farm will spoil the landscape and views enjoyed by local communities. These concerns are mirrored by almost every anti-wind group in the UK and are increasingly being mirrored by similar concerns regarding solar farms, for example the degradation of agricultural land, massed ranks of solar panels on racking, presenting an eyesore and spoiling views etc. In fact, these concerns are now so prolific, despite the fact that numerous surveys have revealed, at best, that only 11 percent of the British population are actively opposed to wind farms and solar farms, that you have to wonder whether there is some kind of wider political agenda behind it. Actually, there is. George Monbiot and others have repeatedly exposed the ‘astro-turfing’ activities of pro-fossil fuels groups opposed to action against climate change.
An activity in which lobby groups create fake community groups to oppose particular developments or, even better, motivate and encourage local opposition by spreading disinformation and pseudo-scientific arguments orientated against green technology and climate change mitigation. If, therefore, there is only one reason to oppose the arguments of anti-renewable energy groups, this is one of them. However, fortunately, there are actually lots of reasons, the main one being that if we really want our technology-driven, energy-intensive lifestyle to continue in a recognisable form, then the creation of an economy based largely or wholly on renewable energy is vital, if not essential. My main argument against the voices of anti-wind farm and antisolar farm groups, besides that concerned with the action to stop climate change of which renewable energy is a part, is the almost Blake-ean myopia that motivates these groups. By Blake-ean, I mean the romantic, pastoral and idyllic vision of William Blake’s ‘green and pleasant land’, also the stuff of romantic poets such as Shelley, Keats and Wordsworth. In itself, that is no bad thing, but we have to remember that actually we are not living in 1827 anymore. Not only that, but Blake’s “dark satanic mills” have long been replaced by something more iniquitous, the slow but steady degradation of the land by climate change which, in the process, is creating the potential for landscape impacts that are far more severe, far longer-lasting and far more disruptive than the comparatively minor impacts cited by these groups, many of those concerns actually being largely unrealistic when subjected to closer examination. These impacts are already starting to happen. You want to talk about the impacts on property prices? Well how about mentioning the damage to property caused by flooding from torrential rain? You want to talk about the visual impact of wind farms and solar farms? How about the visual impact of miles and miles of yellowed grass, dying trees or flooded land caused by the extreme weather cycles now beginning to hit the UK and many other countries around the world? You want to talk about the impact of solar farms on agricultural land? I guess you haven’t noticed the steady increase in food prices in recent years, partly as a result of agricultural land ruined by regular periods of flooding and drought. I happen to think it’s highly hypocritical for anti-wind and antisolar farm groups to talk about landscape impacts from renewable energy projects while deliberately omitting discussion of these wider and vastly more dangerous impacts of climate change that are already beginning to affect the UK and which will worsen with time if we do not take action now to stop climate change in its tracks. I also believe that this omission, this refusal to talk in depth about climate change, is one of the main signs that such opposition is, albeit behind the scenes perhaps, politically motivated, particularly through the influence of fossil-fuel lobbyists and the media publications and commentators that support them.
Our Cars, Our Power Stations Professor Ad van Wijk explains why we shouldn’t look at our cars as highly energy-inefficient modes of personal transport, but rather as highly efficient, mini power stations. Professor Ad van Wijk explains why we shouldn’t look at our cars as highly energy-inefficient modes of personal transport, but rather as highly efficient, mini power stations. We use our cars for work, shopping and holidays, for bringing our kids to school and for visiting friends. For most of us the car has become an indispensable device, comfortable and safe. But the car is a gas guzzler. Barely more than a moving stove. Worldwide, about a quarter of all energy used, is flared by these moving stoves. A proportion which seems even more surprising when you actually examine the energy efficiency of using cars to move ourselves from A to B? A quick calculation:
wind resistance, and our number drops to a measly 3-5%. Most efficiency calculations stop there, but if we were to continue as we should and take into account the overall purpose of our cars, it becomes even worse. Let’s face it, all we’re trying to do with them is move ourselves from A to B, a task for which we deploy a 1,000kg car to transport (in my case) about 100kgs of human being. Which ultimately leaves us with an energy efficiency figure for the petrolpowered car of less than 0.5 %. How sad is that? Can we do better? Yes we can, using electric vehicles.
A petrol car engine has an efficiency of 15 to 20% when it comes to converting gasoline into a rotating motion. The remaining 80 – 85% of the fuel’s energy is wasted in the form of heat, which in turn has to be removed through cooling.
Indeed, we are now witnessing the introduction of the electric vehicle – so defined by the existence of an electric motor and a large battery pack, but with the remainder of the car largely unchanged – which is already giving us considerable efficiency improvements.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the rotating motion is transmitted to the wheels by the gearbox, at an efficiency of just 50%, thus reducing the total efficiency to 7-10 %. Take away from that the energy expended overcoming road friction and
The electric motor runs at an efficiency of 95%, and charging and discharging the battery has an efficiency of 80%. Which, combined with an average power plant production efficiency in the Netherlands of 40%, means the
electric car engine has an efficiency rating of 30%. Almost double that of the comparable 15-20% figure for the petrol engine. With future improvements still possible. Electric motors can be mounted in the wheels, thereby eliminating the friction losses in the gearbox; and if we can build our cars from bio-plastic, which is much lighter than the steel used today, we would arrive at a personal displacement energy efficiency of about 5%. Which may not seem very high, but is 10 times better than the combustion car, and would result in 10 times less energy being used in transport. Hydrogen fuel cells In the future, electric cars can even be powered by their own on-board generators, in the form of hydrogen fuel cells, rather than by batteries charged from the national grid. Fuel cells produce electricity from hydrogen gas with 60% efficiency and the hydrogen itself can be produced from natural gas or biogas with an efficiency of 75%. Thus giving us an electric power production efficiency of 45%, again an improvement on the 40% average of conventional power plants.
Harnessing the power Taking it another step forward, if our fuel cell cars produce power so efficiently, what’s to stop us using their motors to produce power for our homes and offices when they’re parked? We currently only use our cars for about 5% of the time we could. For the other 95%, they remain, complete with their 130 horse power / 100kW engines, idly parked outside our homes or offices. Rather a waste when you consider that each one of those engines can easily produce enough electricity for up to 100 homes. And what if we were to build car parks especially for these hydrogen fuel cell electric cars? Car parks at which we would not only be able to automatically refuel our cars with hydrogen produced on-site from natural gas or biogas, but also connect them – as mini generators – to the national grid and the district heating system. Just a single such 500-car parking facility would match the output of a conventional 50MW power plant, and would easily be able to provide electricity
for the 50,000 homes that make up a city such as Delft, here in the Netherlands. Which of course raises the question, will we still need power plants in the future? The answer is no. In the Netherlands for example we can easily replace all our power plants with our cars. There are currently eight million cars on the road, driving approximately 100 billion kilometres per annum between them, and every year we buy more than half a million new ones. These new cars alone equating to 50,000MW of ‘power on wheels’. To put that into perspective, Dutch energy companies have just 25,000 MW of capacity installed in power plants. So every year we buy more than 2 times as much ‘power on wheels’ than is currently installed in all our power plants.
in capacity of 8,000 GW, compared to the current world wide installed capacity of 5,000 GW. And best of all perhaps, is that if we were to use our cars to produce electricity in the car park, which is then fed into the national grid, we would rightly expect to be paid in return. Wouldn’t that be great? Although it does of course bring with it the sobering thought that some of us might one day find ourselves being financially outperformed by our own cars. (Ad van Wijk is a sustainable energy entrepreneur, consultant and professor in Future Energy Systems at TU Delft (Delft University of Technology).
Each year? Yes, each year! And those cars are yours and mine. On a global scale there are about 1 billion cars on the road, and every year 80 million new cars are bought. Which, again just counting the new additions, amounts to a ‘power on wheels’ increase
FOOD IN THE COMMUNITY
A community-based restaurant initiative in Amsterdam designed not only to benefit the local community, but also the people who work there. Restaurants will always exist for the simple reason that people need to eat. And some people cook food far better than others. Some restaurants differentiate themselves in terms of the quality of their food or the ‘ambience’ of their venues, but others, like United Tastes of 1097 in Amsterdam, set themselves apart by the deliberate impact they have on their neighbourhoods. Which in the case of this particular establishment, is defined by the postcode so deftly spliced into its name. The restaurant, which has been operating successfully since May 2012 in a previously empty building, was created by a company called Made in May with the express intention of serving the local community and being served in return. The overall aim, not unlike the ‘Fifteen’ restaurant concept developed by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, was to provide a place of work and training for disadvantaged local people – United Tastes of 1097 currently has 45 such trainees on its books, under the tutelage of 10 permanent staff – while serving highly nutritious, sustainably sourced food to the local community at deliberately affordable prices (circa 15 euros for a 3 course meal). Local residents also get to have a say in what sort of dishes the restaurant serves up and as long as the main ingredients fall within budget, can submit requests for their favourite dishes to be added to the ever-changing menu. “United Tastes of 1097 is a formula where there is a lot of interaction with the inhabitants of the postcode area,” said a spokesperson for the restaurant. “For the opening, we asked people to bring along their used furniture, pans, crockery, cutlery and the like which we exchanged for food and drink vouchers. Thanks to numerous local and national media reports, the restaurant, which seats 130 people in a nattily trendy 1960s retro environment, has gone from strength to strength since it opened and is now poised to spread to other parts of the city and even to other countries. “It is a project which provides a positive solution for a discarded building, a discarded kitchen, and, in a sense, a discarded people,” the spokesman said.
Stagnation leads to decline. Right now, companies need to move. Made in May gives energy and vitality through creative strategy, branding, design, communication and activation.
MADEINMAY.COM PAGE 51
A GOOD IDEA… As the world questions the stability of existing monetary systems, a group of Dutch artists have come up with an interesting idea. Smack, bang in the middle of Amsterdam’s financial quarter they’re building a brand new bank. The Art Reserve Bank to be precise. The Art Reserve Bank issues coins – that is, the bank exchanges euros for works of art in the form of exclusive coins. Every month a different artist designs a series of four coins: every week a new coin.
previously issued coins. Price fluctuations at this market place define the actual exchange rate of the coins. Hence the real value of the coins is being determined by the public.
Twenty of these Art Works will be minted every weekday. So the issue is only 100 copies per coin. These unique coins are available against the current exchange rate at the Art Reserve Bank. You can purchase the coins either at the bank in Eindhoven or at the online teller.
This is a really important economic aspect of the experiment: the value of the coin is not artificial (defined by a diffuse currency market), but intrinsic (defined by what the public is here and now actually willing to pay in euros for the artwork). With this intrinsic value we introduce in fact a new standard: not a gold standard, but an art standard.
Every coin is issued for one week only. Coins can neither be ordered in advance nor purchased after the issue has ended. It is however possible to order the entire series of the current artist online. The total circulation of all coins is restricted and registered in advance. For after five years the bank will cease to exist. By then a total of 25,000 coins will have been issued: 250 unique emissions — each in a circulation of 100 — designed by 60 different artists.
Warrant and interest The Art Reserve Bank sells the coins with a ‘money-back’ guarantee. What is more: whoever returns the coin can make a profit. How much depends on the time between issue and refund. To make it easier we keep to an (not compound) interest rate of 10% a year. Obviously the guarantee period is restricted to the five years of the bank’s existence. The issue date of the coin determines the actual worth of the deposit the owner has at the bank. Of course this deposit is not personal: every owner of a coin can exchange it back for euros. The estimate is that ultimately less than 10% of the owners will really do this.
Reserve In accordance with the reserve requirements of the fractional banking system, 10% of the turnover will be kept in reserve by the bank. So the bank stays well within the regular liquidity requirements. (With a capital ratio of 10% the bank even exceeds the new Basel-III standards and will easily qualify for a triple-A rating).
Trade value The Art Reserve Bank has its own dealing room: an online market place where the public can exchange, buy and sell PAGE 52
Exchange rate The most important financial data is that the bank sells its coins invariably at daily exchange rates. At the start of the project this rate is set at €100. With a turnover of 33%, this price will be sufficient to cover operating costs. The idea is that the warrantee and the built-in scarcity will gradually boost the exchange rate. Due to the guaranteed refund value, the exchange rate can never decline.
The experiment The experiment is a fundamental economic research into the real value of this new currency. In other words: we are practically testing whether a sufficient amount of coins will be sold to secure the Art Reserve Bank´s survival. If not enough coins are sold to cover the costs, the experiment will fail. Also if too many people return their coins and claim the 10% interest, the bank will soon go bust. So in this sense the bank operates exactly like any other bank. Practice will show how long the Art Reserve Bank will last. In any case not longer than five years, as the experiment will then end and the bank liquidate itself. Obviously the bank will by then have insufficient capital to answer all calls on deposits. We think however, that very few people will actually want to exchange their Artworks back to euros. Which immediately proves the possibility of art as an intrinsic value of a reserve currency. For more information, click here
27 - ‘Man’ Artist: Ted Noten Coin number: 27 Circulation: 100 pcs (Every coin is different for it ‘cointains’ an imprint of a wire model made by Ted Noren.) Issued: 25 june - 2 july 2013
13 - ‘Euro V2.4’ Artist: Anne de Vries Coin number: 13 Circulation: 100 pcs Issued: 1 - 13 October 2012
25 - ‘Stop neutronbomb’ Artist: Erik van Lieshout Coin number: 25 Circulation: 100 pcs Issued: 8 - 26 April 2013