For 48 hours on June 21-23, over 250 food industry leaders, entrepreneurs, technologists and creatives convened at Hack//Meat Silicion Valley, a hackathon to develop hardware and software solutions to some of the greatest challenges facing sustainable meat production and consumption. The three-day event was held at the Institute of Design at Stanford, and was organized by Food+Tech Connect in partnership with Applegate and GRACE Communications Foundation.
It's back to school time! Here at GRACE we're trying to make everyone's job a little easier by providing free tools and resources that both teachers and students can use in their work on sustainable food, water and energy.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and GRACE are partnering to pose this challenge to the hackers at Hack//Meat SV: How can we find, recruit and empower a million consumer activists to demand meat without antibiotics?
Up to eight USDA farm-to-school pilot programs will get off the ground next school year thanks to this year's farm bill. While citizen and state-run programs have encouraged local sourcing in schools for years, these will be the first federally funded programs aimed at bringing local food into schools. Local food sourcing can both stimulate local economies and improve food education. [Civil Eats]
Property Assessed Clean Energy financing, or PACE, is finally catching on in the US, at least for businesses. The creative approach allows owners to borrow the money for renewable energy systems and pay for it over time through a property tax surcharge. Next step: making PACE available to homeowners. [New York Times]
In the US, roughly 23 percent of all fruits and vegetables are wasted before even reaching grocery stores due to factors such as overproduction and rigid aesthetic standards. A growing number of "farm-to-food bank" programs are emerging across the country to help prevent this waste and provide healthful food to those in need. In addition to creating infrastructure for food transport and storage, many programs are offering financial incentives to farmers to harvest and donate produce that would otherwise be wasted. [Civil Eats]
Columbia University's Steve Cohen says, "long past time to get past symbolic environmental politics and embrace the deal-making that produces real world policies, programs and results." [Huffington Post]
Running a farm is one of the toughest and riskiest jobs a person can have. For farmers of color and military veterans in this country, starting and managing a farm can be even harder. In recent years, an increasing number of veterans have shown interest in farming as a profession. In response, Congress has expanded some key USDA programs to help them get into the field.
During 2013-2014, at least 42,000 US schools spent almost $600 million on local food, an increase of nearly 50 percent over two years. According to a USDA study of farm-to-school programs, in addition to eating more healthful fruits and vegetables, kids served local foods also threw less food in the trash.