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.
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]
To lower customers' consumption, there's much that the water sector can learn from electric who are further ahead in deploying effective conservation and efficiency programs and technologies (think: smart-meters). While parallels exist, water is unique because of how heavily it's used outside on yards and how it evokes an emotional connection, a combination that might promote behavioral change. [EDF Texas]
Corrupt recruiting systems in US agriculture leave many visa-carrying, foreign workers open to unfair wages, scams and other abuses, according to a report from Government Accountability Office. Although many US farms rely on foreign labor, federal visa programs offer little protection for legal workers, who often seek jobs through illegal recruiters that charge high fees for their services and mislead jobseekers. [AgriPulse]
There's been some surprisingly good news this week out of powerful companies and governmental bodies. For one, McDonald's chose to phase out human antibiotics from its chicken supply. And lawmakers offered bills to expand farm-to-school programs, a community voted down oil drilling and a company dropped plans for a giant iron mine.
Think kids deserve access to quality food in schools? You'll be happy to hear that a new bipartisan bill could triple the funds spent towards farm-to-school programs from $5 million to $15 million, bolstering all school feeding programs, including after school, preschool and summer food programs. This could be a huge boost for local economies, farmers and community health. [Agri-Pulse]
Experiments subjecting animals to rampant death, disease and suffering at a US tax-funded research facility have been exposed by a New York Times investigation. For decades, animals in the facility's programs aimed at developing higher yield and lower-cost beef, pork and mutton have been abused, neglected, and allowed to live in unhealthy conditions.