Whitney Ashead's articles
Big picture: Navigating food labels that empower sustainable consumption should not be a challenging mess. We created a sustainable food shopping guide to help you navigate the label overload using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a metric.
Why it matters: We live in a world of greenwashing and companies working to get a competitive advantage with “natural” and “sustainable labels. Our extra spending dollars should go to companies and certifiers making strides towards the Sustainable Development Goals – not those greenwashing.
Our recommendations: Overall, choose products that fit your needs and your budget. In a grocery store setting, choose third-party certified products to ensure they are meeting the standards that support sustainability. Fair Trade, American Grass-fed, and USDA Organic are reliable certification labels that have standards striving towards environmental and social sustainability.
Dig deeper → 4 min
The scoop: There is an understandable skepticism around GMOs due to our bias for natural products. But GMOs have many undeniable social and environmental benefits.
What to know: The science agrees with the use of GMOs – 90% of scientists believe they are safe.
- GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. It is the process of selectively breeding plants with other genes to create desirable characteristics.
- GMO characteristics have the potential to address food security with projects like Golden Rice.
- GMOs can also help reduce food waste and help growers adapt to climate change with drought, heat, or flood tolerant seed varieties.
- While GMOs are often negatively associated with health and sustainability, there is little to no science to support this claim.
- There is overwhelmingly more research that supports GMO's ability to positively influence health and sustainability.
Bottom line: GMOs have become somewhat of a controversy, but the scientific consensus shows they are safe. In the face of a growing population and increased land use, we need a more efficient agriculture industry to be sustainable. GMOs are at the core of a more sustainable future, and more efficient food systems.
Dig deeper → 3 min
The scoop With increased pressure on supply chains from COVID-19, food systems are seeing a shift toward local-purchasing. For environmental purposes, maintaining local food supplies post-pandemic will be crucial.
Support farmers markets, food hubs, and community-supported agriculture. Ride the wave toward more resilient and sustainable food systems.
Things to know
- Large-scale and complex food systems buckled under the unpredictability and immeasurable pressures of a global pandemic
- Millions of pounds of food products lost across the US
- Grocery stores are dealing with food shortages
- Consumers are shifting to purchasing locally and local farmers face an increased demand for local food
- We need resilient and sustainable food systems even after the pandemic
- How to support local and shop small:
- Farmers’ Markets
- Community Supported Agriculture Programs
- Food Hubs
Bottom line Eating local should not be expensive or exclusive. You can buy local food based on what fits your schedule and budget. Sustainable and local food systems rely on consumer behavior.
There is no doubt a major increase in local purchasing during COVID. However, reaching sustainable development goals and building resiliency in food systems requires your action to support local farmers. Buy local.
Dig deeper → 5 min
What to Know
- The House and Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) in a bipartisan agreement
- The GAOA accomplishes two goals.
- $9 billion for deferred maintenance
- Guaranteed $900 million annually in perpetuity for the Land and Water Conservation Fund
- The fund also supports the National Parks Service, Forest Service, U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Indian Education
Why it Matters
- The GAOA will help maintain NPS lands that have been loved to death with a 50% increase in visitor rate since the 1980’s
- Conservation does not have to be a partisan issue. The passing of GAOA demonstrates room for common ground when it comes to environmental protection
Dig deeper → <1 min