Food & Agriculture News: 11/10/22

Food & Agriculture News: 11/10/22

Turn Your Backyard Into a Snack Yard With Edible Landscapes - Modern Farmer

Hey, it’s Daniel and Sarah! The founders of Thyme to Party, one of whom happens to play guitar in the Farmers Jam Band and the other of which is our biggest fan. They got a great write up from our friends at Modern Farmer about their work in Atlanta, as well as a few other folks across the country, making our world more beautiful and edible. 

We should eat more plants. Here’s which ones are best for the planet. - Washington Post 

In contrast to the article below, this is a much more likely solution to climate change! Plants are cheaper and healthier than meat – taste is hard to compare really, it’s more like apples and oranges. But anyway, a good guide to what plants are best for the environment (hint: it’s beans and legumes). 

I do have to say though, author Tamar Haspel has a weird thing against greens. I get her point about calories here but I also think there are so many ways to grow greens – greenhouses, fields, in a window, under hydroponic lights – that it’s silly to dismiss them so readily. I’ve seen Tamar do this in several articles and it always strikes me as bizarre. We should grow as many greens and herbs as close to the consumption point as possible. Delicious and nutritious.

Has Fake Meat Already Peaked? - New Republic 

Usually I’d flag this for asking a yes or no question in the headline. The answer is almost always no – otherwise, they’d go with a more definitive headline like Fake Meat Is Already Dead (which is both more assertive and ironic). 

I think the reason for the question is that, despite massive losses and planned layoffs at fake meat companies, it’s hard to determine whether that’s the business or the economy in general. Based on these metrics, you’d have to also say Twitter Is Dead as well. So, the jury’s out on whether fake meat is dead.

However, the article does make a solid case for why the hype behind fake meat has largely played out. Fake meat has not converted many meat eaters, so the industrial or environmental benefits are little to none. If the largest segment of their market is vegans or vegetarians who want a cheat meal every now and then… well, that’s just not a big enough market to justify billions of dollars in investment. In general, that is money that would be much better spent elsewhere in the food system.

Overall, it reminds me that discussions about “the environment” are really hard for people to digest (pun intended). At the end of the day, the best way of converting people is how it benefits them immediately – is it cheaper? Is it healthier? Is it tastier? With fake meat, the answer for most of these is no (although proponents argue it will be cheaper at scale). That’s a tough sell. 

Big food companies commit to 'regenerative agriculture' but skepticism remains - NPR 

Count me among the skeptics for a couple of reasons. For starters, how are we defining “regenerative” here? If it’s just using cover crops, well, that’s probably not going to get us there. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice thing to do, but I’m not convinced it’s a game-changer if that’s the only step. 

Second, Pepsi, for one, wants to convert its entire supply to regenerative agriculture by 2030, but they’re only 5% of the way there. 2030 is 7 years away! Maybe they’ve set an extremely aggressive goal to push themselves. Maybe they’re looking for PR points. Maybe it’s a bit of both. The point is, I’m hopeful but skeptical. 

I did appreciate this quote though… and this sentiment, more than anything, is what’s going to make the difference. 

"The commodity system tells [farmers]: Yield at all costs," says Sarah Carlson with Practical Farmers of Iowa. "And yield at all costs means that Mother Nature then pays. Climate change is her telling us: No more."

Chick-fil-A operator introduces 3-day workweek resulting in 100% employee retention - ABC 7

You’ve heard about the four day workweek, but this Chick-fil-A in Miami is doing one better. What isn’t clear from the article is how pay was impacted. I assume that most of these employees are paid hourly – so are they simply paid less? Do they make more per hour now? It’s a bit hard to draw any conclusions without those details.

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