City’s first fixed food-truck lot opens Monday

In the small town of Batesville in Arkansas, a “Food Lot” will open tomorrow as the city’s first permanent food-truck park. Steve and Wendy Lewis transformed two longtime vacant lots at Central Avenue and College Street to a park for up to eight food trucks, starting with T’s Boxed Lunches. The couple who is in charge of this project has stated that there will also be additional improvements in the surrounding area, such as having local elementary school students paint a mural on the property’s concrete wall, as well as landscaping and picnic tables.

The Food Lot will be an attractive addition to downtown Batesville, the couple said. “Anytime we see a vacant property become enlivened again, that’s always exciting”. “The fact that someone has taken on one of our vacant properties and has invested in it and has a business plan people are definitely excited about — that’s a win”. T’s Boxed Lunches will offer sandwiches, “things you can pick up to go,” she said. “We will have picnic tables out, so people will have a common seating area where they can sit out and enjoy the weather, or they can get it to go and go back to their office.

It does not look as if the Food Lot is in competition with local restaurants, I think if you are going to go eat at a food park, you probably weren’t going to go in and sit down at a restaurant in the first place. I think this is a great way to cut down on restaurant space used and wasted resources all while livening up a previously outdated and vacant parking lot.




Call for Caribbean to Revisit Agricultural Priorities

On March 5-8, 2018 Jamaica hosted the 35th Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Regional Conference which discussed (1) eradicating hunger, overweight and obesity [hunger is growing again for the first time in decades and obesity has become an epidemic that threatens the lives of millions of people], (2) putting an end to rural poverty [rural areas are unable to get out of poverty, addressing the root causes of migration, improving diets through family farming and artisanal fishing, unleashing the potential of rural women, and promoting inclusive arti-food systems] (3) promoting climate resilient sustainable agriculture [creating sustainable agriculture to face climate change, protecting the rich biodiversity of the region, and improving access to climate finance] and (4) a new FAO to meet the Sustainable Development Goals [continuing the reform of FAO to achieve Zero Hunger and moving from small to large-scal initiatives].

What’s interesting about this specific conference is that there was the most governmental leaders across Latin America and the Caribbean present than ever before whom discussed dimensions of food security and how to incorporate its solutions as a matter of public policy, including all actors of the food system, biomedical concepts of nutritious diet intake, and medical geography [a field not necessarily focused on before].  Being from the Caribbean and a student in our food systems course that is relatively close to the Caribbean- its astonishing to experience the impact of basic concepts we learn in class and its effect (short and long term) to my community. Sessions like these often leave abandoned with just a guideline book or global suggestions, but this FAO conference left with an incredibly large fund for climate change adaption and resilience, and a leadership strive to become the first Zero Hunger generation. It feels different, but I will monitor the funding progress during the remainder of our course and post updates accordingly.

Please check out the recordings posted on the FAO website and the relevant articles if you have a moment!


‘Harveys & Winn-Dixie closures fuel concerns over food deserts’

Screen Shot 2018-03-17 at 3.55.32 PMThe article focuses on how the closure of 94 grocery stores owned by South Eastern Grocers and how this could potentially transform the nearby areas into food deserts.  As discussed in class food deserts are commonly found in urban areas where there is a lack of access to healthy and nutritional food, something which is usually associated with lower income neighborhoods. Like we also discussed in class public transport will play a major role in the future of this area because many people who live in the area do not own cars. Therefore the closure of these shops may not mean that people will have even more limited access with some having to walk miles or get public transport to reach their nearest supermarket or store.

Personally I feel like although this closure has significantly impacted the area I would argue that it is problems such as accessibility and public transport that local authorities need to target, rather than the closure of these food deserts themselves. As the world becoming increasingly more reliant on cars, we forget that many people do not have access to these kinds of technology. Therefore as a population we almost enhance the problem of these food deserts, particularly in wealthier nations where it is not the amount of food that is the problem, but it’s accessibility and this is the issue I feel solutions need to be found for.


“Menu of the Future: Insects, Weeds, and Bleeding Veggie Burgers”

The United Nations predicts by 2050, our global population will exceed 9 billion. In order to feed the projected population, we will need to change our current unsustainable food practices. Recently, National Geographic Magazine published an article featuring five of the most anticipated ingredients food scientists believe will be eaten in the future.

  1. The nutrient-dense cricket has more protein than red meat and can be raised in small, dark crowded areas.
  2. Kernza, a grain found in the Great Plains, was first considered a weed. Recently, food scientists altered the seed to be more disease-resistant and produce a larger yield. A major advantage of Kernza is that it is a perennial crop. As a perennial crop, Kernza keeps the deposited carbon in the soil. This benefits the soil’s health and reduces our current greenhouse gas problem.
  3. Protein from plants will be used to transition Americans from a meat-based diet to a sustainable plant-based diet. One example of this is the Impossible Burger, which was able to imitate the bloody juiciness of a beef patty.
  4. Algae, used as oil and butter, needs less land and water to grow than olive oil and dairy-produced butter. Other attributes of this plant are its high boiling point and the fact that it is a monounsaturated (healthy) fat.
  5. Lab-cultured Chicken – The production of chicken cells to meat in a lab, which will eliminate the demands of raising chickens.

I feel that in order to change diets, the greatest obstacle to overcome will be changing the perception of the eater. The next step will need to be marketing the food as palatable. It will be difficult to convince Americans that an insect is a better option than conventional beef. Meat-heavy diets have become part of American’s identity. In fact, McDonald’s still has not sold vegetable burgers in America despite its success in Europe. Although the thought of eating lab-produced chicken frightens me, I feel in the interest of the world, I am open to anything.


So There’s an Apple that Never Browns


So even though this isn’t necessarily recent news, I believe it is still incredibly relevant to the food industry today. Last year, there was a great deal of both excitement and skepticism as a company out in California released its latest product: an apple that never browns. The Arctic Apple was one of the first in an going trend in food today that utilizes genetically modified organisms to remove the enzyme in apples that causes them to brown on exposure to oxygen. While the company has sworn that it would take every step to ensure they do not repeat the mistakes of the GMO industry in the past, there remains a great deal of controversy over such an idea. The company behind the Arctic Apple released a survey of people in New York and Washington – America’s top apple-growing states, and found that 20% of those surveyed were wary of GMOs and genetically modified products. However, they also found that once they were assured of the safety measures going into the production of the product – whether true or not, they changed their minds.

I saw this article a while back and thought it would be pretty interesting to write about. Talking about food insecurity and trends in the food industry such as “Ugly Foods” and “Imperfect Produce”, something like this seems to be a reasonable solution. I don’t know if this is necessarily the case because I’m sure there is a lot more to it, but maybe it’s a start. While I personally don’t mind GMOs myself, I know there are many who try to avoid consuming these products. However, I think there are many people who would go for something like this and other products like it. Moreover, these sorts of advancements could lead to a reduction in food waste throughout the world.


POINT OF VIEW [OpEd]: Florida’s farmers might get hosed – Palm Beach Post

I came across this brief OpEd written by a local Floridian farmer, Paul DiMare who is president of DiMare Distribution in Homestead, FL with a clear political intention: to display the strong connection between anti-immigration policies (e.g. HB 9 and SB 308) and its negative impacts on the state’s economy, employment (workforce), leadership, and safety.

I believe its critical to look at issues such as local food security as a multi-disciplinary system and responsibility that requires a global scope in perspective, even if differences in political frameworks may be present.

DiMare describes Florida as being responsible for 56% of the US citrus production, is seventh for agricultural exportation and is currently ranked as the second in value of vegetable production. Continuing the conversation from class based off the recent farm visit – I believe sustainable outcomes are a continuous absence in the discussion of local food sources, but in a geographic locality like Miami, citizenship status too becomes central to the debate, like DiMare calls out.



“McDonald’s is putting fresh beef in the quarter pounder”

Fresh not frozen?! Whoa! McDonald’s is going to be putting fresh beef in all its quarter pounders (except in Hawaii and Alaska) starting May. This switch does not affect Big Macs or regular hamburgers or cheeseburgers. According to the USA President of McDonald’s, Chris Kempczinski, this is the biggest change to the system since the introduction of “All Day Breakfast”.  This change in ingredients is consistent with other changes that McDonald’s has made as the food awareness movement grows in the United States and around the world.  Consumers are not only demanding healthier food but they also are demanding higher quality food.  This change in choosing less processed food to serve consumers is also reflected in the 2016 removal of artificial preservatives in chicken nuggets and the addition of apple slices to Happy Meals in 2011.  As the movement to eat healthy, higher quality products grows it is inevitable that not only McDonald’s but other fast food chains will have to change their menu to compete with small local chains that offer comparable menus and food choices.