Throughout South Africa, listeria has been spreading for the past 15 months, killing 189 people. The listeria infection is commonly contracted by eating contaminated processed foods, usually those containing processed deli meats and unpasteurised milk products. It is extremely deadly killing 1 out of 5 victims, by attacking your immune system and making you fall seriously weak. Symptoms include vomiting, fevers and diarrhoea. Listeria has a 70-day incubation period, so they expecting more cases to emerge. There are antibiotics that can be used to treat listeria, however many of these cases were caught by the sandwiches being served in the day care centre of Johannesburg hospital. Not only are these environments supposed to be the most sanitised, but they were serving bacteria-infested sandwiches to sick patients.
Unfortunately, they found the source of the listeria too late, and the South African meat processor, Enterprise Foods, had to recall most of the products they had processed in early March, 2018. To make matters worse for the food company, they had to recall the products that had already been distributed to over 15 countries, worldwide. Richard Spoor, a South African lawyer, has already filed a $2 billion lawsuit against the food company, with nearly 70 different families involved as part of the suit.
Despite the reality of Cape Town completely running out of water, it does not come as a surprise to the city. Reports found multiple mistakes were made that led up to this crisis including the lack of incentives to conserve subsidized water and no plan to build desalination plants. Now, as the countdown begins before Cape Town completely loses water, officials are looking at Israel’s ways of saving water.
Since the 1960’s, Israel has put water conservation as their top national priority. Their first technological advance was the ability to convert 90% of the country’s sewage into usable water for agriculture. Along with this technology, Israel uses the energy intensive desalination technology to convert salt water to drinkable water. Israel also uses drip irrigation for agriculture and invests time and resources into fixing and replacing water pipes. Along with these technologies, Israel does not offer subsidies for water and holds its people accountable for what they use. In fact, from kindergarten, children learn about water efficiency.
In the article, the author argues it is the broad range of approaches Israel implements that make this country so successful in conserving water. Although these techniques will help Cape Town in the future, in my opinion, it does not have enough time to invest in these types of technologies. On the website, http://www.howmanydaysofwaterdoescapetownhaveleft.co.za, it says there are approximately 144 days left before Cape Town’s dam levels reach 10%; they need fast acting solutions.
Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense, a soil-borne, fungal pathogen also known as Fusarium wilt disease threatens the supply of one of the world’s most widely consumed fruits. This disease poses such a large threat due to a couple different factors.
Firstly, there are 4 different strains of the pathogen. Each strain has wrecked havoc on a different species of banana during separate time periods. Secondly, it is impossible to eradicate this disease as of right now and once it finds its way into the soil, it will remain there for decades. Thirdly, when it has infected plants, it spreads easily, rapidly and widely and can cause up to 100% of yield loss.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization or FAO, is creating a worldwide program that aims to reach three separate goals regarding Fusarium wilt disease in bananas. These include advancements in disease management, advancements in control over the disease after having already infected a field and obtaining better control of disease spreading.
According to the FAO, this program aims to use 98 million U.S. dollars to 32 projects within the next 5 years in 67 different countries.
An article titled Antibiotics in Global Meat Production: 4 Surprising Things You Didn’t Know by Gabrielle Blavatsky in 2016 and was featured in the US Department of Agriculture. In this article, the use of antibiotics with agriculture animals is reviewed. Antibiotics have a role to assist with people’s health for the last 60 years. They have helped cure infections and have been responsible for saving millions of human lives. But antibiotics have been used inappropriately with farm animals especially poultry. The non-therapeutic use of antibiotics with industrial livestock to help prevent infections with unsanitary conditions, overcrowding of animals and to help with growth. This overuse and inappropriate use of antibiotics has contributed to the growing resistance of microorganisms.
Some important facts to know are that currently there are not accurate records of exactly how much antibiotics are being used in animal agriculture globally and the majority of antibiotics sold to meat and poultry farmers are medically important to humans. The over use of these antibiotics in animals can have negative implications on humans and help microorganisms build up resistance to these antibiotics. The theory that antibiotics can help animals gain weight faster is not factual. Other countries, like the Dutch stopped using antibiotics in their very large meat industry in 2011. In addition, they monitored antibiotic use on farms, collected prescription data from veterinarians and tracked the use of antibiotics that were observed farms that were thought to have problematic antibiotic use. They also set up a system where meat processors would not accept meat that had a higher than established level of antibiotics. As a result, they saw a 65% reduction in antibiotic use with livestock. Their demand did not decrease, and the industry did not fall apart. These is a good example of how to decrease if not eliminate the use of antibiotic use with livestock.
This article recounts an interview with Thomas McQuillan, a chef and a leader in the fight for sustainability where zero waste initiatives are discussed.
McQuillan claims that one of the most potent way to combat food waste is to convince consumers to alter their mindsets on what “ugly” or “waste” produce means. Most of the time, the leftover produce is not waste and has just as much use as the initial piece of produce yet it is still thrown out. This change begins with removing such negative words from our vocabulary.
According to McQuillan, the best way to reduce our daily food waste as individuals is to avoid buying more food than we need. By planning out our weekly meals, it is easier to buy from the grocery store only what we need and not in excess. By eating everything that we buy and buying only what we will eat, individuals can do their part to combat food waste. Less is more.
McQuillan hopes that in the future, the majority of the population will be thinking about what they consume in terms of sustainability, locally grown produce, seasonality and quantity. McQuillan also stresses the importance of respecting the quality of our soil, a resource that has been poorly conserved throughout recent years. If farmers do not rethink soil maintenance and crop rotation strategies, agriculture systems will remain in danger.
In class we learned how we could help the non-profit grow a garden in Overtown on Saturday mornings. This national trend of turning undeveloped, “vacant” land in low-income neighborhoods into gardens all faces a common threat: the ability of developers to build over the gardens. Because these gardens are grown on land that is deemed “vacant” by the city, at anytime developers can convert the plot into housing despite the benefits it brings to the residents of the neighborhood.
In both NYC and Chicago, multiple cases are seen where non-profits get approval from housing developers to plant the empty land but then are uprooted, without notice. This poses the question: is it worth it to build a garden on such exposed, unoccupied land? One such solution includes the New York City bill that just passed. This type of bill gives farmers and gardeners in the community a say in how community land is used. It should be interesting to see what happens when it goes into place.
For Miami, housing is being developed at an alarming rate in both two heavily low-income food deserts: Overtown and Little Haiti. Based on what is now happening in NYC and Chicago, non-profits should start looking at ways a similar bill done in New York can be established in Miami. Personally, I would really like to believe that the community and developers could compromise on the use of land, but my pessimistic, realistic side doubts it. The best thing to do now is to be aware of the threat these gardens are in.