Cookies help us run our site more efficiently.

By clicking “Accept”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information or to customize your cookie preferences.

Search results

GoGreenNation News: Extreme winter spells trouble for food insecure
GoGreenNation News: Extreme winter spells trouble for food insecure

A hunger crisis is deepening for food insecure U.S. households, as they face the fallout of a recent severe winter storm and extreme cold weather conditions likely in the weeks to come. Driving the news: Food insecurity is already a critical problem affecting millions of Americans. Multiple experts tell Axios the escalating burden of extreme winter weather, compounding with higher food prices, is cause for concern. The big picture: People of color, those with disabilities and unhoused populations are most impacted by food insecurity in the U.S., according to Zia Mehrabi, an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Studies at UC Boulder. Mehrabi, who researches food security and climate change, tells Axios in an email that extreme events exacerbated by the warming world will continue to stress food prices — which have surged in the past year — and deepen existing burdens for these groups in particular. "Food insecurity is really a problem of poverty [and] limited access. And those who are most poor are also those who have the least resources to respond and recover from these storms when they hit," says Mehrabi. Details: Last year, more than 33 million Americans lived in food insecure households, according to the USDA's ERS. The share of households with children experiencing food insecurity rose during 2020 before dropping in 2021, which the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation largely credits to pandemic relief programs.The federal government increased Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, or SNAP, by 12.5% this fall, adjusted to the rate of inflation. But the child tax credit expansion, which helped reduce child poverty between 2020 and 2021 by 46%, expired at the end of last year.What they're saying: Melissa Spiesman, COO at the nonprofit Food Rescue US, tells Axios that many agencies that serve the food insecure were closed during the pandemic and have not reopened since. "So, a lot of the resources that were in place before the pandemic, never really reemerged afterwards," says Spiesman.The organization has locations in 21 states that transfer food surpluses from local businesses to agencies serving the food insecure. It expects to see a demand in need due to the winter storm and impending colder-than-average temperatures, which will compound with higher food prices and holiday stressors. Spiesman also expects the extreme weather impacts will financially strain already food insecure families, while pushing low-income households on the brink into becoming food insecure. "When you're just on the verge of it, everything is fragile and everything has an impact." Meanwhile: A blast of Arctic air straight from Siberia is poised to spread across the continental U.S. around Christmas, shattering records and potentially spinning up major storms forecast to hit the Great Plains, Central U.S. and the East, Axios' Andrew Freedman reports.Data from the USDA's ERS finds that the states with the highest average rates of food insecurity between 2019 and 2021 include Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, South Carolina and Kentucky. Some of those states are likely to see impacts from the Arctic outbreak. The intrigue: Conditions brought on by the winter storm and looming cold snap could mean subsequent impacts in the winter wheat zone, according to Felippe Reis, a crop analyst at EarthDaily Analytics. Winter is the fastest-warming season for much of the U.S., with episodes of weather whiplash occurring more frequently as unusually mild conditions are quickly followed by cold snaps. If an area experiences extreme cold temperatures but less intense snow, which Reis predicts could be the case for parts of states like Montana — where one in seven children face hunger — the likelihood for possible damage to winter wheat crops increases. State of play: This is just one of the climate impacts to agricultural production that the U.S. is seeing as the world continues to warm, according to Corey Lesk, a climate scientist and research associate at Dartmouth College."A lot of climate extremes in the major producing parts of the country that regularly affect the crop output have been getting worse," Lesk tells Axios.Yes, but: Poverty, unemployment, a lack of affordable housing and lack of access to health care, as well as systemic racial inequities, are all mechanisms driving the food insecurity that affects around 10% of U.S. households, according to the nonprofit Feeding America.The bottom line: "You can produce a great crop. That doesn't mean people are going to be food secure," says Lesk. "In the United States, the food security problem is more of a social problem."

GoGreenNation News: Our food tastes are turning salty ... and weird
GoGreenNation News: Our food tastes are turning salty ... and weird

Salty snacks, booze-free cocktails and plant-based everything were trending at a leading showcase event for new foods last week — plus some curveballs.In our quest for culinary novelty, some food trends are emerging that are just plain weird.Sleep-inducing foods like bedtime cookies, ice cream and cereal are a thing.Flower-flavored foods and cocktails — tinged with lavender and rose — are suddenly everywhere. (A "Bridgerton" lavender fizz, anyone?)"Upcycled" foods — made from ingredients that might otherwise have been dumped out or used for animal feed — are touting their tastiness.Driving the news: Salty snacks — pretzels, chips, popcorn and the like — topped the list of best-selling specialty foods last year for the first time, according to the Specialty Food Association (SFA), which hosted last week's trade show at the Javits Center in Manhattan.A "return to more social events and entertaining is driving sales" of this category, the SFA said in a trends report.Plus, "personal indulgence has proven to be pandemic- and inflation-proof." "In ’22, the chips category topped $6 billion — the first category to ever achieve this," per the SFA's State of the Specialty Food Industry report. Rose-tinged potato chips may work as an afternoon snack — a prelude, perhaps to the soporific qualities of Nightfood's chocolate chip cookies. Images courtesy of Sal de Ibiza and NightfoodSFA's "products of the year" were a salted butter with some serious environmental bona fides and a vegan passion fruit mochi with hints of coconut cream and oat milk.Runners-up included bite-size lobster grilled cheese appetizers, dill pickle ketchup with bourbon, blintzes made with chocolate, hazelnut and cheese, and Guinness macaroni and cheese with Cabot cheddar.Another offbeat winner: Potato chips imbued with a "subtle rose note" called "Chips La Vie en Rose."On the trade show floor, spray-can marshmallows were a big hit.Zoom in: One of the more memorable new products comes from Somali-Canadian supermodel Ubah Hassan, who's about to take a star turn in "The Real Housewives of New York City."Her line of hot sauces — "Ubah Hot" — comes in three flavors, developed when she moved to Manhattan five years ago and yearned for the tastes of her youth."All my girlfriends in the models' apartment loved it," Hassan told Axios. "I would bring it to hedge fund parties." Ubah Hassan shows off her Ubah Hot sauce at the Specialty Food Association's Summer Fancy Foods Show. Photo: Jeffrey Kingson Bloom for AxiosThe big picture: Food and drink makers are rewriting their playbooks to attract Gen Z consumers — whose taste buds, cravings and binge-worthiness meters are heavily yoked to TikTok and Instagram."The generation born between 1997 and 2012 are accustomed to greater choice and are less willing to consume what they don't immediately enjoy than previous generations," per the Wall Street Journal.To cater to their palates: "Beers are lighter. Drinks are more colorful. Coffees are colder," the Journal reports — and chicken is edging out beef.Of note: To keep younger consumers interested, food purveyors are trotting out all sorts of mash-ups — like IHOP's new "pancake tacos," in sweet flavors (strawberry cheesecake, caramel banana) and savory (chicken and gravy, scrambled eggs and bacon).Zoom out: In other food industry trends, there's a heavy focus on sustainable packaging, regenerative agriculture and other ESG-type considerations — as well as fun consumer experiences."Self-pour walls" have us pulling our own pints in restaurants — and churning out profits for the bars and breweries installing them.Foodberry, a Boston startup, is hawking edible, plant-based coatings for food inspired by fruit skins and peels — picture, for example, a ball of hummus encased in a snackable shell that tastes like a red bell pepper. "Upcycled" products include a new breakfast cereal made from a byproduct of cornmeal milling and tonic water made with leftover whey from a yogurt plant.What's next: More snacking and saltiness — particularly since one trend identified by a Whole Foods aficionado is "charcuterie at home.""Judging by the numbers in the first four months of ’23, we expect [crunchy] snacks to fuel growth in specialty through this year," the SFA predicts.

GoGreenNation News: New food diets aim to reduce climate impact
GoGreenNation News: New food diets aim to reduce climate impact

Move over, locavores: A slew of new labels — from "climavore" to "reducetarian" — reflect the trend of people eating with sustainability in mind to reduce their climate "foodprint."Why it matters: Food manufacturers, restaurants, and supermarkets are racing to cater to the zeal for lower-carbon eating choices, which has people eschewing plastic packaging, ingredients flown in from afar, and foods that are environmentally damaging to produce.While there's plenty of disagreement about what to avoid, top villains include faves like red meat, chocolate, avocados, sugar, and — gasp — coffee.The "eat local" mantra is being replaced by the notion that what you eat is more important — since transportation is sometimes just a small part of your meal's carbon footprint.Driving the news: Terms like "climatarian" are getting newfound attention from corporate America as young consumers gravitate toward what they perceive as "green" diets."By 2030, our routine food choices will be climate-directed," advises a report from consulting firm Kearney. "The companies that mobilize now will win the future of food."Restaurant chains like Just Salad, Chipotle, and Panera Bread are putting "carbon labels" on their foods — and, in the case of Just Salad, adding a "climatarian" filter on its app.Supermarket chain Fresh Market is among the many food prognosticators that declared "climatarian eating" a top trend for 2023.What they're saying: "If you walk into your local Stop & Shop in the middle of January, those blueberries have been traveling for 10 days and probably started out in Ecuador," says Paco Underhill, an environmental psychologist and author of the forthcoming book "How We Eat.""There's a nascent movement, particularly anchored in younger people, that is recognizing that," he tells Axios.How it works: Climavores' rules "are not hard and fast," instead allowing "a level of flexibility, based on the preferences of those who partake," per Fresh Market's report."Participation can include everything from eating pasture-raised to buying more local and organic ingredients, to reduce carbon emissions from transport to eating a plant-based diet with crops that are good for soil."Climatarianism is "less defined by ingredients," and more by "food choices based on climate impacts, practicing climate-conscious eating based on a series of dietary trade-offs intended to benefit the planet."There's a dizzying nomenclature affiliated with climate-conscious eating, with meaningful yet hard-to-parse differences."Sustainatarians" eat some meat but filter their diet through an environmental lens.So do "climatarians" and "climavores," who tend to be concerned — as one manifesto put it — "not only about the origin of ingredients, but also about the agency that those ingredients have in providing responses to human-induced climatic events." "Reducetarians" try to eat less meat for reasons ranging from animal welfare to their health or the environment. "They might be concerned about biodiversity loss, fresh water availability, or food justice — or trying to save money," Brian Kateman, president and co-founder of the Reducetarian Foundation, tells Axios.What's trending: "Regenivore" is the latest and hottest eating label, the New York Times recently reported."A new generation wants food from companies that are actively healing the planet through carbon-reducing agriculture, more rigorous animal welfare policies, and equitable treatment of the people who grow and process food," per Times ace food writer Kim Severson.Yes, but: Eyebrows must be raised about the amount of greenwashing involved in corporate efforts to embrace climatarianism. "All food products suffer from greenwashing, including pet food," asserts Earth.org, an environmental news and data platform. The most common examples: Promoting a product as "organic" or "made from real ingredients" when it's actually from a factory farm or uses genetically modified ingredients.Class-action lawsuits have been mounting against the labeling and claims made by food companies.The European Union is cracking down on "misleading climate claims on packaging and in advertisements," focusing on phrases such as "climate neutral" and “100% CO2 compensated,” Bloomberg reported last week.Reality check: Despite the mushrooming number of calculators that help people gauge their carbon footprints, truly adhering to a climate-conscious diet takes work and restraint.While "Meatless Monday" and other such efforts have their adherents, it's unclear how big a sacrifice most people are really willing to make — like steering clear of mozzarella from factory-farmed cows or shunning almonds because they're water-intensive.The big picture: There are all kinds of vertigo in the food world over best practices — as encapsulated by the epic news of the closing of Noma, a Copenhagen restaurant sometimes considered the best in the world.On one hand, Noma fetishizes local ingredients and foraging, serving "grilled reindeer heart on a bed of fresh pine, and saffron ice cream in a beeswax bowl," per the Times, which broke the news of the closing.On the other hand, Noma was accused of exploiting workers and using less-than-humane tactics in the pursuit of fine dining.What's next: Climate-based eating "might be in its infancy" but will gain steam as younger consumers "increase their concern for the planet," Fresh Market's report predicts.The bottom line: The opacity of farming and food manufacturing procedures can make it hard to determine the provenance of one's meal or its true carbon footprint, but it may be true that every little bit helps.Jennifer's thought bubble: Throwing a dinner party has never been more of a minefield, with everyone's diet to consider (Noom? Vegevore? Ketogenic?). Best to check with your guests in advance.

Join us to forge
a sustainable future

Our team is always growing.
Become a partner, volunteer, sponsor, or intern today.
Let us know how you would like to get involved!

CONTACT US