The Vicious Cycle of Unsustainable, Unaffordable Diets
From Stephanie Feldstein, Population and Sustainability Program Director
For many people the sticker shock of inflation hits hardest at the grocery store. One of the factors contributing to the climbing cost of food is the climate crisis or, as some experts call it, “heatflation.”
As the Center’s Senior Food Campaigner Jennifer Molidor recently told CBS news, heatflation puts enormous pressure on the environment, producers and taxpayers, and it’s simply not sustainable. And with American appetites for meat and dairy helping to drive climate change, the cycle of rising emissions and rising costs will continue to worsen. U.S. policies need to shift toward supporting plant-rich diets and sustainable agriculture. Unfortunately, so far the Biden administration has been adamant about excluding sustainability from key food and nutrition conversations.
Read on for the latest updates in our work to advance a just, sustainable food system and the connections between population, health and reproductive rights.
A young mountain lion killed by a car this summer on Southern California’s 101 freeway was the fourth radio-collared mountain lion in the area to die from a vehicle collision this year. As a Los Angeles Times editorial notes, the Safe Roads and Wildlife Protection Act — cosponsored by the Center — would create wildlife crossings to prevent these deaths.
3rd Annual Food Justice Film Festival — Register Now
The Center is hosting our third annual virtual Food Justice Film Festival from Sept. 15-18. Register today for free access to four days of feature-length and short documentaries that explore the links between food justice, sovereignty and security, and environmental sustainability. During the festival we’ll also share panel discussions with filmmakers and activists.
Our films this year feature Native Hawaiians fighting to protect their home from toxic agricultural chemicals, a Mexican American teenager working long hours in the fields and food-processing factories to help her family, and Black farmers pursuing justice against the discrimination and injustices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. There’s an inspiring story of Indigenous women reclaiming traditional foodways and one about how organic gardening and hiphop are curbing gang violence. Learn more about the movies on our website.
How Chemicals and Capitalism Harm Reproductive Health
Join Center staff and Nurses for Sexual and Reproductive Health for a webinar about how toxic chemicals and climate change impede reproductive justice and solutions to advance reproductive and environmental health. The webinar will take place on Thursday, Sept. 8, at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET.
In addition to a discussion and Q&A with environmental health and climate experts, the webinar will unveil a new Center report about the reproductive harm caused by fossil fuel extraction, plastic products, industrial agriculture and climate change.
Register for the webinar now.
The Next Step for Plant-Based Meat and Dairy
As a familiar, low-impact substitute for popular meals, plant-based meat and dairy may be an essential part of shifting toward more sustainable diets. But even though they require far fewer resources to produce than their animal-based counterparts, many of these plant-based meat and dairy foods still rely on harmful agricultural practices.
The plant-based sector has an opportunity to set new standards for sustainability and justice across the food system. We’ve outlined practices and standards it can adopt to further improve its supply chain, operations, and company policies — including key steps to account for biodiversity protection, resource conservation and creating a more equitable, inclusive workplace.
Here’s one thing you can do: Check out our new resource and share it with your favorite food companies. If you work in the plant-based sector and are interested in learning more about taking your sustainability values to the next level, contact us.
The Scary Connection Between Climate and Disease
A new study has found more than 1,000 links between extreme weather caused by climate change and illness in people. Out of the 375 known human infectious diseases, 58% were worsened by climate hazards like flooding, heat waves and drought. Out of 286 noninfectious diseases — such as asthma and allergies — 223 were worsened by climate-related impacts.
“As this database started to grow, I started to get scared, man,” said lead researcher Camilo Mora. An infectious disease expert not associated with the study called the findings “terrifying.” There are still a lot of unanswered questions about how climate and disease interact, but this study underscores the climate crisis as a public health priority.
Here’s one thing you can do: The Inflation Reduction Act is full of giveaways to the oil and gas industry that undercut its climate goals, but President Biden can still take action to end our reliance on fossil fuels. Tell Biden to declare a climate emergency.
It’s been nearly two months since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and stripped away the constitutional right to safe, legal abortion in the United States. According to Guttmacher, within a month of the ruling, 11 states in the South and Midwest had either outright banned abortion or banned it starting at six weeks of pregnancy — before many people even know they’re pregnant. Several other states continue to move toward abortion bans, causing some clinics to stop offering abortions due to legal uncertainty.
Abortion is an essential health service. When lawmakers restrict access to abortion, they are restricting the ability of people to achieve gender empowerment, get the healthcare they need, and choose if and when to have children. Without reproductive justice there can’t be environmental justice.
Here’s one thing you can do: Members of Congress are home for their August recess, making it the perfect time to hold them accountable for their position on reproductive rights.
Wildlife Spotlight: Huachuca Water Umbel
The Huachuca water umbel is a semi-aquatic herbaceous plant in the carrot family. It has slender, cylindrical leaves that grow straight up from the roots. Below these leaves sit the umbels — an umbrella of wide, maroon-tinted flowers. This unique plant has the ability to move to disturbed habitat after a flood and quickly expand its population. But where it once flourished in riparian areas of the Southwest, it’s been reduced to disconnected clumps in a handful of wetlands.
Although the species has been listed as endangered since 1997, the largest population of Huachuca water umbel was destroyed by trespassing cattle the Bureau of Land Management failed to remove from the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. In addition to the endangered water umbel, the San Pedro is home to several other endangered species and hundreds of plant and animal species. Earlier this month, the Center and Maricopa Audubon Society reached a legal agreement with the BLM that the agency would remove the trespassing cattle and repair the boundary fencing to keep cows out.