The Future of Food
We are doing something new over here on “The Book” tab, which used to be the “Blog” tab… We are writing a book! Yes, really! We have so many stories of Hoosiers taking a more sustainable path that we can literally write the book on how green living in Indiana is taking off. In this section of our site, you will see chapters and topics prepared for our final manuscript. Sometimes we will add stories that didn’t fit neatly in all the sections, sometimes we will post videos or photographs that we are contemplating for “the book.” It should be an adventure, of sorts, and we are ready to go on our very first chapter on The Future of Food.
This is merely a draft.
Chapter One: How will we eat in the future?
We’ll grow more of our own food.
During World War II, “Victory Gardens” abounded throughout our nation. Public parks, front yards and vacant lots all were turned into sources of healthy, fresh, high quality food. By 1943, there were 18,000 such gardens across the country producing a full one-third of all vegetables grown in the US. We know we can raise our own food because we’ve done it before.
Backyard gardening has always been popular. In recent years, community gardens have sprung up across the state providing urban dwellers the opportunity to grow their own. The advantages of growing your own are numerous. It’s inexpensive. A single seed packet can produce a dozen or more servings. It’s nutritious. Most people need to eat more fruits and vegetables. It’s environmentally friendly since delivery requires a short walk rather than long truck ride from California. And, as any gardener will tell you, the taste of a fresh picked produce is vastly superior to what you can buy in the supermarket. (You haven’t really eaten peas until you’ve gently cooked them a few minutes after picking.) Community gardens have the added benefit of bringing neighbors closer together.
The Unleavened Bread Café is one example of a community garden that is providing a healthy food source to the Fall Creek neighborhood in Indianapolis.
THE UNLEAVENED BREAD CAFE
It is not glamorous in appearance or full of the finest things money can buy, but Elease Womack’s Unleavened Bread Café is far from flawed. With a sturdy foundation built on God’s will Elease began her journey with a visit to Tabernacle Presbyterian Church. While surrounded by a group of higher educated white Americans Elease referenced her B.A., (Born Again) degree, citing her inspiration in passages from both Luke and Ezekiel and gained spiritual allies. Aside from serving food, the café caters to rehabilitating those in need of a second chance or revitalized hope. Much of the food served is harvested from the community garden just outside the building. Several rectangular boxes are placed amongst the land and individuals, families, or organizations can rent out space and utilize the garden. Joe, the caretaker, has not experienced any issues with stealing despite the openness and lack of security.
As mentioned before, the café has firm roots in the Lord’s word and one will find daily Bible studies and Sunday church services. Additionally, Unleavened Bread offers different lessons, both survival and therapeutic, including trauma and recovery courses. The café can also be used as a venue for different theatrical productions, plays, and classes. More than anything Unleavened Bread café is where one can find motherly love and support that they have yet to experience in life.
This charitable work is carried out through funding provided by Tabernacle Presbyterian, Broadway United Methodist, and North United Methodist churches, individual donations, and occasional grants, but Ms. Womack and her café rely most heavily on random donations. Unleavened Bread café is a commendable example of the premise of Earth Charter Indiana as an organization; The Earth Charter itself. Combining ecological integrity, compassion for neighbors and strangers, providing opportunities, and appreciating all of Earth’s offerings are all the markings of an exemplary Earth Charter Indiana friend.
We’ll eat more plants and less meat.
“Beef – It’s what’s for dinner.” So says the ad. Whether beef, pork or chicken, the typical American diet centers around a meat portion. The average American consumes about 9 ounces of meat a day. But we’re learning that animal agriculture has a devastating impact on the environment and causes more disruption of the climate than all forms of transportation combined. And because it takes as much as 10 times more grain to produce the same amount of calories through livestock as through direct grain consumption, eating a plant-based diet could free up resources for the hungry. Many people are moving away from meat. Some are becoming vegetarians while others are limiting their meat to one or two servings a week.
Here’s the story of one person who made the switch to a low meat diet.
We’ll buy our food from small local farms.
That head of lettuce at your supermarket is a long distance traveler. Grown in the San Joaquin Valley in California, it has been trucked 2200 miles to get your neighborhood Kroger. Despite the fact that Indiana has over 15,000,000 acres of arable land, an estimated 90% of our food is imported. Doesn’t it make sense to grow food locally?
Indiana has a number of small farms producing food for local markets. That head of lettuce grown on one of these needs to travel only a few miles to market rather than cross country. It’s a huge energy savings. Additionally the quality is likely to be superior since it’s fresher. Here’s look at one of them.
HAWKINS FAMILY FARM
Just a few miles SE of North Manchester in Wabash County is a 99 acre family farm that combines three major features of climate readiness: Food Security, Green Jobs and Cohesive Community.
Jeff and Kathy Hawkins and their son, Zachary, are the principal farmers. Zach has just returned to his farm roots after exploring the wider world. With the help of occasional volunteers and clergy interns, the Hawkins family grows lots of veggies “naturally” without chemicals or artificial fertilizers while raising free-range beef, pork, chickens and turkeys in an interdependent circle of soil nurture and nutritious food. Beyond providing for the Hawkins’ table, the abundant harvest offers seasonal food for several families through CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares. Hawkins’ farm food also graces the menu of several area restaurants and can be purchased on site in the Farm Store which is open 8-6 Monday through Saturday.
Food also builds community at and beyond the farm. During the summer, neighbors far and near flock to the Friday-nights home-made pizza parties. Late in September the farm features an annual farm-to-fork-dinning-in-the-gardens upscale (with white table cloths) harvest dinner aptly named Between Heaven and Earth.
Another community building feature of the Hawkins’ Farm is called Hope CSA (Hands-On Pastoral Education using Clergy Sustaining Agriculture). Small groups of area clergy come to the farm one day a month to learn a more “organic” way of life and ministry where soil and soul unite under the tutelage of Jeff Hawkins, himself an ordained Lutheran clergyman.
The entire operation of the farm provides full and part time jobs that enrich and sustain soil, body and soul. Work may or may not be rewarded with money but money is not the motive or measure of a green job. Green jobs are measured by their contribution to a safe, sufficient and satisfying life for this and
We’ll buy food from large environmentally friendly and sustainable producers.
Large food producers will inevitably be part of the future. But being big doesn’t mean a producer can’t also be green. It is possible for a large corporation to have a minimal negative impact on the environment and still produce on a large scale. As the world’s awareness of the need to consider climate impact, people will demand that producers and suppliers be green. Bell Aquaponics is a corporation that is already operating in a way that is gentle to the planet.
The Earth’s population is predicted to reach 9 billion before 2050 and a major concern now and for the future is how to feed our enormous, growing population. In addition, approximately 20% of more of our diets should come from animal-based protein. Considering the Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR, the amount of feed for an animal to convert to weight), we need to move away from beef to pork, chicken, or fish protein. Not only does fish have the best FCR (approximately 1:1 or 2:1), it is a low calorie protein and contains numerous important nutrients, including essential fatty acids. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/) fish nutrients are believed to be effective in lowering cholesterol (triglycerides) and preventing heart disease in addition to being beneficial for controlling blood pressure, preventing stroke, and positively affecting many other health conditions including osteoporosis, bipolar disease, atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease and macular degeneration.
The USA currently consumes 7 million tons of fish per year but 91% of our fish is imported. It is important to know the source of our seafood as it is often caught or farm-raised without the regulations that protect the environment or consumers. Fish farming can provide needed protein especially to the Midwest but it also can present many problems to the environment. Fish feces and food waste from concentrated containments can pollute local water or lead to algal blooms which deplete dissolved oxygen and result in fish kills. Most fish aquaculture uses fish meal as a feed for the farmed carnivorous fish. The meal is made from the flesh, bones and offal of processed marine fish. The primary fish harvested to produce fish meal are anchovies, sardines, mackerel and menhaden. The harvesting leads to the depletion of food for competing marine carnivores. The use of fish meal also leads to a lower FCR when the consumption of marine protein is used to make farmed fish. Farm-raised herbivorous (plant eating) fish such as catfish or tilapia eat grain-based meal and avoid the need to catch fish to raise fish and boosts the FCR by comparison.
With the need for sustainably harvested fish in mind,an exciting new enterprise was established in Albany, Indiana – Bell Aquaculturetm. Using state-of-the-art systems the new facility was designed in 2005 in partnership with the Conservation Fund’s Freshwater Institute (www.conservationfund.org) with the goal to develop a fish farm business that would be as close to sustainable as possible. So as not to use excessive water resources and to release polluted water, 99.64% of the water is highly purified and re-circulated. There is no mercury or PCBs in the water (as is a problem for lake-caught fish in Indiana) and no antibiotics or hormones are used. Research was and is being performed to develop fish diets based on soy and soldier-fly larvae proteins to preclude the use of fish meal food. The first fish fingerlings were produced in May 2007 and a fish processing center was established in Redkey, IN. In January of 2009 Bell produced their first spawn of Bell Perch brood stock and by August, 1000 lbs of perch were sold.
In order to move towards an even more sustainable business, in 2010 Bell began the mass production of Fish Richtm organic fertilizer made from the bones and scraps left after fish processing. Because perch proved to be difficult to maintain on the plant-based diet, Bell moved to the production of Rainbow Trout, Steelhead and Coho Salmon in 2014. These fish have been farmed longer and adhere to the plant-based diet better. One major problem for Bell was the fish lagoon behind the facility where fish feces were released to break down. This was a waste of organic material and generated a foul smell. In 2014, new equipment was purchased to convert fish processing offal, thickened fish manure and dissolved nutrients into organic fertilizer using worms (vermiculture).
Bell Aquaculture is on the cutting edge of sustainable fish farming. Their business is providing high quality, uncontaminated fish to a large portion of the Midwest. They are continuing to help the local economy, researching the biology of aquaculture and are seeking additional ways to run their enterprise sustainably.
We’ll have community owned markets.
Locally owned grocery stores assure that decisions about products will be made not in a board room thousands of miles away, but in the community itself. The needs and desires of the community will be paramount. Further, there is a much higher likelihood that community owned stores will utilize local growers and suppliers. And any profits stay in the community. Stop by the River City Food Co-op in Evansville and you’ll find just such a store.
RIVER CITY COOP
Location: 116 Washington Avenue, Evansville (Vanderburgh County), 47713 River City Food Co-op is a member-owned community grocery located in downtown Evansville. The co-op offers a large selection of high quality, mostly organic food that is competitive in price and chosen with the needs and desires of patrons in mind. Lunch offered from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Monday in the cafe/gallery room. Contact Information: Lisa Sutton, general manager: (812) 401-7301, www.rivercityfoodcoop.org Category