Author: Steve Savage

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This Is Your Global Food Supply On Climate Change

OK, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I think that this year’s climate extremes are linked to human-caused climate change. We might not really have the definitive answer on whether that is true for 20 years, but I would like nothing better than to be proven wrong about the linkage I’m making today. From a global food supply perspective, the effects of weather on 2012 food production is problematic no matter what its cause. As bad as it seems, it might just be a “shot over the bow” relative to what me might expect in the future.

August 11th

Mixed Messages in the Latest Data in the FAO Food Price Index

On Thursday (6/7/12), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) released it’s indices for food prices in international trade. Most of the news coverage was upbeat because May showed the largest drop in some time. For instance, the allAfrica website had a headline, “FAO Food Price Index Drops Sharply.” It was a 4% drop; however that comes after several months where the index stayed flat and failed to show the sort of major correction that occurred after the last spike (2007-9). Even with the drop in May, the index is still nearly as high as it’s highest level in that previous spike.

June 9th

Aflatoxin: A Toxic Potential of Climate Change

One of the most toxic and carcinogenic threats in the human food supply is a natural chemical called “aflatoxin”; the chance that it will contaminate a crop is enhanced by drought and/or insect damage – both conditions expected to be more common with the onset of climate change.

January 24th

Who Owns America's Farmland?

Nationwide, farmers only own 60% of the land they farm. In many of the most productive row cropping areas of the Midwest, the percent of farmer-owned land is significantly lower (see Map above from the USDA, 2007 Census of Agriculture). Much of our farmland resource is owned by non-farmers and rented to those who actually […]

November 29th

Why Does Organic Seem Larger Than It Is?

For a long time we have been hearing that “Organic is the fastest growing segment of the food industry.”  Organic advocates make the claim that Organic could “feed the world” or that it could be “the solution to global warming.”  There is definitely enough buzz about Organic to make all of this seem plausible.  The […]

August 22nd

In Defense of Orange Juice

(8/11 edits in italics below based on feedback from citrus industry scientists).  A recent blog post on a site called “Food Renegade” is apparently getting quite a bit of attention on the internet.  It was critical of not-from-concentrate (NFC) orange juice because it involves the use of flavor additives and because oxygen is removed from the […]

August 10th

Genetic Contamination May Not Mean What You Think It Means

In the debate about GMO crops, the “threat of genetic contamination” is often raised as a reason  to reject the technology.  Is this threat real?  Does it justify acts of vandalism?  Could it lead to the “End of Organics“?  Is it actually an over-blown issue?  To answer these questions it is necessary to put this […]

August 1st

Toxics: The Long Term, Low Dose Question

Each year, the USDA generates an extensive set of data which demonstrates that modern American consumers face no real threat from toxic pesticide residues on their food.  This is particularly true in terms of “acute toxicity,” or short-term poisoning.  Someone would have to eat thousands to millions times their own body weight to kill themselves […]

July 26th