26 October 2016: rising demand for organic foods and the struggles of US Whole Foods

Amidst rising demand for organic food and grocery products (for the UK, see The Organic Report 2016 by the Soil Association), the US supermarket Whole Foods has growing financial trouble. A recent report by Natural News describes how new competitive markets mean that consumers are shopping elsewhere for organic groceries, including in WalMart. In addition, the article reports how Whole Foods has  been caught up in a number of scandals, including price-gouging and cheating customers with false weights and measures which, it suggests, has also added to customer perceptions about how shopping in the store eats up your ‘Whole Paycheck.’

In the UK, although the Soil Association report demonstrates the organic market is up 4.9% on last year,  the most rapid growth has been in the organic health and beauty sector (up by 21.6%) and the catering sector (up by 15.2%).  The report also shows how widening interest in the organic sector has resulted in new opportunities for independent retailers (up by 7.5%) and growth in ‘box schemes’ and online sales (up 9.1%), alongside more modest growth in supermarket sales (up 3.2%).

23 October 2016: Food as Medicine – free online 3 week course

There are some excellent free online courses and I have come across one, starting today, on ‘Food as Medicine’ – run by Monash University. The course philosophy says:

“This course has been developed as a starting point for people interested in learning more about food, and how it may be used to support health. It is designed for members of the general public. We assume that you will have no prior knowledge about nutrition science and we have attempted to avoid using too many technical terms. If you already have a medical or nutrition background you may find that our content is not sufficiently detailed.”

It runs over the next 3 weeks and is worth checking out.

22 October 2016 – let them eat sausages

For those of you who like eating sausages – there is an interesting and entertaining article on ‘The Conversation’ on ‘How sauasages conquered the world‘. It is written by Prof Rebecca Earle, University of Warwick. May be good to read with breakfast.

10 September 2016: Story, story: voices from the market

If you can access BBC iplayer, there is a BBC World Service radio series set in a Nigerian market – you can find it here

18 August 2016: amazing visualization of trade and shipping routes

There is an amazing visual mapping (and narrative) of global trade and shipping routes here 

The visualization shows the huge number of container, cargo and other shipping vehicles moving around the world at any one time, including the vast amounts of CO2 emissions that go with all this traffic. Shipping routes such as the English Channel, the Suez and Panama canals are major highways! It would be great to see how much of this is food related.


12 August 2016 – Problems and dilemmas associated with Western demand for avocados and asparagus

Joanna Blythman brings attention to problems in Mexican communities associated with the growth in demand for avocados in an article in the UK Guardian. She points to deforestation, introduction of pesticides and fertilisers, and depleting water tables as some of the outcomes as local farmers (and drug cartels) are drawn to this new and lucrative business. Joanna Blythman goes on to suggest there is a need to balance exotic imports, such as avocados, against other more locally grown food commodities that provide similar nutritional benefits.  This reminds me of another publication, written by Ethel del Pozo-Vergens and Bill Vorley of IIED, that looks at other issues affecting choice between global or local food chains, including which are better at delivering food security and safety, decent employment, protecting the environment and contributing to economic growth.

You can read the IIED publication here



10 August 2016: learning from NYC markets

I was just reminded about the US Project for Public Spaces (PPS) by a blog on their markets’ training which champions public markets’ huge range of benefits, showing how they help tackle issues facing urban and rural neighborhoods by strengthening local identity, creating  healthy and accessible places that act as food hubs, and  boosting local economies. The blog features markets in New York City and has some great photographs and info. This ranges from the wholesale Chelsea Market, to the outdoor, seasonal Hester Street Fair, to plans for redevelopment of the Essex Street Market.

Links to other areas of the PPS website are a feature  for those interested to know more.