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Posts Tagged: sustainability

Sustainability - what does it really mean?

What is sustainable agriculture?
Sustainability has become a buzzword. Everywhere you look it's sustainable this, sustainable that. But what does it really mean? What makes something truly sustainable? And what does it mean in terms of food production?

April's Global Food Systems Forum invigorated the conversation. The event convened some of agriculture's leading experts to address the plethora of challenges that face our global food systems. The conversation brought forward several hot topics: GMOs, large scale vs. small scale production, nutrition and more.

But even with the riveting debate, the question remains: What is sustainability? Is it focusing more on natural ecosystems? Is it being completely self-reliant, or turning only to organics? Is it focusing on a larger multi-national scale?

UC ANR has started holding a series of sustainability webinars to continue the conversation and tackle some of these questions. The first webinar took place on Feb. 15, 2013 with Tom Tomich, director of the UC Agricultural Sustainability Institute. The webinar tackled the issue of sustainability: What is it? Is there a sustainability science? What is at stake? The video can be seen on the ASI website.

The second webinar, on May 31, 2013 with Neil McRoberts, professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at UC Davis, focused on linking sustainability theory with practice. McRoberts addressed sustainability theory using formal models to plan and track extension outreach efforts, and linking interdisciplinary scientists. Though the webinar is not yet available online, it will be soon on the ASI website.

The next webinar is Thursday, June 13, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Featuring Ermias Kebreab, professor in the Department of Animal Science at UC Davis, the webinar centers on environmental sustainability of animal agriculture. Topics will include: sustainability as a "wicked" problem, water quality and livestock production, and the mitigation of air emissions from livestock operations. The webinar is free and open to the public. More information is available on the Agricultural Sustainability Institute website.

Sustainability is a complex issue. These questions about the definition and concept are not going to be answered overnight. But as long as these types of conversations and learning opportunities continue to take place, I'm confident we'll continue adapting and meeting the complex challenges with which we are faced.

Posted on Wednesday, June 5, 2013 at 8:48 AM
  • Author: Marissa Palin
Tags: agriculture (12), ASI (2), food system (1), sustainability (7), webinar (2)

Nominate a leader in sustainable farming

The Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis is calling for nominations for the 2013 Eric Bradford and Charlie Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award.

The award recognizes and honors individuals who have exhibited the leadership, work ethic and integrity epitomized by the late Eric Bradford, a livestock geneticist who gave 50 years of service to UC Davis, and the late Charlie Rominger, a fifth-generation Yolo County farmer and land preservationist.

Nominations are welcome for UC Cooperative Extension advisors and specialists as well as UC Davis graduate students, faculty members, and in special cases, alumni, for their work toward agricultural sustainability.

Award recipients receive a cash prize and may be invited to give a lecture hosted by the institute.

Nominations are due by Jan. 2, 2013. To nominate a leader in agricultural sustainability visit the ASI website.

The Bradford-Rominger award recipient will be announced in spring 2013.

Learn more about the award from last year’s recipient.

Posted on Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 10:12 AM
  • Author: Eve Hightower
Tags: Sustainability (7)

UC Davis voted America’s “coolest” school

After just experiencing my first Davis summer, I find it hard to describe anything in Davis as cool. But according to Sierra Magazine, UC Davis is just that. So much so, that the school was recently named the #1 Coolest School in the nation. Granted, they weren’t talking about the weather. Instead, they were referring to UC Davis’ environmental stewardship.

With all that UC Davis does to create and promote environmentally friendly programs and facilities, it’s no wonder the university just received this high honor. The campus is on track to reduce campus greenhouse gas emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020 and reduce campus electrical use by 60 percent by 2015.

Bicycles on the UC Davis campus.
UC Davis also provides sustainable forms of transportation to 85 percent of students and 46 percent of employees. As a fairly new Davis resident, I’m still constantly blown away by the number of bikes on campus, especially during the first week of school. Being from Long Beach, I always feel a pang of culture shock watching the Davis police handing out bike traffic violations instead of combating violent gang activity.

In 2011, UC Davis encouraged recycling, composting and reuse efforts that prevented 64 percent of campus waste from entering landfills. Sierra Magazine praised the university for its green purchasing, spending more than 20 percent of its $5.6 million food budget on local and organic products.

UC Davis also received international attention last fall, when it officially opened the doors to UC Davis West Village, the nation’s largest planned zero net energy community.

“At UC Davis, sustainability is one of our core values,” said UC Davis chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi. “I am very proud of the students, faculty and staff who have worked so hard to make this achievement possible and to invest in a more sustainable future for our campus.”

Other California schools that made the top 10 included Stanford University at number 3, and UC Irvine at number 9. California had the highest contingency of schools in the top 10 list.  

Congratulations to UC Davis, for earning the title of Coolest School in the middle of this summer’s heat!

Watch this Sierra Club video highlighting UC Davis’ green achievements to learn more:

Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 8:51 AM
  • Author: Marissa Palin

Pests present border threat

Spotted wing drosophilia was first detected in California in 2009. Here, a blackberry destroyed by SWD larva.
Dozens of foreign insects and plant diseases slipped undetected into the United States in the years after 9/11, when authorities were so focused on preventing another attack they overlooked a pest explosion that threatened the quality of the nation's food supply, the Associated Press reported today. The article was picked up by Politico.com, CBS News and other national publications.

"Whether they know it or not, every person in the country is affected by this, whether by the quality or cost of their food, the pesticide residue on food or not being able to enjoy the outdoors because beetles are killing off the trees," said Mark Hoddle, an entomologist specializing in invasive species at the University of California, Riverside.

Springs rains blamed for sudden oak death increase
Guy Kovner, The (Santa Rosa) Press Democrat

The level of sudden oak death infection in Sonoma County and other parts of the Bay Area tripled over last year's rate, according to a survey conducted in June in nine counties from Humboldt to Monterey.

“It's a red flag,” said Matteo Garbelotto, head of UC Berkeley's forest pathology laboratory.

What sustainability means in agriculture
Amanda Radke, Tri-State Livestock News

Amada Radke reported on a panel discussion on agricultural sustainability, which took place at UC Davis in September. The panel included farmers, activists and the dean of the UC Davis College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Neal Van Alfen.

“There is so much debate and controversy among naturally-raised foods and conventionally-raised foods, and that's too bad, because one isn't always better than the other,” said Van Alfen. “If we don't make our system work, we are all in trouble. We have to figure out how to feed the world sustainably. Research is so important to help farmers reduce input costs and work to make organic foods more sustainable and efficient.”

Posted on Monday, October 10, 2011 at 10:31 AM

Boost sustainability by eating low on the food chain

Some people believe eating low on the food chain is one way to help preserve the environment. And, in fact, livestock production consumes much more land and other resources per calorie than the production of plant foods.

A story on the website Bohemiam.com suggests it also makes sense to eat insects for improved dietary sustainability. Insects and other arthropods constitute an edible resource of tremendous biomass, the article said. Ants alone reportedly make up about a third of all terrestrial animal biomass.

Iowa State University's entomology department provides recipes for "rootworm beetle dip," which includes a cup of dried and roasted beetles. The site also has recipes for "banana worm bread," chocolate chip cookies with dried crickets crumbled into the dough and "mealworm fried rice," calling for equal parts rice and larvae.

Writer Alistar Bland got information for his story about the consumption of snails from a UC Davis website. Mainly known as a garden pest, snails were introduced into California from France in the 1850s as a food source. Snails may be sautéed in butter and garlic and served in the shell.

An eight-page UC publication is available for $1.50 from the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources catalog with instructions for raising and preparing snails for food.

Common garden snails can be a sustainable food source.
Common garden snails can be a sustainable food source.

Posted on Friday, November 19, 2010 at 3:25 PM
Tags: snail (1), sustainability (7)

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