Food waste management in the US, UK and Japan

by Minako Kageyama Tanaka

This is the second of three blog posts by Minako Kageyama Tanaka* on food waste in the US, the UK, and Japan.

Food recovery hierarchy commonality and difference

How do the three countries tackle the food waste issue? The US, the UK and Japan articulate their food waste reduction strategies in their food recovery hierarchies. These hierarchies showcase available food waste reduction and recycling approaches and nudge people to take action in the order of least environmental impacts. Although the recovery steps in the three countries are not the same, the countries share many approaches. For example, all three countries start their hierarchy with the reduction of food waste sources. Redistribution of surplus to people and animals comes next, and recycling is the countries’ third preferable action.

However, each government’s recovery hierarchy differs slightly in its types of methods and actions. For instance, Japan is the only country among the three that specifically mentions using digestates for mushroom beds in its hierarchy. And the UK is the only country that sets landspreading in its hierarchy. These examples highlight these countries’ intentions to promote such recycling methods. 

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The problem of food waste in the US, the UK, and Japan

by Minako Kageyama Tanaka

This is the first of three blog posts by Minako Kageyama Tanaka* on food waste in the US, the UK, and Japan.

Food waste in the world

Many people pay attention to what they eat, but not to what they did not eat. According to an estimate released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), one-third of the edible part of food is wasted every year, which amounts to 1.3 billion tons per year. Given that between 720 and 811 million people are facing hunger and 2.37 billion people lack access to sufficient food, the amount of food waste is enormous. Besides, wasting food means wasting resources spent on food production and the supply chain.

To change the global consumption and production patterns in the food industry and its supply chain, the United Nations (UN) has set responsible consumption and production as one of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and calls for actions to “halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses” by 2030. The global society has only eight years left to achieve that goal.

Continue reading “The problem of food waste in the US, the UK, and Japan”

JOB POST! International Food Law and Policy Fellow at the Resnick Center for Food Law and Policy, UCLA Law

The Resnick Center for Food Law & Policy is looking for an International Food Law & Policy Fellow. Come join us! You can find the application here.

The International Food-Safety Law and Policy Fellow will research and write on innovative international best practices in food safety as part of the Resnick Center’s current scholarship on transformative governance models in food law. The fellow will work closely with faculty and staff at the Resnick Center and other researchers at UCLA and its project affiliates to research, analyze, and write a major report (the “Food-Safety Initiative”) on the transformation of food-safety best practices into policy. The research would include a focus on key concepts such as cooperation, information sharing, and partnership building. China will be one of several countries used as case studies.

The ideal candidate should have knowledge or interest in the field of international food policy and food systems theory, and have demonstrated capacity in analytical research and writing, with an ability to translate academic concepts to practical application.  

Open until filled.

JOB POST! Summer Internship, Food and Ag Law, Vermont Law School

Applications due January 14, 2022.

The Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) at Vermont Law School is seeking law student applicants for our Summer Honors Internship program. Interns will receive a $5,000 stipend to work full-time with CAFS from May 31 to August 5, 2022 (in Vermont or remotely). 

Interns will work alongside CAFS faculty and staff on a wide range of projects. In past summers, interns have worked on projects related to farmland access and equity; food labeling and regulation of novel food products; legal barriers facing food hubs; laws and regulations that protect the health and safety of farmworkers; legal resources for farmers markets; and biodiversity and agriculture. They have worked alongside project partners from Agrarian Trust, Farmers Market Coalition, and the Farm Bill Law Enterprise, among others. Tasks are dependent on project needs and may include legal research, drafting law and policy documents, conducting original research in the form of interviews and surveys, drafting case studies, and providing general support.

Vermont Law School’s Summer Session draws visiting faculty and lecturers from around the country and the world. Interns will have the opportunity to attend the summer lecture series and to meet with scholars and food system practitioners in small groups.

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JOB POST! Summer Internship, Harvard Law Food Law & Policy Clinic

Summer interns have the opportunity to engage in action-based learning to gain a deeper understanding of the complex challenges facing the food system, including hands-on experience conducting legal and policy research for individuals, community groups, and government agencies on a wide range of food law and policy issues. Interns are challenged to develop creative legal and policy solutions to pressing food issues, applying their knowledge from the law school classroom to real-world situations.

Summer interns will be eligible for a financial stipend of up to $4,000 from the Food Law and Policy Clinic, should they be unable to secure funding from other sources (we ask interns to demonstrate proof of having sought other funding but not receiving it). It is anticipated that the summer intern program will be in person this summer. 

The internship will run from May 31 to August 5.

Click here for the link to information and the application. The deadline to apply is 1/21/22, but early applications are strongly encouraged and applicants are being accepted on a rolling basis.

JOB POST! Center for Biological Diversity: Food and Agriculture Policy Specialist

Happy holiday season! Welcome to a new feature of On Food Law – job postings in food law and policy. As we come across them, we will post links to current job openings – the title of the post will always start with “Job Post” (for searches).

We will also post job openings on our Instagram stories (@uclafoodlawcenter).

Please keep in mind that we are not vetting or monitoring these openings, just posting. And please send any food law and policy job openings to winters@law.ucla.edu.

Click here for the CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY: Food and Agriculture Policy Specialist listing.

Commentary – It is Time for the United States to Learn About the Right to Food.

by Hilal ElverMichael T. RobertsDiana R.H. Winters, and Melissa Shapiro

Cross-posted on HilalElver.org

On US Election Day 2021, the state of Maine voted in favor of a constitutional “right to food”—a historic development for a country that has long refused to recognize the human right to food.

Will the US finally acknowledge that this right actually exists?

Maine is officially the first US state to recognize a right to food. On Election Day this year, more than 60% of voters agreed that Maine should amend the state constitution “to declare that all individuals have a natural, inherent and unalienable right to grow, raise, harvest, produce and consume the food of their own choosing for their own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health and well-being.” Put simply, those in Maine will have agency over how they procure their food within the bounds of food safety laws and quality controls. The “right to food” amendment, which was proposed by Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham (R-Winter Harbor) and received bipartisan support, was welcomed by a diverse constituency comprising small farmers, libertarians, liberals and those who believe that local producers should not have to compete with corporate food interests.

 Observing how Maine practically applies the “right to food” amendment in furtherance of the stated objective is critical. It will be necessary for Maine legislators to work closely with other state agencies to ensure that emerging programs and policies do not violate federal and state laws. It is also important for future decision-making to involve open consultation and participation from civil society and private sector. Being a trailblazer means that the path forward is not always clear; but those who have already dismissed the historic amendment as an empty promise or inoperable language are missing the point: Maine’s constitutional amendment is a transformative step towards the United States’ formal recognition of the human right to food.

Continue reading “Commentary – It is Time for the United States to Learn About the Right to Food.”

Service with FoodCorps

by Lucy Weiss*

With a background in Food Studies, an interest in food law and policy, and a belief in the power of education, I was searching for ways to combine my passions when a professor recommended FoodCorps to me. FoodCorps is an AmeriCorps service fellowship program focusing on student access to healthy food in schools that partners with local community organizations and school districts around the U.S. Service members participate in three primary activities: providing hands-on lessons, encouraging healthy school meals, and promoting a schoolwide culture of health. For example, members teach gardening and cooking and facilitate taste tests of new and different foods, although the COVID-19 pandemic limits some of what we are able to do. A number of service members also work with the cafeteria staff and school districts to ensure healthy food options are available and promoted at school lunches. Each state and site partner have different needs and therefore service varies from position to position. 

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Addressing Student Food Insecurity with a SNAP

by Kyle Winterboer*

As students return to in-person school, it is an important time to revisit the issue of food insecurity across America’s educational system. Particularly in Higher Education, recent studies suggest student food insecurity levels had reached as high as 38% in Spring 2020 and 5.8 of every 10 students experienced some form of basic needs insecurity. These rates have dramatically increased throughout the duration of the pandemic because students sent home for lock-down no longer had access to the already limited forms of support available in person on campuses.

A common tool used to fight food insecurity is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Despite its successes in reducing hunger and the economic benefits the program introduces to stimulate local economies, SNAP has many limitations and needs reform to better address food insecurity. One such limitation is that policy makers have long denied students access to SNAP. While the past decade has brought some expansions to grant students access, significant barriers remain. Barriers include restrictive student eligibility criteria and mixed messaging that leaves students misinformed of their eligibility. This policy failure leaves students hungry, many of whom would otherwise be eligible for aid if they were not pursuing higher education.

To show the real human impacts of these policy failings, journalist Alejandra Salgado details student stories in an article that appeared in CalMatters and was shared by Civil Eats: Colleges Rush to Sign Students Up for Food Aid, as Pandemic Rules Make More Eligible | Civil Eats

To provide additional context to the policies described in Salgado’s reporting, the below contains insights from Resnick Center Research Assistant Kyle Winterboer in this policy area. This research comes from his time with the student led research advocacy group “unBox”, the assistance of the UCLA CalFresh Initiative, his own application process amidst the pandemic, and from his time implementing a little known policy solution across UCLA departments to better support students in their SNAP applications.

The Resnick Center thanks the unBox Project and the UCLA CalFresh Initiative for readily sharing information for this report, and their continued dedication to the mission of ensuring equitable access to food for all.

Continue reading “Addressing Student Food Insecurity with a SNAP”

Community Gardens and Urban Farm: Land Acquisition

by Lucy Weiss*

Community gardens and urban farms are often thought of in conjunction with one another. After all, they share similarities; both are places where people, typically small-scale producers, come together to grow fruits and vegetables, and both provide consumers access to local produce. Both community gardens and urban farms benefit those who grow/purchase fresh produce, and the environment more generally. They recharge groundwater, prevent erosion, and mitigate dust impacts to cities. Community gardens and urban farms also face similar challenges including land acquisition, rising water rates, and climate change. Despite their overlaps, it is worth noting the distinctions between community gardens and urban farms, because these differences can  affect how they function. Urban farms typically have the goal of turning a profit whereas community gardens, which are run by residents and non profit organizations, tend to orient themselves toward education and facilitating relationships between people and nature. These divergent goals result in different models of operation. For instance, urban farms have fewer people doing more of the labor and getting paid for it. In community gardens, however, individuals often have their own plots of land and pay a membership fee to garden. Produce grown at community gardens is also eaten by individuals rather than sold for profit. Land acquisition also functions differently for urban farms and community gardens, which I will discuss in this post. 

Continue reading “Community Gardens and Urban Farm: Land Acquisition”

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