“Greening our Global Food System”

© 2018

Update from Editor Hazel Henderson on new research since we released our Green Transition Scoreboard® 2018, April 23, 2018.  All this research collected from around the world in the past 3 months confirms our own findings!

Back in 1986, during my first visit to China, I was taken to an upscale restaurant in Shanghai and enjoyed what I thought was a delectable chicken dinner.  I was advised later that all the food served in this restaurant was vegetarian, and that in most Asian countries then, vegetarian diets were prominent.

Fast forward to today, I read in Bloomberg Businessweek, Sept. 17, 2018, “Where’s The Beef?” about a food company, Vegetarian Butcher, Inc.  based in Holland, 8 years ago, making 40 different meat-like vegetarian products, a vegetarian restaurant   and a factory called the “Plant Slaughterhouse” now upping its production to 44,000 pound of plant-based meats this year!  Founder Jaap Korteweg, a farmer, realized that Holland’s millions of pigs, vulnerable to swine fever outbreaks, were not the best way to produce meat. He became a vegetarian (like me since the 1980s) and teamed up with Dutch leader, Niko Koffman, leader in their senate of the Animal rights Party and they created Vegetarian Butcher, now with 70 employees and distributed in 70 countries with $29 million gross profits in 2017.

In our Green Transition Scoreboard® 2018, “Capturing CO2 While Improving Human Nutrition & Health”, we covered this global movement to reform food systems, using such plant-based proteins, overlooked wild and indigenous plants (e.g. jackfruit), as well as shifting our current over-investments in our few fragile monocultured crops in the global agrochemical industrial markets. These are all based on the planet’s 3% of freshwater, overlooking the thousands of food plants that love salt (halophytes, e.g. quinoa), that grow in 22 countries on degraded and desert lands, without pesticides or fertilizers, irrigated only with saltwater.  This shift to saltwater agriculture is a no-brainer … because these salt-tolerant plants also contain superior nutrients, many with complete proteins, and capture CO2 from the atmosphere …. vital to stabilizing the global climate and keeping warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

Since our Green Transition Scoreboard 2018 was released, April 23, 2018, citing all the investments and startups in plant-based proteins and “meats” (e.g. Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, Memphis Meats and others), news on the growth of vegetarianism, veganism and new investor groups (e.g. FAIRR, with $7 trillion AUM) are signaling explosive developments worldwide.  Even US animal meat producer Tyson Foods new CEO has invested $55 million in Beyond Meat and says that “Meat is the next tobacco!” (Bloomberg Businessweek, Aug,20,2018) and Tyson is formulating protein bowls with quinoa, lentils and chickpeas for its vegetarian brand “Green Street”. The same article reports that Cargill bought into Memphis Meats, Perdue is investing in niche organic brands and Hormel Foods Corp, maker of Spam, is also developing animal-free products. Beyond Meat products are now in 20,000 grocery stores including Kroger, Walmart and Target and Nielson reports that retail sales of plant-based foods jumped 24%, four times that of meat sales and ten times that of retail generally. Surveys by NPD Group found 70% of meat-eaters are substituting non-animal proteins at least once a week. In our report, we pinpointed how these trends were grounded in animal rights concerns, health benefits of plant-based diets, and to protect the environment from the destruction caused by livestock-raising.

The larger “good news” story we reported on the huge opportunities  in growing halophytes (see our TV program “Investing in Saltwater Agriculture: The next Big Thing“ with NASA Chief Scientist Bushnell), also  included  along with CO2 capture by these deep roots of halophytes ,all the other ways of capturing CO2 from the air  and the many startups now turning this CO2 into  useful products: cement, plastics and other products.

The additional planetary context we showed, included the current scientific research on the state of the planet’s forests, rangelands and agricultural acreage in use.  Now, new research confirms all our earlier findings:

“Where’s the Beef?”, Bloomberg Businessweek, Sept.17, 2018.

“Tom Hayes Isn’t Chicken”, Bloomberg Businessweek, Aug. 20, 2018.

“Climate Container Farm”, Bloomberg Business Week, May 9, 2018.

“The Briny Deep”, New Scientist, New Scientist, Sept. 8, 2018, Reports on the global state of desalination of ocean and brackish water for human drinking needs.  Apart from the huge costs and energy used in desalination, the build-up of brine “waste” is reaching  limits making technologies unsustainable…..as we had reported.

“No System on Earth is Safe From Climate Change” a report of 42 scientist in Science, Aug 30, 2018.

“The World is Losing the War Against Climate Change”, The Economist, Aug. 2, 2018

“Should We Dim the Skies to Save the World”, The Atlantic, Aug. 30, 2018, confirms  our view that “geo-engineering” by trying to block sunlight with particles of silver or sulphur dioxide involves incurable risks, especially to our agriculture.

“Blocking sunlight to cool Earth won’t reduce crop damage from global warming”, ScienceDaily, Aug. 18, 2018, more evidence of its unsustainability.

“As CO2 levels Climb, millions at risk of nutritional deficiencies”, ScienceDaily, Aug. 29, 2018, confirming our research that freshwater plants were already losing nutrients due to declining minerals in soils.

“North American diets require more land than we have, study finds”, ScienceDaily, Aug. 9, 2018, confirming our research that freshwater agriculture must now be supplemented by an immediate and viable shift to saltwater grown foods.

“We have more than enough calories, but what about other nutrients?”, ScienceDaily, Sept. 14, 2018 further confirmation of our research.

“Natural mechanism could lower emissions from tropical peatlands”, ScienceDaily, Sept. 11, 2018, confirming our finding that natural methods for CO2 capture and storage work best.

“Mysteries of deep soil carbon unraveled”, ScienceDaily, Sept. 11, 2018, shows research focusing in better directions.

“Wetlands are key for accurate greenhouse gas measurements in the Artic”, ScienceDaily, Sept. 11, 2018, more confirmation of CO2 storage patterns.

“Global coastal wetlands need to move inland in fight against climate change”, ScienceDaily, Sept 12, 2018, up to 30% of coastal wetlands could be lost by 2100 due to sea level rise and flooding.  More evidence of the need to use them for saltwater agriculture and stabilization.

And for some better news:

“Environmentally friendly farming practices used by nearly one third of world’s farms”, ScienceDaily, Aug. 18, 2018, evidence that sustainable practices are flourishing and being adopted worldwide.

“Cover the U. S. in 89 percent trees, or go solar”, ScienceDaily, Sept. 7, 2018, confirms that CO2 capture and sequestration works, but these researchers focus only on 62% freshwater agriculture land — missing the more viable option of using saltwater agriculture on unused scrublands.  They are correct on the other solar option, as we verify in Green Transition Scoreboard®!

“Large wind and solar farms in the Sahara would increase heat, rain, vegetation”, ScienceDaily, Sep. 6, 2018, with overall beneficial effects in the Sahara Desert.

We will keep you our subscribers updated as all this research expands and how this huge global market unfolds, as we first reported in our Green Transition Scoreboard® 2018. Look for our next issue in 2019.

~Hazel Henderson, Editor”