Technical ReportPDF Available

CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD: DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD - FINAL PROJECT REPORT

Authors:
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD
DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD
FINAL PROJECT REPORT
APRIL 2009
2121 Crystal Drive, Suite 500 | Arlington, Virginia 22202 | Phone 703 302 6500 | Fax 703 302 6512
©2010 Winrock International. All rights reserved.
PG 2 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
I would like to acknowledge the financial support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which made this project possible through its long-
standing commitment to sustainable food systems and good food. I would particularly like to thank Ricardo Salvador, who oversaw
this project grant during most of its duration as the Foundation was going through a major redirection and for his willingness to let
our research lead us into directions that the original project proposal did not foresee. I would also like to acknowledge the support
and invaluable advice of Core Team Members Gail Feenstra, Michael Rozyne, and Stephanie Daniels, who were with this project in its
entirety, and Michael Hamm and Sandhya Rao, who were with us at the beginning of the project but then had to move on. Stephanie
Daniels started as an assistant but quickly became a full member of the Core Team. Sarah Borron and Simca Horwitz were added late
in the game to help with interviews and tracking down data; both made substantial contributions to the project and I only wish that
I had hired them sooner. John Fisk provided guidance at key decision points in the project, and was unfailingly supportive in making
resources and staff available. Shanna Ratner contributed wonderful insights as she evaluated the project, and her previous work on
indicators profoundly influenced the paths we took. Jeff Farbman, Wallace Center Intern, produced the graphics with flair and good
spirits. I would also like to thank the numerous people who made time in their busy schedules to talk with us and provide written
comments, as we sought their advice while exploring the sometimes murky world of data on sustainability in food systems. While all
of the people above helped to improve this work, I take sole responsibility for errors and omissions. I have no illusions that this report
is the final word on healthy, fair, green and affordable food; but I hope that we have helped to advance the thinking about what needs
to be measured and managed to make our food system more sustainable.
Molly Anderson PhD, Senior Fellow, Wallace Center at Winrock International
CHARTING GROWTH PROJECT TEAM
Project Manager and Lead Author:
Molly Anderson PhD, Senior Fellow, Wallace Center at Winrock International
Project Director:
John Fisk PhD, Director, Wallace Center at Winrock International
Core Team:
Michael Rozyne, Executive Director, Red Tomato
Gail Feenstra, Ed.D, MS, Food Systems Analyst, Sustainable Agricultural Research & Education Program,
University of California, Davis
Stephanie Daniels, Consultant
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 3
TABLE OF CONTENTS
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Visual snapshot of the indicators, hot spots and notable facts ........................................5
INTRODUCTION TO GOOD FOOD
Why Good Food Matters ......................................................................7
FAS Mission, the Vision of “Good Food” and Theory of Change. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Current US Food Supply and Barriers to Good Food .................................................9
PROJECT APPROACH
Project Goal and Objectives ..................................................................12
Indicators Framework and Criteria. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Major Project Decisions on Methodology. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
SUGGESTED DEFINITIONS WITH INDICATORS AND MEASURES
Healthy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
National Indicators - Health ............................................................... 17
Health Hot Spots .......................................................................19
Other Health Indicators Considered but Not Included ...........................................20
Fair .................................................................................... 21
National Indicators - Fairness ............................................................. 21
Fairness Hot Spots . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Other Fairness Indicators Considered but Not Included . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Green ..................................................................................27
National Indicators – Environmental Quality ..................................................27
Environmental Hot Spots ................................................................. 29
Other Environmental Indicators Considered but Not Included .....................................30
Affordable ...............................................................................32
National Indicators - Affordability .......................................................... 32
Affordability Hot Spots ................................................................... 33
Other Affordability Indicators Considered but Not Included .......................................34
Promising Innovations for Good Food ......................................................... 35
NEXT STEPS
Appropriate Use of Suggested Indicators . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
Beyond Good Food .........................................................................41
What We Learned and Implications for the Theory of Change toward Good Food ..........................42
Recommendations on Research Needs .......................................................... 46
CITATIONS ..................................................................................47
PG 4 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
LIST OF
Figure 1. Food and Society Theory of Change (from 2% to 10%). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Figure 2. Import Shares of US Consumed Food ...................................................... 10
Figure 3. Comparison of Import Shares by Volume across Selected Commodities. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Figure 4. US Per Capita Meat Consumption 1985-2005 ............................................... 11
Figure 5. DPSIR Framework of Food System. ........................................................ 13
Figure 6. Food System Activities.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
LIST OF APPENDICES
Appendix 1. Health Trends ......................................................................51
Appendix 2. Fairness Trends ....................................................................55
Appendix 3. Environmental Quality Trends ......................................................... 59
Appendix 4. Affordability Trends .................................................................63
Appendix 5. Promising Innovations Trends ......................................................... 66
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 5
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Farmland is remaining in production
GETTING WORSE
Soil quality is improving
GETTING BETTER
Water contamination by pesticides in
agricultural areas is declining
UNKNOWN
The nitrogen balance of US farming systems is
declining
GETTING WORSE
Agricultural production emits declining
amounts of greenhouse gasses
MIXED
Hot Spots
• Livestock wastes are potential sources of endocrine disrupting compounds to the environment.
• Agricultural lands could be a potential source of environmental steroidal estrogenic compounds when
animal manure is applied over long periods.
• Estrogen contribution by livestock manure accounts for at least 90% of the total estrogen in the
environment
• The 2008 dead zone is the second largest on record since measurements began in 1985 and is larger than
the land area of the state of Massachusetts.
• Farmland bird populations declined in all OECD countries that report population trends between 1991 and
2004, but the decrease was less pronounced than had occurred over the 1980s.
• The efciency ratio is the quotient of harvested food energy and energy invested in the growing process.
Substantial energy losses are incurred in all modern intensive animal production
Notable Facts
• In 2006, the agricultural production sector was responsible 6% of total U. greenhouse gas emissions.
• Energy used in food processing, distribution, and wholesale and retail can be twice as large as that
consumed by field farming and animal husbandry, and food preparation takes 30-50% of all the energy
used in an affluent nation’s food chain.
• In total, each American requires approximately 19% of the total energy use in the USA to supply their food.
• A vegetarian diet requires 33% less fossil energy than the average American diet.
Death rates of diet-related diseases are
decreasing
GETTING BETTER
Fruit and vegetable consumption meets current
US dietary guidelines
MIXED
Adult overweight and obesity prevalences are
decreasing
GETTING WORSE
Child overweight prevalence is decreasing
GETTING WORSE
The incidence of food contamination is decreasing
GETTING BETTER?
Hot Spots
• Type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents, although still rare, is being diagnosed more frequently among
American Indians, African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, and Asians/Pacific Islanders.
• There are disparities in diabetes prevalence between white and colored populations.
• Medical expenses associated with overweight and obesity accounted for 9.1 percent of total US medical
expenditures in 1998.
• The CDC’s National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicalsshows undetectable or very
low levels of aldrin, endrin and dieldrin (organochlorine pesticides that have been discontinued in the
US); detectable levels of mercury in women of child-bearing age, but below the level currently associ-
ated with neurodevelopment effects in the fetus; and widespread exposure to pyrethroid insecticides.
• Agricultural use, much of it for growth promotion of livestock, accounts for 40 percent of the antibiotics
sold in the United States.
Notable Facts
• Among 49 states that have date for 1994 and 2005, the age-adjusted prevalence of diagnosed diabetes
was at least 50% higher in 2005 than in 1994 in 27 states.
• In 2005, only 32.6% of the surveyed US adult population consumed fruit two or more times per day, and
27.2% ate vegetables three or more times per day.
• Between 1977 and 1996, portion sizes for key food groups grew markedly in the US, not only at fast-food
outlets but also in homes and at conventional restaurants.
SUSTAINABLE FOOD INDICATORS
HEALTH TRENDS
ENVIRONMENTAL TRENDS
PG 6 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Farmworkers receive wages sufficient to
support a household for full-time work
GETTING BETTER
The percentage of farmworkers hired through
labor contractors is declining
GETTING WORSE
Food system workers have safe, healthy working
conditions (non-fatal injuries)
GETTING BETTER?
Food system workers have safe, healthy working
conditions (fatal injuries)
MIXED
Average net farm income of small & mid-scale
family farms matches or exceeds median
national household income
MIXED
Hot Spots
The risk of leukemia, stomach, cervical and uterine cancers was signicantly elevated in California farmworkers in
comparison with the state’s Hispanic population.
• Hendrickson and Heffernan have documented trends in concentration ratios: the market share controlled by top rms
within a specific industry. These demonstrate an extreme level and very rapid increase in concentration in most indus-
tries.
• The proportion of non-White farms among all farms in the US fell from 15 percent in 1920 to 2 percent in 1992. The
number of Black farms fell from 1 in 7 farms in 1920 to only 1 in 100 farms in 1992.
• Within a sample of agricultural workers, there was a positive correlation between urinary organophosphate metabolite
levels and poorer performance on some neurobehavioral tests.
• Only one-third of Black-owned acres are operated by the owner; most Blacks rented their land to others (mainly Whites). In
1999, only 1.7% of farm owner-operators were Black, American Indian or Asian; and 1.9% were Hispanic.
• In North Carolina, a substantial number of farmworkers’ children have multiple exposures to pesticides.
• In California, a study of primarily Latino children found signicant correlations between six metabolites of organophospate
pesticides measured in pregnant women’s urine and mental development and pervasive developmental problems in their
children at 24 months of age.
• Human Rights Watch estimates that 300,000 children work in the US as hired laborers in large-scale commercial agricul-
ture
• Child farmworkers make up only 8% of children who work in the United States, yet account for 40% of work-related fatali-
ties among minors.
Notable Facts
• Farmworker unemployment rates are double those of all wage and salary workers. Those working in eld crops have twice
the unemployment rate of livestock workers.
• Poverty among farmworkers is more than double that of all wage and salary employees.
• Of all private U.S. agricultural land, Whites account for 96 percent of the owners, 97 percent of the value, and 98 percent
of the acres.
• Monsanto has its genetically modied seeds for corn, cotton, soybeans and canola on more than 90% of the acreage that
uses GMO seeds
• Globally, four seed rms (DuPont [Pioneer], Monsanto, Syngenta and Limagrain) have about 29% of the world market for
commercial seeds.
The prevalence of child food security is
increasing
MIXED
The prevalence of household food security is
increasing
MIXED
Increases in wages and salaries are equal to or
greater than increases in food prices
MIXED
Hot Spots
Even the maximum levels of food stamps are inadequate to buy a healthy diet, according to current dietary guidelines.
• “Calorie-dense” foods (i.e., junk food) are cheaper overall and more resistant to price ination than “nutrient-dense” foods.
• During the past two years when food prices rose sharply in the US, the cost of healthy staples such as milk, fruit, veg-
etables, bread and eggs rose significantly more than the average price increase.
• The absence of supermarkets and the inability to nd quality groceries can lead to food insecurity, hunger, and obesity.
• Foods that are most likely to be missing in stores in low-income neighborhoods include the healthiest foods: fresh fruits and
vegetables; whole whole grain products, such as bread, cereals and pasta; lowfat dairy products; and fish and lean meats.
Notable Facts
• Black (22.2 percent) and Hispanic (20.1 percent) households experienced food insecurity at far higher rates than the
national average.
• Retail grocery-store prices leapt 7.6 percent in September of 2008 from a year earlier, driven in part by a 14.2 percent rise
in cereal and bakery prices. USDA expects food prices to increase as much as 5 percent in 2009, following an estimated 6
percent gain in 2008.
SUSTAINABLE FOOD INDICATORS
Acreage of mid-scale family farms is
holding stable
GETTING WORSE
Farmers retain a consistent proportion of the
food dollar
GETTING WORSE
FAIRNESS TRENDS
AFFORDABILITY TRENDS
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 7
INTRODUCTION TO GOOD FOOD
WHY GOOD FOOD MATTERS
We are what we eat; and, through eating, we re-make our world according to what we are. It is hardly surprising that a country where ever-higher levels
of material consumption are prized as signs of status and progress is showing the impacts of over-consumption in our bodies, in our national budget and
individual credit-card balances, and in our land and waters. Fast food consumption has surged since the first McDonald’s opened as a walk-up stand in
1948, featuring 15-cent hamburgers, french fries, milkshakes, coffee and Coca-Cola. The roads into every major US city have become anonymous strip-
malls studded with the same ubiquitous fast food outlets; and in many low-income neighborhoods, fast food is more convenient and less expensive to buy
than healthy fresh produce. Obesity and overweight have reached epidemic levels. Many environmental problems caused by the food system persist or are
getting worse: for example, excess nutrients pouring into the Gulf of Mexico created the largest hypoxic zone ever in 2008, damaging a valuable fishery that
was once called the “Fertile Crescent”. Wages and working conditions of farmworkers, whose backs support the US fruit and vegetable industry, have been
stagnant for decades at levels far below average household wages or conditions deemed acceptable in other industries. Price volatility has been wreaking
havoc on farmers in the US, despite recent high prices because of speculation, biofuel demand, and the global food crisis.
Changing US food consumption patterns is an undeniable part of the solution to pressing and persistent environmental, health and social problems as-
sociated with the US food system, but attention to how this can be encouraged is relatively new. A growing number of people are looking at the interlinked
processes of production and consumption, and examining the entire life-cycle of food products, in the search for more sustainable ways to live on the planet.
CONTEXT
The Charting Growth Project began at the Wallace Center in late 2006, with funding from the Food and Society Initiative (FAS) of the W.K. Kellogg Founda-
tion (WKKF). FAS was launched in 2000 as part of the Food Systems and Rural Development program of WKKF, with the vision of “a future food system that
provides all segments of society a safe and nutritious food supply grown in a manner that protects health and the environment and adds economic and
social value to rural and urban communities”. The purpose of FAS is “to support the creation and expansion of community-based food systems that are lo-
cally owned and controlled, environmentally sound, and health promoting”. FAS projects focus on three primary areas: market-based change, institutional
support, and public policy.
In 2005, FAS made the decision to set a goal of increasing the level of “good food” in the US to at least 10% of the total food purchased, with the assumption
that this would be a critical tipping point at which further growth would accelerate due to market forces (Figure 1).
PG 8 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
In this diagram, “HFL” refers to “Healthy, Fresh and Local”, the attributes of good food under consideration when this theory of change was developed. In
essence, FAS posited several reinforcing loops “virtuous” (R): growth in individ ual and institutional demand for good food is augmented by both public
policy and technological innovations. As demand rises, supply from both food corporations and community-based food systems (CBFS) will grow to meet it
and further augment the growth in demand, which will lead to even greater demand for supportive public policy and innovations. At approximately 10% of
food supply, the food system might reach a “tipping point” at which this loop would continue to be self-reinforcing without the need for steady infusion of
donor funds. This theory focuses on demand, not supply.
But exactly what is “good food”, and how would its growth be measured? After the theory of change in Figure 1 was created, FAS made the decision that
the key attributes of good food would be healthy, fair, green and affordable. This decision was based on experience funding community-based and national
organizations working in sustainable agriculture and community development since the inception of FAS. By adopting the growth of good food a s its mis-
sion, FAS joined others calling for a simple, clear description of the goals of food system reform. The plethora of health and environmental claims that have
been made recently for different food products generated consumer confusion; in response, interest rose in a simple concept such as “good food” or “real
food”. But while “good food” sounds simple, making the concepts of healthy, fair, green and affordable operational in such a way that they can guide
grant-making is far from straightforward.
In 2008, the overarching mission of WKKF became “to support children, families, and communities as they strengthen and create conditions that propel
vulnerable children to achieve success as individuals and as contributors to the larger community and society.” The foundation has retained its commit-
ment to good food as it seeks to addresses the conditions that impact vulnerable children, families and communities. A healthy diet and well-functioning
food systems to supply it are essential needs; and many children in the US suffer the effects now of poor diets that affect their cognitive capacity, health
and ability to function.
Demand
Indiv/Institutional
S
4
R
R
Public
Pressure
Innovations
Other
Values -Based
Drivers
Effective
Public Policy
Incentives
S
S
S
2
Food and Society
Theory of Change
(From 2% to 10%)
Other
Values -Based
Drivers
Supply of
HFL from
CBFS & Corps.
Market
Attractiveness
Amount
Of HFL
Purchased
S
S
S
Product
Attractiveness
S
S
1
R
S
S
3
R
Figure 1.
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 9
CURRENT US FOOD SUPPLY AND BARRIERS TO GOOD FOOD
How much of the US food supply is “good food” at present? Answering this question with some precision requires not only an operational definition of good
food, but also an understanding of food sources and flows in the US. This section provides an overview of data sources on the US food supply, and how
various aspects have changed over time.
Some of this information is available in the public domain through data and reports generated by US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service
(ERS), but much remains unknown. For example, ERS tracks the amount of several hundred different kinds of foods and their nutrients that are available
for consumption per capita, but not how much is actually consumed. Core Food Availability data are a continuous series extending back to 1909 for many
commodities. The data are calculated for each food or commodity as the sum of annual production, beginning stocks, and imports minus exports, ending
stocks, and nonfood uses. Per capita estimates are calculated by dividing the total annual food supply of a commodity by the US population that year.
The series indicates whether people in the US, on average, are consuming more or less of various foods over time. But the availability data overestimate
consumption, because they do not account for spoilage and waste in the marketing system and at home. In the mid-1990s, ERS devised ways to adjust
the data for spoilage and waste. They estimated that this cuts the amount of calories actually available for consumption by about one-third, although the
amount varies by commodity. For example, spoilage and waste for fresh apples from the farm to consumer are an estimated 39%, but for cheddar cheese
only 18% (Wells and Buzby, 2007).
Data on what people in the US actually buy and eat come from two primary sources: industry databases on the amount of food sold and consumption sur-
veys. USDA conducted analyses of food commodity consumption, the Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals (CSFII), during 1994-96 and 1998.
ERS researchers used this dataset to establish a baseline for tracking US food and commodity consumption. The CSFII was integrated into the National
Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the US Department of Health
and Human Services.
NHANES is a better current source of data on consumption than industry data, even though it is based on self-reports which are notoriously faulty, because
data on sales do not account for waste through home storage, preparation and plate-waste. Furthermore, data on sales are not always publicly accessible
and not consolidated consistently across retailers. In addition, a percentage of food consumed by people in the US comes from non-sales venues, such
as private emergency food assistance (pantries and food banks), bartering arrangements, or home and community gardens. Demand on food banks and
pantries across the US has gone up drastically over the last year due to the combined pincers of economic recession and rising food prices. The all-food
Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 5.5 percent between 2007 and 2008, the highest annual increase since 1990. Food-at-home prices, led by fats and oil
prices (up 13.8 percent) and cereal and bakery product prices (up 10.2 percent), increased 6.4 percent; and food-away-from-home prices rose 4.4 percent
in 2008 (ERS, 2009). Not surprisingly, the numbers of people who are food-insecure, or unable to reliably access enough food for active, healthy living, have
soared over the last two years. A preliminary study by researchers at Boston University found that US food insecurity jumped 30% in the first six months of
2008, compared to the same period in 2007. The proportion of meals that people in the US obtain from private emergency food assistance providers versus
through purchase at supermarkets, home or community gardens, bartering, or other means is not known.
How fair is food distribution, and how fair is the distribution of impacts due to ways that food is produced, processed and distributed? How fair are busi-
nesses that make money in the food system to their employees? These questions are difficult to answer because fairness is a nebulous and contentious
concept. Although the US prizes its legacy as a land of opportunity, where even the son of an African immigrant can become president, it is also a country
riddled with health, educational and income disparities. In few sectors is this so glaring as in food industries. Farmworkers earn wages far below the
poverty level and have shortened life expectancies because of dangerous working conditions. They are excluded from the National Labor Relations Act, which
provides basic worker protections in other sectors. At the same time, some of the richest people in the US gained their wealth from Wal-Mart, the largest
grocery supplier in the country.
PG 10 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
Where is the food that comprises the US food supply produced and processed? An approximate answer comes from import data reported by ERS. The
aggregate import share of US food consumption in 2005 was 7 percent when based on value, but 15 percent based on volume (Jerardo, 2008; Figure 2).
Figure 2. Import Shares of US Consumed Food.
These aggregate figures mask significant difference across commodities (Figure 3). For example, 79% of fish and shellfish consumed in the US is imported
but only 3% of dairy products.
Figure 3. Comparison of Import Shares by Volume across Selected Commodities.
Where food is produced and processed matters to the question about supply of good food, because knowledge about the consequences of production,
processing and distribution on people and the environment is more limited for imports, especially those from developing countries. Due to aggregation of
products, it is sometimes difficult to trace exactly where imports were produced or processed. And even when traceable, the data on environmental and
social impacts of agriculture in developing countries is often scanty or poor quality. Health concerns are also different for imported food; it is subject to a
different system of monitoring than food produced in the US, and the ability of the Food and Drug Administration to test imported foods is weak.
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 11
What kinds of food do people in the US eat, and how has this changed over time? Fruit and vegetable consumption is especially important because higher
frequencies of consumption are associated with lower risk of several chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some cancers. The
frequency of fruit and vegetable consumption changed little in the US from 1994 through 2005 (Blanck et al., 2008), despite growing awareness of the
importance of fruits and vegetables in a healthy diet. The National “5 A Day for Better Health” program started in 1991, and nutrition education has focused
on increasing fruit and vegetable consumption since then.
Meat consumption has come under attack increasingly because of concerns about greenhouse gas emissions from livestock production. One of the top
recommendations to consumers for diminishing their impacts on global warming is to eat less meat (first suggested in a popular publication in Brower and
Leon, 1999). However, meat consumption has been rising rapidly worldwide. In the US, poultry consumption grew and beef consumption declined somewhat
between 1980 and 2005 (Figure 4), but we do not yet have data to show whether concerns about greenhouse gas emissions are stimulating any decrease
in meat consumption overall.
Figure 4. US Per Capita Meat Consumption 1980-2005.
What does this short sketch of trends in the US food supply tell us about good food supply? At the very least, they indicate that tracking food supply in
general is complex and that multiple factors, many of them unknown and unknowable to US consumers, affect how healthy, fair, green and affordable the
US food supply is. They also raise some questions about the attributes of good food, barriers to making good food accessible to everyone in the US, and the
theory of change underlying the original charge for this paper.
Data on food insecurity juxtaposed with data on changes in the Consumer Price Index suggest that “affordability” might be a problematic concept: food
insecurity seems to be rising much faster than the CPI for food. So the price of food appears to interact with other factors to affect food access. The dis-
crepancy between public policy encouraging consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables and actual consumption rates suggests that behavior changes, and
change in demand, might be responding to other factors that overwhelm or counteract the effects of public policy. So this virtuous circle is not as simple as
it seems. The large proportion of imported foods in the US food supply tells us that changing US food consumption patterns might not have a direct effect
on improving environmental impacts from food production and processing in the US. Effects depend on which products are consumed more or less, and
their source. The trends outlined here informed many of the methodological decisions of the Charting Growth project.
PG 12 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
PROJECT APPROACH
Wall Street interests have dened not only the structure of our economy but also the indicators by which we assess
its performance. Focused on nancial indicators, we accept that the economy is sound even when it is killing us.
Real-wealth indicators of the health and well-being of our children, families, communities, and natural systems reveal
terminal systemic failure. Since we get what we measure, we should measure what we want. (Korten, 2009, pg. 89)
PROJECT GOAL AND OBJECTIVES
The goal of the Charting Growth Project was to develop indicators of good food, for use by WKKF’s FAS Initiative. Its objectives are to:
• Dene healthy, green, fair and affordable as attributes of the system for WKKF. 1
• Develop a broadly credible set of national indicators of good food for WKKF and simple, readily comprehensible ways to display them.
• Use the indicators to assess the current availability of good food in the United States.
Although many people have worked on indicators of sustainability and sustainable development, applications to food systems are relatively new. A small
team 2 reviewed the related literature and interviewed numerous experts on food systems and WKKF’s selected food attributes to develop definitions, indica-
tors, and measures. Many of the people we interviewed and other stakeholders gave useful feedback on an earlier draft of the definitions, indicators and
measures. We incorporated many of their suggestions in a draft that was posted on the Wallace Center website for public comment in December 2008. In
late January, we posted a questionnaire on the Wallace Center website and distributed an invitation to review the draft indicators to FAS Project Directors,
the FAS Policy Fellows listserv, additional Wallace Center contacts, and on the Community Food Security Coalition’s listserv (COMFOOD-L).
The term “indicator” is used in many different ways in the literature, to mean anything from a broad goal to a data point. We use the term in this project to
mean a positive change in attributes of interest— in our case change toward greater health, fairness, “greenness” (environmental quality), or affordability
of the US food supply. In other words, our indicators are short statements of conditions that would indicate that the US food supply is indeed healthy, fair,
green and affordable. We decided to select positive indicators because we think that they can help people to envision a healthy, fair, green and affordable
food supply. Without specific ideas about what success would look like, we are unlikely to achieve it. This is the approach promoted by Yellow Wood As-
sociates through its You Get What You Measure indicator development methods, which influenced this project and have helped to motivate strategic action
through indicator development for numerous organizations and communities. We use the term “measure” to mean the data showing change in an indicator
over time. For each attribute, there are several possible indicators; and for each indicator there may be several possible measures.
INDICATORS CRITERIA AND FRAMEWORK
In selecting the best indicators from multiple possibilities, we used criteria that many other indicator development projects have used.
Indicators (the statements about positive change) should:
• be measurable
• be relevant to the attributes of interest
• address the most important trends and impacts related to these attributes
1
2 Project Director John Fisk, Project Manager Molly Anderson, and Core Team Members Gail Feenstra, Michael Rozyne and Stephanie Daniels, with research assistance from Sarah Borron
and Simca Horwitz
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 13
• be sensitive/responsive to changes over time in physical conditions
• be hierarchical (providing a clear overview, but amenable to expansion into detail or at finer scales)
promote learning and effective feedback to decision making
Measures (the data supporting the indicators) should be:
valid and reliable (high quality)
timely (indicating problems or progress while there is still time to act to prevent negative consequences)
collected and reported regularly and consistently over a broad geographical range of the US
publicly available
transparent and understandable
Recognizing that many indicator development projects have generated such large and complex sets of data that they are never used, we also wanted to
keep the indicators and measures we selected simple. Therefore, our indicators do not include all impacts or even all of the negative impacts—only the
ones we judged to be most important according to the criteria. In selecting measures for the indicators, we gave priority to data that are valid, reliable and
transparent because we wanted the indicators to have broad credibility and legitimacy.
Indicators can include a tremendous number of possible data, so it is important to begin with a sense of the system that we are trying to analyze and how
the pieces fit together functionally. A common way to conceptualize indicators systemically is by selecting them from important drivers, pressures, states,
impacts and responses (DPSIR) within the system of interest. This is an extension of the Pressure-State-Response (PSR) model originally developed by the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and has been adopted by the European Environment Agency and several United Nations
agencies. The following diagram (Figure 5) shows this framework for the food system, with some of the important components listed.
Figure 5. DPSIR Framework of Food System.
PG 14 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
MAJOR PROJECT DECISIONS ON METHODOLOGY
Our charge was to select credible, legitimate indicators to estimate the amount of “good food” available at any given time, with the end goal of drawing
meaningful inferences that might guide action. We took this charge seriously, but in the end we decided it is impossible. There are at least four insurmount-
able problems with this charge. First, the most legitimate measures and indicators according to our criteria usually deal with impacts rather than states;
but the amount of “good food” available is a state variable. Impact indicators show the cumulative effects of multiple states over time, including the
amounts of “good food” produced, processed, distributed, sold, purchased, consumed and wasted. The original charge from FAS focused on a single state
within this system: the amount of “good food” available in the US. In the diagram below (Figure 6), we show, in yellow, the part of the food system where
FAS’s mandate is focused (the amount in sales and non-sales distribution outlets) and this state variable in relation to the entire food system.
Figure 6. Food System Activities.
Most agricultural indicators focus on production activities. But we consider the impacts of interrelated activities in the food system, from food production
through consumption to be important. In our list of indicators, we show the food system activities each indicator represents: food production, processing,
distribution, sales and purchasing, and consumption. By focusing on impacts of the whole system rather than a single state, we captured much more of
the food system (including the impacts of approximately 30% of food that is wasted). Our indicators only deal with conditions in the US, however; so we do
not capture the impacts of international production and processing of food that enters the US food supply. We made this choice because the FAS Initiative
is domestic, although the entire WKKF funding portfolio addresses agricultural activities in other countries.
A second and closely related issue is that we had to look beyond food products to the food system in order to define the attributes of interest to this study.
Even attributes that might at first glance seem to describe a food product_“healthy” or “affordable”_depend in fact on systemic attributes: foods are
healthy in the context of an entire diet and activity level, and affordable in the context of wages and other household costs. While we emphasized impact
indicators, we included a few indicators from other parts of the framework.
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 15
Our criteria for indicators and measures along with the first two problems discussed above had big implications for the methodology we chose. Rather than
determining attributes of a “market basket” of typical foods, a reasonable approach had we been interested only in the “good food” available in sales and
non-sales distribution outlets, we relied on national data about impacts. The market-basket approach is appropriate for other research questions, of course;
but it would have required that we use retail data based on Stock-keeping Units (SKUs) embedded in bar codes on food products to find the proportion of
certain types of food that are flowing through retail outlets. These data deal with only one state in the food system, and their interpretation would depend
entirely on filters we—or the retailers who own the data—assigned to determine what is healthy, green, fair and affordable. In contrast, we wanted indica-
tors that are transparent, based on publicly accessible data, and open to interpretation by the stakeholders. We used national data, but most of the impacts
that our indicators show are apparent at more refined geographic scales. Therefore, many of the indicators we selected are applicable at state or local levels.
The third issue with our original mandate is that the four food attributes are not additive, so giving a single number for the amount (or percentage) of good
food available is not possible. FAS selected these attributes precisely because they deal with different dimensions of food. Collapsing the dimensions into
a single number would be misleading, because it might allow poor performance along one dimension to be traded off with good performance on another
dimension.
A fourth and related issue is that each food attribute requires a goal or target to determine whether we as a society are “on track” to a good food supply. A
goal or target is different from a definition. For example, we defined “healthy” in relation to food’s intrinsic properties and safety, as affected by how it is
produced and handled. But the threshold values for various indicators of those intrinsic properties and food safety are value judgments that society must
make: selecting them is not the prerogative of “experts”. We suggested decreasing prevalence of diet-related disease as an indicator of healthy food and
food systems, but the best we can do in this project is to depict the trend. We do not have the authority to say how much diet-related disease is tolerable
to society, or the point at which the prevalence of diet-related disease shows clearly that the food supply is unhealthy. Setting legitimate goals for food
systems can be done only through a multistakeholder participatory process.
As we tried to come to terms with internal contradictions of our charge, we opted for legitimacy based on robust data on cumulative impacts. This ruled out
the choice of building a set of indicators for the amount of food for sale in retail outlets, and using proprietary, non-transparent or inconsistent data. We
sought the most complete and valid data in the public domain, and avoided simplistic proxies such as equating “green” with the amount of organic food
produced or the amount of US farmland in organic production. In addition, we avoided indicators that relied on complex calculations or highly technical in-
formation because we wanted the indicators to be readily comprehensible. Where our indicators match those in other prominent indicator development proj-
ects, we tried to use the same measures for comparability. The latter consideration was most relevant for “green” indicators, because there has been much
more domestic and international work on indicators associated with agriculture’s environmental impacts than impacts associated with the other attributes.
After we had determined the priority criteria for indicators, we still had several decisions to make about project methodology. The first was whether indica-
tors should apply at the national level and/or at other scales. Many of the projects funded by the FAS Initiative were community-based; WKKF has enabled
community-based solutions to agricultural problems to thrive in a national context that has favored large-scale businesses or explicitly “scale-neutral”
solutions. WKKF clarified that the current need was for national-scale indicators, but we also gave some attention to whether these indicators would be
appropriate at other scales.
To select possible indicators, several pathways were possible. There has been growing interest in participatory indicator development and the Project Team
explored this option by developing a work plan to compare indicators of food system sustainability or good food that different potential users (food industry,
community-based organizations, government agency staff and academicians) generate. The funder expressed a preference for an expert-driven approach in
order to focus the work on a national level set of indicators and measures with credibility in conventional forums. As a result we developed a list of experts
in each food attribute the project intended to focus on (healthy, green, fair and affordable) and used a semi-structured questionnaire to interview these
PG 16 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
experts by phone, e-mail or in person. We created a snowball sample by asking each informant to provide names of other experts who could provide useful
information about how the good food attributes are measured in the US and the quality of data available. We interviewed 48 people, meanwhile comparing
notes within the Project Team about what we were finding. A set of draft indicators with a short introductory section describing project goals and indicator
criteria were circulated to 54 people, and also presented at two small sessions at the Community Food Security Coalition conference in order to get input
from community-based organizations about their potential applicability. We received responses to the draft from 24 people and modified the draft according
to the recommendations we had received. We posted the draft on the Wallace Center website in December, 2008. The implications of the methodology we
used and what we learned are addressed later in this report, in the section on “Lessons Learned.”
We selected two types of indicators: the first type, National Indicators, points to aspects of the food system that are most critically in need of immediate
action by policy makers in order to achieve the attributes of a “good food” supply. None of these indicators is ideal, and we note some of their limitations.
We hope that showing the best that can be done with publicly available data will help to illuminate information gaps that must be filled by collecting new
information and/or restructuring existing data collection in order for society to track the sustainability of food systems adequately. This is a vitally important
endeavor and deserves far more attention and resources than have been devoted to date.
This first set of indicators is supplemented with a second set indicating the success or growth in Promising Innovations. While the first set points to current
problems that must be addressed, the second set points to possible solutions, often pilot programs that could be replicated more widely and that contrib-
ute to improvement of more than one attribute of good food. Promising Innovations also tend to span multiple food system activities more often than the
National Indicators.
We also highlighted “Hot Spots”: places or situations in which impacts of the lack of healthy, fair, green and affordable food and food systems create espe-
cially serious conditions that need attention. We gave priority to impacts of the food system that affect children’s vulnerability, since this is WKKF’s current
emphasis. The measures for Promising Innovations and Hot Spots did not necessarily meet all of our criteria, but National Indicators are not sufficient alone
for guiding decisions about the food system. Much of the data we would like to see is not available, and the National Indicators do not capture potential
solutions to problems or important emerging issues. While we could not point to all of these with the Promising Innovations Indicators and Hot Spots, they
highlight some we think are especially noteworthy.
Healthy, fair, green and affordable are important food attributes; many citizens would agree that we want a food system that can be described in this way.
Selecting indicators for these attributes and evaluating the available data about them are important steps toward linking sustainable production and con-
sumption in the US food system. For too long, the discussion about sustainable agriculture in the US has been focused on just production. The FAS Initiative
and this project help to overcome that narrow perspective by considering how sustainability must be achieved in both production and consumption of food.
The literature review that we conducted as part of the Charting Good Food project emphasized that participatory processes are necessary in order to get
buy-in from people who must implement changes in a system. This kind of process has not happened at the national level in the US so far, so our indica-
tors should be viewed as a starting point for measuring sustainability in the US food system. Much more public dialog will be needed to define the most
important and credible attributes of sustainable food systems. The final section of this report, Beyond Good Food, lists some other attributes suggested by
advocates of sustainable food and sustainable food systems that do not seem to fit clearly under healthy, green, fair or affordable.
In the following sections, we suggest definitions of healthy, fair, green and affordable, including distinct dimensions or aspects of each; the rationale by
which we determined the most critical impacts for each attribute; and our recommended National Indicators and accompanying measures. Additional
criteria were necessary for each attribute to narrow down the choice of indicators. These are designed to make sense to most US consumers, but may en-
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 17
courage them to consider impacts of the food system of which they were not previously aware. We explain why we selected each indicator and measure, and
note limitations. After the National Indicators, we list Promising Innovations, then Hot Spots. We also list some of the indicators of each attribute that we
considered and would have liked to include but could not because of data limitations.
SUGGESTED DEFINITIONS WITH INDICATORS AND MEASURES
Healthy
Definition:
Healthy food makes a significant contribution to a healthy diet and does not cause diet-related disease under normal circumstances. Dimensions
of healthy foods are their intrinsic properties (such as being whole and minimally processed) and safety, which is affected by their journey through the food
system and how they are handled at each stage. The additional criteria we used to focus health indicators are impacts on loss of human life, significant
loss of quality of life (such as through sickness), and public cost.
NATIONAL INDICATORS – HEALTH
(See Appendix 1 for Trends):
(1) Death rates of major diet-related disease prevalence are decreasing. (Food system activity = consumption)
Measures:
death rates of diet-related diseases that are among the top causes of US mortality (heart disease, cancers, stroke, diabetes).
Source: National Vital Statistics Reports, Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Health Statistics for leading causes of death http://
www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/deaths.htm and mortality associated with each; World Cancer Research Fund (2007) for links between specific
cancers and diet.
Explanation:
While the top causes of mortality used to be infectious diseases and accidents, chronic diseases associated with diet have
moved to the top of the list. In part, this is because people are living longer; but poor diets clearly play a role as well. A larger proportion of
the population eating healthier foods should be reflected in lower death rates (deaths per 100,000 people) of diet-related disease.
Limitations of this measure:
We rely on expert judgment to show the degree of certainty that diet is linked to specific types of cancer. New
scientific evidence may show stronger or weaker correlations, as causal mechanisms are better understood. Between 1998 and 1999, the
method of reporting age-adjusted death rates changed, making direct comparisons difficult. In addition, the national mortality register
includes some unknown proportion of misdiagnosed or misreported causes of mortality.
Limitations of this indicator:
Death rates do not mirror disease prevalence; increasing numbers of people may have a disease but the death rate
may go down rather than up because of improved treatment options. Each diet-related disease has complex causal genetic and environmental
factors in addition to diet. The links between diet and disease are not fully understood yet, and some diseases that have been considered
diet-related may have other primary causal factors. For example, reported links between diabetes and environmental contamination have gotten
renewed interest lately (Jones et al., 2008).
(2) Adult overweight and obesity prevalence are decreasing. (Activity = consumption)
Measures:
prevalence of adult overweight and obesity. Source: Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Health Statistics, National
Health & Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES; overweight and obesity incidence reported in 2-year periods, latest posted data 2003-4)
PG 18 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/pubs/pubd/hestats/overweight/overwght_adult_03.htm.
Explanation:
Rapid increases in the prevalence of overweight and obesity have led to serious concerns in all industrialized countries, and
increasingly in developing countries as well. Overweight and obesity are highly correlated with several diseases, and the individual and social
costs of coping with and treating these diseases are large.
Limitations of this measure:
NHANES has the usual limitations of self-reported consumption data and is available only in 2-year intervals. It
is preferable to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which also includes obesity estimated, because it is based on actual measure-
ments of height and weight rather than self-reports.
Limitations of this indicator:
Obesity and overweight are due to many factors, including lack of physical activity and genetic predisposition.
Eating healthier foods may not reduce obesity and overweight unless other social and life-style characteristics change too. New research shows
that obesity and overweight are not perfectly correlated with diet-related disease. People who are obese but physically active have reduced
risks of diet-related disease.
(3) Prevalence of childhood overweight is decreasing. (Activity = consumption )
Measure:
Prevalence of children and adolescents aged 2-19 with sex-and age-specific BMI ≥ 95th percentile based on the CDC growth charts.
Source: Centers for Disease Control, Center for Health Statistics, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES http://www.cdc.
gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity/childhood/prevalence.htm.
Explanation:
The increase in childhood overweight is a serious public health concern because children who are overweight have a high likeli-
hood of becoming obese or overweight adults, and having diet-related diseases. We separate childhood overweight from adult overweight
because they are measured differently and have different consequences.
Limitations of this measure:
NHANES has the same problems that any self-reported study of food consumption does, such as recalling
consumption correctly and reporting it accurately. See comparisons of methods for assessing dietary intake in Institute of Medicine (2002).
Results are reported in two-year cycles, so year-to-year changes cannot be detected.
Limitations of this indicator:
Obesity and overweight are due to many factors, including lack of physical activity and genetic predisposition.
Eating healthier foods may not reduce obesity and overweight unless other social and life-style characteristics change too.
(4) Fruit and vegetable consumption meets current US dietary guidelines. (Activity = consumption)
Measures
: average fruit and vegetable consumption per day for people age 2 and older Sources: Dietary guidelines for fruits and vegetables
from USDHHS/USDA (2005); average fruit and vegetable consumption per day from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which
has been better analyzed and reported in the public domain and scientific literature than consumption data from NHANES. We used results
reported in Blank et al. (2008), previously reported in the Centers for Disease Control’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Explanation:
Fruits and vegetables are the food category that is most underconsumed in the typical US diet. Fruits and vegetables provide
essential nutrients, and their consumption is correlated with reduced risk of developing many diseases. Diets including a large proportion of
fresh fruits and vegetables usually have lower overall caloric intake due to their higher water and fiber content, which appeases hunger.
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 19
Limitations of this measure:
BRFSS has the same problems that any self-reported study of food consumption does, such as recalling con-
sumption correctly and reporting it accurately. See comparisons of methods for assessing dietary intake in Institute of Medicine (2002).
Limitations of this indicator:
Fruits and vegetables are only part of a healthy diet, even though important. Recommended consumption
amounts are based on current scientific judgment, and may change in the future.
(5) The prevalence and cost of food contamination are decreasing. (Activity = consumption)
Measures:
prevalence of foodborne disease. Source: Centers for Disease Control, FoodNet (Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network), re-
ported as preliminary data for 10 states in 2007 in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (2008); cost to society of food contamination. Source:
USDA, Economic Research Service, Foodborne Illness Cost Calculator http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/FoodborneIllness/
Explanation:
Food-borne illnesses are a serious health problem, associated with many food categories (recent outbreaks have been traced to
contaminated meat, spinach and peppers). New and more virulent pathogens are appearing, in part due to globalization. While other sources
of food contamination, such as pesticide and hormone residues on food, are also of grave concern, microbial contamination has greater impacts
in terms of loss of life, sickness and cost to society (the criteria we used to assess health impacts).
Limitations of this measure:
The FoodNet data are not reported across the entire country, and annual reports are not readily available. Not all
foodborne diseases are reported, and often people are not even aware that an illness is foodborne. The Foodborne Illness Cost Calculator includes
only a few pathogens, and data for others are not current. As an indicator of food contamination, FoodNet data are incomplete because they do not
include pesticides, growth hormones, and other undesirable food additives.
Limitations of this indicator:
Regulations to promote food safety may have negative effects on other food attributes. For example, some regula-
tions end up eliminating smaller producers from markets because they cannot afford to install safety equipment. The costs of assuring food safety
may also be forced onto farmers or workers, rather than spread across food system actors. Regulations intended to prevent food contamination
may also effectively diminish the wholesomeness of food or create health hazards for workers, as in irradiation of fresh foods to prevent bacterial
contamination that might be contained through other measures.
HEALTH HOT SPOTS
(See Appendix 1 for Trends):
(1) Prevalence of Type II diabetes in children aged 10-19. Source: Centers for Disease Control, SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Project http://
www.cdc.gov/diabetes/projects/diab_children.htm
(2) Disparities in diabetes prevalence between white and colored populations (especially Native Americans). Source: “Number of people
with diabetes increases to 24 million”. Centers for Disease Control Press Release, 24 June 2008. http://www.cdc.gov/media/pressrel/2008/
r080624.htm. Also Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, US Department of Health and Human Services http://www.ahrq.gov/research/
diabdisp.htm#HighDiabetes for information on complication rates.
(3) Cost to society of overweight and obesity. Sources: Finkelstein et al. (2003, 2004). Also Centers for Disease Control. http://www.cdc.gov/
nccdphp/dnpa/obesity/economic_consequences.htm
PG 20 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
(4) Pesticide body burden (pesticide levels in the bloodstream or urine). Source: Centers for Disease Control, Center for Health Statistics, Na-
tional Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhanes/nhanes_03_04/l28ocp_c.pdf (The most recent
data available is on organochlorine pesticides from 2003-2004, released April 2008.) Also see The Third National Report on Human Exposure to
Environmental Chemicals at http://www.cdc.gov/exposurereport/pdf/thirdreport.pdf for reports on a wide range of pesticides found in blood or
urine, as well as heavy metals that may be ingested in food.
(5) Prevalence of antibiotic resistance due to animal agricultural production. Source: Keep Antibiotics Working (2007)
Notes:
For hot spots, we wanted to highlight issues that raise particular concerns about the health of children and future generations. We include
the prevalence of Type II diabetes and overweight in children here rather than in National Indicators because data interpretation differs between
children and adults. Identifying Type II diabetes in children is somewhat difficult; this is why the CDC has initiated a new project to detect new
cases.
Discrepancies in the prevalence of diabetes between white and colored populations point to serious factors including poverty that increase the
health vulnerability of children of color.
The estimated cost to society of overweight and obesity relies on several assumptions such as life expectancy of individuals with each diet-related
disease, costs of treatment, costs of lost productivity, and costs of insurance to employers. We were not able to find reliable trend data that showed
clearly whether these costs have gone up or down recently.
The prevalence of antibiotic resistance due to sub-therapeutic use of the same antibiotics in animal operations points to a health issue (rising an-
tibiotic resistance because of overuse of antibiotics) but also the growing use of animal facilities in which there is so much crowding that animals
must be medicated sub-therapeutically to prevent outbreaks of disease. This model of confinement livestock facilities is spreading rapidly in the
US and to other countries; but we see it as unsustainable by environmental, health and social criteria.
OTHER HEALTH INDICATORS CONSIDERED BUT NOT INCLUDED:
(Many of these are too vague to be good indicators; but we did not spend time trying to sharpen them as soon as we realized that data related to them are
not collected and reported consistently, or the indicator was problematic for other reasons.)
The amount of healthy food for sale in supermarkets is increasing. (The data are proprietary and their quality is questionable. Furthermore,
people collecting the data define “healthy” in different ways).
Healthy food is placed in stores so that it is the most convenient and readily selected alternative. (No national data on product placement
are available, and “healthy” does not have a standard definition among those collecting data.)
The amounts of food additives (preservatives, food coloring, etc.) are decreasing. (The data are proprietary.)
The amount of pesticide residues in food is decreasing. (We decided to consider pesticides as part of the “green” attribute, although we
acknowledge concerns associated with pesticide residues on food, particularly related to spotty testing of imported food. For an excellent essay on
the status of data on this topic, see Benbrook 2008.)
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 21
Food assistance venues provide healthy food to all clients. (The data are not collected at the national level, although Feeding America [previ-
ously America’s Second Harvest] has limited data. There is no consistent denition of “healthy”.)
School Wellness policies that include measures to improve food choices are being implemented. (No national data are available on preva-
lence and implementation of the School Wellness policies that specifically include food choices.)
The number of people growing their own produce is increasing. (This can be ascertained at the local level partially through food assessments
that include community gardens, but we did not consider it to be as strong an indicator of health as other possibilities.)
Fair
Definition:
Fair food comes from food systems deliberately organized to promote social equity and justice through food system activities (production, pro-
cessing, distribution, sales and purchasing, consumption, etc.), and to provide sustainable livelihoods to workers. Dimensions of fair food include working
conditions and compensation for farmers; working conditions, compensation and other human rights for food system workers; and discrimination on the
basis of gender, color, race, national origin or language.
Additional criteria that we used to focus on the most critical impacts are whether impacts constitute violations of human rights endorsed by international
conventions and agreements (the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; International Labor Organization conventions on workers, women and
discrimination). Although the US has not signed or ratified the conventions related to labor, women and economic, social and cultural rights that most other
countries have signed, we do have clear legal restrictions on discrimination based on race, sex, age, etc. and restrictions on child labor. And as a member
of the International Labor Organization and signer of the UN Declaration on Human Rights (which later conventions and agreements have expanded but not
fundamentally altered), the US is obligated to comply with basic human rights standards. Based on our criteria, the most critical impacts of fairness in the
current US food supply would be:
NATIONAL INDICATORS – FAIRNESS
(See Appendix 2 for Trends):
(1) Farmworkers receive wages sufficient to support a household for full-time work. (Food system activity = production)
Measures:
Ratio of average annualized farmworker wage to the US poverty threshold. Sources: Department of Labor, National Agricultural Worker
Survey for farmworker wages http://www.doleta.gov/agworker/naws.cfm as reported in Kandel (2008); poverty threshold from U.S. Census Bureau
http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/threshld/thresh07.html
Explanation:
Poverty prevents most farmworkers from enjoying the opportunities for advancement that people in other occupations have, or being
able to secure rights that are denied them. The Living Wage Calculator developed as part of the Poverty in America Project at Penn State University
(http://www.livingwage.geog.psu.edu/) indicates that jobs in the categories of “Farming, Fishing and Forestry” consistently fall below the living
wage for one adult living with one child.
Limitations of this measure:
The US poverty threshold is not an adequate measure of ability to sustain a household: see Boushey et al. (2001)
and Allegretto (2005) for a research update on documentation of the types of hardships that people at 200% of the poverty threshold face, and
development of family budget calculators as an alternative measure. The Economic Self-sufficiency Standard (see http://www.wowonline.org/
PG 22 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
ourprograms/fess/sss.asp) and livable wage estimates come closer, but those amounts vary tremendously according to local factors; no single
national number is adequate. No federal data on livable wages are maintained, although numerous living wage campaigns and organizations have
set thresholds by state or city. It is possible to accommodate this shortcoming by using a figure that is 125% or more above the poverty level; we
do not do this because we are using the publicly available data as they are reported (and noting their inadequacy as relevant). The total number
of agricultural workers is unknown, and the NAWS tries to accommodate that with different sampling weights. Monitoring farmworkers is difficult
because of the high proportion who are undocumented, transient and/or do not speak English.
Limitations of this indicator:
Farmwork is usually part-time and temporary. It could be argued that expecting livable annual wages from working
only part of the year is not reasonable, but in fact farmworkers may not have opportunities to supplement their wages from farmwork with other
work. Also, it could be argued that wages from one adult should not be expected to cover household expenses; most households in the US with
income above the poverty threshold have two or more working adults contributing to income.
(2) The percentage of farmworkers hired through labor contractors is declining. (Food system activity = production)
Measure:
percentage of farmworkers hired through labor contractors. Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. Farm Labor, August
reports. http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/MannUsda/viewDocumentInfo.do?documentID=1063 See tables: “Agricultural Service Workers: Number,
Hours Worked, and Wage Rates for California, Florida, and United States” and “Hired Workers: Annual Average Number and Hours Worked by Region
and United States”. The percentage of farmworkers employed through labor contractors is equivalent to the ratio of July agricultural service workers
to the sum of July agricultural service workers and hired workers.
Explanation:
Labor contracting is one of the most corrupt components of the farm labor system. The use of contractors absolves farm owners
from responsibility for working conditions and workers to date have had difficulty holding contractors legally responsible for workplace violations.
Limitations of this measure:
Surveys are conducted in October and July to represent different seasons but no annual data are available. The
category of agricultural service worker includes all farm contract workers including both low wage farm labor crews and many specialized service
providers such as veterinary work who receive much higher wages. Farmworkers are difficult to monitor because of the high proportion who are
undocumented, transient and/or do not speak English.
Limitations of this indicator:
While labor contracting has the potential to exploit workers, some labor contracts are negotiated and executed fairly.
It might be argued that labor contracting per se is not the problem. However, we chose to include this as an indicator because of its significance
to farmworkers and organizations working on their behalf: labor contracting allows added “slippage” and lack of transparency in a labor system
that already lacks accountability in many ways.
(3) Food system workers have safe, healthy working conditions. (Food system activities = production, processing)
Measures:
Reported workplace injuries and illnesses for farmworkers and for food-processing workers. Source: Department of Labor, National
Agricultural Workers Survey (see #1 above); Bureau of Labor Statistics http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshsum.htm#07Summary%20Tables
Explanation:
Food system workers (e.g., people who work in food-processing plants, packing plants, fast-food restaurants and food retail) generally
have higher hourly wages than fieldworkers, although annualized wages still tend to be below the poverty threshold (see Anderson, 2008). Viola-
tions of workplace safety regulations are common in food production and processing, and means of recourse often do not exist or are inadequate.
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 23
Limitations of this measure:
Deaths and hospitalization due to pesticide exposure and injuries to farmworkers, food system workers and their
family members are seriously under-reported in all national data sets (see Committee on Education & Labor, 2008). The most recent data on oc-
cupational injuries and illnesses are 2 years old, and may not include farmworker injuries incurred during travel to worksites. Trends are difficult
to interpret because changes in methodology in 2004 led to a 50% reduction in reported injuries. Injuries to workers on farms with less than 10
employees are not reported. Employers classify injuries, and may not do so correctly. In addition, farmworkers and food processing workers are
difficult to monitor because of the high proportion who are undocumented, do not speak English, migrate seasonally, or lack access to health care.
Limitations of this indicator:
Workers face difference challenges and rights abuses in each food system activity (production, processing, pack-
ing, etc.). Injuries are probably most relevant for farmworkers (because of pesticide exposure in fields and heat exhaustion) and food-processing
workers (because of proximity to knives and dangerous equipment in their work). However, an increase reporting injuries may actually be a sign
of progress, since some farmworkers and food processing workers do not have access to healthcare, are very reluctant to report injuries, or cannot
get to hospitals when they are injured. In addition, injury is only one part of a much wider spectrum of workers’ rights abuses, including being
forced to work overtime without pay, being denied breaks, and discouragement of unions or organizing. Health problems can affect more than just
the worker because family members including children and pregnant women who live on or close to agricultural land are exposed to agricultural
chemicals. The effects of pesticide exposure and musculoskeletal injury are often difficult to study: they may be cumulative, long-term and difficult
to attribute precisely to exposure during a given time period.
(4) Average net farm income of small and mid-scale family farms matches or exceeds median national household income. (Food system activity =
production)
Measure:
Net farm income of farming-occupation small family farms (low-sales and high sales). Source: Agricultural Resource Management
Survey 2007 (conducted in June 2008)
Explanation:
In most recent years, only the largest-scale farmers in the US earned sufficient income from farming to support a household, without
subsidies from off-farm employment or government payments. Government subsidies and other forms of support have privileged large-scale farms
for several decades, even though they are a small fraction of total farms. In part because of this, farmland has become increasingly concentrated
into large and very large farms, even though small family farms (<$250,000 in annual sales) made up 90% of all farms and held about 68% of
farm assets as of 2004 (Hoppe et al., 2007). Large and very large farms are usually under family ownership as well, but management at this scale
tends to replace family labor and knowledge inputs with machinery, synthetic chemicals and hired labor. Net farm income depends on complex
interlocking factors beyond farmers’ control, such as the value of the dollar, international demand, and weather. These factors can vary more
rapidly than farm production decisions, leaving farmers to absorb the risk.
Limitations of this measure:
USDA’s farm typology combines many different farm types that operate under different constraints. It uses gross
sales categories to distinguish farm types (low-sales = <$100,000 and medium-sales = $100-299,000 for farms whose operators report farming
as their major occupation). Minority farms and farmers tend to be undercounted.
Limitations of this indicator:
This measure combines farms using all kinds of farming practices and growing all kinds of crops. Some farming
practices contribute to environmental degradation, and some crops contribute to an over-supply of relatively unhealthy food; therefore, rising net
farm income for farmers at this scale does not necessarily mean that the food supply is becoming greener or healthier. Net farm income includes
government subsidies, and farmers cannot rely on this source of income continuing indefinitely. Many farm operations that are profitable with
subsidies would not be profitable without, so this measure may give an unrealistically rosy picture of the economic viability of farms
PG 24 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
(5) Acreage of mid-scale family farms is holding stable. (Food system activity = production)
Measure:
Number of farms and acreage in “Farming occupation-high sales categories. Source: Agricultural Resource Management Survey http://
www.ers.usda.gov/Data/ARMS/
Explanation:
Concentration of land into larger farms has accompanied the decline in net farm income for smaller family farms and price volatility
for crops. This indicator tracks the number and total acreage of land in mid-scale farms. These farms are important to regional food systems
because they can grow enough to supply institutional buyers. Often they are too large to make direct marketing feasible; but this strategy has
helped smaller farms to thrive. The loss of mid-scale family farms is associated with the decline of agricultural communities and number of farm-
ers, described at http://www.agofthemiddle.org.
Limitations of this measure:
USDA’s farm typology combines many different farm types that operate under different constraints. It uses gross
sales categories to distinguish farm types (low-sales = <$100,000 and medium-sales = $100-249,000 for farms whose operators report farming
as their major occupation). Minority farms and farmers tend to be undercounted.
Limitations of this indicator:
This indicator combines farms using all kinds of farming practices and growing all kinds of crops. Some farming
practices contribute to environmental degradation, and some crops contribute to an over-supply of relatively unhealthy food; therefore, rising aver-
age income for farmers at this scale does not necessarily mean that the food supply is becoming greener or healthier. Farms are categorized by
sales, so this indicator doesn’t precisely track the viability of mid-scale farms. Depending on sales and prices in a given year, a farm might shift
from one category to another.
(6) Farmers retain a consistent proportion of the food dollar. (Food system activities = production, processing, distribution, sales)
Measure:
Farm share of the marketing bill. Source: Price Spreads from Farm to Consumer: Marketing Bill. Economic Research Service. http://
www.ers.usda.gov/data/FarmToConsumer/marketingbill.htm
Explanation:
Farmers’ declining ability to retain a sizable proportion of the food dollar reflects their declining market power vis-à-vis other food
system actors.
Limitations of this measure:
ERS has revised some of the historical data, and categories in the marketing bill combine a large number of factors,
hiding trends in them which may be significant to fairness of the food system.
Limitations of this indicator:
This indicator combines farms using all kinds of farming practices and growing all kinds of crops. Some farming
practices contribute to environmental degradation, and some crops contribute to an over-supply of relatively unhealthy food; therefore, simply
because farmers receive a stable proportion of the food dollar does not necessarily mean that the food supply is becoming greener, healthier or
more affordable. Increasing shares of the food dollar going to other food system activities after production can result from changes in a number
of factors, including marketing costs, the quantity of marketing services (for example, the amount of processing by food manufacturers), or the
product mix that farmers grow.
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 25
FAIRNESS HOT SPOTS
(See Appendix 2 for Trends):
(1) Number of child fieldworkers. Source: Human Rights Watch (2002)
(2) Discrepancy in cancer rates and neurological disorders between farmworkers and other occupational groups. Sources: Mills and Kwong
(2001); Rothlein et al. (2006)
(3) Pesticide exposure in farmworkers’ children. Sources: Eskenazi et al. (2007); Arcury et al. (2007)
(4) Concentration of market held by top companies within a sector (CR) Sources: Packers & Stockyards Statistical Report http://www.gipsa.
uda.gov/ ; Hendrickson and Heffernan (2007)
(5) Long-term decline in the amount of farmland operated by minorities relative to declines in farmland operated by whites. Source: US
Agricultural Census
Notes:
Child labor is a clear violation of international labor regulations, but US regulations on child labor in fieldwork are more lenient than in any
other occupation. The numbers of children employed in agriculture are very difficult to measure, and estimates range widely.
Harmful effects of pesticide exposure and poor work conditions may be chronic (and therefore not apparent at the time of exposure), and may extend
to family members. Cancer rates and neurological disorders are examples of effects of chronic exposure; the occurrence of pesticide metabolites
in children’s bodies demonstrates that they are being exposed to pesticides even when they are not in the fields.
Excess market concentration is a sign of non-competitive markets. CR4 measures compiled by Henderson and Heffernan and reported in GIPSA
Statistical Reports indicate restricted competition if above approximately 30; these measures depict changing power relations in agriculture with
the largest businesses (usually vertically integrated over several food system activities) capturing more food system profits. We include them here
rather than as National Indicators because the data about market share held by specific companies is difficult to track; and the identity of the
companies is often complex because of mergers and acquisitions. Data on market share held by individual companies has become less available
over the past decade.
Long-term land loss by minorities has been strongly influenced by inability to access credit and farm services that are available to whites. Even
where discrimination has diminished over the past generation, its legacy has lasting impacts. Therefore, although the 2002 and 2007 Agricultural
Censuses showed increases in minority farmers, the impacts of earlier patterns of severe discrimination still affect the face of farming and farm
communities. We include this as a Hot Spot rather than a national indicator because the national data quality on minority farmers and land-owners
is poor. In addition, the trend of greater farm loss by minorities is confounded by African Americans who were eager to get away from farming after
slavery and the Reconstruction era.
PG 26 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
OTHER FAIRNESS INDICATORS CONSIDERED BUT NOT INCLUDED:
Percentages of farmworkers, food-processing workers, fast-food restaurant workers or food retail workers who belong to unions are
increasing. (National data are not available or reliable. We also rejected this indicator because it is weak: although the right to collective bargain-
ing and participation in unions is denied many workers in the food system, simply being part of a union does not necessarily mean that workers
will achieve better rights.)
Farmworkers are included in the National Labor Relations Act. (Overturning the exemption of farmworkers from the NLRA would give them a
legal basis for action against rights violations, but actually improving conditions and wages for food system workers will require many intermedi-
ate steps.)
The numbers of farmworkers covered by fair and equitable immigration policy, including adequate opportunities for work visas and policies
that recognize workers’ basic rights, is increasing. (Immigration policy is in serious need of revision, and meanwhile large numbers of farmwork-
ers suffer material and emotional harm from harsh policies and the ways they are enforced. Farmers are hurt as well, by restricted access to labor.
Given that clear and fair policies do not exist at present, an indicator cannot be constructed.)
The proportions of farmers and farmworkers who have fair contracts are increasing. (No national data available. Rural Advancement Foun-
dation International-USA has attempted to set standards for fair farmer contracts at http://www.rafiusa.org/programs/contractag/contrag.html.)
Conditions promoting fairness for independent retailers, processors and other food businesses are improving. (No national data are
available.)
Public policy initiatives to promote better working conditions and wages for food system workers are increasing in number and efficacy.
(No compiled national data are available.)
Community economic impacts of production agriculture are positive and growing. (No national data are available.)
Agricultural pollution does not have disproportionate effects on any group of people distinguished by race, color, class, income, educa-
tional level or other characteristics. (No national data are available.)
All farmers have fair access to markets and services such as credit and information. (No national data are available, although anecdotal
evidence and existing data sets indicate severe discrimination due to race and other factors and to vertical integration.)
Net income for farmers using environmentally sound production methods that protect the public domain is rising. (No national data dif-
ferentiating farmers by their production methods are available.)
Farmers receive market prices consistently above costs of production. (This index does not account for increases in productivity or rising land
prices. It also lumps together all types of farmers, including those whose practices cause serious environmental or social harm.)
All consumers have fair access to high-quality foods, regardless of race, color or other factors (i.e., the cost of high-quality food is the same
in neighborhoods populated mainly by people of color and white neighborhoods; no national data are available).
The percentage (or volume or total sales) of Fair Trade labeled goods in the US marketplace is increasing. (No public-access, consistent
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 27
data are available on the volume or value of food sold as Fair Trade certified in the US. Several trade publications monitor these trends; http://
www.marketresearch.com lists publications, prices and links to ordering sites. The most recent US report was by Datamonitor in February, 2008:
The Next Step in the Ethical Consumerism Market (42 pages, $2795). It reported that the US market for fair-trade goods is $850 million [Drinks-
Business-Review.com, 2008]. Questions have been raised about the consistent enforcement of Fair Trade standards in developing countries.)
Small-scale producers are not disproportionately disadvantaged by food safety regulations. (This issue is important and may become a hot
spot, with growing efforts to regulate farms to ensure food safety. Data are not collected consistently to document impacts, however.)
Green
Definition:
“Green” food comes from food systems that entail minimal harm to the environment. Dimensions of “greenness” are impacts on water quantity
and quality, farmland quality and preservation, biodiversity, fossil fuel supply, and climate change. Additional criteria that we used to focus among possible
indicators that meet this definition and our general criteria for indicators were whether they show if:
• non-renewable resources in the food system (including genetic resources) are being mined,
• essential renewable resources are being used up or degraded more rapidly than they can be regenerated, and
• waste is being produced in excess of the planet’s capacity to absorb it without environmental harm.
Based on our criteria, the most critical impacts of a green food supply would be:
NATIONAL INDICATORS - ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY
(See Appendix 3 for Trends):
(1) Farmland is remaining in production. (Food system activity = production)
Measure:
Land in farms. Source: US Agricultural Census. http://www.agcensus.usda.gov/index.asp (2002 last year for complete posted data)
Explanation:
Farmland lost to development tends not to revert to farmland, and restoration of degraded land is expensive and time-consuming.
Keeping current farmland in production prevents the destruction of natural habitat.
Limitations of this measure:
The Agricultural Census is conducted only every five years, and data are not available until a few years after the year
of the survey. Other limitations of the Agricultural Census are described in C-FARE (2007). While the objective with this indicator is to track land
that remains as productive farmland, this measure only gives the total area; so development of farmland might not be apparent if new land (or
land that has reverted to good wildlife habitat) is being put into production at an equal pace.
Limitations of this indicator:
Land remaining in production may be farmed with unsustainable practices that do not meet our rationale above.
Some people argue that increasing the intensivity of agricultural production is necessary to meet global food demands; so they might prefer to
see farmland going out of production, especially if it were restored to some approximation of natural habitat. Our indicator is premised on the
assumption that improving the environmental impacts of farming practices on existing farmland is more critical to long-term sustainability than
PG 28 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
increasing the intensivity of production because many techniques for increasing intensivity have undesirable environmental or social impacts.
(2) Soil quality is improving. (Activity = production)
Measure:
Total soil erosion from wind and water. Source: USDA National Resources Conservation Service, National Resources Inventory http://www.
nrcs.usda.gov/TECHNICAL/NRI/2003/nri03eros-mrb.html
Explanation:
Healthy soil is the foundation of crop production. For all practical purposes, it is a nonrenewable resource because natural rates of
soil generation tend to be very low. Erosion strips the topsoil first, which is the source of most soil nutrients and soil biota. While erosion is not
the way that soil quality is degraded, it is considered to the primary impact. About 60% of total soil erosion comes from agriculture (OECD, 2008).
Limitations of this measure:
Erosion data are collected annually now, but were collected only at five-year intervals until 1997. The latest publicly
available data are from 2003. Data are not always reducible to state and regional levels with validity.
Limitations of this indicator:
Soil quality and productivity may be degraded even if there is no erosion, for example through overgrazing, salini-
zation, compaction or contamination. Other forms of soil degradation are not tracked as well as erosion in federal data. Soil fertility trends in
particular are not tracked consistently.
(3) Water contamination by pesticides in agricultural areas is declining. (Activity = production)
Measures:
USGS National Water-Quality Assessment Program http://water.usgs.gov/nawqa/ data, as reported in Chapter 3 (Water) of US EPA
Report on the Environment (2008a). http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/cfm/recordisplay.cfm?deid=190806, showing the percentage of stream sites in 36
representative agricultural watersheds in which at least one pesticide exceeds benchmarks for aquatic health. These data are also reported in
Gilliom (2007).
Explanation:
Pesticide hazards from excessive or inappropriate application include acute, immediate toxicity to humans and other non-target
organisms and chronic or long-term toxicity such as cancer, reproductive and neurological effects. About 80% of total US pesticide applications
are in agriculture.
Limitations of this measure:
The most recent pesticide data in the public domain are from 1992-2001 and only one full sampling cycle has been
conducted by NAWQA, but we include it as a National Indicator because the Environmental Protection Agency plans to begin annual reporting (see
http://www.epa.gov/ocfo/plan/2006/goal_4.pdf). Sampling for all possible pesticides is prohibitively expensive; even basic water sampling for a
few pesticides with a statistically sound experimental design is expensive. Current (real-time) data are not available at the national level, and
much of the toxicity data on individual pesticides is missing. While the sampling sites were selected to be representative, they may not accurately
reflect the distribution of pesticide concentrations in all US agricultural watersheds. Aquatic life benchmarks do not exist for 21 of the 83 pesti-
cides and pesticide degradation products that were analyzed, and current standards and guidelines do not account for mixtures of chemicals and
seasonal pulses.
Limitations of this indicator:
Some pesticides are relatively non-toxic. This indicator does not accommodate the benefits of pesticides to increase
yields (i.e., there is no cost-benefit analysis). The indicator does not provide information on the magnitude of pesticide concentrations, only whether
they exceed or fall below benchmarks.
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 29
(4) The nitrogen balance of US farming systems is declining. (Activity = production)
Measures:
Nitrogen balance in the US, in Chapter 1, Section 1.2 (Nutrients) of OECD (2008).
Explanation:
The nitrogen balance is the difference between the quantities of nitrogen entering a farming system (as fertilizer, manure, etc.) and
leaving the system (as crops, run-off and leaching, ammonia volatilization, etc.). It indicates the potential for nitrogen pollution and the nitrogen
recycling efficiency of farming systems. Nitrogen surpluses lead to eutrophication of surface and coastal waters, which kills aquatic species. They
also degrade the quality of drinking water in groundwater wells and contribute to global warming through methane, ammonia, and nitrous oxide
emissions.
Limitations of this measure:
Nitrogen balance calculations involve assumptions and uncertainties related to nutrient conversion coefficients and
nutrient uptake by pasture and crops. These are influenced by drought, flood, temperature, plant and varietal mix, and soil types. OECD (2008) only
reports the nitrogen balance between 1990-92 and 2002-2004. Although this is a public data source, it is not available on-line for free.
Limitations of this indicator:
The nitrogen balance does not show the impacts of excess nitrogen, just the potential for impacts.
(5) Agricultural production emits declining amounts of greenhouse gases. (Activity = production)
Measures:
annual statistics on CO2, methane and nitrous oxide emissions from agricultural production. Source: USEPA (2008a) shows emissions
from agricultural production 1990-2006.
Explanation:
Food systems are estimated to contribute about 17% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, causing global warming with poten-
tially catastrophic consequences for food systems and other ecosystem services.
Limitations of this measure:
Data more recent than 2006 are not available on-line.
Limitations of this indicator:
Agricultural production is only part of the food system and other food system activities emit GHG as well. National
data on GHG emissions of other food system activities are limited. Agriculture also sequesters some carbon (see http://www.epa.gov/sequestra-
tion/sequestration_rates.html for estimates of amounts through 2002). Net GHG from food systems would be a more useful indicator, but data are
not available. Data on carbon sequestration in agricultural soils are available in the EPA’s “Inventory of US greenhouse gas emissions and sinks:
1990-2006” (EPA 2008a); but we decided that insufficient information is available about the data to calculate net emissions.
ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY HOT SPOTS
(See Appendix 3 for Trends):
(1) Growth of the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, http://www.gulfhypoxia.net/
research/shelfwidecruises/2008/PressRelease08.pdf
(2) Pharmaceutical, hormone and other organic contamination of fresh water from livestock facilities. Sources: Hanselman et al. (2003),
Khanal et al. (2006)
PG 30 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
(3) Average number of calories from food system activities required to provide one calorie of food. Source: Smil (2008)
(4) Population trends of farmland birds. Sources: OECD (2008); North American Breeding Bird Survey http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/BBS/
Notes:
All major US rivers have hypoxic zones (Dead Zones) at their mouths, due to nutrient run-off. The Mississippi carries the largest nutrient
load, and most of it comes from agricultural land in the Midwest.
Freshwater contamination by pharmaceuticals, hormones and other products administered to livestock, particularly in confined animal feeding
operations, is a serious concern because of its impacts on both human health and the health of aquatic organisms.
The energy-in to energy-out ratio shows that current food system activities require much more energy than they provide, thus requiring steady
subsidies from other energy sources. As long as the other energy sources are non-renewable, this is an unsustainable proposition. However, the
calculation is based on a number of assumptions and has not been updated recently; Smil warns against non-critical use of these data since life-
cycle analysis reveals that other parts of supply chains use much more energy than production.
Agricultural intensification and the conversion of land to agriculture have tremendous impacts on biodiversity, but the data is not available in a
usable form in the US. OECD’s agri-environmental indicators include data on population trends of farmland birds, which are good indicator species
of other biodiversity issues. All OECD countries show declining farmland bird populations. However, US data are not included (European data come
from the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme, and Canadian Wildlife Service supplies Canada data). The North American Breeding
Bird Survey is a cooperative effort between US Geological Survey and the Canadian Wildlife Service to monitor the status and trends of about 400
birds, but the data are displayed only by species, state and region. Therefore, knowledge of which bird species are most vulnerable to agricultural
encroachment, chemicals or other practices is necessary in order to use the data to determine likely effects of agriculture.
OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL INDICATORS CONSIDERED BUT NOT INCLUDED:
Groundwater is being recharged at rates above depletion rates. (Annual national aquifer depletion rates are not reported.)
Irrigation water use efficiency is increasing more quickly than freshwater sources for irrigation are being degraded or depleted. (The latest
edition of Agricultural Resources & Environmental Indicators has data on adoption of water-conserving irrigation technology, such as the practices
shown in Table 4.6.3. that compare 1988 and 2003. This is not connected with aquifer depletion or water degradation however.)
The US phosphorus balance is declining. (US phosphorus surpluses are not as much of a problem as nitrogen surpluses. Compared with other
OECD countries, US phosphorus balances are small.)
Crop biodiversity (number of species grown and number of varieties within species) and livestock diversity (number of breeds raised) are
increasing. (Data are not available for the US, although this is reported for other countries in the Organization of Economic Cooperation and
Development in OECD, 2008.)
Accessions of agricultural species to gene banks are increasing. (The US has superior gene banks, but in this project we were more interested
in in situ conservation of biodiversity on working lands.)
Biodiversity in non-farmed areas within farms and in natural areas adjacent to farms is increasing. (No national data are available.)
Connectivity of non-farmed areas within farms and natural areas adjacent to farms is increasing. (No national data are available about the
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 31
extent of these areas, much less their connectivity in ways that would enhance wildlife populations.)
Population numbers and health of wild species that perform critical agroecosystem services (pollination, predation, nutrient cycling, etc.)
are increasing. (No data are available.)
Use of polycultures and crop rotations is increasing. (No national data are available on polycultures, or the contributions of crop rotations to
biodiversity.)
Populations of non-native invasive species in farmed areas are declining. (National data are not adequate to determine population sizes and
extent of land affected.)
Pesticide use is declining. (Pesticide use is monitored and reported in the US, although comprehensive data have not been collected for the
last two years. According to OECD, pesticide use in the US declined between 1990 and 2003 by 4% despite a 13% rise in crop production over the
same time period. Pesticide use data do not account for the toxicity of pesticides, changes in crop production, or changes in land use. They tell
us little about reductions in pesticide risk, although there is a correlation between reduced pesticide use and pesticide risk in countries that report
pesticide risk indicators [OECD, 2008].)
The use of biological controls rather than highly toxic pesticides is increasing. (No national database tracks the replacement of pesticides
with biological controls.)
The amount of land covered by effective, comprehensive conservation plans is increasing. (We considered this to be a relatively weak
indicator.)
The total number of farmers using independently certified eco-labels is increasing. (Consumers’ Union lists independently certified eco-labels
on the GreenerChoices Eco-labels website http://www.greenerchoices.org/eco-labels/eco-home.cfm, and websites of some certifying programs list
the number of participating farmers. Participation in a certification program does not necessarily mean that farms are using all possible means to
reduce harmful environmental impacts. Specific environmental standards vary across eco-labels.)
Fossil fuel use in food systems is declining. (The International Energy Agency tracks direct on-farm energy consumption by primary agriculture,
but does not distinguish between use of renewable and non-renewable energy sources.)
Use of renewable energy on farms is increasing. (No national data are available.)
Of the total energy required to obtain food, the percentage from renewable sources is increasing. (No national data are available.)
Net food system contributions to greenhouse gas emissions are declining. (No national data are available that encompass the entire food
system; EPA data divides different sectors of the food system so that the net contributions cannot be easily determined.)
The amount of food packaging for cosmetic purposes is decreasing, and packaging materials are increasingly biodegradable. (No national
data are available.)
The proportion of meat sold in the US that is grass-fed and not raised in confined animal feeding operations is increasing. (No national data
are available.)
The production of food from urban agriculture is increasing. (No national data are available.)
PG 32 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
Affordable
Definition:
Affordable food comes from food systems in which all people and households can obtain healthy diets, either by buying the food with household
income, using subsidies to offset the cost, or other socially acceptable ways. In most prevalent conceptualizations of food security, affordability is a dimen-
sion of accessibility. In the absence of “accessibility” as a core attribute of good food, we extended the definition of affordability to cover food access.
Therefore, the dimensions of affordable food are access to healthy food and food security. Price often is a poor indicator of affordability and access, as is
demonstrated in other industrialized countries in which customers pay a higher percentage of their income for food yet have better food security and health
indicators than the US. This is because of the complexity of factors affecting food access, and the relativity of food price to other household expenses.
An additional criterion that we used to select the most critical impacts of the current US food supply on affordability is whether the impact reveals if people
can access a healthy diet without foregoing other essential household goods and services. Based on these criteria the most critical impacts of an affordable
US food supply would be:
NATIONAL INDICATORS – AFFORDABILITY (SEE APPENDIX 4 FOR TRENDS):
(1) The prevalence of household food security is increasing. (Food system activity = consumption)
Measure:
percentage of population that is food secure. Source: Current Population Survey, reported by Economic Research Service of USDA http://
www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/FoodSecurity/
Explanation:
If food were affordable we would expect to find little food insecurity because food in the US generally is available (although with some
exceptions, such as in rural or urban areas without retail markets) and accessible (although with some exceptions, such as when transportation
options are limited).
Limitations of this measure:
These data are not available at sub-state levels, so drilling down to specific regions is not possible.
Limitations of this indicator:
When food is not available or accessible, food security is not as highly correlated with affordability.
2) The prevalence of child food security is increasing. (Activity = consumption)
Measure:
percentage of children ages 0-17 that is food secure. Source: Current Population Survey, reported by Economic Research Service of USDA
http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/FoodSecurity/
Explanation:
Child food security tends to be higher than overall household food security because adults will forego meals to make sure that children
eat (Nord 2003). We highlight child food insecurity in addition to household food insecurity because its impacts and solutions are different. It is
especially insidious because it leads to poor school performance and perpetuation of the conditions later in life that created food insecurity for the
child.
Limitations of this measure:
These data are not available at sub-state levels, so drilling down to specific regions is not possible. They rely on
household self-reporting with associated error.
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 33
Limitations of this indicator:
When food is not available or accessible, child food security is not as highly correlated with affordability.
3) Increases in wages and salaries are equal to or greater than increases in food prices. (Activity = consumption)
Measure:
percentage change in the food section of the Consumer Price Index relative to percentage change in average wages over the past 12
months. Sources: increase in price of food from Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Price Index Detailed Report Tables (CPI-U), http://www.bls.
gov/cpi/cpi_dr.htm#2009. Historical data http://www.bls.gov/schedule/archives/cpi_nr.htm#1999. Increase in average wages and salaries from
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Cost Index from the National Compensation Survey http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/surveymost?bls. Historical
data (1999 and earlier) from Employment Cost Indexes, 1975-99 http://www.bls.gov/ncs/ect/sp/ecbl0014.pdf
Explanation:
Households that are not in poverty can become food insecure easily if food costs rise too rapidly to allow them to budget for food ex-
penditures, or if the cost of other necessities precludes being able to buy food. The Employment Cost Index allows tracking the percentage increase
in the total value of wages, salaries and benefits.
Limitations of this measure:
The Consumer Price Index only tracks urban consumers. These data are reported regionally, but state and sub-state
data are not available. The CPI only tracks the aggregate measures, so we do not know the percentage of households for which wages and sala-
ries are keeping up with or exceeding food prices. The Bureau of Labor Standards has at least eight statistical programs providing information
on worker pay, and other government and private sources also collect compensation information. Although the ECI seemed most useful for our
purposes because it is not influenced by employment shifts across occupations and industries, it excludes government workers, agriculture, private
households, and people who can set their own compensation (such as self-employed business owners).
Limitations of this indicator:
Food becomes relatively less affordable as any other household expenses rise. So even if wage increases keep up with
food price increases, food may not be affordable within the constraints of the household budget.
AFFORDABILITY HOT SPOTS
(See Appendix 4 for Trends):
(1) Adequacy of maximum food stamp levels to provide households with a healthy diet, according to current dietary guidelines. Source: Real
Cost of a Healthy Diet Project, Children’s HealthWatch http://www.c-snap.org/page.php?id=23 Also see Carlson et al. (2007).
(2) Relative cost per calorie of nutrient-dense and calorie-dense foods. Source: Monsivais and Drewnowski (2007).
(3) Increase in costs of healthy staples. Source: Carlson et al. (2007).
(4) Rural and urban communities where adequate supplies of healthy food are not available (commonly called “food deserts”). Sources: http://
marigallagher.com/projects/ for analyses of links between urban food deserts and health outcomes; California Center for Public Health Advocacy,
PolicyLink, and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research (2008) for description of the Retail Food Environment Index and its link to health; Morton
and Blanchard (2007) for information on rural food deserts
Notes:
Research has shown that low-income families in major urban areas cannot buy the Thrifty Food Plan with maximum food stamp benefits,
much less afford a food plan that reflects current dietary guidelines (e.g., includes whole-grain bread and pasta and adequate amounts of fruits
and vegetables).
PG 34 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
Calorie dense foods tend to be much cheaper per calorie than nutrient-dense foods, and the cost of healthy staples has been increasing more
rapidly than the cost of less healthy options.
OTHER AFFORDABILITY INDICATORS CONSIDERED BUT NOT INCLUDED:
Healthy food is less expensive than non-healthy food with low nutrient density. (National data on healthy food sales and cost are proprietary
and there are no consistent definitions of “healthy”. We included a related indicator in “Hot Spots”)
Cost per unit of nutrient density is remaining steady or declining. (We rejected this indicator because we emphasize whole, minimally pro-
cessed foods as part of our approach to health rather than considering foods as bundles of nutrients. This indicator could give higher marks to
nutrient-fortified junk food than to whole foods that are better components of a healthy diet.)
A growing proportion of those eligible for food assistance are receiving services. (Access to food assistance programs is related to food
security, but not a direct indicator of affordability.)
The percentage of children served by Universal Free Breakfast and Free Lunch Programs is increasing. (Universal Free Breakfast and Lunch
Programs remove the stigma often attached to reduced-price programs, but data on the percentage of children served are not available.)
Average wages cover the full cost of food with all social, environmental and economic externalities internalized. (Life-cycle analysis of food
products provides useful information, but the methods are not simple and methods to address social externalities are still under development.)
The number of people affected by food deserts is declining. (Accessibility and affordability are related but not equivalent.)
The number of initiatives to develop full-service retail markets in low-income neighborhoods and food deserts is increasing. (Accessibility
and affordability are related but not equivalent.)
The number of transportation initiatives to increase accessibility of supermarkets to low-income citizens is increasing. (Accessibility and
affordability are related but not equivalent.)
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 35
PROMISING INNOVATIONS FOR GOOD FOOD
The National Indicators that we selected deal with areas relevant to the attributes of good food that have the best national, publicly-available data. Hot
Spots are places and conditions needing urgent attention from decision makers, even if comprehensive data is not yet available. But these two sets of
indicators give a partial picture of the state of good food in the US: many positive changes are happening, that are not necessarily reflected in the National
Indicators. This section highlights some of these changes that point toward a healthier, fairer, greener and more affordable food supply. In many cases,
a promising innovation has impacts or potential impacts on more than one good food attribute, but we have grouped them below according to the area in
which we see the most positive impacts.
PROMISING INNOVATIONS - HEALTH
(1) Direct farmer-to-consumer sales are growing in value. (Activities = production, distribution, sales, consumption)
Measure:
Value of agricultural products sold directly to individuals for human consumption. Source: US Agricultural Census http://www.agcensus.
usda.gov/index.asp
Explanation:
Direct sales are usually whole and minimally processed foods that provide essential nutrients to the diet and do not cause diet-related
disease under normal circumstances (part of our definition of healthy food). Of total direct sales, a relatively large proportion is fruits and veg-
etables. Direct sales have other benefits related to the “fair” and “green” attributes as well (e.g., farmers retain more of the revenue than through
other marketing mechanisms, and greenhouse gas emissions may be lower because of less packaging and refrigeration. They also may improve
community health by keeping more money in a local economy.
Limitations of this measure:
The Agricultural Census is conducted only every five years, and data are not available until a few years after the year
of the survey. Although a survey was conducted in 2007, national data on 2007 direct sales are not yet publicly available. The Census probably
does not capture all sales, and farmers have some incentive to under-report direct sales if participating in a farmers’ market in which they must
pay a proportion of total sales to the market. The Census has consistently undercounted minority farmers, and other limitations are described in
C-FARE (2007). Direct sales do not translate directly into food consumption.
Limitations of this indicator:
Direct sales require extra effort on the part of farmers, and they are not a viable option for many mid-scale and
large-scale farms. While foods available for direct sale tend to be healthy, this is not always the case: many farms sell high-fat and sweetened
baked goods with white flour, jellies, jams, etc. Buying direct from farmers usually requires customers to seek out less-convenient markets, and
may lead to extra greenhouse gas emissions if customers travel longer distances in single-occupant cars to buy directly than they would if buying
from other markets.
(2) The number of farm-to-school programs that bring fresh local foods from farms to school cafeterias is growing. (Activities = production,
distribution, sales, consumption)
Measure:
Number of farm-to-school programs. Sources: National Farm to School Program, Center for Food and Justice, Occidental College, and
Community Food Security Coalition. http://www.farmtoschool.org
PG 36 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
Explanation:
Farm-to-school programs help provide needed income to farmers and supplement school meals with fresh, local produce. In addi-
tion, farm-to-school programs often have opportunities for children to learn about farms, food production and the food system.
Limitations of this measure
: Data collection relies on self-reporting, and the number of programs provides no information on number of children
benefiting. Presence of a farm-to-school program does not say anything directly about consumption of healthier foods by children.
Limitations of this indicator:
Farm-to-school programs provide only a small portion of the food consumed in schools, and they may not be appropri-
ate for all farmers or all healthy foods. Also, programs vary tremendously and so do the impacts. Other farm-to-institution programs exist, such
as farm-to-hospital and farm-to-daycare; national data do not exist however.
(3) Public policy promotes substitution of healthier foods into diets. (Activity = consumption)
Measure:
Number of successful state initiatives to improve quality of foods available to children in schools. Source: National Conference of State
Legislatures “State Legislation on Childhood Obesity Options 2007”. http://www.ncsl.org/programs/health/ChildhoodObesity-2007.htm. Also see
the Centers for Disease Control Steps Program for examples of local and community initiatives: http://www.cdc.gov/steps/success_stories/index.
htm.
Explanation:
Public policy initiatives promoted by citizen action are encouraging indicators that the US public is concerned about diet-related
health problems and willing to take action. There is strong interest in creating regulations at the state and local level to improve the likelihood that
children, in particular, will make healthy food choices.
Limitations of this measure:
This measure is an excellent compilation of public policy initiatives that are gaining momentum, but may be incom-
plete.
Limitations of this indicator:
Regulations designed to promote healthier food choices are relatively new and vary greatly from state to state, al-
though the federal regulatory framework to promote food safety has been in place for almost a century. It is not yet clear how successful they are
in actually changing behavior, nor which regulations are most critical to improve health outcomes. Furthermore, the impacts of regulation depend
entirely on their implementation and monitoring, which are also likely to vary considerably from state to state.
PROMISING INNOVATIONS – FAIRNESS
(1) The number of US farmers certified under independent (third-party) programs including labor standards to protect workers’ rights is increasing.
(Activity = production)
Measures:
Agricultural Justice Project pilot certified producers. Source: http://www.agriculturaljusticeproject.org/pilot.html ; Food Alliance certi-
fied producers. Source: http://www.foodalliance.org/information-for/for-processors-distributors/certified_search
Explanation:
Since US law regarding workers’ rights is very lenient, farm or farmer certification of adherence to labor standards that are stricter
than US regulations is the only guarantee at present that workers’ rights are respected and protected. Consumer-oriented labels that guarantee
fair prices, terms and labor conditions have been in the US marketplace for imported goods such as coffee and sugar for some time. Similar labels
for domestically produced goods are beginning to appear, although at a very small scale.
Limitations of this measure:
These websites are managed by the organizations that set up the programs and administer the certification.
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 37
Limitations of this indicator:
Only two US programs at present include labor standards and have independent 3rd-party certification, but at least
one other program is under development (SCS-001) and there are several comparable programs in other countries. The number of US producers
who are certified under these two programs is minuscule in relation to the total number of farmers in the country. The AJP has a small number of
pilot US producers in the Upper Midwest, and Food Alliance farmers are primarily from the Pacific Northwest and Great Plains. Certification is only
as good as its enforcement and the specific standards to which farmers are accountable, however. This is added enforcement on top of the current
minimal enforcement of labor law that applies to both employers and labor contractors. US customers must find out on their own what each label
means, whether it includes labor standards, and whether producers are independently certified. This reduces the scope and effectiveness of these
programs, because products are only available if consumers or retail purchasers trust the standards and certification and are pro-active in seeking
them out. While the demand for products certified to match consumers’ interest in fairness (and environmental quality, animal welfare, and other
attributes) is rising, such products remain a small fraction of overall food sales.
PROMISING INNOVATIONS - ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY
(1) The amount of land under Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is increasing. (Activity = production)
Measure:
Agricultural Resource Management Survey, reported by Economic Research Service. Source: Most recent figures published by ERS are in
Fernandez-Cornejo and Jans (1999).
Explanation:
Integrated Pest Management is designed to improve environmental impacts, using natural and ecological practices, and optimize
economic benefits of pesticide use, using them only when necessary.
Limitations of this measure: A complete, practical, and accepted method to measure overall IPM adoption is not yet available. ARMS data on IPM
adoption is only available to researchers on request, and it only covers major commodity crops and a few specialty crops. The ERS report is almost
ten years old.
Limitations of this indicator:
Integrated Pest Management improves environmental impacts, but does not always lead to use of the most sustain-
able practices following the rationale for “green” in our description.
(2) The amount of land under organic production is increasing. (Activity = production)
Measure:
amount of land under organic production. Source: USDA http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/Organic/#statedata
Explanation:
Organic production is generally oriented to protecting and enhancing environmental quality, and certification allows tracking of the
amount of land under organic production. Organic production practices emphasize building healthy soil, which is especially important to increase
carbon sequestration.
Limitations of this measure:
US data on organic acreage has only been collected since 1992, and does not include land under organic practices
that is not certified.
Limitations of this indicator:
Organic farming is not always environmentally sound or the best alternative, when considering specific environmental
impacts (e.g., some acceptable organic pesticides are highly toxic to humans and wildlife, and organic farmers may use as much fossil fuels as
PG 38 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
other farmers).
((3) The amount of acreage enrolled in federal conservation programs is increasing. (Activity = production)
Measure:
Acreage in Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Conservation Security Program (CSP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
and Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP). Sources: http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/ConservationPolicy/programs.htm; http://www.nrcs.
usda.gov/programs/ and Farm Service Agency (2007)
Explanation:
The CRP, EQIP and WHIP are the largest of the federal programs that encourage farmers to set aside land prone to degradation, or
provide incentives for environmental quality and habitat improvement. CSP is a relatively new program to promote conservation on working land;
the name was changed to Conservation Stewardship Program (CStP) in the 2008 Farm Bill.
Limitations of this measure:
Amounts of land enrolled in each program are not available for the current year, and not available in consistent for-
mats across programs (which are administered differently). EQIP and WHIP do not provide easily-accessible information in terms of acreage, only
dollars expended and contracts funded. Data on the Conservation Security Program were provided only by watershed and estimates of number of
farms included.
Limitations of this indicator:
Specific provisions depend on the particular program and some are stronger than others. EQIP in particular has been
criticized for subsidizing conservation measures by confined animal feeding operations. Program participation is voluntary, so these programs do
not necessarily take all vulnerable land or even the most vulnerable land out of production.
(4) The number of top 10 US food and beverage manufacturers by sales that report GHG emissions and participate in a GHG reduction program is
increasing. (Activities = processing, distribution)
Measure:
Top 10 companies in 2008 from http://www.foodprocessing.com; participation in US EPA Smartway Transport Partnerships (energy con-
servation), US EPA Climate Leaders, Climate RESOLVE or Chicago Climate Exchange from program websites.
Explanation:
These programs not only inventory GHG emissions but also work with companies to set and track reduction goals. Several other pro-
grams (e.g., World Resources Institute’s GHG Protocol, Global Reporting Initiative, and Carbon Disclosure Project) are designed mainly to inventory
emissions. This is one of the few publicly-available data sets that show greenhouse gas emissions from a sector other than agricultural production.
Limitations of this measure:
Data on program participation are self-reported, and the actual amounts of GHG emission reductions are not dis-
closed. Companies have an incentive to green wash (appear to be doing more to promote environmental quality than they actually are) and there
are few penalties for giving misleading data.
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 39
Limitations of this indicator:
GHG emissions are only one of many environmental impacts of food and beverage companies, although an important
one. All data about environmental impacts and the measures taken to reduce these are self-reported on a voluntary basis. We see this as a weak
indicator, but we included it because it seemed to be the best available in public data dealing with food system activities beyond production.
PROMISING INNOVATIONS – AFFORDABILITY
(1) Low-income people’s access to fresh, locally grown produce is increasing. (Activities = distribution, sales, consumption)
Measures:
number of WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program and Senior FMNP clients.
Source: http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/FMNP/FMNPfaqs.htm
Explanation:
The WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Programs provide coupons that low-income mothers and seniors can use in farmers’
markets. We included this indicator because it is an example of a program that can benefit both farmers and low-income consumers, even though
the total amount of funds available per customer is tiny.
Limitations of this measure:
Latest data available for both programs are from 2007.
Limitations of this indicator:
These two programs are very small and serve a very small percentage of the low-income population. Farmers Market
Nutrition Program coupons are set at a maximum of $30 per year in federal money (although states can supplement this level). These two programs
do not provide enough money to participants at present to make much of a difference in overall food affordability.
NEXT STEPS
APPROPRIATE USE OF SUGGESTED INDICATORS
In our WKKF “good food” project, we tried on our own to esh out what HGFA [healthy, green, fair and affordable]
meant to us. It became clear that there were things we cared about that were not embraced by HGFA. You captured
this essence in your section “Beyond Good Food” and I salute you for that. We should not be held hostage to a frame-
work that limits our vision. (FAS Grantee, personal communication
The National Indicators, Hot Spots and Promising Innovations in the previous section are hardly the final word on good food. At best, they are grist for a fuller,
more representative conversation about how to measure the “goodness” of our food and the food system that brings it to us. We had hoped that we would
be able to deliver simple, incontrovertible metrics for determining how far along the road toward “good food” the US food supply has come; and we were not
able to do that. In fact, as a result of this project, we propose that a single metric of the proportion of the US food supply that is good food will be at best
misleading, and at worst, subject to abuse. The dimensions of good food—whether healthy, fair, green and affordable or some other set of attributes—are
not collapsible into a single number.
We have left ourselves open to the charge that we evaded the task before us. We hope that our efforts to uncover the meaning and complexity of healthy,
fair, green and affordable speak for themselves. These concepts are slippery, and they mean different things to different people situated differently in the
food system. In addition, the data to track the amount of food that might be described as healthy, fair, green and affordable are sometimes unavailable or
PG 40 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
inconsistent and thus incomparable across years or spatial regions. Of course, there are ways to deal with these issues. One of the first steps is to recognize
that different users operating at different points in the food system and dealing with different scales have distinctly different needs for indicators; there
is no single set of “best” indicators. Accepting that one’s location in the food system and one’s goals determine one’s need for indicators also requires
acknowledging with humility that healthy, fair, green and affordable may not be the best overall attributes for national indicators.
This does not mean that any indicator is equally valid. What it means is that the people who will use the indicators have to set the definitions of attributes:
At what point does healthy food become unhealthy? How much salt and fat are allowable in the food supply? Is there such a thing as a “bad food”? How
much fairness will we sacrifice in the interest of “efficiency”? Does the looming threat of climate change mean that concerns about other attributes of good
food need to take second place? And so on.
The only way to set legitimate national indicators is to premise them on legitimate national agreements about the kind of food system that people want in
the US. This project displays some of the things that most people in the US do not want in our food system, by highlighting some aspects of the food system
that need to be changed for greater environmental, economic or social sustainability. But the US is a long way from pinning down what people do want. At
present, there are few national forums where citizens can even raise this issue, much less negotiate the complexities of the choice with all of the relevant
stakeholders. Stakeholders such as industry representatives, farmer organizations, environmental advocates, consumer advocates, anti-hunger activists
and others tend to work in silos, with considerable suspicion and misunderstandings of people in other silos.
So what good are the indicators we selected? We see the indicators as primarily useful to the FAS Initiative, and subsequent WKKF initiatives, in getting a
better picture of the barriers to health, fairness, greenness and affordability in the US food system. The indicators also will be used to test assumptions in
the theory of change (discussed more in the section below on “What we Learned”). We also hope that the indicators might provide guidance in grantmaking
by narrowing the field of important barriers to achieving a healthy, green, fair and affordable food system and helping to narrow possible evaluation ques-
tions. That is, projects that are tackling problems such as farmworker wages or small- and mid-scale farm viability or greenhouse gas emissions from
food systems (and have plausible, testable assumptions of how their work will increase wages, increase farmer satisfaction and income and decrease price
volatility, or decrease greenhouse gas emissions) are dealing with some of the big issues that prevent sustainable food systems at present. In contrast, for
example, projects that aim only to increase the local supply of food are missing the boat: “localness” is valuable if it increases the healthfulness, afford-
ability, fairness and environmental quality of agriculture but not merely because it is local. Of course, many connections between local and regional food
systems and good food attributes can be made. The point is that projects need to be evaluated on how they address health, fairness, environmental quality
and affordability—not just on their contributions to building a local food system.
Why did this project come up with different indicators than other current indicator development projects in US agriculture? Our indicators paint a darker
picture of US agriculture than some of the other projects that have published indicators recently (e.g., State of the Nation’s Ecosystems Project [2008];
Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture [2009]). This was largely because we had a different client and different objectives. We were asked to con-
sider fairness and affordability; these two attributes usually get short-changed in agricultural indicator projects. Also, we did not adjust the indicators for
productivity or yields, as the Keystone Alliance did. This was because the FAS Initiative is not in the business of increasing agricultural productivity; it is
working toward “a future food system that provides all segments of society, especially those most vulnerable, a safe and nutritious food supply, grown in
a manner that protects health and the environment, and adds economic and social value to rural and urban communities” (FAS website). Balancing the
interests of all segments of society, with special attention to those who are most vulnerable, requires special attention to fairness and affordability. These
are the places where our indicators show the worst current problems.
The US food system has been remarkably productive and remarkably profitable, for some members of society. But it is becoming increasingly apparent that
sustainability, with its lens of equity and long-term maintenance of ecosystem services, has not fared as well over the last few decades of US agricultural
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 41
development. Our indicators help to shift the focus to segments of society who have not fully enjoyed the benefits of agricultural development and to the
prospects for future generations to have food that is even more healthy, fair, green and affordable than the food that the present generation has.
BEYOND GOOD FOOD
The following food and food system attributes are, as we have discovered, important to many people but not directly encompassed by healthy, green, fair
and affordable as we have defined them. They are not listed in any order of priority.
• food democracy and choice (whether citizens can control if “good food” will be available to them, and whether they know where to buy alternatives such
as poultry grown organically and slaughtered humanely)
• diversity of scale of food businesses (i.e., whether policies are in place to encourage the growth and protability of small-scale and medium-scale as well
as large-scale food businesses)
• transparency about ingredients, production practices, prots, etc., including labels that list ingredients of concern to customers, such as genetically-
modified content
• local/regional food production and marketing (While this could be considered part of the “green” attribute, several studies show that environmental ben-
efits of lower “food miles” depend on production methods and the mode of transportation of both the food and the customers. Food systems with more food
miles may have lower greenhouse gas emissions. There are additional benefits of local/regional food systems to community economic development, but this
is not part of the scope of healthy, green, fair and affordable.)
• ease with which new farmers can acquire land and resources necessary to start farming
• inuences on whether people actually consume good food, such as advertising and nutrition education
• animal welfare
• amount of food wasted in the US food system
• whether the right to food is recognized and implemented
• whether people who cannot afford food receive assistance in ways that preserve their dignity
• “process indicators” such as whether corporate social responsibility (CSR) is embedded in food companies’ organizational structures, and how many food
companies provide meaningful CSR reports
• extent to which the true costs of food are internalized in prices paid
• intersections of local food, federal nutrition programs and charitable food distribution (e.g., whether local food is distributed regularly by food assistance
programs)
PG 42 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
• dietary changes such as eating less meat, decreased average caloric intake, eating seasonally, eating locally produced foods, eating a more diverse diet,
and eating less processed food (Eating less meat and eating less processed food do not belong in the “healthy” category now because they are not part
of current official dietary recommendations. However, they are captured to some extent by the suggested indicators of decreases in diet-related diseases,
obesity and overweight.)
• changes in allocation of land to different crops to accommodate the requirements of healthy diets (e.g., less corn and soybeans, more greens and fruits)
and environmental constraints (e.g., not trying to grow tomatoes and rice in arid or semi-arid regions)
• community health and vitality attributable to community economic development through food enterprises
• social capital in the food system (e.g., relationships of knowledge and trust between producers and consumers; presence of producer, consumer or multi-
stakeholder networks and associations)
• communal aspects of food consumption (e.g., whether meals are eaten with family)
• access to “ne dining” by low-income people, and greater extension of the concept to include local and seasonal foods
• proportion of government subsidies going to large versus small farmers
• extent to which farm production is privately subsidized (the wife drives a school bus, the farmer works exploitative hours, etc.)
• cultural aspects of food production, preparation and consumption, including the diversity of foodways and preservation of historic varieties
WHAT WE LEARNED AND IMPLICATIONS FOR A THEORY OF CHANGE TOWARD GOOD FOOD
THE PURPOSE OF INDICATORS—WHAT THEY CAN AND CANNOT DO
Indicators have a kind of mystique: the need to develop good indicators is touted frequently now, as a way to make progress toward goals that have been
rather nebulous. But indicators are not a way to make progress in and of themselves. They are just a tool to encourage people to pay attention to trends that
affect what they value, and to know if the remedies they put in place are having the desired effects. Therefore, rather than starting with the development of
national indicators of good food, a national effort would be better served initially by getting the multistakeholder discussion of values right and determining
shared national goals, based on good information about trends in agriculture and their consequences. Indicator development can add value if it furthers
the discussion of stakeholder values and goals.
Indicators cannot make a business case for sustainability, although they can help a business that has already made the decision to move toward greater
sustainability. For example, developing indicators specific to a business that demonstrate a combination of financial success, reduced environmental
impact or even contribution to resource stewardship, and production of a healthy food product offered at an affordable price through an equitable supply
chain would help the business monitor its progress and make the case to outsiders that more businesses like this should be replicated and deserve invest-
ment. Indicators of sustainable food systems provide information useful to businesses that want to demonstrate that they are moving in this direction or
contributing to sustainability in meaningful ways. More work is needed on the conjunction between the use of indicators for food systems and businesses:
parsing out the contributions of one business/farm or supply chain to the sustainability of the food system in a given place is extremely difficult. A company
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 43
needs to look at where it can have the most impact (or where it does have the most impact, based on life-cycle analysis), and where/how it wants to change
its practices to change its impact, to start addressing its own contributions to sustainability. Its indicators are likely to be reduction or improvement in
these impact areas, or a proxy for them.
HOW TO DESIGN INDICATORS THAT ARE USEFUL (AND WHY PEOPLE KEEP STARTING FROM SCRATCH)
As we did the literature review for this project, we could not help noticing the superfluity of indicators and indicator development projects that have already
tried to answer some of the questions we addressed. Yet few of these indicator sets seem to be used after they were developed, and each group that wants
indicators seems to start from the beginning instead of adopting another group’s work.
We realized that indicators must be tailored to the audience that will actually use them. Ideally, they are developed by that audience; at the very least, they
have to connect with the audience’s deepest concerns. Unless people have a strong incentive to use a set of indicators (e.g., to get grant funding, to qualify
for government payments, to demonstrate compliance with regulations) they are quite unlikely to adopt them. Instead, they will use the indicators that show
whether they are making progress on the goals that do concern them, such as putting money in their bank accounts, leaving a farm in better condition than
when one inherited it, or fighting unjust work conditions.
As stated earlier, national indicator development needs to happen within the context of a national, transparent, bottom-up, multistakeholder discussion
about goals and values related to food systems. Indicators in different domains are often correlated; if effort is put toward achieving one goal, other goals
may fall in line. For example, farms remaining productive have community benefits as well as economic benefits to the farm families. Indicator development
can emphasize identifying these key leverage indicators that will lead to change across much of the system. The indicator development process developed
by Yellow Wood Associates, which influenced this project, attempts to find both key “upstream” leverage indicators and key “downstream” indicators that
can be used to test assumptions about how the food system functions. Looking for these key indicators will help to avoid an unwieldy number of indicators
and metrics. Many indicator projects result in a mass of data that is overwhelming and unmanageable, but data alone are virtually useless. They must be
filtered to get at what is most important, then presented in a way that is intelligible to the audience. (Although this was one of the lessons of this project, we
are not suggesting that the graphics we used to present indicators are the best possible. We strove for clarity for our client, not data presentation methods
that would be most useful for public education about the status of health, fairness, environmental quality and affordability in the food system.)
DATA INADEQUACIES AND GAPS
Data for monitoring the sustainability of food systems are scarce and generally inadequate. Most of the publicly available data on agriculture deals with
quantity of production, not aggregation, processing, distribution and packaging. There are other extensive sets of data that deal with consumption, but very
little integration between the consumption and production data (with a few exceptions, such as a recent attempt by ERS researchers to determine how crop
production patterns would change if the US public ate in closer accordance with dietary guidelines in Buzby et al. [2006]).
There is a mismatch between the data that are publicly available and the questions that the public wants and needs to be able to answer to know if the US
is making progress toward more sustainable food systems. One of the experts we interviewed, who later reviewed the draft indicators, stated this succinctly:
You get what you measure; but as a society, we probably measure what we care about, and we have not cared about
the healthfulness, sustainability, justness, or affordability of our food supply.
Another interpretation of the lack of good, publicly available data related to good food attributes is that we actually have cared about these things, but made
PG 44 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
the wrong assumptions about how to achieve them. For example, we assumed that if there was enough food (production) to keep prices low, then health,
affordability, fairness and environmental quality would follow in due course. This assumption is not correct: the US food supply is abundant, but the food
system still has many unwanted impacts such as those we included in national indicators.
We found that the data related to fairness, such as data on farmworker health and workers’ rights, are especially weak. Sometimes this is because of prob-
lems getting the information from people who are transient and undocumented (thus hard to track and wary of being interviewed by anyone “official”). But
sometimes it seems to be due more to a willingness to overlook injustices, as long as the food supply is abundant. Even though progress on a few issues is
discernible, wages, working conditions and legal rights for the lowest-paid people in the food system lag far behind those for other kinds of workers. The lack
of good data impedes people who are making sincere efforts to improve conditions for low-wage and marginalized workers. For example, many advocates
use a figure of 49 years as the average life expectancy of farmworkers. This figure is not supported in the data that have been collected on farmworkers,
but there is no question that the conditions under which farmworkers live and work have a toll on their life expectancy. Being able to quantify that toll in
reduced life expectancy may be a compelling tool for communicating poor living and working conditions.
In addition to the lack of agreement on how to measure farmworkers’ welfare, there is a somewhat surprising lack of agreement on how to measure farm
success—surprising because a tremendous amount of national data on farms and farmers is collected. Yet data emphasize financial indicators of success,
and farmer satisfaction may be a better indicator of sustainability than farm net income. Many farmers continue to farm even when they are no longer mak-
ing money. The lack of national agreement on desired diversity of scale in farming also contributes to data gaps. Data are analyzed and reported according
to a farm typology that may not match the kind of farmscape that the public really wants to support. This discrepancy has emerged recently in disputes over
“factory organic” production, and the widespread assumption that most large-scale farms are not “family” farms.
While far more attention has gone into measuring environmental sustainability than fairness, much of the environmental data is spotty and not sufficiently
timely to guide decision makers. For example, there is only one solid data point for the impacts of pesticides on water quality in agricultural watersheds
(from NAWQA); and this covers the time period of 1992-2001. While these data are strong, many policies and practices have changed since then. Pesticide
impact data needs to be available more frequently than on a decadal basis in order to inform policy and to know if previous modifications are having an
impact. In addition, environmental quality data and analyses based on them are often difficult to access on-line. Much of the environmental data relevant
to good food is complex and technical, so raw data would be of little use to the average person. Other OECD countries seem to be doing a better job of
monitoring and displaying environmental data than the US.
It is likely that many of the data gaps noted in this report will be addressed soon because NGOs are exerting increasing pressure to monitor social trends
more comprehensively and food businesses also have a growing interest in environmental and social data for multiple reasons. Public input on the gaps
and ensuring that the data remain publicly available are very important. The current methods for soliciting that input (for example, announcements on the
USDA website of meetings of the Advisory Committee on Agriculture Statistics) may not be adequate to get representative stakeholder input; these methods
are more likely to attract special interests with special needs for data to be collected (or not collected).
IMPLICATIONS FOR A THEORY OF CHANGE
As a result of an overall focusing and redirection at WKKF, the FAS Initiative is no longer in operations; however a number of its concepts and related activities
have been integrated and translated as part of the new Food and Community Initiative. Studies such as ours provide a valuable lens to assess the larger
program of initiatives such as the FAS Initiative, with the benefit of hindsight.
Markets operate within a complex web that affects supply and demand. These other loops, and their impacts at different stages of the food system, need
to be detailed as fully as the market loops. Otherwise we will miss some ways to promote growth of good food. The FAS Initiative’s theory of change deals
with supply and demand, and does not include structural barriers that impede good food and access to it. Three examples:
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 45
a) The legal framework affecting workers’ rights makes fair food almost impossible to produce in the US, regardless of consumer interest. Farmworkers are
exempt from the National Labor Relations Act, which safeguards rights for most other workers. Therefore, they do not have legal recourse to protest existing
abuses of many workers’ rights.
b) The current structure of subsidies and incentives makes production and distribution of “green” and healthy food highly unlikely on a wide-scale basis.
Until these are changed to support increasing environmental quality and public health, the supply will probably remain low.
c) Large investments in food marketing and advertising can set up counter loops that negate the force of increasing consumer demand for healthy, green
and fair food. This may result in consumers continuing to buy unhealthy foods, or foods marketed as “green” that meet only a skimpy list of environmental
criteria.
The role of science and technology is not apparent in the FAS theory of change. “Innovation” is in one of the feedback loops supporting the growth of good
food, but what is its source? And how do innovators deal with the substantial investment in science and technology that may actually impede the growth of
healthy, green, fair and affordable food? An example of this is the vast investment in food processing that has resulted in a food supply less healthy than
whole foods. This is not the sole result of food processing, of course: some processing increases safety and nutritional value of food. Yet much current food
processing is aimed more at increasing marketability and profits than health.
“Affordability” is especially problematic in the FAS theory of change (and the theory may not have been designed to deal with it at all, in fact). How should
affordability fit in a theory of change toward good food? One might argue that prices of healthy, green and fair food will drop as supply increases, making
good food more affordable. But if producing, distributing and retailing good food costs significantly more than producing, distributing and retailing other
kinds of food, then consumers may not see a drop in prices. Affordability is the most deeply contextual of the good food attributes, and more amenable to
public policy measures than supply-driven measures. The most straightforward solution to higher prices of good food seems to be subsidizing its access for
people who cannot afford the full cost, and doing this in ways that preserve people’s dignity. In fact, this is exactly what some of the Promising Innovations
do (such as the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, which lets mothers in the Women, Infants and Children Program buy some produce at farmers’ markets
with coupons). The current public policy measures are woefully inadequate to make good food widely available to low-income people, however.
Finally, the FAS theory of change does not include indicators as a feedback. Results of the measure of indicators must be fed back into the system to have
an impact. Continuing to rely on prices as the only important information for market corrections will not produce the systemic changes that are needed to
make progress toward more good food for more people. Other sets of indicators have been created that emphasize non-market goods, but systems that make
indicators readily available in a consistent and timely manner are also necessary. Furthermore, the value of indicators needs to be tested: do they affect
behavior and planning? Under what circumstances?
The critique of the FAS theory of change in this section, and other sections of this report that critique the approach of this project or the FAS Initiative to good
food, should not be construed as singling out WKKF uniquely for its approach. The Foundation is no more “wrong” in its focus than anybody else working to
PG 46 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
reform the US food system. The US is taking its first steps toward understanding sustainable consumption and what this means in food systems. WKKF is
to be commended for exploring how indicators fit into this effort. Although we argue that developing indicators for good food is somewhat premature, since
there is not yet a public forum and vigorous national discussion for deciding the desired end-points, indicators are an essential part of food system reform.
RECOMMENDATIONS ON RESEARCH NEEDS
This project opened up many new questions, as most research projects on important topics do. This section highlights a few of the questions that seem
worth exploring in the future.
1) Social indicators overall and social impacts of food systems. It became apparent in the course of this study that much of the data on the social
impacts of the current food system is either absent or poor quality. Examples include data on farmworker health and quality of life; data on quality
of life of other workers in low-wage jobs in the food system (e.g., food processing, retail, fast-food service); and community impacts of food system
alternatives. If the goal is to maximize not only agriculture’s contributions to food production, but also its multiple contributions to livelihoods,
quality of life and community well-being, data on social impacts needs to be strengthened.
2) Environmental indicators (especially applying to food systems vs. agricultural production). We found that environmental indicators focus on the
impacts of agricultural production practices, not on the entire food system. Better data on the environmental impacts of food system alternatives
(different kinds of supply chains) can help direct policies that create incentives and disincentives for the development of food system alternatives.
3) Promising Innovations and whether they are actually correlated with greater access to and consumption of good food. Most of the Promising In-
novations that we selected for this project seem to show potential for increasing multiple attributes of good food simultaneously. However, tracking
the development of these innovations and testing whether they have real impacts on access and consumption is needed to test our assumptions.
4) Limitations of state and regional data relevant to “good food”. Some national data that feeds into our National Indicators can be disaggregated
and some cannot. Sometimes states are collecting their own data which is more relevant to good food than nationally-available data, and regions
occasionally collaborate on data collection. To understand data availability and gaps in the US, it is necessary to examine these extra data sources
at state and regional levels.
5) Multistakeholder consensus-building processes for food and agriculture. We emphasize at several points in this report that multistakeholder
deliberation and decision-making processes are necessary to set the goals of food system reform, from which broadly-credible indicators can be
derived. Such processes are not very common in the United States, although they are beginning to appear in other countries (e.g., the Sustainable
Development Commission in the UK, which began as an agency under the British equivalent to our Department of Agriculture but recently became
an independent “executive non-departmental body” reporting directly to the Prime Minister of England, the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales
and the First Minister and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland) and intergovernmental decision-making (e.g., the Major Group structure of the
Commission on Sustainable Development of the United Nations). Lessons might be learned from other countries’ experience on how to set up and
operate these multistakeholder bodies effectively, so that they can contribute to agricultural decision-making and the development of appropriate
indicators.
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 47
CITATIONS
Abbott, Charles. 2009. Food stamp enrollment jumps to record 31.8 million. Reuters, March 5, 2009. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/idUS-
TRE52478R20090305.
Allegretto, Sylvia A. 2005. Basic family budgets: Working families’ incomes often fail to meet living expenses around the U.S. Economic Policy Institute
Briefing Paper 165. Available at http://www.epi.org/content.cfm/bp165. Accessed
Anderson, MD. 2008. Rights-based food systems and the goals of food systems reform. Agriculture & Human Values 25: 593-608.
Arcury, Thomas P., Dana B. Tapia, Sara A. Chen, Janeth Grzywacz, Haiying Barr and Joseph G. Quandt. 2007. Pesticide urinary metabolite levels of children
in eastern North Carolina farmworker households. Environmental Health Perspectives 115 (8):1254-60.
Barnes, Kimberlee K, Dana W Kolpin, Michael T Meyere, E Michael Thurman, Edward T Furlong, Steven D. Zaugg and Larry B. Barber. 2002. Water Quality
Data for Pharmaceuticals, Hormones, and Other Organic Wastewater Contaminants in U.S. Streams, 1999-2000. US Geological Survey Open-File Report
02-94. Available at http://toxics.usgs.gov/pubs/OFR-02-94/
Benbrook, Chuck. 2008. Pesticides and food: Flying blind. Sound Consumer (September 2008). http://www.organic-center.org/reportfiles/SC_0908_cov-
er_article.pdf
Blanck HM, C Gillespie, JE Kimmons, JD Seymour, MK Serdula. 2008. Trends in fruit and vegetable consumption among U.S. men and women, 1994–2005.
Prevention of Chronic Disease 5(2). http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2008/
Boushey, Heather, Chauna Brocht, Bethney Gundersen, and Jared Bernstein. 2001. Hardships in America: The Real Story of Working Families. Washington,
DC: Economic Policy Institute.
Brower, Michael and Warren Leon. 1999. The Consumer’s Guide to Effective Environmental Choices: Practical Advice from the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Three Rivers Press.
Jean C. Buzby, Hodan Farah Wells, and Gary Vocke. 2006. Possible Implications for U.S. Agriculture From Adoption of Select Dietary Guidelines. Economic
Research Report No. 31. Available at http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/err31/err31fm.pdf
California Center for Public Health Advocacy, PolicyLink, and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. 2008. Designed for Disease: The Link Between
Local Food Environments and Obesity and Diabetes. Available at http://www.publichealthadvocacy.org/PDFs/RFEI%20Policy%20Brief_finalweb.pdf
Carlson, A, M Lino, W-Y Juan and PP Basiotis. April 2007. Thrifty Food Plan, 2006 (CNPP-19). Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, US Department of
Agriculture.
Children’s Health Watch. 2008. Coming Up Short: High Food Costs Outstrip Food Stamp Benefits. Real Cost of a Healthy Diet Study, Children’s Health
Watch. Available at http://www.childrenshealthwatch.org/upload/resource/RCOHD_Report_Final.pdf
Committee on Education and Labor. June, 2008. Hidden tragedy: Underreporting of workplace injuries and illnesses. US House of Representatives.
Council on Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics. 2007. Improving Information about America’s Farms & Ranches: A Review of the Census of Agricul-
ture. Available at http://www.cfare.org/publications/20070307cfare_census_review_Full_Report.pdf (confirmed 1/28/09)
PG 48 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
Drinks-Business-Review.com. 12 March 2008. Global ethical revolution is driving growth in fair-trade sales. Available at http://www.drinks-business-review.
com/article_feature.asp?guid=284FC7F1-DE33-48B1-861A-63F2447B3DE6
Economic Research Service. 2009. Food Price Outlook 2009. Food CPI and Expenditures: Analysis and Forecasts of the CPI for Food. Update January 23,
2009. Available at http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/cpifoodandexpenditures/consumerpriceindex.htm. (confirmed 1/28/09)
Eskenazi, Brenda, Amy Marks, Asa Bradman, Kim Harley, Dana B. Barr, Caroline Johnson, Norma Morga and Nicholas P. Jewell. 2007. Organophosphate
pesticide exposure and neurodevelopment in young Mexican-American children. Environmental Health Perspectives 115(5):792-798.
Etter, Lauren, Julie Jargon, Scott Kilman and Aaron O. Patrick. 2008. Food companies show record growth. Wall Street Journal, October 21, 2008.
Farm Service Agency. 2007. Conservation Reserve Program Summary and Enrollment Statistics FY 2006. Available at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/Internet/
FSA_File/06rpt.pdf
Fernandez-Cornejo, J and S Jans. 1999. Pest Management in U.S. Agriculture. Agricultural Handbook AH717, Washington, DC. Available at http://www.ers.
usda.gov/publications/ah717/
Finkelstein, EA, Fiebelkorn, IC, Wang, G. 2003. National medical spending attributable to overweight and obesity: How much, and who’s paying? Health
Affairs W3;219–226.
Finkelstein, EA, Fiebelkorn, IC, Wang, G. 2004. State-level estimates of annual medical expenditures attributable to obesity. Obesity Research 12(1):18–24.
Gilbert, Jess, Spencer D. Wood and Gwen Sharp. 2002. Who owns the land? Agricultural land ownership by race/ethnicity. ERS Rural America 17 (4).
Gilliom, RJ. 2007. Pesticides in U.S. streams and groundwater. Environmental Science & Technology (May 15): 3409-3414.
Hanselman, TA, DA Graetz and AC Wilkie. 2003. Manure-borne estrogens as potential environmental contaminants: a review. Environ. Sci. Tech. 37(24):5471-
8.
Hendrickson, M and W Heffernan. 2007. Concentration of Agricultural Markets, April 2007. National Farmers Union. Available at http://www.nfu.org/wp-
content/2007-heffernanreport.pdf
Hoppe, Robert A., Anne B.W. Effland and Peggy R. Cook. 1998. Status report: Minority and women farmers in the US. Agricultural Outlook (May 1998):
16-21.
Hoppe, Robert A., Penni Korb, Erik J. O’Donoghue, and David E. Banker. 2007. Structure and Finances of U.S. Family Farms, 2007 Edition. Economic Informa-
tion Bulletin No. EIB-24. Available at http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/EIB24/ (2008 Edition is not available on-line yet, although the publication date
for the 2007 edition was in June.)
Human Rights Watch. 2002. Backgrounder: Child Labor in Agriculture. Available at http://hrw.org/backgrounder/crp/back0610.htm
Institute of Medicine. 2002. Dietary Risk Assessment in the WIC Program. Food and Nutrition Board, IOM. National Academy Press, Washington, DC.
Jerardo, Andy. 2008. What share of U.S. consumed food is imported? Amber Waves 6(1): 36-37.
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 49
Jones, Oliver AH, Mahon L Maguire and Julian L Griffin. 2008. Environmental pollution and diabetes: a neglected association. The Lancet 371: 287-288.
Kandel, William. 2008. Profile of Hired Farmworkers, a 2008 Update. ERR-60, Economic Research Services, US Department of Agriculture.
Karpyn, Allison and Francine Axler. 2006. Food Geography: How Food Access Affects Diet and Health. The Food Trust and the Philadelphia Health Manage-
ment Corporation, Philadelphia, PA.
Keep Antibiotics Working. 2007. Factsheet: Antibiotic Resistance and Animal Agriculture. Available at http://www.keepantibioticsworking.com/new/
resources_library.cfm?refID=69872
Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture. 2009. Environmental Resource Indicators for Measuring Outcomes of On-Farm Agricultural Production in the
United States . Keystone, CO: Keystone Center. Available at http://www.keystone.org/spp/documents/Field-to-Market_Environmental-Indicator_First_Re-
port_01092009.Ex.Summary.pdf
Khanal, S, B Xie, ML Thompson, S Sung, SK Ong and J van Leeuvent. 2006. Fate, transport, and biodegradation of natural estrogens in the environment and
engineered systems. Environ. Sci. Tech. 40(21):6537-46.
Korten, David C. 2009. Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
Lange, IG, A Daxenberger, B Schiffer, H Witters, D Ibarreta and HHD Meyer. 2002. Review – sex hormones originating from different livestock production
systems: Fate and potential disrupting activity in the environment. Anal. Chem. Acta 473: 27-37.
Maryns, N. 2008. Access and Access Barriers to Getting Food Stamps: A Review of the Literature. Food Research Action Center, Washington, DC. Available
at http://www.frac.org/pdf/FSPaccess.pdf
Mellon, Margaret, Charles Benbrook and Karen Lutz Benbrook. 2001. Hogging It: Estimates of Antimicrobial Abuse in Livestock. Union of Concerned Scien-
tists. Washington, DC.
Mills, Paul and Sandy Kwong. 2001. Cancer incidence in the United Farmworkers of America (UFW), 1987-1997. American Journal of Industrial Medicine
40(5): 596-603.
Monsivais, Pablo and Adam Drewnowski. 2007. The rising cost of low-energy-density foods. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 107: 2071-2076.
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2008. Preliminary FoodNet data on the incidence of infection with pathogens transmitted commonly through food---
10 states, 2007. MMWR 57(14): 366-370.
Morton, Lois Wright and Troy C Blanchard. 2007. Starved for Access: Life in Rural America’s Food Deserts. Rural Sociological Society Rural Realities 1(4).
Mueller, DK and NE Spahr. 2006. Nutrients in Streams and Rivers across the Nation, 1992-2001. Scientific Investigations Report 2006-5107. US Geological
Survey, US Department of the Interior.
Nielsen, SJ and BM Popkin. 2003. Patterns and trends in food portion sizes, 1977-1998. J Amer Medical Assoc 289: 450-453.
Nord, Mark. 2003. Food insecurity in households with children. Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Report Number 34-13. Available at http://www.ers.
usda.gov/publications/fanrr34/fanrr34-13/fanrr34-13.pdf
PG 50 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
Nord, Mark, Margaret Andrews and Steven Carlson. 2008. Household Food Security in the United States, 2007. Economic Research Report ERR-66, US
Department of Agriculture. Available at http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/err66/
OECD. 2008. Environmental Performance of Agriculture in OECD Countries Since 1990. Paris, France. Available at http://www.oecd.org/tad/env/indicators
Pimentel, D, Pleasant, J Barron, J Gaudioso, N Pollock, E Chae, Y Kim, A Lassiter, C Schiavoni, A Jackson, M Lee and A Eaton. 2008a. U.S. energy conserva-
tion and efficiency: Benefits and costs. Pp. 333-358 In: Pimentel, D and M Pimentel. Food, Energy and Society. 3rd Edition. Boca Raton, Florida: Taylor and
Francis Group.
Pimentel, D, Sean Williamson, Courtney E Alexander, Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, Caitlin Kontak and Steven E Mulkey. 2008b. Reducing energy inputs in the US
food system. Human Ecology (in press) DOI 10.1007/s10745-00809184-3
Rothlein, Joan, Diane Rohlman, Michael Lasarev, Jackie Phillips, Juan Muniz, and Linda McCauley. 2006. Organophosphate pesticide exposure and neurobe-
havioral performance in agricultural and nonagricultural Hispanic workers. Environmental Health Perspectives 114(5): 691–696.
Smil, Vaclav. 2008. Energy in Nature and Society: General Energetics of Complex Systems. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
State of the Nation’s Ecosystems Project. 2008. The State of the Nation’s Ecosystems: Measuring the Lands, Waters, and Living Resources of the United
States. Washington, DC: Heinz Center.
Trostle, Ronald. July 2008. Global Agricultural Supply and Demand: Factors Contributing to the Recent Increase in Food Commodity Prices. WRS-0801
Economic Research Service, US Department of Agriculture.
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). 2006. Tracking the Trend towards Market Concentration: The Case of the Agricultural Input
Industry. UNCTAD/DITC/COM/2005/16. Geneva, Switzerland: UNCTAD.
US Department of Health and Human Services and US Department of Agriculture. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2005. 6th Edition, Washington, DC: U.S.
Government Printing Office, January 2005.
US Environmental Protection Agency. 2008a. Inventory of US greenhouse gas emissions and sinks: 1990-2006. USEPA 430-R-08-005. Washington, DC.
Available at http://epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usinventoryreport.html
US Environmental Protection Agency. 2008b. US EPA’s 2008 Report on the Environment (Final Report). EPA/600/R-07/045F, Washington, DC. Available at
http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/cfm/recordisplay.cfm?deid=190806
Wells, Hodan Farah and Jean C. Buzby. 2007. ERS food availability data look at consumption in three ways. Amber Waves 5(3): 40-41.
World Cancer Research Fund / American Institute for Cancer Research. 2007. Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Per-
spective. Washington DC: AICR, 2007.
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 51
HEALTH TRENDS: NATIONAL INDICATORS
INDICATOR:
ADULT OVERWEIGHT AND OBESITY
PREVALENCES ARE DECREASING
CURRENT TREND:
GETTING WORSE
Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control
INDICATOR:
FRUIT AND VEGETABLE CONSUMPTION
MEETS CURRENT US DIETARY GUIDELINES
CURRENT TREND:
NO CHANGE
Four and one-half cups (nine servings) of fruits and vegetables are recommended daily
for the reference 2,000-calorie level, with higher or lower amounts depending on the
caloric level.
Source: USDHHS/USDA (2005)
INDICATOR:
CHILD OVERWEIGHT PREVALENCE IS
DECREASING
CURRENT TREND:
GETTING WORSE
Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control
Source: National Vital Statistics Reports, National Center for Health Statistics,
Centers for Disease Control
INDICATOR:
DEATH RATES OF DIET-RELATED
DISEASES ARE DECREASING
CURRENT TREND:
GETTING BETTER
PG 52 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
HEALTH TRENDS: NATIONAL HEALTH TRENDS: HOT SPOTS
INDICATORS
Incidence of Type II diabetes in children aged 10-19
Type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents, although still rare, is
being diagnosed more frequently among American Indians, African
Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, and Asians/Pacific Islanders.
Based on 2002–2003 data, 15,000 youth in the United States were
newly diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes annually, and about 3,700 youth
were newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes annually.
Source: National Diabetes Fact Sheet, 2007. CDC.
Disparities in diabetes prevalence between white and colored
populations
National survey data for people aged 20 years or older show that 6.6%
of non-Hispanic whites, 7.5% of Asian Americans, 10.4% of Hispanics,
and 11.8% of non-Hispanic blacks had diagnosed diabetes. Among
Hispanics, rates were 8.2% for Cubans, 11.9% for Mexican Americans,
and 12.6% for Puerto Ricans.
Source: National Diabetes Fact Sheet, 2007. CDC.
Cost to society of overweight and obesity
Medical expenses associated with overweight and obesity accounted
for 9.1 percent of total US medical expenditures in 1998 and may
have reached as high as $78.5 billion ($92.6 billion in 2002 dollars).
Approximately half of these costs were paid by Medicaid and Medicare.
State-level estimates range from $87 million (Wyoming) to $7.7 billion
(California).
Sources: Finkelstein et al. (2003); Finkelstein et al. (2004).
Pesticide body burden
The CDC’s National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental
Chemicals provides an ongoing assessment of the US population’s ex-
posure to environmental chemicals using biomonitoring, or measuring
the chemicals or their metabolites in blood or urine. The Third Report,
published in 2005, included 43 pesticides. The report shows undetect-
able or very low levels of aldrin, endrin and dieldrin (organochlorine
pesticides that have been discontinued in the US); detectable levels of
mercury in women of child-bearing age, but below the level currently
associated with neurodevelopment effects in the fetus; and widespread
exposure to pyrethroid insecticides.
Source: http://www.cdc.gov/exposurereport/
INDICATOR:
THE INCIDENCE OF FOOD
CONTAMINATION IS DECREASING
CURRENT TREND:
GETTING BETTER?
Source: Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet), Centers for
Disease Control
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 53
COST TO SOCIETY OF FOOD
CONTAMINATION
Pathogen
CDC estimate:
annual number
of cases
ERS estimate:
Cost
(2007 dollars)
Campylobacter
(foodborne sources)
2,000,000
Salmonella
(all sources)
1,397,187 $2,544,394,334
Shiga toxin-producing E.
coli O157 (STEC O157)
(all sources)
73,480 $459,707,493
Non-O157 shiga toxin-
producing E. coli (non-
STEC O157)
(all sources)
31,229
Listeria
(all sources)
2,797
Source: Foodborne Illness Cost Calculator,
Economic Research Service, USDA
Prevalence of antibiotic resistance due to animal agricultural
production
Agricultural use, much of it for growth promotion of livestock, accounts
for 40 percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States. Once-vulner-
able bacteria have evolved resistance, and many antimicrobial drugs
are losing their effectiveness. The CDC has concluded that, in the United
States, antimicrobial use in food animals is the dominant source of
antibiotic resistance among food-borne pathogens.
Source: Prescription for Trouble: Using Antibiotics to Fatten Livestock,
Union of Concerned Scientists.
Incidence of Type II diabetes in children aged 10-19
Type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents, although still rare, is being
diagnosed more frequently among American Indians, African Americans,
Hispanic/Latino Americans, and Asians/Pacific Islanders. Based on
2002–2003 data, 15,000 youth in the United States were newly diag-
nosed with Type 1 diabetes annually, and about 3,700 youth were newly
diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes annually.
Source: National Diabetes Fact Sheet, 2007. CDC.
Disparities in diabetes prevalence between white and colored
populations
National survey data for people aged 20 years or older show that 6.6% of
non-Hispanic whites, 7.5% of Asian Americans, 10.4% of Hispanics, and
11.8% of non-Hispanic blacks had diagnosed diabetes. Among Hispan-
ics, rates were 8.2% for Cubans, 11.9% for Mexican Americans, and
12.6% for Puerto Ricans.
Source: National Diabetes Fact Sheet, 2007. CDC.
Cost to society of overweight and obesity
Medical expenses associated with overweight and obesity accounted
for 9.1 percent of total US medical expenditures in 1998 and may have
reached as high as $78.5 billion ($92.6 billion in 2002 dollars). Ap-
proximately half of these costs were paid by Medicaid and Medicare.
State-level estimates range from $87 million (Wyoming) to $7.7 billion
(California).
Sources: Finkelstein et al. (2003); Finkelstein et al. (2004).
Pesticide body burden
The CDC’s National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemi-
cals provides an ongoing assessment of the US population’s exposure to
environmental chemicals using biomonitoring, or measuring the chemi-
cals or their metabolites in blood or urine. The Third Report, published in
2005, included 43 pesticides. The report shows undetectable or very low
levels of aldrin, endrin and dieldrin (organochlorine pesticides that have
been discontinued in the US); detectable levels of mercury in women of
child-bearing age, but below the level currently associated with neuro-
development effects in the fetus; and widespread exposure to pyrethroid
insecticides.
Source: http://www.cdc.gov/exposurereport/
Prevalence of antibiotic resistance due to animal agricultural
production
Agricultural use, much of it for growth promotion of livestock, accounts
for 40 percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States. Once-vulner-
able bacteria have evolved resistance, and many antimicrobial drugs
are losing their effectiveness. The CDC has concluded that, in the United
States, antimicrobial use in food animals is the dominant source of
antibiotic resistance among food-borne pathogens.
Source: Prescription for Trouble: Using Antibiotics to Fatten Livestock,
Union of Concerned Scientists.
HEALTH TRENDS: HOT SPOTS
PG 54 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
HEALTH TRENDS: NOTABLE FACTS
Diabetes prevalence
23.6 million people or 7.8% of the US population had diabetes in 2007.
Among 49 states that have date for 1994 and 2005, the age-adjusted
prevalence of diagnosed diabetes was at least 50% higher in 2005 than
in 1994 in 27 states.
Source: National Diabetes Surveillance System, National Center for
Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC.
Fruit and vegetable consumption among adults
In 2005, only 32.6% of the surveyed US adult population consumed fruit
two or more times per day, and 27.2% ate vegetables three or more times
per day.
Source: Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Among Adults — United
States, 2005. MMWR 56(10);213-217 (March 16, 2007).
Portion sizes
Between 1977 and 1996, portion sizes for key food groups grew markedly
in the US, not only at fast-food outlets but also in homes and at conven-
tional restaurants. One study of portion sizes showed caloric increases:
• Salty snacks from 132 calories to 225 calories.
• French fries from 188 calories to 256 calories.
• Hamburgers from 389 calories to 486 calories.
• Soft drinks from 144 calories to 193 calories.
Source: Nielsen and Popkin (2003)
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 55
INDICATOR:
FARMWORKERS RECEIVE WAGES SUFFICIENT
TO SUPPORT A HOUSEHOLD FOR FULL-TIME
WORK
CURRENT TREND:
GETTING BETTER
Source: National Agricultural Workers Survey, as reported in Kandel (2008)
* 2005 Dollars
** Annualized
wages, in
2005 dollars,
are calculated
as follows:
hourly rate
x 50 weeks/
year x 40 hrs/
week
INDICATOR:
THE PERCENTAGE OF FARMWORKERS HIRED
THROUGH LABOR CONTRACTORS IS DECLINING
CURRENT TREND:
GETTING WORSE
Source: National Agricultural Workers Survey
INDICATOR:
FOOD SYSTEM WORKERS HAVE SAFE,
HEALTHY WORKING CONDITIONS
CURRENT TREND:
GETTING BETTER?
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor
INDICATOR:
FOOD SYSTEM WORKERS HAVE SAFE,
HEALTHY WORKING CONDITIONS
CURRENT TREND:
MIXED
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor
FAIRNESS TRENDS: NATIONAL INDICATORS
PG 56 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
Source: US Census Bureau annual reports for median household income;
ARMS for net farm income
INDICATOR:
AVERAGE NET FARM INCOME OF SMALL & MID-SCALE
FAMILY FARMS MATCHES OR EXCEEDS MEDIAN
NATIONAL HOUSEHOLD INCOME
CURRENT TREND:
MIXED
INDICATOR:
ACREAGE OF MID-SCALE FAMILY FARMS
IS HOLDING STABLE
CURRENT TREND:
GETTING WORSE
Source: ARMS
Thousands of Acres
INDICATOR:
FARMERS RETAIN A CONSISTENT
PROPORTION OF THE FOOD DOLLAR
CURRENT TREND:
GETTING WORSE
Source: Economic Research Service, USDA
FAIRNESS TRENDS: NATIONAL INDICATORS
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 57
Discrepancy in cancer rates and neurological disorders
between farmworkers and other occupational groups
According to a California study, the risk of leukemia, stomach, cervical
and uterine cancers was significantly elevated in California farmworkers in
comparison with the state’s Hispanic population.
Source: Mills and Kwong (2001)
In an Oregon study, the neurobehavioral performance of Hispanic immigrant
farmworkers was found to be lower than that observed in a nonagricultural
Hispanic immigrant population. Within the sample of agricultural workers,
there was a positive correlation between urinary organophosphate metabo-
lite levels and poorer performance on some neurobehavioral tests. These
findings add to an increasing body of evidence of the association between
low levels of pesticide exposure and deficits in neurobehavioral perfor-
mance.
Source: Rothlein et al. (2006)
Concentration of market held by top companies within a sector
Hendrickson and Heffernan have documented trends in concentration ratios:
the market share controlled by top firms within a specific industry. These
demonstrate an extreme level and very rapid increase in concentration in
most industries. Concentration ratios for several food industries in April
2007 were:
Industry Concentration Ratio
• Beef packers CR4 = 83.5%
(Tyson, Cargill, Swift & Co., National Beef Packing Co.)
• Pork packers CR4 = 66% (estimated)
(Smithfield Foods, Tyson Foods, Swift & Co., Cargill)
• Broilers CR4 = 58.5%
(Pilgrim’s Pride, Tyson, Perdue, Sanderson Farms)
• Turkeys CR4 = 55%
(Butterball LLC, Hormel Foods, Cargill, Sara Lee
• Soybean crushing CR4 = 80%
(ADM, Bunge, Cargill, Ag Processing)
• Ethanol production CR4 = 31.5%
(ADM, US Biofuels, VeraSun Energy Corporation, Hawkeye Renewables)
• Corn seed CR2 = 58%
(DuPont [Pioneer], Monsanto)
• US food retailing CR5 = 48%
(Wal-Mart, Kroger, Supervalu, Safeway, Ahold)
Source: Hendrickson and Heffernan (2007)
Long-term decline in amount of farmland owned and operated by mi-
norities, relative to declines in farmland owned and operated by whites
The number of all US farms declined 70 percent over 72 years—from
6,454,000 in 1920 to 1,925,300 in 1992—and the decline in farms run
by non-Whites was even more dramatic—from 954,300 to 43,500, a 95
percent decline. Put another way, the proportion of non-White farms among
all farms in the US fell from 15 percent in 1920 to 2 percent in 1992. The
number of Black farms fell from 1 in 7 farms in 1920 to only 1 in 100 farms
in 1992.
Source: Hoppe et al. (1998)
Of all the racial groups reported in the 1999 Agricultural Economics and
Land Ownership Survey, Blacks own the smallest average acreage (114
acres per owner). Only one-third of Black-owned acres are operated by the
owner; most Blacks rented their land to others (mainly Whites). In 1999,
only 1.7% of farm owner-operators were Black, American Indian or Asian;
and 1.9% were Hispanic.
Sources: Gilbert et al. (2002)
Pesticide exposure in farmworkers’ children
In North Carolina, a substantial number of children (ages 1-6) of farmwork-
ers had metabolites of organophosphate pesticides in their urine, espe-
cially metabolites of parathion/methyl parathion (90.0% of the children);
chlorpyrifos/chlorpyrifos methyl (83.3%); and diazinon (55.0%). This study
showed that farmworkers’ children have multiple exposures to pesticides.
Source: Arkury et al. (2007)
In California, a study of primarily Latino children found significant correla-
tions between six metabolites of organophospate pesticides measured in
pregnant women’s urine and mental development and pervasive develop-
mental problems in their children at 24 months of age.
Source: Eskenazi et al. (2007)
Number of child fieldworkers
Human Rights Watch estimates that 300,000 children work in the US as
hired laborers in large-scale commercial agriculture, planting, weeding,
and picking apples, cotton, cantaloupe, lettuce, asparagus, watermelons,
chilies, and other crops.
Source: Human Rights Watch (2002)
Child farmworkers make up only 8% of children who work in the United
States, yet account for 40% of work-related fatalities among minors.
Source: Human Rights Watch (2002)
FAIRNESS TRENDS: HOT SPOTS
PG 58 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
FAIRNESS TRENDS: NOTABLE FACTS
Farmworker wages in comparison with other wage and salary
workers
Farmworker unemployment rates are double those of all wage and sal-
ary workers. Those working in field crops have twice the unemployment
rate of livestock workers.
Source: Kandel (2008)
Median weekly earnings of full-time farmworkers are 59% of those for
all wage and salary workers. Poverty among farmworkers is more than
double that of all wage and salary employees.
Source: Kandel (2008)
White control of farms and farm value
Of all private U.S. agricultural land, Whites account for 96 percent of
the owners, 97 percent of the value, and 98 percent of the acres.
Source: Table 68, 1999 Agricultural Economics and Land Ownership
Survey, ERS.
Concentration of seed industries
Monsanto has its genetically modified seeds for corn, cotton, soybeans
and canola on more than 90% of the acreage that uses GMO seeds. In
comparison, Syngenta is in 2nd place with about 4% of global biotech
acreage using its seed.
Source: Hendrickson and Heffernan (2007)
Globally, four seed rms (DuPont [Pioneer], Monsanto, Syngenta and
Limagrain) have about 29% of the world market for commercial seeds.
Source: UNCTAD (2006)
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 59
Source: US Agricultural Census
* these years not adjusted for coverage
INDICATOR:
FARMLAND IS REMAINING
IN PRODUCTION
CURRENT TREND:
GETTING WORSE
INDICATOR:
SOIL QUALITY IS IMPROVING CURRENT TREND:
GETTING BETTER
Source: Natural Resources Inventory, USDA Natiural Resources Conservation
Service
Kg N / ha
Source: National Water Quality Assessment Program, USGS
INDICATOR:
WATER CONTAMINATION BY PESTICIDES
IN AGRICULTURAL AREAS IS DECLINING
CURRENT TREND:
UNKNOWN
Indicator:
Source: OECD (2008)
* Difference
between the
quantities of
nitrogen entering
a farming system
(as fertilizer,
manure, etc.)
and leaving the
system (as crops,
volatilization,
etc.)
INDICATOR:
THE NITROGEN BALANCE OF U.S.
FARMING SYSTEMS IS DECLINING
CURRENT TREND:
GETTING WORSE
ENVIRONMENTAL TRENDS: NATIONAL INDICATORS
PG 60 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
Source: US EPA (2008a)
INDICATOR:
AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION EMITS DECLINING
AMOUNTS OF GREENHOUSE GASSES
CURRENT TREND:
NO CHANGE
ENVIRONMENTAL TRENDS: NATIONAL INDICATORS
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 61
Pharmaceutical, hormone and other organic contamination of fresh
water from livestock facilities
Livestock wastes are potential sources of endocrine disrupting com-
pounds to the environment. Steroidal estrogen hormones such as
estradiol, estrone, and estriol are a particular concern because there is
evidence that low nanogram per liter concentrations of estrogens in water
can adversely affect the reproductive biology of fish and other aquatic
vertebrate species.
Source: Hanselman et al. (2003)
Land application is widely viewed as an economic way of disposing
animal manure and recycling nutrients. Agricultural lands, however, could
be a potential source of environmental steroidal estrogenic compounds
when animal manure is applied over long periods. Recent studies have
indicated that runoff from applied fields, where manure has been applied,
can enter adjacent streams or infiltrate through the soil into groundwater,
resulting in detectable levels of estrogens that could affect wildlife.
Source: Khanal et al. (2006)
Estrogen contribution by livestock manure accounts for at least 90% of
the total estrogen in the environment. Estrogenic hormones are frequent-
ly administered to livestock as growth promoters. This may increase urine
output of estrogens.
Source: Khanal et al. (2006)
Growth of the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico
The 2008 dead zone is the second largest on record since measurements
began in 1985 and is larger than the land area of the state of Massachu-
setts. Increasing nutrient loads into the Mississippi River, beginning in
the 1950s, are responsible for worsening oxygen conditions in the Gulf of
Mexico since then. The second largest human-caused zone of hypoxia in
the world’s coastal waters is found in the Gulf of Mexico adjacent to the
Mississippi River system.
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Population trends of farmland birds
Farmland bird populations declined in all OECD countries that report
population trends between 1991 and 2004, but the decrease was
less pronounced than had occurred over the 1980s; and for some
countries, populations have been rising since the late 1990s. The
main causes of the decline in bird species impacted by agriculture
are changes to the habitat quality of agricultural land or its loss to
other uses, the use of pesticides and fertilizers, lowering groundwater
tables and river flows, and clearance of native vegetation.
Source: OECD (2008)
Average number of calories from food system activities required
to provide one calorie of food
The efficiency ratio is the quotient of harvested food energy and en-
ergy invested in the growing process. Traditional cropping powered by
draft animals and human labor has ratios of 10-30; modern intensive
grain cropping 2-8, fruit growing about 1, vegetable cultivation 0.1-1.
Substantial energy losses are incurred in all modern intensive animal
production systems, with ratios as low as 0.05 for lean red meat and
no higher than 0.5 for milk.
Source: cited in Smil (2008)
ENVIRONMENTAL TRENDS: HOT SPOTS
PG 62 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
Greenhouse gas emissions
In 2006, the agricultural production sector was responsible for emis-
sions of 454.1 teragrams of CO2 equivalents (Tg CO2 Eq.), or 6% of
total U. greenhouse gas emissions. Methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide
(N2O) were the primary greenhouse gases emitted by agricultural
production activities.
Source: US EPA (2008a)
Energy use in the food system
Energy inputs into farming are only a small part of the total energy
inputs into food. Energy used in food processing, distribution, and
wholesale and retail can be twice as large as that consumed by field
farming and animal husbandry, and food preparation takes 30-50% of
all the energy used in an affluent nation’s food chain.
Source: Smil (2008)
In total, each American requires approximately 2000 liters/year in oil
equivalents to supply their food, which accounts for about 19% of the
total energy use in the USA. Agricultural production plus food process-
ing and packaging consumes 14%, while transportation and prepara-
tion use 5% of total energy in the US.
Source: cited in Pimentel et al. (2008)
A vegetarian diet requires 33% less fossil energy than the average
American diet.
Source: cited in Pimentel et al. (2008)
ENVIRONMENTAL TRENDS: NOTABLE FACTS
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 63
INDICATOR:
THE PREVALENCE OF CHILD FOOD
SECURITY IS INCREASING
CURRENT TREND:
MIXED
Source: Economic Research Service (based on Current Population Survey Food
Security Supplement data)
INDICATOR:
INCREASES IN WAGES AND SALARIES ARE EQUAL
TO OR GREATER THAN INCREASES IN FOOD PRICES
CURRENT TREND:
MIXED
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Source: Economic Research Service (based on Current Population Survey Food
Security Supplement data)
INDICATOR:
THE PREVALENCE OF HOUSEHOLD FOOD
SECURITY IS INCREASING
CURRENT TREND:
MIXED
AFFORDABILITY TRENDS: NATIONAL INDICATORS
PG 64 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
Incidence of Type II diabetes in children aged 10-19
Type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents, although still rare, is being
diagnosed more frequently among American Indians, African Americans,
Hispanic/Latino Americans, and Asians/Pacific Islanders. Based on
2002–2003 data, 15,000 youth in the United States were newly diag-
nosed with Type 1 diabetes annually, and about 3,700 youth were newly
diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes annually.
Source: National Diabetes Fact Sheet, 2007. CDC.
Disparities in diabetes prevalence between white and colored
populations
National survey data for people aged 20 years or older show that 6.6% of
non-Hispanic whites, 7.5% of Asian Americans, 10.4% of Hispanics, and
11.8% of non-Hispanic blacks had diagnosed diabetes. Among Hispan-
ics, rates were 8.2% for Cubans, 11.9% for Mexican Americans, and
12.6% for Puerto Ricans.
Source: National Diabetes Fact Sheet, 2007. CDC.
Cost to society of overweight and obesity
Medical expenses associated with overweight and obesity accounted
for 9.1 percent of total US medical expenditures in 1998 and may have
reached as high as $78.5 billion ($92.6 billion in 2002 dollars). Ap-
proximately half of these costs were paid by Medicaid and Medicare.
State-level estimates range from $87 million (Wyoming) to $7.7 billion
(California).
Sources: Finkelstein et al. (2003); Finkelstein et al. (2004).
Pesticide body burden
The CDC’s National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemi-
cals provides an ongoing assessment of the US population’s exposure to
environmental chemicals using biomonitoring, or measuring the chemi-
cals or their metabolites in blood or urine. The Third Report, published in
2005, included 43 pesticides. The report shows undetectable or very low
levels of aldrin, endrin and dieldrin (organochlorine pesticides that have
been discontinued in the US); detectable levels of mercury in women of
child-bearing age, but below the level currently associated with neuro-
development effects in the fetus; and widespread exposure to pyrethroid
insecticides.
Source: http://www.cdc.gov/exposurereport/
Prevalence of antibiotic resistance due to animal agricultural
production
Agricultural use, much of it for growth promotion of livestock, accounts
for 40 percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States. Once-vulner-
able bacteria have evolved resistance, and many antimicrobial drugs
are losing their effectiveness. The CDC has concluded that, in the United
States, antimicrobial use in food animals is the dominant source of
antibiotic resistance among food-borne pathogens.
Source: Prescription for Trouble: Using Antibiotics to Fatten Livestock,
Union of Concerned Scientists.
Cost to society of food contamination
Pathogen
CDC estimate:
annual number
of cases
ERS estimate:
Cost
(2007 dollars)
Campylobacter
(foodborne sources)
2,000,000
Salmonella
(all sources)
1,397,187 $2,544,394,334
Shiga toxin-producing
E. coli O157 (STEC
O157)
(all sources)
73,480 $459,707,493
Non-O157 shiga
toxin-producing E. coli
(non-STEC O157)
(all sources)
31,229
Listeria
(all sources)
2,797
Source: Foodborne Illness Cost Calculator, Economic Research
Service, USDA
AFFORDABILITY TRENDS: HOT SPOTS
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 65
Diabetes prevalence
23.6 million people or 7.8% of the US population had diabetes in 2007.
Among 49 states that have date for 1994 and 2005, the age-adjusted
prevalence of diagnosed diabetes was at least 50% higher in 2005 than
in 1994 in 27 states.
Source: National Diabetes Surveillance System, National Center for
Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC.
Fruit and vegetable consumption among adults
In 2005, only 32.6% of the surveyed US adult population consumed fruit
two or more times per day, and 27.2% ate vegetables three or more
times per day.
Source: Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Among Adults — United
States, 2005. MMWR 56(10);213-217 (March 16, 2007).
Portion sizes
Between 1977 and 1996, portion sizes for key food groups grew mark-
edly in the US, not only at fast-food outlets but also in homes and at
conventional restaurants. One study of portion sizes showed caloric
increases:
• Salty snacks from 132 calories to 225 calories.
• French fries from 188 calories to 256 calories.
• Hamburgers from 389 calories to 486 calories.
• Soft drinks from 144 calories to 193 calories.
Source: Nielsen and Popkin (2003)
AFFORDABILITY TRENDS: NOTABLE FACTS
PG 66 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
PROMISING INNOVATIONS: NATIONAL INDICATORS
INDICATOR:
PUBLIC POLICY PROMOTES HEALTHIER
FOODS FOR CHILDREN
CURRENT TREND:
GETTING WORSE
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures website, Childhood Obesity
Legislative Policy Updates
Source: Agricultural Census
INDICATOR:
DIRECT FARMER-TO-CONSUMER SALES
ARE GROWING IN VALUE
CURRENT TREND:
GETTING BETTER
INDICATOR:
THE AMOUNT OF ACREAGE ENROLLED IN
FEDERAL CONSERVATION
PROGRAMS IS INCREASING
CURRENT TREND:
NO CHANGE
Source: Farm Service Agency (2007)Source: Economic Research Service Data Set on Organic Production
INDICATOR:
THE AMOUNT OF LAND UNDER
ORGANIC PRODUCTION IS INCREASING
CURRENT TREND:
GETTING BETTER
Number of Farms
CHARTING GROWTH TO GOOD FOOD : DEVELOPING INDICATORS AND MEASURES OF GOOD FOOD PG 67
INDICATOR:
LOW-INCOME PEOPLE’S ACCESS TO
FRESH, LOCALLY GROWN PRODUCE IS
INCREASING
CURRENT TREND:
GETTING WORSE?
Source: Food & Nutrition Service, USDA website
Source: Top 10 companies in 2008 from http://www.foodprocessing.com; program
participation from program websites
INDICATOR:
THE NUMBER OF TOP 10 US FOOD AND BEVERAGE
MANUFACTURERS BY SALES THAT REPORT GHG
EMISSIONS AND PARTICIPATE IN A GHG REDUC-
TION PROGRAM IS INCREASING
CURRENT TREND:
MIXED
PROMISING PROMISING
INNOVATIONS: NATIONAL INDICATORS INNOVATIONS: NOTABLE FACTS
Farm-to-school programs
There are 40 states at present with operational farm-to-school
programs, and an estimated total of 2051 farm-to-school programs in
the United States.
Source: National Farm to School Program, Center for Food & Justice,
Occidental College
Producers with third-party certification of compliance with fair
labor practices
At present, four producers are participating in a pilot of the Agricul-
tural Justice Project Standards and 47 farms, ranches, coops, proces-
sors, packers or distributors are certified by Food Alliance standards
in the United States.
Sources: http://www.agriculturaljusticeproject.org/pilot.html and
http://www.foodalliance.org/client-search
Use of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) by farmers
A complete, practical, and accepted method to measure overall IPM
adoption is not yet available. In practice, IPM is often based on scout-
ing fields to determine pest populations or infestation levels, more
precise timing and application of pesticides based on scouting, better
knowledge of the consequences of various levels of pest and predator
populations, rotations, and more precise timing of planting.
Scouting was used extensively by most field crop farmers in 2000:
• 57 to 90 percent of the major eld crop acreage was scouted for
diseases, with winter wheat the lowest and durum wheat the highest.
• 71 to 97 percent of the major eld crop acreage was scouted for
weeds, with winter wheat the lowest and durum wheat the highest.
• 62 to 91 percent of the major eld crop acreage was scouted for
insects, with winter wheat the lowest and cotton the highest.
• Crop rotations were used on at least 82 percent of the 1996 planted
acres for major field crops except for cotton and winter wheat, where
only 33 and 58 percent of the planted acres were in rotation, respec-
tively.
Sources: Economic Research Service Agricultural Management
and Production Technology: Pest Management Briefing Room
(http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/Agchemicals/pestmangement.
htm#adoption) and Fernandez-Cornejo and Jans (1999)
PG 68 WALLACE CENTER AT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
Direct farm-to-consumer sales
Although direct sales have increased between the 1992 and 2007 Agri-
cultural Census, the proportion of total sales that they contribute is still
tiny: in 2007, direct sales only made up 0.4 percent of total sales.
Source: Agricultural Census
Farm-to-school programs
There are 40 states at present with operational farm-to-school programs,
and an estimated total of 2051 farm-to-school programs in the United
States.
Source: National Farm to School Program, Center for Food & Justice,
Occidental College
Producers with third-Party certification of compliance with fair
labor practices
At present, four producers are participating in a pilot of the Agricultural
Justice Project Standards and 47 farms, ranches, coops, processors,
packers or distributors are certified by Food Alliance Standards in the
United States.
Sources: http://www.agriculturaljusticeproject.org/pilot.html and
http://www.foodalliance.org/client-search
Direct farm-to-consumer sales
Although direct sales have increased between the 1992 and 2007 Agri-
cultural Census, the proportion of total sales that they contribute is still
tiny: in 2007, direct sales only made up 0.4 percent of total sales.
Source: Agricultural Census
Use of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) by farmers
A complete, practical, and accepted method to measure overall IPM
adoption is not yet available. In practice, IPM is often based on scouting
fields to determine pest populations or infestation levels, more precise
timing and application of pesticides based on scouting, better knowledge
of the consequences of various levels of pest and predator populations,
rotations, and more precise timing of planting.
Scouting was used extensively by most field crop farmers in 2000:
• 57 to 90 percent of the major eld crop acreage was scouted for dis-
eases, with winter wheat the lowest and durum wheat the highest
• 71 to 97 percent of the major eld crop acreage was scouted for weeds,
with winter wheat the lowest and durum wheat the highest
• 62 to 91 percent of the major eld crop acreage was scouted for
insects, with winter wheat the lowest and cotton the highest.
• Crop rotations were used on at least 82 percent of the 1996 planted
acres for major field crops except for cotton and winter wheat, where only
33 and 58 percent of the planted acres were in rotation, respectively.
Sources: Economic Research Service Agricultural Management and
Production Technology: Pest Management Briefing Room (http://www.
ers.usda.gov/Briefing/Agchemicals/pestmangement.htm#adoption) and
Fernandez-Cornejo and Jans (1999)
PROMISING INNOVATIONS: NATIONAL INDICATORS
... Repair also functions as a regime of relationships and diffuse informal sanctions for preventing and dissipating concentrated power and resource control (Robinson and Tormey 2009), revealing some of the paradoxes around traditional conceptions of farming and environmentalist success, and disempowering capture of popular agrifood discourses and practices. As we hear particularly in arguments for addressing black and indigenous land loss in the United States, the need for repair of food systems is a constant refrain in contemporary community agrifood organizing --but there are very few well-established rubrics for the evaluation of repair (although see Anderson et al. 2009;Merkle 2013). Focusing on repair in engaging these narratives helps differentiate political ecologies of claims around land loss, vulnerability, and harm from losses suffered by privileged commodity farms and their investors. ...
Article
Full-text available
Amidst the backdrop of attention to populism in general, it is instructive to understand populism through social movements focused on food and agriculture. Agrarian populism is particularly salient in agrifood movements. Agroecology has been widely identified as a domain of populist claims on environmental and social governance surrounding agricultural-ecological and political-economic systems. As authoritarian populist leaders gain power throughout the world at a time of expanding economic globalization and contingent socio ecological crises, contests over populism in agrifood regimes can highlight current dynamics relevant for formative evaluation of alternative political agroecology strategies, and of populist environmental governance more broadly. Can populism be harnessed by radical political agroecologies to simultaneously contest the hydra-headed nature of capitalism, authoritarianism, and pollution, and implement forms of environmental governance based on repair? We argue that populist agroecology has untapped potential for repair, and that the mechanism of focusing social movements on repair may help address some of the more problematic authoritarian tendencies of populism.
... For example, reliable longitudinal data over several decades on farmworker health and mortality and accident rates are impossible to get, and some of these data are inconsistent over different time periods, making comparisons between places and determining trends difficult at best. 13 However, social sustainability is not intrinsically more difficult to assess and monitor than other forms of sustainability. ...
Research
Full-text available
Draft chapter, to be published in Sarah Morath (Ed.) From Farm to Fork [working title] U of Akron Press.
... However work to develop such indicators has been done. An example of potential indicators to measure the growth of good food can be found in the report " Charting Growth to Good Food " (Anderson, Fisk, Rozyne, Feenstra, & Daniels, 2009). The need to understand the economic impact of the Michigan Good Food Charter motivated this study for developing baseline measures of the economics of the state's local food system. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
We use the underlying data of the IMPLAN Pro 3 regional economic simulation model to estimate the current economic contribution of Michigan’s local food system and explore the chain of transactions giving rise to consumption of locally sourced goods from producer to processor to consumption. The model provides a replicable and consistent approach to estimating the value of local food systems within regional and state economies.
... Two noteworthy examples of indicator systems for assessment and monitoring are: (1) that developed under the Wallace Center's "Charting Growth to Good Food" project, which focused on flexible indicators for measuring the availability of "good food" in the United States 2 and (2) the recent effort by the UK's Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to develop and implement a framework for assessing food system performance. 3 The Wallace Center indicators are built around the simple, compelling food system goals of "healthy, fair, green, and affordable" (Anderson, 2009). The UK framework identifies six dimensions of food system performance: (1) enabling and encouraging people to eat a healthy sustainable diet; (2) ensuring a resilient, profitable and competitive food system; (3) increasing food production sustainably; (4) reducing the food system's green house gas emissions; (5) reducing, reusing and processing waste; and (6) increasing the impact of skills, knowledge, research and technology (DEFRA, no date). ...
Article
Het eerste algemene doel van dit essay is om inzicht te krijgen in de uitdagingen en dilemma's bij het ontwikkelen van duurzaamheidsstandaarden en om een overzicht te krijgen van de voor- en nadelen van standaarden die voor elk van deze doelen worden ontwikkeld. Het tweede doel van dit essay is het beschrijven van de kenmerken en functies van een multipurpose duurzaamheidsscorecard voor voedselsystemen.
... Twee voorbeelden van indicatorensystemen voor beoordeling en monitoring die het noemen waard zijn, zijn: (1) het indicatorensysteem ontwikkeld onder de vlag van het 'Charting Growth to Good Food'-project van Wallace Center, dat gericht was op flexibele indicatoren voor het meten van de beschikbaarheid van 'goed voedsel' in de Verenigde Staten 2 en (2) de recente poging van het Britse ministerie van Milieu, Voedsel en Plattelandszaken (DEFRA) om een kader te ontwikkelen en te implementeren voor het beoordelen van de prestaties van voedselsystemen. 3 De indicatoren van Wallace Center zijn opgebouwd rondom de doelen van voedselsystemen: "gezond, eerlijk, groen en betaalbaar" ( Anderson, 2009). Het Britse kader kent zes prestatiecriteria voor voedselsystemen: (1) mensen in staat stellen en stimuleren om gezond en duurzaam te eten; (2) een veerkrachtig, winstgevend en concurrerend voedselsysteem garanderen; (3) de duurzaamheid van de voedselproductie verhogen; (4) de CO 2-uitstoot van het voedselsysteem verminderen; (5) afval verminderen, hergebruiken en verwerken; en (6) de impact van vaardigheden, kennis, onderzoek en technologie vergroten (DEFRA, zonder datum). ...
Article
Full-text available
Deze Capita Selecta van de Voedselbalans wordt gevuld door de essays van respectievelijk Joop de Boer van het Instituut voor Milieuvraagstukken (IVM) van de Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam: "Bewegen in het spanningsveld tussen instrumentele en expressieve visies op duurzaamheid" en van Robert King van het Food Industry Centre (FIC) van de University of Minnesota: "De rol van standaarden in het bevorderen van een duurzaam voedselsysteem."
Article
Full-text available
The notion of fairness is frequently invoked in the context of food and agriculture, whether in terms of a fair marketplace, fair treatment of workers, or fair prices for consumers. In 2009, the Kellogg Foundation named fairness as one of four key characteristics of a "good" food system. The concept of fairness, however, is difficult to define and measure. The purpose of this study is to explore the notion of fairness, particularly as it is understood within alternative food dialogues. Specifically, we wanted to answer the question of how alternative food entrepreneurs who are working to actualize fairness within local food networks understand this abstract notion. Using a multiple case study approach, the research for this project draws on semi-structured interviews that were conducted with key stakeholders in four alternative food businesses throughout the Midwest.
Article
Full-text available
Resilience is closely related to notions of sustainability, but emphasizes unpredictable, dynamic environments. As conceptualized in engineering, hazards management, and ecology literature, part of resilience is adaptive capacity, the ability to react effectively to change over time in order to maintain a desirable system state. Agricultural policy has had the effect of undermining such adaptive capacity with its emphasis on stabilization. Using a resilience framework and Hurricane Katrina as an analogy, we suggest that the emphasis on stability and efficiency degrades agricultural system resilience in two ways: through reduced diversity in size and type of production, as well as reduced ability to change production regimes based on the primary operator's judgment of social, environmental, and economic conditions; and, through the reduction of adaptive capacity by artificially stabilizing the system and eliminating feedback mechanisms that make adaptation possible. The resulting stagnation or loss of economic and political power lowers the resilience of the system and thus its long-term sustainability.
Chapter
Full-text available
Voeding biedt volgens sommige auteurs unieke mogelijkheden om de “voetafdruk” die menselijke activiteiten op aarde achterlaten, drastisch te verminderen. De gedachte hierachter is dat het effect van “anders gaan eten” relatief groot is en dat er al veel alternatieven beschikbaar zijn die iedereen flexibel kan toepassen. Inderdaad zou deze redenering opgaan als (1) alle mensen hetzelfde patroon van waarden belangrijk vinden en (2) er naar streven om al hun activiteiten in dat waardenpatroon te integreren, (3) waarbij ze op basis van de gegevens die er nu zijn, logischerwijs tot dezelfde conclusies komen. Omdat deze veronderstellingen echter niet kloppen, wordt in dit essay uiteengezet dat beleidsmakers bij overheid en bedrijfsleven rekening zullen moeten houden met culturele verschillen en met het spanningsveld tussen instrumentele en expressieve visies op duurzaamheid.
Article
Full-text available
It is well known that food has a considerable environmental impact. Less attention has been given to mapping and analysing the emergence of policy responses. This paper contributes to that process. It summarises emerging policy development on nutrition and sustainability, and explores difficulties in their integration. The paper describes some policy thinking at national, European and international levels of governance. It points to the existence of particular policy hotspots such as meat and dairy, sustainable diets and waste. Understanding the environmental impact of food systems challenges nutrition science to draw upon traditions of thinking which have recently been fragmented. These perspectives (life sciences, social and environmental) are all required if policy engagement and clarification is to occur. Sustainability issues offer opportunities for nutrition science and scientists to play a more central role in the policy analysis of future food systems. The task of revising current nutrition policy advice to become sustainable diet advice needs to begin at national and international levels.
Article
Introduction: Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthful diet can help lower chronic disease risk and aid in weight management. Increasing the percentage of Americans who consume enough fruits and vegetables every day is part of the Healthy People 2010 objectives for the nation. Assessing trends in consumption of these foods is important for tracking public health initiatives to meet this goal and for planning future objectives. Methods We assessed total and sex-specific changes in daily consumption of fruits and vegetables among 1,227,969 adults in the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia who participated in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System from 1994 through 2005. To estimate changes in consumption according to dietary recommendations that were in place during the years examined, we used geometric mean and the percentage of people eating fruits or vegetables or both five or more times per day. Estimates were standardized for sex, age, and race/ethnicity and analyzed by multivariate regression. Results From 1994 through 2005, the geometric mean frequency of consumption of fruits and vegetables declined slightly (standardized change: men and women, -0.22 times/day; men, -0.26 times/day; women, -0.17 times/day). The proportion of men and women eating fruits or vegetables or both five or more times per day was virtually unchanged (men, 20.6% vs 20.3%; women, 28.4% vs 29.6%); however, we found small increases for men aged 18 to 24 years and for women who were aged 25 to 34 years, non-Hispanic black, or nonsmokers. Consumption of fruit juice and nonfried potatoes declined for both sexes. Conclusions: The frequency of fruit and vegetable consumption changed little from 1994 through 2005. If consumption is to be increased, we must identify and disseminate promising individual and environmental strategies, including policy change.
Article
Context While general consensus holds that food portion sizes are increasing, no empirical data have documented actual increases.Objective To determine trends in food portion sizes consumed in the United States, by eating location and food source.Design, Setting, and Participants Nationally representative data from the Nationwide Food Consumption Survey (1977-1978) and the Continuing Survey of Food Intake by Individuals (1989-1991,1994-1996, and 1998). The sample consists of 63380 individuals aged 2 years and older.Main Outcome Measure For each survey year, average portion size consumed from specific food items (salty snacks, desserts, soft drinks, fruit drinks, french fries, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, pizza, and Mexican food) by eating location (home, restaurant, or fast food).Results Portion sizes vary by food source, with the largest portions consumed at fast food establishments and the smallest at other restaurants. Between 1977 and 1996, food portion sizes increased both inside and outside the home for all categories except pizza. The energy intake and portion size of salty snacks increased by 93 kcal (from 1.0 to 1.6 oz [28.4 to 45.4 g]), soft drinks by 49 kcal (13.1 to 19.9 fl oz [387.4 to 588.4 mL]), hamburgers by 97 kcal (5.7 to 7.0 oz [161.6 to 198.4 g]), french fries by 68 kcal (3.1 to 3.6 oz [87.9 to 102.1 gl), and Mexican food by 133 kcal (6.3 to 8.0 oz [178.6 to 226.8 g]).Conclusion Portion sizes and energy intake for specific food types have increased markedly with greatest increases for food consumed at fast food establishments and in the home.
Article
In OECD countries, agriculture uses on average over 40% of land and water resources, and thus has significant affect on the environment. This report provides the latest and most comprehensive data and analysis on the environmental performance of agriculture in OECD countries since 1990. It covers key environmental themes including soil, water, air and biodiversity and looks at recent policy developments in all 30 countries. Over recent years the environmental performance of agriculture has improved in many countries, largely due to consumer pressure and changing public opinion. Many OECD countries are now tracking the environmental performance of agriculture, which is informing policy makers and society on the trends in agri-environmental conditions, and can provide a valuable aid to policy analysis. The indicators in this report provide crucial information to monitor and analyse the wide range of policy measures used in agriculture today, and how they are affecting the environment. Did You Know? In OECD countries, agriculture uses on average 40% of land and water resources.