Global Food Supply

If everyone around the globe began to eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, there wouldn't be enough to go around. That's the conclusion of a new study published in The Lancet Planetary Health.

Why We're Growing The Most Sweet Potatoes Since WWII

Jan 25, 2017
USDA / Flickr

Sweet potatoes are undergoing a modern renaissance in this country.

While they have always made special appearances on many American tables around the holidays, year-round demand for the root vegetables has grown. In 2015, farmers produced more sweet potatoes than in any year since World War II.

Luke Runyon / KUNC/Harvest Public Media

Americans waste a staggering amount of food. Instead of letting it rot and wreck the environment, some entrepreneurs want to put it to work feeding insects, and see the potential to revolutionize how we feed some of the livestock that provide us our meat.

Phil Taylor’s enthusiasm for insects is infectious. The University of Colorado Boulder research ecologist beams as he weaves through a small greenhouse in rural Boulder County, Colorado. A room about the size of a shipping container sits inside.

It's a breeding chamber, Taylor says. “I hesitate to say it, but it’s called ‘the brothel.’”

Luke Runyon / KUNC/Harvest Public Media

Five of the six biggest companies that produce and sell seeds and chemicals to the world’s farmers are pursuing deals that could leave a market dominated by just three giant, global companies. They say getting bigger means bringing more sophisticated and innovative solutions to farmers faster, but opponents say consolidation has irreversible downsides.

Dow and DuPont want to merge and then spin off three separate companies, one of them dedicated to agriculture. Monsanto has accepted an offer from Bayer. And China National Chemical Company, known as ChemChina, wants to purchase Syngenta.

Luke Runyon / KUNC/Harvest Public Media

The massive industry that supplies farmers with the tools to raise crops is on the brink of a watershed moment. High-profile deals that would see some of the largest global agri-chemical companies combine are in the works and could have ripple effects from farm fields to dinner tables across the globe.

Six companies currently dominate the marketplace for agricultural seeds and farm chemicals, like fertilizer and pesticides: BASF, Bayer, DuPont, Dow, Monsanto and Syngenta. Of those, only BASF is not currently in discussions to merge.

Luke Runyon / KUNC, Harvest Public Media

Food waste is an expensive problem. The average U.S. family puts upward of $2,000 worth of food in the garbage every year.

What some see as a problem, others see as a business opportunity. A new facility, known as the Heartland Biogas Project, promises to take wasted food from Colorado’s Front Range and turn it into electricity.

Through a technology known as anaerobic digestion, spoiled milk, dented canned goods, old pet food, vats of grease and helpful bacteria combine in massive tanks to generate gas. You’ll find the project on a rural road in Weld County, a stone’s throw from the county’s numerous feedlots, dairy farms, and a short drive from the state’s populous, waste-generating urban core.

Pat Aylward / NET News File Photo

Every year Americans spend billions of dollars to grow, process and transport food that’s never eaten.

ReFED, a group of nonprofits and foundations, say they have a roadmap to keep that from happening. Their plan focuses on preventing food from ending up in the trash in the first place, and diverting it to a more beneficial use when it does get tossed out.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

Food companies the world over are paying close attention to the groundswell of support for food transparency, the “know where your food comes from” movement.

JBS, the largest meat producer in the world, is beginning to take notice as well.

But executives with JBS USA, the North American arm of its Brazilian parent company, at the same time acknowledge that the very nature of their business is grisly, gory and sometimes unpalatable.

Jessica "The Hun" Reeder / Flickr - Creative Commons

Boulder and Denver have become hubs for tech start-ups, and the northern Colorado region is dotted with widely respected scientific research institutions. But a new report [.pdf] from Colorado State University takes the idea a bit further, with an agrarian twist.

Economists say the state's Front Range is at the forefront of agricultural innovation.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

You’ve probably seen, but may not have noticed, labels on the meat at your grocery store that say something like “Born, Raised, & Harvest in the U.S.A.” or “Born and Raised in Canada, Slaughtered in the U.S.”

These country of origin labels, as they are known, are part of an ongoing international trade dispute that has swept up Midwest ranchers. And they may not be long for store shelves.

Pages