Sustainability

In Heated. More on Medium.

After the failures of big aquaculture, it’s time we listen to our oceans

A wire basket full of mussels with a stream of water pouring down on it.
A wire basket full of mussels with a stream of water pouring down on it.
Cleaning oysters. Photo: Matthew Novak

Fish farming has a bad reputation, for good reason. It’s built on systems that cheat nature by raising fish in unsafe conditions — often harming entire ecosystems and consumers’ health.

The farming of bivalves and sea greens is quite literally doing the opposite: Bivalves, such as mussels, oysters, clams, and scallops, along with seaweed, require zero feed, fertilizer, or antibiotics. That they generally stay put is better for ecosystems.

“Farming bivalves and seaweed is possibly the most sustainable harvest we have from the sea,” said Ryan Bigelow, seafood watch senior program manager at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Both bivalves and…


An educational working ranch shows an example of a system that’s better for employees, animals, and the earth

A person walking behind a large cluster of sheep with woods in the background.
A person walking behind a large cluster of sheep with woods in the background.
Over the past few years, the focus of Heifer Ranch, which has long worked to lift people out of poverty, has shifted to creating a better meat industry. Photos: Heifer Ranch

Not far from Little Rock, Arkansas, lies a stunningly beautiful 1,200-acre ranch. Surrounded by water on three sides and filled with native grasses, the farm is home to thousands of chickens and turkeys, hundreds of sheep, cows and pigs, and six dogs. Overseeing it all is a group of women.

“We get asked all the time: Where are all the men?” said Donna Kilpatrick, who manages the property with her colleagues, Christine Hernandez and Kristen Crawley. To be fair, there is one man who works on Heifer Ranch, and, according to Kilpatrick, the intention has never been for the ranch…


It’s about balance

Watercolor illustration of a platter with a dish and three bowls of food, and chopsticks.

It’s not that I don’t want to go vegan — thinking about the environmental impact of meat consumption and the health benefits of eating plant-based, it seems like an ideal lifestyle choice that would fall in line with my values.

But it can also be hard for multiple reasons.

Meat alternatives aren’t necessarily healthier

Although the meat-alternative industry is booming, these products still fall short on nutritional factors. They contain a lot of processed fats such as sunflower oil and canola oil, chemically altered fats that have been shown to lead to heart disease and other chronic inflammatory diseases. …


Kat Taylor and her former-presidential-candidate husband are using their vast resources to address sustainable agriculture

Inspecting soil. Photo: TomKat Ranch via Facebook

Kat Taylor is excited to talk about carbon sequestration and perennial grasses, but one of her favorite topics is the “full assemblage of predators” that now calls TomKat Ranch home. “It’s an indicator of [ecosystem] health all the way down the food chain, because you can’t support mountain lions and bobcats…unless the rest of the world is pretty healthy, too,” she explains.

Taylor knows this because while voters across America watched her husband — billionaire Tom Steyer — run for president on televisions across the country, researchers at the ranch had been tuning into a very different broadcast for some…


Let’s talk about BPA

Photo: pepifoto/E+/Getty Images

Editor’s note: After highlighting the health, cost, and environmental benefits of eating canned fish, Heated received a wide array of feedback. The piece validated canned fish lovers around the globe, opened the minds of former naysayers (we’ve received an unusual number of photos of people trying sardines for the first time), and surfaced several questions and concerns. The most common questions related to concerns about bisphenol A, or BPA, in canned foods, so the following is an exploration of those concerns.

BPA is not good for you. In the early 1990s, BPA was discovered to have a very similar biological…


Think of it as oceanic charcuterie

Photo: Claudia Totir via Getty Images

Whenever I bring up my love of canned fish, my friends and colleagues morph into picky children.

Canned seafood has a bad reputation in the United States, and it’s not just anecdotal: On an annual basis, the average American consumes about 3.5 pounds of canned seafood, a number that’s been steadily falling over the last three decades. Meanwhile, the average Spaniard polishes off nearly three times that.

I wasn’t always a canned fish lover. A friend of mine recommended sardines during one of my sporadic efforts to work out often and eat well. He raved about the health benefits, cost-effectiveness…


Properly managed livestock can help reverse the effects

St. Croix sheep on the author’s farm. Photo: Marissa Wilson

Livestock is destroying the world’s land and climate through overgrazing and greenhouse gas production. Reduce their numbers, and save the world. Eat only a plant-based diet, and save the world.

Turns out, ecology is more complicated than one-line phrases: We’re learning that livestock can be part of the solution to many environmental crises. In fact, there is a growing body of evidence that properly managed livestock can be a crucial tool in the quest to improve ecosystems, store carbon, and reverse climate change. The key phrase in that statement is “properly managed.”

Animals raised in the current industrial feedlot systems…


Will Britons have to forgo citrus post-Brexit?

While politicians argue over Brexit, regular people living in Britain wonder what foods they’ll have access to after the dust settles. Depending upon how long it takes to implement a plan for feeding Britain post-Brexit, the ingredients that become available will reflect a new food system, perhaps one in which Britons will consume more ingredients grown entirely in Britain.

How does the U.K. feed itself now?

According to the U.K.’s Department for Environment, Food, and Regulatory Affairs, 52 percent of the food that is consumed in the U.K. is produced in the U.K. About 30 percent comes from the EU, and the rest arrives in the U.K…

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Food from every angle: From Medium x Mark Bittman

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