LOCAL/SUSTAINABLE eat your veggies
But not all livestock is bad, Cleaver stresses.
“It’s the way we have come to raise animals,”
she says. “CAFOs [concentrated animal feeding
operations] and huge lagoons of waste are how we
have intensified our production of animal proteins
and affected global warming. Animals raised on
pasture in lower densities will fertilize the soil,
grow more produce and keep the soil healthy. It’s
the methodology that makes the difference."
A Matter For Concern?
Meanwhile, nobody really knows what’s in
store. Will mega-droughts in the second part of
the century return the Southwest, Central Plains
and other parts of the world to dustbowl status, as
projections suggest? When asked in 2014 whether
there would be enough water for everyone in the West
if the climate continues to change at its current rate,
( www.thinkprogress.org.) While this highlights the tug of war between the needs of agriculture and
us, we can be savvier about what we eat, as well as what we feed to and share with our guests.
California’s Central Valley grows two-thirds of America’s produce, and although the state’s
drought has been declared officially over, Gov. Jerry Brown says it could come back at any
time. Meanwhile, flooding plagues tree-fruit growers with muddy fields, threats of fungus, insect
pests, and later plantings and/or harvests.
If climate change continues at its current pace, a study by Stanford University’s Carnegie
Institution of Science projects that San Francisco could have the climate of San Diego in 100
years. With this level of uncertainty, California’s climate could radically change America’s food
system and the future of produce.
Once, America was a sweet and crunchy place, with some 20,000 declared apple varieties.
Today, 2,500 varieties are stored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s apple collection in
Geneva, New York, with an estimated 5,000 additional species worldwide. Meanwhile, apple
sleuths are on the lookout for hidden, obscured, “new” old varieties. If you live in Oregon, for
example, you can find a pink-fleshed heirloom apple (Hidden Rose) that tastes like cotton candy
to some and fruit punch to others. Imagine the variety you might offer your guests thanks to
heirlooms that grow in your part of the country.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome found that more than
75% of the vegetable varieties humans once consumed have disappeared. Many crops grown these
days are monocultures, which is a dangerous gamble, not to mention a deprivation. “If the single
seed variety that everyone is sowing turns out to be unsuited to future climactic conditions, or lacks
resistance to insect and crop diseases, which are going to be increasingly on the move into new areas
as climate change advances, then we could be out of luck,” says Richard Schiffman in “An Insurance
Policy for Climate Change? How Seed Banks are Protecting the Future of Food,” in Yes! Magazine.
Meanwhile, more than 1,700 seed banks around the world seek to be fail-safe mechanisms to
protect us from cataclysms such as those brought on by climate change, earthquakes, asteroid attacks
ABOVE: In New York, The Green
Table restaurant and The Cleaver Co.,
a catering and events company, get
certified organic produce from owner
Mary Cleaver’s farm.
OPPOSITE, TOP: Legumes de saison at
Spring, Los Angeles.
OPPOSITE, BOTTOM: The Nocturne
blueberry (fully ripe fruit are dusky
black) was developed at USDA-ARS,
Chatsworth, New Jersey.