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Growing Vegetables in the Desert

January 30, 2023

By: Kelly Sheridan, ASU Sustainable Food Systems graduate student. 

Did you know that 90% of leafy greens (i.e., lettuce, kale, spinach, etc.) produced/consumed during winter in the US and Canada are grown in Yuma, Arizona[1]? That means the odds that you have consumed lettuce from Desert Premium Farms are very high!

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Industry Disruptor Working to Solve Hunger for 1.1 Billion People

January 25, 2023

By: Mauricio Cordova Flores, ASU Sustainable Food Systems graduate student. 

OnePointOne vertical farm start-up focuses on the power of plants that can help address food insecurity worldwide. When brothers Sam and John Bertram learned that 1.1 billion people began this millennium suffering from food insecurity, they started on a journey to create technology that can help address this world problem; that is when together they decided to start OnePointOne.

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Farmer-Driven Conservation in the Heart of Yuma, Arizona

January 17, 2023

By: Elizabeth Reilly, ASU Sustainable Food Systems graduate student.

It’s said that there are “five C’s” that power Arizona: climate, copper, cotton, cattle, and citrus. Mark Kuechel, owner and operator of Kuechel Farms, comes from a long line – four generations, in fact – of experts in one of these C’s: citrus. But, after spending the afternoon with Mr. Kuechel, it’s clear another C could be added to the list: conservation.

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A Glimpse into Arizona Dairy at Kerr Family Farms

January 10, 2023

By: Connor Kaeb, ASU Sustainable Food Systems graduate student.

The 2022 cohort of Sustainable Food Systems graduate students from Arizona State University got the opportunity to get a first-hand glimpse of the Arizona dairy industry with a visit to Kerr Family Farms in Buckeye, Arizona. During the visit, students met with Wes Kerr, a fourth-generation dairy farmer.

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Meet affiliated faculty Paul Coseo

December 13, 2022

In this series, we’re sitting down with the Swette Center affiliated faculty to catch up on food systems, innovation, and what makes a good meal. See the rest of the series on our Food Systems Profiles page.

Read on for an interview with Paul Coseo, Senior Global Futures Scientist at Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory and Assistant Professor in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

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New joint report is out: “Grow Organic: The Climate, Health, and Economic Case for Expanding Organic Agriculture”

October 27, 2022

Today, the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at ASU is proud to announce the release of Grow Organic: The Climate, Health, and Economic Case for Expanding Organic Agriculture, a joint report co-written with Natural Resources Defense Council and Californians for Pesticide Reform. Dr Kathleen Merrigan, our Executive Director and author of the 1990 law that established organic agriculture standards in the United States, Esteve G. Giraud, Nadia El-Hage Scialabba, Lena Brook, Allison Johnson, and Sarah Aird are all contributing authors.

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Meet affiliated faculty Sarah Martinelli

October 19, 2022

In this series, we’re sitting down with the Swette Center-affiliated faculty to catch up on food systems, innovation, and what makes a good meal. See the rest of the series on our Food Systems Profiles page.

Read on for an interview with Sarah Martinelli, Clinical Associate Professor, College of Health Solutions at Downtown ASU. 

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Tomorrow: History in the Making

September 27, 2022

Tomorrow, the White House is hosting the first conference in over 50 years that focuses on food, nutrition, and health. With the ambitious goal of ending hunger and diet-related disease by 2030, President Biden and his team of Cabinet Secretaries, including Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, have released a national strategy today. It includes five pillars addressing the challenges we face in meeting the stated hunger and nutrition goals. Check out the strategy here.

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Food Policy and Sustainability Leadership 2022/2023 Cohort

September 1, 2022

We are thrilled to introduce Arizona State University’s Food Policy & Sustainability Leadership 2022-2023 class. This is our fourth cohort of students for this graduate program and every year it continues to grow. With a commitment to shaping food and farm policy in the public interest, this cohort of leaders hail from across the country including Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Washington D.C., Washington state, and Wisconsin.

To create the inclusive, diverse and resilient food systems of the future, we need bold and knowledgeable change agents to transform public policy. These rising stars represent business, nonprofit, and academia, modeling the community necessary for food system transformation. They’re passionate about reducing food waste, regenerative and organic agriculture, and local food systems. They’re dedicated to school food reform, racial equity, and food sovereignty.

They are the future of food.

Meet the Leaders:

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Deputy Secretary of USDA: A Leader for Today and the Future

August 22, 2022

By: Allison Perkins, ASU Food Systems graduate student.

It was an honor for our graduate cohort to meet with Deputy Secretary of USDA, Dr. Jewel Bronaugh, during our DC Immersive trip. As a graduate student of Sustainable Food Systems, I was inspired by Dr. Bronaugh’s intersectional work which I can learn from to enhance impact across my academic, professional, and personal life. Deputy Secretary Bronaugh spoke as both a leader and compassionate individual aligned with our cohort’s mission to drive sustainable food systems. Bronaugh created space for an open dialogue to discuss our backgrounds and experiences as we learned from her wealth of knowledge in agricultural policy. The meeting was unique, and it was quickly evident that being Deputy Secretary of USDA is not just a job for Dr. Bronaugh but a role she takes responsibility for and accomplishes with grace.

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USAID Feed the Future: More Important than Ever

August 15, 2022

By: Deborah Sadler, ASU Food Systems graduate student.

On Tuesday, May 10th, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Chief Scientist for Resilience and Food Security, Dr. Rob Bertram, came to the ASU campus in Washington D.C., where I had the privilege of being amongst the Sustainable Food Systems graduate students to hear him speak. He explained the history and work of the Feed the Future program, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative, and the challenges that lie ahead in combating global hunger. Dr. Bertram has worked with USAID for over twenty years, where he draws on his expertise in plant genetics and his international experience to find scientific solutions to hunger and malnutrition.

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Industry Perspectives on Influencing the Food System

August 10, 2022

By: Keith Arnold, ASU Food Systems graduate student.

Before my visit to our nation’s capital for our food policy course, my opinion regarding lobbyists, admittedly from an uninformed perspective, was of someone paid to push their company’s product or issue ahead of others. I didn’t know what it took to have a voice on Capitol Hill that carried weight to influence real change. However, this DC immersive trip was richly informative as our guest speakers were full of perspective, insight, rigor, intelligence, drive, and personality. Getting an industry insider perspective on discussions with policymakers was eye-opening. We were all thankful for their time and their invitation to join the cause to pursue change in the food system.

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Talking Nutrition with Kumar Chandran, USDA Senior Advisor

August 7, 2022

By Abigail Martone-Richards, ASU Food Systems graduate student.

During our cohort’s DC immersive program, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Kumar Chandran, a USDA Senior Advisor focusing on nutrition under Secretary Vilsack. This isn’t Mr. Chandran’s first foray at USDA; he previously served as Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services in the Obama Administration. Just prior to his most recent position, however, he served as Policy Director for the national nonprofit, FoodCorps. Chandran’s current appointment to USDA is significant for a number of reasons including President Biden’s (and Secretary Vilsack’s) commitment to a more diverse government. But it is really Chandran’s expertise in food policy that is so vital to the department, especially after it had endured four years of unique challenges and setbacks under the Trump administration.

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The Grit, Determination, and Plans of Janie Hipp

August 4, 2022

By: Eleanor Ross, ASU Food Systems graduate student.

They say never meet your heroes, but that is only because they haven’t had the pleasure of speaking with Janie Hipp. One of the biggest highlights of our DC Immersive trip was sitting down with the General Counsel for the USDA. A hugely important and impressive role, the General Counsel is tasked with legal services and oversight across the USDA mission and programs. While the gravitas of this position can be intimidating, our time with Janie Hipp was filled with honesty, humor, and passion.

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Reflections on a Regenerative Farm Field Day in Nebraska

August 1, 2022

By: Jane Coghlan, Swette Center Food Systems Research Specialist.

It was an overcast day in mid-July when I turned onto the gravel road leading me to the Grain Place Farm in central Nebraska. As I turned, I slowed down to take notice of the familiar sign which reads: “How your food is produced does matter.” On this special day, there was a field day being hosted on the farm to invite the public to learn about their farming methods. Attendees also had the opportunity to take a tour of their grain processing facility, have lunch prepared by Indigenous chef Anthony Warrior, and hear from guest speakers Paul Schiefer from Amy’s Kitchen and Kellee James from Mercaris. A large and diverse crowd gathered on the farm which was composed of farmers, researchers, artists, foodies, local community members, and lots of others from various backgrounds. Despite their differences, they all had one thing in common: an interest in the connection between agriculture and planetary health. 

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Where the Water Goes: Water in Arizonan Agriculture

July 25, 2022

By Tucker Larson, Swette Center student worker. 

It’s no secret that agriculture uses a large percentage of our Earth’s fresh water supply. In Arizona, 74% of fresh water is used for agricultural purposes. That number has been as high as 90% in the mid to late 1900’s. The decrease in water consumption in Arizona’s agricultural sector can be explained by the ever-expanding urban sprawl as well as improved irrigation technologies. In 1973, Construction of the Central Arizona Project (CAP) began. The project, which ended in 1993, ensured a substantial amount of water that allowed for continued growth in residential, industrial and agricultural sectors. For CAP to go forward, Arizona renounced their water rights to the Colorado River from senior to junior status. This means that as soon as water restrictions begin to come into effect, Arizona will be the first to feel them. The Colorado River provides a large amount of water to Arizona’s larger cities. In Phoenix, that is two fifths of all water and in other parts of the Phoenix Valley and state, the reliance on CAP water can be much heavier.

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Evolutionary implications of economies of scale in food production for the sustainability of agricultural systems

July 22, 2022

By Mauricio R. Bellon, Swette Center Research Professor.

Last month, I participated in the Sustainability Research & Innovation Congress 2022 (SRI2022) that took place in Pretoria, South Africa from June 20-24. The Congress is “a transdisciplinary gathering in sustainability – a space of dynamic advocacy for sustainability scholarship, innovation, collaboration, and action." It takes place annually in different parts of the world and brings together global leaders, experts, industry, practitioners, and innovators to inspire action and promote transformation in sustainability.

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Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young: Creating a Healthier Future for Americans

July 21, 2022

By Mary Mik, ASU Food Systems graduate student.

While in Washington D.C., our ASU sustainable food policy cohort met with key stakeholders in the agriculture realm—both virtually and in person. We were honored to have the opportunity to hear from Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, who since our visit has become the newly confirmed Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics (REE) so she will oversee USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the Economic Research Service (ERS), the National Agriculture Statistics Services (NASS), the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the office of the Chief Scientist. Prior to her current position, Dr. Jacobs-Young was the Director of the Office of the Chief Scientist at the USDA.

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Farm Production and Conservation Leadership Discuss Institutionalizing Change

July 20, 2022

By: Sharla Strong, ASU Food Systems graduate student.

This spring, my classmates and I had the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. to meet with multiple food policy experts who work within and alongside the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). As graduate students in the Food Policy and Sustainability Leadership Certificate program with Arizona State University, our class had the privilege to meet with politically appointed leaders within the Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC) Mission Area. FPAC includes the Farm Service Agency (FSA), the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the Risk Management Agency (RMA). The FSA, NRCS and RMA are three key farmer and rancher facing agencies within the USDA and they provide services across multiple field offices in every state. 

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"The Budget Overseer"

July 18, 2022

By: Jason Peña, ASU Food Systems graduate student.

The President of the United States is surrounded by people who carry out missions to maintain order and progress. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is a specific agency within the Executive Office of the President (EOP) that helps the President implement their vision. The OMB performs this function by developing and executing the President's budget and through providing guidance to agencies, reviewing and clearing testimony, regulations, and Presidential Executive Orders. Working for the OMB requires flexibility, an extremely high level of accuracy, and good negotiation skills. The career employees of the OMB are subject matter experts and provide support across many departments and administrations. Overall, the OMB serves three functions: 1) Budget, 2) Management, and 3) Regulation. OMB is the largest office within the EOP, which also includes the National Security Council, the Domestic Policy Council, and the Council of Economic Advisors among other White House staff offices.

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