A collection of scholarly work from the students, faculty and staff of The Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems. Lead by Executive Director, Kathleen Merrigan, the focus of the Center’s research is on developing innovative ideas and solutions to the many challenges of current food systems. Our mission is to drive social progress, economic productivity and ecosystem resilience through food system transformation.
Thirty years ago, Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) as part of the 1990 Farm Bill. The law established strict national standards for organic food and a public-private enforcement program to ensure compliance with the law. Today, the organic industry still faces a number of challenges. This report seeks to address some of these and to provide policy recommendations to better support the growing organic industry and its positive impacts on human health, on the economy, and on climate.
Industrial Juicing to Advance Food Security: Pre-feasibility study for utilizing legacy industrial fruit processing equipment in the Hawaiian Islands
The Hawaiian Islands are highly reliant on imported foods for feeding residents and visitors alike. This is in part due to a shortage in food processing infrastructure locally that contributes to Hawaiʻi’s inability to process much of its own food products. This study examines the feasibility of increasing food self-sufficiency in the islands through utilizing legacy industrial fruit processing equipment recently acquired by Olohana Foundation, a small 501(c)3 non-profit in Hawaiʻi. This study asks: How can the Olohana Foundation develop their aseptic juicing line to best support increased food self-sufficiency in the islands? Additionally, how can the juicing line be re-deployed in a manner to provide sustainable economic opportunity to producers and other community members? Through interviews with Hawaiʻi food system experts, fruit grower and fruit product buyer surveys, and a review of selected Unites States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Survey (USDA NASS) crop data for Hawaiʻi, our team evaluated the feasibility for re-establishing the juicing line. Our results found that due to the lack of available locally-produced fruits and high start-up and operational costs, it is unlikely that the juicing line can be re-established as it was previously operating, producing papaya and guava juices and purees. However, there is no shortage in demand for locally grown fruit products in Hawaiʻi and there is high interest from producers in joining a grower-owned cooperative. We conclude with several recommendations for the near, medium and long-term. In the near to medium-term, we recommend that the Foundation pursue alternative configurations of the equipment to produce niche Hawaiʻi products for which there is adequate supply, including fermented fruit products. In the long-term, the Foundation should research the potential for sourcing produce from other Pacific-region islands, as well as work at the policy and community levels to increase production of fruits locally, lower costs of production, and lower barriers to organic certification.
Investigation of how digitalization of agriculture and agrifood systems affect local and regional food systems
Meatless Monday Best Practices: Assessing the Implementation and Maintenance of Meatless Monday Initiatives in the U.S.
Meatless Monday is an initiative that encourages actionable steps toward the reduction of meat consumption by asking participants to eat meat-free on Mondays. Many organizations, cities, schools, and correctional facilities have implemented Meatless Monday initiatives as a push to improve environmental sustainability, human health, and the welfare of animals. Such initiatives provide an opportunity to educate consumers on the health benefits of a plant-forward diet, the environmental impact of meat production, animal welfare issues, the innovation of non-meat proteins, and to engage stakeholders in gaining more control over their food choices. This report offers a summary of seven Meatless Monday initiatives throughout the U.S., highlighting best practices and notable challenges of implementing and maintaining such an initiative in three different contexts: local government, school systems, and non-profit or volunteer-led organizations. This report was conducted through an extensive look at previous research, news articles, and marketing materials, as well as interviews with stakeholders in six mid-sized U.S. cities.
With increasing climate impacts predicted across the globe, many see soil carbon storage and sequestration as an opportunity to reduce atmospheric carbon and mitigate climate change. This report assesses the current opportunities for Minnesota agriculture and proposes solutions, policies, and management practices for these markets to benefit farmers and Minnesota’s agricultural sector
The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of current ranching and slaughter capacities in Hawaiʻi, highlight relevant regulations and identify missing elements, offer case studies of similar operations and their procedures, and provide recommendations that Hōkūnui might consider in their pursuit to expand their slaughter capacity, while processing slaughter waste safely and sustainably
This report assesses the barriers faced by ranching clients and potential clients of the National Resources Conservation Service in Arizona and highlights opportunities for mitigating those challenges in the future
This report is a compilation of opportunities for organic innovation and deep dives on specific opportunities that may be of interest for the Organic Trade Association, or others, to pursue as distinct initiatives