Climate Change

The food system is increasingly struggling through the effects of climate change. Extreme weather like drought and intense precipitation events are occurring more frequently and are threatening food production and food security worldwide. At the same time, the food system is complicit in today's climate crisis. Intensive industrialized food system activities are reliant on burning fossil fuels and are occurring at unprecedented levels, pushing carbon in the atmosphere to increasingly dangerous peaks. Climate change threatens global food security worldwide and is an important issue for everyone, from food producers to eaters.  Learn more.

How We Tackle This Issue:

Our Healthy Food in Healthcare program works with local healthcare institutions to change their purchasing policies to include more sustainably grown food, with a special focus on reducing meat consumption, the production of which is far more carbon intensive than that of fruits and vegetables.  We also work with the MI Farm to Institution Network and Cultivate Michigan to connect other institutions to locally and sustainably grown food through our Farm to Institution campaigns.

 

Chemicals in the Food System

In a food system focused on providing the most product at the lowest possible production cost, the use of pesticides and other chemicals has become commonplace. To streamline production the industrial food system plants vast fields of the same crop, or "monocultures." This practice leaves plants more susceptible to the spread pests and diseases, which is now combated with an estimated 1.2 billion pounds of pesticides in the U.S annually. These chemicals have serious public health consequences and have been linked to increased prevalence of cancer and other chronic diseases.  Learn More.

How We Tackle This Issue:

Our Healthy Food in Healthcare program works with local healthcare institutions to change their purchasing policies to include more sustainably grown food. Our Farm to Institution campaigns also offers ways for other institutions like schools and government to connect to local food grown without chemical use. The Fresh Prescription program helps educate community members about the benefits of eating food grown without chemicals. The Ecology Center's Healthy Stuff program has also done research around chemicals that are often present in food packaging.

 

Antibiotics and Animal Agriculture

As the world's population has grown, so has the demand for meat. This has led to the development of factory farms: carefully timed machines that produce as much meat as possible with little regard for animal welfare, sanitation, and chemical use. This industrialization of raising meat is problematic in a number of ways, including in its use of antibiotics. Factory farms routinely feed animals antibiotics as a way to prevent infections that fester quickly in the confined conditions of industrial farms. It has increasingly become clear, however, that these antibiotics also affect eaters. The overuse of these medicines, which are mostly the same medicines used to treat infections in humans, creates strains of diseases that have evolved to resist the previously healing effects of antibiotics. For a healthier food system, it is vital that antibiotics are used only to treat disease, instead of sustaining factory farm production. Learn More.

How We Tackle This Issue: 

Our Healthy Food in Healthcare program works with local healthcare institutions to change their purchasing policies to include more meat produced without the use of unnecessary antibiotics. Our Farm to Institution campaigns also offer ways for other institutions, like schools and governments, to connect to sustainable local meat producers. Our Fresh Prescription program helps educate community members about the importance of buying and eating meat raised without antibiotic use.

 

Healthy Food Environments

In our society today, we tend to see food as something that comes from the grocery store. Communities are typically removed from the realities of production, which leads to environments in which processed food is considered the norm, and fresh food becomes an afterthought, often because it's not easily accessible or unaffordable.

How We Tackle This Issue: 

The Ecology Center collaborates with a number of partners in Detroit to coordinate the Fresh Prescription program, which offers low-income clients a way to learn more about healthy food options by "prescribing" a regimen of fresh fruits and vegetables for optimal health. Check out all the other community food systems work we're doing. 

Published on February 21, 2017

News

October 26, 2017
News
The Healthy Stuff team has been working on researching phthalates (THAL-eights), a plasticizer and solvent. We found that almost all the cheese products we tested were contaminated with phthalates, a hormone disruptor.
July 27, 2017
News
On Tuesday, June 20, 2017, food service directors and members of the Michigan Farm to Institution Network (MFIN) gathered for a Cultivate Michigan dry bean tour at the Frankenmuth Farmers Market.
July 25, 2017
News
Recent findings released by the Ecology Center, however, reveal that the dry powdered cheese mixes in those boxes have on average four times the amount of phthalates (thal-eights) than block cheese and other unprocessed cheeses.
April 27, 2017
News
By Guest Author, Amy Getman. Since 2008, Grant Fletcher has been changing the way the health system sources food for patients and employees at Bronson Healthcare. Fletcher recently decided to take on a new challenge: sourcing all eggs from local producers.
August 31, 2016
News
The EPA estimates that a child bringing a brown bag lunch to school every day throws away about 67 pounds of waste each school year. Learn how to tweak school lunch preparations to prevent the creation of tons of trash and keep chemicals of concern out of your child's lunch.
Gardeners Beware Report: Why are bee-friendly plants harming our bees?
August 15, 2016
Press Release
A new report reveals bee-killing pesticides in bee-friendly garden plants sold at top retail chains, including in Detroit and Ann Arbor.