Retirees swimming in their flooded South Florida living rooms. Entire houses getting sucked out to sea. Restaurants, grocers and food banks out of commission. Tomato fields and citrus orchards wrecked. Hurricane Ian’s devastation was surprising for so many. But catastrophic storms like hurricanes are becoming far more frequent and harsher thanks to climate change—and we may now be in a never-ending loop of destruction, economic downturn, drawn-out insurance claims and eventual construction, only to repeat the cycle.
Take, for example, where my mom lives in Naples, just south of where Hurricane Ian came ashore in Fort Myers. I’ve been traveling there since I was a little kid, and a lot of my extended family resides there, including my nearly 90-year-old grandmother who didn’t heed mandatory evacuation warnings. When Hurricane Ian hit this week, my mom’s condo unit had been stripped down for mandated construction, to replace windows and the facade that had been ruined after the last major storm to slice through the area, Hurricane Irma in 2017. We still have little information about how bad the damage truly is, but the irony isn’t lost on me.
Around the country, infrastructure is crumbling—especially the infrastructure that supports farming and transporting our food. Extreme storms make that threat even worse. But needed upgrades to airports, roads, bridges and ports, as well as processing plants, warehouses and distribution centers, have taken a back seat. In hurricane-prone Florida alone, there are more than 47,000 farms and ranches across about 10 million acres. The state is responsible for nearly $2.5 billion worth of food each year, and ranks as the top citrus, tomato and watermelon producer in the country.
Any plan for a healthier and more sustainable food system, like the strategy that the White House unveiled this week, should include major investments to food infrastructure. Otherwise, the White House’s Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health did bring me and many others some cautious optimism this week. It was the first convening on the topic in more than 50 years, since President Richard Nixon hosted a conference to lay a foundation for many of his social welfare reforms.
That Rep. Jim McGovern, who organized the effort, so prominently said that “hunger should be illegal” is a welcome first step in and of itself. Companies from Google to Instacart and Danone have collectively announced some $8 billion to transform America’s food system into one that’s healthier, fresher and more sustainable. But it will take a whole lot more money to meet many of these lofty goals. The White House aims to end hunger, institute universal free school meals, focus on nutrition within Medicaid and Medicare, and increase healthy eating. Conveniently, many of these goals also have far-off deadlines, set in 2030 or after. Now it’s up to the execution.
—Chloe Sorvino, Staff Writer
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Here’s A Clean, Plant-Based And Healthy Hurricane Nutrition Plan. As Cayman Islands-based writer Daphne Ewing-Chow suggests, store at least three days’ worth of food in the event of bad weather. For those who like to eat plant-based, here are some of the best options for healthy food with a long shelf life that doesn’t require electricity to prepare.
“Slow Cooked”: How Marion Nestle Revitalized Food Studies. Professor Marion Nestle’s new memoir Slow Cooked is yet another indispensable effort from the food studies icon, writes Errol Schweizer.
In Jamaica, A Backyard Farming Movement Has Grown Out Of The Pandemic. There is hope in Jamaica that the trend of backyard farming for personal consumption will help to quell the country’s high food import bill, reports Daphne Ewing-Chow.
Meteorologist Couldn’t Sleep Due To Hurricane Ian: ‘Probably Haven’t Seen This Type Of Storm Before.’ Dr. Marshall Shepherd joins the video series Forbes Newsroom to discuss Hurricane Ian.
Global Warming Will Fuel More Frequent, Severe And Longer-Lasting Droughts, Study Finds. Global warming of 3 degrees Celsius could cause long-term droughts to hit more than 80% of agricultural land in Brazil, China, Egypt and Ethiopia, according to the Climate Change study. Madeline Halpert reports.
just had to cook my go-to Rosh Hashanah chicken dish for my family earlier this week. Here’s my take on an old recipe from NYT Cooking. I first marinated a bunch of chicken pieces overnight in a slurry of paprika, garlic and a whole lot of honey. Then I roasted the chicken over a bed of halved figs, shallots, more garlic and jalapeño. Always a Jewish holidays knockout.
Chloe Sorvino leads coverage of food and agriculture as a staff writer on the enterprise team at Forbes. Her book, Raw Deal: Hidden Corruption, Corporate Greed and the Fight for the Future of Meat , will publish on December 6, 2022, with Simon & Schuster’s Atria Books. Her nearly nine years of reporting at Forbes has brought her to In-N-Out Burger’s secret test kitchen, drought-ridden farms in California’s Central Valley, burnt-out national forests logged by a timber billionaire, a century-old slaughterhouse in Omaha and even a chocolate croissant factory designed like a medieval castle in northern France.
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