• 6 Jul 2019 10:29 AM | Administrator (Administrator)

    When people think about bees, they often think of honey. But for Florida’s commercial beekeepers, having pollinators to sustain the $4 billion blueberry, cantaloupe, cucumber, honeydew, raspberry and watermelon crops is sweeter than honey. However, with the drastic decrease in honeybee colonies, beekeepers and other stakeholders are concerned. 

    According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “pollinators contribute more than $24 billion to the American economy, $15 billion from honey bees alone…Yet the number of managed honey bee colonies in the United States has declined steadily over the past 60 years, from 6 million colonies (beehives) in 1947 to 4 million in 1970, 3 million in 1990, and just 2.5 million today.” With such a heavy dependence on commercial pollination, domestic agriculture is facing a real threat. 

    In 2018, the Tampa Bay Times reported the drastic effect Hurricane Irma had on Florida’s ongoing problem of honeybee colony loss. According to Florida Department of Agriculture’s chief apiary inspector David Westervelt, “At least 75,000 of Florida’s 600,000 honeybee colonies were affected by the storm: Bees drowned, were blown off course, or died of starvation due to destruction of the nectar- and pollen-rich vegetation on which they forage.”  

    In order to compensate for these losses, the 2014 farm bill earmarked $20 million for the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP). In April of 2018, that number was increased to $34 million. 

    Tracking honeybee loss became a priority in 2015 when the US Department of Agriculture conducted the Colony Loss Survey for the first time. The reliable, up-to-date statistics serve as a way to help track honey bee mortality.  

    However, with the 2019 budget cuts, data collection for the survey has been halted. According to a notice posted by the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Survey, “The decision to suspend data collection was not made lightly, but was necessary given available fiscal and program resources."  

    Although the suspension is temporary, it is unknown when or if it will be resumed.  

    According to Dennis vanEngelsdorp, an entomologist who studies bee health at the University of Maryland, this kind of research is important to better understand bee health and the role they play in agriculture. "The value of all these surveys is its continuous use over time so you can compare trend lines," he said. 

    Researchers at the USDA's Economic Research Service also described the dataset as “valuable and important for beekeepers and other stakeholders like the honey industry and farmers whose crops rely on honeybees to pollinate them.   

    With the major role bees play in pollinating the crops we eat, finding ways to sustain diminishing colonies is a major concern. Additionally, creating funding for research and implementing policies that assist in the protection bees is an issue we all need to be buzzing about. 

  • 27 Jun 2019 3:30 PM | Administrator (Administrator)

    Imitation meat and plant-based meat products have become more and more visible on store shelves. However recently, large companies like Tyson Foods, Inc. and Perdue have decided to join a new market which blends meat and plant products.  

    According to Katherine Walla’s article, “Meat in the Middle: Blended Options Join Eaters in Sustainability,” alternative protein options like plant-based nuggets, sausages, meatballs and blended burgers that include vegetables in the patties, will soon be more readily available.

    The market for alternative meat products seems to be growing and consumers want to buy healthier products. According to Melanie Bartelme, a global food analyst with the consulting firm Mintel who published a 2018 report on Plant-Based Proteins in the U.S.,  88 percent of U.S. consumers identify plant-based proteins as healthy options.

    A nutritious diet is one reason people might choose to purchase blended-meat products, but for others it may be the environmental benefits.

    In the article Walla reports, “Partially replacing meat with plant-based ingredients can help consumers limit their contributions to diet-related greenhouse gases by up to 15 percent. According to the World Resources Institute (WRI), replacing every burger Americans eat with burgers that are 30 percent plant-based may conserve 83 billion gallons of water per year, equivalent to 2.6 million American’s yearly household water use, and reduce agricultural land demand by 14,000 square miles,  an area larger than the state of Maryland.”

    Special impact programs like the Blended Burger Project led by the James Beard Foundation is helping to create conversations around health and sustainability in the food system. In 2019, they are once again challenging restaurants to create flavorful burgers that consist of at least 25 percent mushrooms. With a cash prizes up to $5,000, this kind of contest brings in all kinds of participation. Justin Robinson, a participating chef in St. Petersburg, FL said, “The blend allowed us to offer our clients a burger that is healthier, more sustainable, and delicious to boot. It also didn’t hurt that it was outselling our regular menu burger nearly two to one.”

    Continue the conversation

    On Friday June 28th, from 12-1pm, Tom Pellizzetti will present observations and shared learnings about "Food Processing for Small Producers: Local and Regional Niche Meat Systems, Selling Channels, and Consumer Trends Driving Transformation."

    Join the webinar to learn more about companies, organizations and people leading change in local/regional meats.

    Keep the conversation going by visiting our website forum here.

  • 14 Jun 2019 5:00 PM | Administrator (Administrator)

     Sustainability in Business - An Interview with Kathy Sue McGuire

    In 1989 Kathy Sue McGuire returned home to Florida after living in England for 3 years. It was then that she realized the amount of waste produced in her beloved state, compared to England. Deciding something needed to be done, in 1991, she asked her boss at BellSouth Telecommunications, now AT&T, if she could start a recycling program. It was the first corporate recycling program in the state of Florida. For this program she was recognized with the “Count on Me Award of Excellence.”

    In 2006, Kathy took on a new role at PGA National Resort and Spa, where she again began a revolutionary change in her industry by implementing sustainable policies. With the integration of the APEX/ASTM Environmentally Sustainable Meetings and Events international standard, the resort received certification in the Venue and Accommodations category. Over 10 years she helped save the resort over $1.4 million dollars. Kathy then decided to begin helping other businesses with sustainability, predominantly focusing on the hospitality industry and the events sector.

    Kathy describes herself similar to a teacher, who helps show businesses how they can be profitable, and environmentally and socially responsible at the same time. By working with Kathy, businesses have an opportunity to incorporate environmental and social programs into their business models, which she says benefits businesses in a myriad of ways, like the ability to market themselves as being green or sustainable. 

    “Sustainability is nothing more than being efficient—with your money, your resources, your purchasing, and your waste. It’s no longer okay for business to be wasteful, because it affects everyone in the community.”

    When it comes to food policy, Kathy lamented the amount of food insecurity and food waste she sees in her community and around the world. She pointed to a 2016 French law which requires surplus food in stores and restaurants to be donated rather than thrown away, “We grow enough food around the planet to feed 18 billion people, yet one third of the 7 billion people are starving. Food waste is a major problem, and when you know people are food insecure, or actually starving in many countries, it’s just unconscionable.”

    Although the U.S. does have federal laws, like the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Act, that protect those that donate food from civil and criminal liability, many aren’t aware of these laws, or are still afraid of possible legal retribution.

    When asked specifically about Florida food policy, she felt that implementing similar laws requiring businesses such as supermarkets, restaurants, or hotels to donate food could be one solution to the food waste issue. However, she felt that these kinds of policies would be difficult to see put into law given the anti-regulation climate. Therefore, leaving industry and consumer demand to lead the change.

    For businesses that want to become more sustainable, Kathy recommends, “Look at what you are spending your money on. You should look at what kinds of products you are purchasing and the waste you are generating. If businesses want to differentiate themselves from their competition, going green is a great way to do that.”

    Going green is not without its challenges. In 2013 Kathy began working with a hotel, but it took nearly 6 years to get all the data necessary to assess their situation. What she found was that by simply reducing their use of disposable items by 30%, they would save over $50,000 dollars a year. Do the math and that’s $300,000 that could have been saved. Time, interest and effective communication are just a few of the obstacles she has confronted.

    When asked about the future, Kathy believes that if just one prominent, influential person in a local community got involved, they could inspire other businesses to do better. She is currently looking for someone in the Palm Beach county area who would provide the leadership for sustainable business.

    If you are interested in seeing how sustainable your business is, check out Kathy’s website where you can take a Hotel Sustainability Assessment.

    If you have questions or comments for Kathy, you can contact her at  

    Kathy is an award-winning Sustainable Development Professional (ISSP-SA), and Climate Reality Leader with 15 years of progressive experience and a proven track record of implementing sustainability projects to reduce energy, water and waste, in all its forms, engage stakeholders, and increase brand awareness. Recognized as an industry leader in meeting the highest standards and being among the first in the nation to achieve sustainable business certifications for her clients, she is a trusted source of knowledge on established practices and cutting-edge trends that benefit organizations and the community.

  • 11 Jun 2019 4:00 PM | Administrator (Administrator)

    Kyndra Love is a new member of the FLFPC team. Based in Celebration, Florida, she is interested in facilitating dialogue about current challenges in the food system and how to implement effective, sustainable solutions. She first became interested in food systems while obtaining her B.A. in English and Second Language Studies from the University of Hawaii. Her curiosity led her to South Korea where she completed a Master’s degree in Korean studies, focusing on Korean food history and policy. While living in Seoul, she worked with sustainability-focused organizations to introduce local sustainable agricultural processes to the international community. Now at the Florida Food Policy Council, she hopes her role will further the council's mission. In her free time, she enjoys traveling with her husband and playing with her two cats.  

  • 7 Jun 2019 4:20 PM | Administrator (Administrator)

    In April 2019, food innovator and TED Fellow Bruce Friedrich brought up noteworthy points in his talk "The Next Global Agricultural Revolution" about conventional meat production and its effect on the environment.

    “In 2019, humanity received a warning: 30 of the world's leading scientists released the results of a massive three-year study into global agriculture and declared that meat production is destroying our planet and jeopardizing global health. One of the study's authors explained that ‘humanity now poses a threat to the stability of the planet ... [This requires] nothing less than a new global agricultural revolution.’”

    With the ever-growing population, meat consumption is at an all-time high. It is predicted that by 2050, “we’re going to need to be producing 70 to 100 percent more meat,” says Friedrich. With the current unsustainable conventional meat production methods, he addresses the challenge before us—transforming the meat production system.

    In this talk, Friedrich discusses his solutions to this problem, and how plant- and cell-based products could be the transformation the meat industry has been waiting for.

    Watch the full TED Talk here.

    On June 28, learn more about this topic by attending the FLFPC June Policy Committee Meeting where Tom Pellizzetti will be presenting observations and shared learnings about "Food Processing for Small Producers: Local and Regional Niche Meat Systems, Selling Channels, and Consumer Trends Driving Transformation." To learn more and register for the event, click here.
  • 1 Jun 2019 10:40 AM | Administrator (Administrator)

    In part one of a special series on Florida’s agriculture industry, Shawn Mulcahy from WFSU News reports on the effect of the latest tariffs levied by the Trump Administration.

    “An escalating trade war with China is casting a dark cloud over Florida’s blueberry industry,” says Mulcahy. “In recent years, President Donald Trump has imposed billions of dollars in tariffs on Chinese goods…But the U.S.-levied tariffs have led China to impose retaliatory tariffs on American goods. That’s taken a toll on domestic industries, particularly farmers.”

    Bud Chiles, son of former Gov. Lawton Chiles, who has been a full-time farmer for the past 10 years, conveyed his concerns about the recent round of tariffs. He noted the need for government to do more to protect local farmers.

    Although President Trump has given billions of dollars in aid to farmers to help ease the impact of the tariffs. Chiles doesn’t believe that the problem can be solved by simply handing out money.

    “Well those payments are – that’s not what farmers want,” said Chiles. “People don’t want a handout from the government, they just want to be able to compete. We just want to be able to compete.”  

    Another blow to Florida blueberry farmers may come if a trade deal with Chinese importers, which has been in negotiations for seven years, is put on hold because of the new tariffs.

    Nikki Fried, the state’s agriculture commissioner also commented on the situation, “Florida is on the verge of exporting blueberries, one of our state’s top crops, to China – but these new tariffs threaten that trade opportunity,”

    “If President Trump is serious about putting America first, he should start by putting Florida farmers first – not by inciting trade wars with China,” Fried said.

    Read the full article here.

  • 17 May 2019 8:50 PM | Deleted user

    By Dell deChant

    Food SovereigntyFood sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations.”– Declaration of Nyéléni, the first global forum on food sovereignty, Mali, 2007.

    See also: U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance,

    Urban Food Sovereignty is here conceived as the right of persons in urban ecosystems to define their own food and agriculture policies and practices, and to produce healthy and culturally appropriate food through their own means using ecologically sound and sustainable methods, independent of industrial food systems.

    ~ Derived in part from work of La Via Campasina (est. 1993)

    Some Relevant Concepts  (derived from U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance)


    Food sovereignty puts the right to sufficient, healthy and culturally appropriate food for all at the center of food, agriculture, livestock and fisheries policies.


    Food sovereignty values all those who grow, harvest and process food, including women, family farmers, herders, fisherpeople, forest dwellers, indigenous peoples, and agricultural, migrant and fisheries workers.


    Food sovereignty brings food providers and consumers closer together so they can make joint decisions on food issues that benefit and protect all.


    Food sovereignty respects the right of food providers to have control over their land, seeds and water and rejects the privatization of natural resources.  FS opposes surplus food dumping, mass-feeding operations, GMO seeds and foods, and colonization by Industrial Agriculture.


    Food sovereignty values the sharing of local knowledge and skills that have been passed down over generations for sustainable food production free from technologies that undermine health and well-being.


    Food sovereignty focuses on production and harvesting methods that maximize the contribution of ecosystems, avoid costly and toxic inputs and improve the resiliency of local food systems in the face of climate change.


    Recognizing the sources of our existence and living so as to sustain and enrich those sources – privileging the local, the seasonal, the organic, the sustainable, the resilient, the cooperative.

    See also, USF Food Sovereignty Group web page:

    Good accessible texts

    Big Hunger: The Unholy Alliance Between Corporate America and Anti-Hunger Groups – Andrew Fisher

    Food Justice – Robert Gottlieb and Anupama Joshi

    Food as a Human Right: Combatting Global Hunger and Forging a Path to Food Sovereignty – Will   Schanbacher

    Food Sovereignty: Reconnecting Food, Nature and Community – Hannah Wittman, et al (eds)

    Grounded Vision: New Agrarianism and the Academy – William Major

    The Politics of Food: The Global Conflict Between Food Security and Food Sovereignty, Will Schanbacher  

    Religious Agrarianism: And the Return of Place – Todd Le Vasseur


    Food First -

    U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance -

    La Via Campesina -

    * Policy Reflection Topic

    Legislation prohibiting home rule on vegetable gardens - Senate Bill 82, House Bill 145.

  • 3 May 2019 10:39 PM | Deleted user

    "It's been a long journey, but initially it started when I learned about factory farming/industrial animal farming, which motivated me to become vegetarian but also inspired me to learn how crop lands can be taken advantage of." Sophia Gibaldi is a Nutrition Educator with the Miami Dade Public Schools. Her first encounters with the food system helped her decide to study horticulture at the University of Florida and get involved in growing food herself. To her, gardening is also very fun.

    For Sophia, connecting with the outdoors was life-changing. "It's something we've done for generations and feels so human." That connection drives her every day. She will never go back to not growing at least some of her own food. In college, Sophia started off volunteering on a farm and then getting a job as a "farm hand" around the country, in Asheville and Gainesville, and even around the world, in Australia. She also worked as a science tutor and garden mentor at a community space where she implemented a garden. This became a loved learning space for 3rd to 5th graders, using the garden during every lesson.

    All of these experiences brought Sophia to her current position as a Nutrition Educator, expanding garden programs in 50 schools in Miami Dade County and incorporating garden food into the cafeteria, weaving this food into the school culture. "They're eating it, and the students are fully comprehending what it really means to connect with your food."

    Sophia's key message from her work over the years and especially now are that kids of all ages are desperate to get outside and work with their hands in the dirt. She believes they need it to feel human, and this work at the gardens is very life changing not only for comprehensive academic success, but also for enhancing communication, family relationships, emotional support, physical activity, and excitement about going to school. Despite some kids' troubles at home, being outside in the garden and connecting with this space is a key component to making them a "happy human", in Sophia's words.

    Sophia wants to see a world where every kid is working in a garden, and there are so many places to start. Go to your school board meeting and get involved in implementing garden education, or volunteer at a school. The possibilities are endless, and the benefits are priceless.

  • 19 Feb 2019 9:19 AM | Florida Food (Administrator)

    By Rachel Ram

    After moving to Sarasota four years ago, Paul Murphy’s vision to create a more sustainable future for not only Florida, but for the world, came alive.

    His first step in this direction was volunteering with Transition Sarasota, an organization that believes in building sustainable communities from the bottom up. He helped with gleaning, organic farms and more, before finding FLFPC.

    Raised catholic, Paul believes food is plentiful and all is already provided for us. However, because money came in between, lack of access and therefore food banks became necessary. However, Paul’s main goal it to bring back the Garden of Eden.

    Food forests, community gardens, turning grass into gardens, and policies to implement native and edible planting only are among the initiatives Paul helped support and even install into county of Sarasota’s 2018 Comprehensive Plan. Paul’s activism doesn’t stop at plants, however. He is working with cleanups as well as keeping plastic from being manufactured, using biodegradable alternatives instead.

    With 800 people moving to Florida a day, Paul emphasizes that we need to make a change. Our aqueducts are drying up, salt water is traveling inland at an alarming rate with nitrates coming through our drinking water. He says that at our current rate, we’ll need dehumidifiers due to water being so polluted if we don’t change. “It’s all about returning to nature. It’s a cycle, one slice of the pie. If not, greed will take over again. People will take advantage and continue”

    Also a vegan, Paul believes you can’t be a true environmentalist unless you are. He says we need to start a movement, not just an organization.

    You may be wondering- what can I do to get involved? His advice is:

    • Go to city meetings
    • Start comprehensive plan meetings in the other counties to implement policy for only nature and edible plants
    • Join local organizations, such as Transition, Tropical Fruit Society or community gardens

    If Paul can send home any single message, it’s to stop talking and actually take action. We need to be proactive toward healthy changes by planting the seeds for success.

    In Paul’s words:

    “I am sharing this because I feel it's critical for the next several generations, in our world with an ever-increasing population, that will have food and water issues.

    "I started the Garden of Eden Project in Sarasota that begins by initiating food policy in each city and county plan for growing native plants as well as fruit and food trees instead of non-natives ornamentals.

    "Imagine a world when we can walk around in our neighborhoods and cities picking fruits off trees for free. Free food for homeless people, lower income or poor people, as well as for everyone else who wants to partake in the fruits of our labor."

  • 3 Jan 2019 10:56 AM | Florida Food (Administrator)

    Governor Rick Scott announced the launch of two VISIT FLORIDA Hurricane Michael assistance programs. These programs exist to aid local tourism businesses in the counties that were included in the FEMA major disaster declaration on October 11. 

    The following programs are now available to tourism businesses in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Leon, Taylor, Wakulla and Washington counties.

    The Tourism Recovery Grant Program for Hurricane Michael is available for tourist development boards and marketing programs through advertising, direct mail, brochure production, website development and other related projects/programs. The Hurricane Michael Recovery Marketing Program is available immediately at no cost to all small, medium, and large tourism businesses. The program provides complimentary VISIT FLORIDA marketing partnerships through June 30, 2019. 

    Tourism businesses in the Panhandle are asked to continue sending blog posts for the Florida Now landing page. 

    If you have any questions, reach out to Industry Relations Team at 

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