Urban Agriculture Internet-Enabled Revolution

African Americans are twice as likely to die from diabetes

Urban Agriculture Revolution

Building A Network For The Urban Agriculture Revolution
Tuesday, March 8th at 6:30 pm
The Salvation Army
22 Church Street, New Rochelle, NY 10801
According to an IEEE Spectrum article, urban agriculture is on the verge of an Internet-enabled revolution. This revolution will emerge from a series of recent technological breakthroughs that include the development of high-efficiency blue LED lighting, whose inventors received the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics.
MIT researchers say that as technology enables new farming opportunities in indoor, warehouse-based settings, food production can be retooled to accommodate high-density urban living and maintain food security despite a future of increasing climate instabilities and vulnerabilities. The visionaries behind this new farming tech are working toward a networked agricultural system that looks to the open-source software movement for inspiration.

The Open Agriculture Initiative (OpenAG) is on a mission to create more farmers for the future of food production. They are developing the open source hardware and software platforms for sensor-controlled hydroponic and aeroponic agriculture systems.

Food Computers serve as tools for users to experiment, innovate, hack, and grow. Every time users grow and harvest, they will contribute to a library of climate recipes that can be borrowed and scaled so that users around the world can gain access to the best and freshest foods.

Food computers

OpenAG is developing an open-source ecosystem that enables and promotes transparency, networked experimentation, education, and local production. They hope to create sustainable, shared systems that will break down the barrier of entry and spark interest, conversation, and maybe even a revolution about the way we view food.
We need a revolution because in 2013, African Americans were twice as likely as non-Hispanic Whites to die from diabetes. This is according to the U. S.  Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health.
At the northern outskirts of Milwaukee, stand 14 greenhouses on two acres of land. This is Growing Power, the only land within the Milwaukee city limits zoned as farmland. Founded by MacArthur Foundation “genius” fellow Will Allen, Growing Power is an active farm producing tons of food each year, a food distribution hub, and a training center. Will Allen is the author of The Good Food Revolution.
Will Allen of Growing Power

Will Allen of Growing Power

According to Will Allen’s The Good Food Revolution:
The history of agriculture in the United States is largely a history of racial exploitation. From the slavery that formed the rural economy of the South to the mistreatment of migrant farm workers that continues to this day, our food has too often been made possible by someone else’s suffering. And that someone else tends not to be white….
The great tragedy for many African Americans…is that in losing touch with the land and with traditions handed down for generations, they also lost an important set of skills: how to grow and prepare healthy food….
It’s no coincidence that the epidemic of diet-related illnesses now sweeping the country—obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes—are harming blacks the most….
America’s current agricultural system was hardly created by free market forces. Between 1995 and 2010, American farmers received about $262 billion in federal subsidies. And the wealthiest 10 percent of farmers received 74 percent of those subsidies. Almost two-thirds of American farmers didn’t receive any subsidies at all….
One in two African Americans born in the year 2000 is expected to develop type II diabetes. Four out of every ten African American men and women over the age of twenty have high blood pressure….
The farmer became less important than the food scientist, the distributor, the marketer, and the corporation. In 1974, farmers took home 32 cents of every dollar spent on food in the United States. Today, they get only 16 cents.
African Americans in losing touch with the land and with traditions handed down for generations, they also lost an important set of skills: how to grow and prepare healthy food.
In addition to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and strokes, being related to poor diets, we can add Alzheimer’s disease. The Mayo Clinic has  stated that “diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease are connected in ways that aren’t completely understood.”
According to the CDC as reported by BloombergBusiness, “more than half of all Hispanics and non-Hispanic black women born from 2000 to 2011 will develop diabetes in their lifetime.”
The leading causes of death for African-American in 2013, according to the CDC:
  • Cardiovascular diseases 96,545
  • Cancer 67,953
  • Accidents 13,413
  • Homicide 8,059
We need New Rochelle to be a part of this revolution in urban agriculture to bridge both the digital and health divide.

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