Sustainability

Roberto Neumiller

How many people can the Earth sustain? According to author and journalist Alan Weisman, "the planet just seems to be bursting at its seams."

Today on Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe interviews Weisman, who tackles that question in his new book, Countdown: Our Last, Best hope for a Future on Earth? She talks with him about what he learned by traveling the globe and studying different cultures and his vision of the future.

 This program originally aired February 24, 2014.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

To support a growing population, farmers worldwide need to emphasize the sustainable growth of three major foods: corn, wheat and rice, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization

Corn, wheat and rice make up some of the most crucial ingredients to diets across the world. With a booming global population, FAO says in the next 35 years farmers will need to ratchet up production of these three commodities to 3 billion tons – that’s half a billion tons more than the record harvest of 2013.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Consumers are increasingly willing to pay more for foods they believe were sustainably produced, like free-range chicken, fair-trade coffee and pesticide-free wine. But what does “sustainable” actually mean?

Alan Light / Flickr

Since its beginning, the conservation movement has been focused on preserving the natural places we still have, but Joe Whitworth, president of the Freshwater Trust, says that is not good enough.  Host Charity Nebbe talks to Whitworth about his work restoring freshwater ecosystems, how he believes that clean water can co-exist with profitable agriculture, and the future of conservation.  

Flickr / cwwycoff1

Women have worked in agriculture since agriculture began, but for many years they were limited to supporting roles. Talk of Iowa seeks out women's voices in agriculture, through history and today.  Jenny Barker-Devine, author of "On Behalf of the Family Farm: Iowa Farm Women's Activism since 1945" discusses how the roles of farm women changed during the 20th century.

Charity Nebbe / Iowa Public Radio

After two major flooding events for Iowa in 1993 and 2008, and a number of significant flooding events in-between, Iowans need to ask hard questions about how we have altered our environment.

Today on "Talk of Iowa" we talk about agricultural and urban flooding. We'll take a look at changes we've made to our landscape that has made it more prone to flooding.  We'll also discuss both the damage flooding can cause, and some innovative ways farmers, homeowners and city planners can prevent flooding or at least minimize the damage it can cause.

Ed Schipu / Flickr

Newsweek has named Hunter Lovins a "Green Business Icon" and a "Millennium Hero of the Planet" by TIME Magazine for her work in sustainable development. She is the President of Natural Capitalism Solution, and is also the Chief Insurgent of the Madrone Project a non-profit educational team that brings greater depth and scale to sustainability education by delivering advanced modular curricula curated for digital media purposes.

Sarah McCammon / IPR

North America’s largest food distributor, Sysco, is the latest company to announce it will phase out pork produced with a controversial technology known as gestation crates. A growing number of consumers say they want more humanely produced meat on their plates, but many farmers worry they’ll be left picking up the tab.

Craig Rowles grew up on an Iowa farm, and like a lot of farm kids, he’s done his share of heavy lifting.

Sustainable Businesses

Jul 13, 2012

In 1974, Elliot Hoffman founded the successful business Just Desserts in San Francisco. Now he’s working to spread a message of sustainability across the country.

Listen back to a conversation from April of last year between host Ben Kieffer and Elliot Hoffman. Hoffman’s new venture is called New Voice of Business. He visited Iowa last year – talking about how businesses can benefit the bottom line by adopting sustainable practices.

Iowa business owners and managers also talk about their struggles and successes with sustainability.

Jessica Naudziunas / Harvest Public Media

The farmer of future will grow food and raise animals with tomorrow in mind. They’ll know contributing to the food supply is not enough. If the soil, air and water they use to produce food is damaged, good luck feeding anyone.  

That’s the idea, anyway, behind “sustainability” — one of the big buzz words in agriculture today. It’s all about making sure natural resources are not depleted or permanently damaged so that we can farm into the future.