Kavya Gopal

Collaborative filmmaking in the Brazilian Amazon: The Territory is a new documentary co-produced by Indigenous filmmakers in the rainforests of the western state of Rondônia, Brazil. Home to the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau, the film follows the ramifications of ongoing deforestation by farmers and illegal settlers since the 80s, and the tribe’s defense of its land and traditions. The film is partially shot by Uru-eu-wau-wau cinematographers who self-taught themselves filmmaking in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. “It’s very important I think that indigenous people film our own struggle, our defense of the territory,” wrote cinematographer Tangãi Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau. The film premiered at Sundance 2022, winning both an Audience Award and Special Jury Award for Documentary Craft. If you live in Canada or the United States, consider purchasing tickets to an upcoming screening here.

 Paul Hawken

Standing up to Big Livestock: Maybe the best book ever written about Big Food, the book Wastelands by Corban Addison will no doubt be a blockbuster movie with its brilliant cast of real-life characters going against the Chinese-owned corporate giant Smithfield Foods. The imposition of 5 million hogs in mostly black-owned farmlands in Eastern Carolina is a story of corporate malfeasance and arrogance. It is a story of how activists, smallholders, and fearless local lawyers went against a phalanx of highly paid executives, powerful law firms, corrupt politicians, and entrenched racial injustice to win an extraordinary victory. The hog density they fought against was the greatest in the world, the pollution in the air and water was toxic, and the cruelty to the animals raised the question as to what species here was “bestial.” John Grisham wrote the introduction as it is a suspenseful, plot twister of a real-life thriller.

 Robert Denney

Sea turtles found nesting in Louisiana for the first time in 75 years: Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are both the smallest and most endangered sea turtles in the world. They historically nested on the barrier islands of Louisiana, but their numbers in the area have drastically declined due to stressors such as coastal development, climate change, and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. That changed this month when more than 53 sea turtle crawls and two live hatchlings of the species were discovered on the Chandeleur Islands, which is the first time the turtle has been seen in the state for 75 years. Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority announced that this discovery will aid the agency in targeting island conservation and habitat preservation plans to ensure the recovery of the turtle across the Gulf of Mexico.

 Tim Treuer

Making a laughing stock of carbon offsets: Last Week Tonight dedicated their main story this week to carbon offsets, which you can watch for free on YouTube. Host John Oliver did an excellent job exploring the absurdity of much of the offset market, offering an entertaining but lucid explanation of one of the bains of good offsets: additionality (and implicitly nodding to its twin, leakage). The video is great for a cathartic laugh, but I do wish they had done a bit of building up at the end, rather than taking a last couple of jabs, because the truth is we need lots of people and businesses funding climate solutions, we just need to be way better about the accounting and the types of projects that get funded. Maybe in a follow-up segment they can discuss carbon onsets.

 Amy Boyer

Sprouting food and community: I'm growing two of these five crops for a hotter climate: amaranth and cowpeas. Black-eyed peas are just one of the many colorful varieties of cowpeas (a.k.a. field peas or southern peas), which I grow instead of green beans; they stand up to hot, dry conditions beautifully. I mainly grow amaranth for greens, as in this traditional Caribbean recipe for Callaloo, but also enjoy the grain and the multicolored plants. Elsewhere, Planting Justice is doing all the right things: bringing gardens to food deserts, hiring formerly incarcerated people, and working with local indigenous people to transfer their nursery's land back to them. Some of their hires are alumni of Insight Garden Program, an in-prison program that partners with PJ—and which I used to work with.

 Claire Krummenacher

Indigenous-led nuclear cleanup efforts: Following its establishment in 1943, the Hanford nuclear site has leaked hundreds of billions of waste onto land belonging to the Yakama Nation, whose decades-long cleanup efforts are now becoming increasingly urgent as the last elders who remember the land before the site's construction pass away. Given that the restoration is expected to take several more decades, the Yakama have implemented a multi-generational program that draws upon the wisdom of the surviving elder and investment from younger tribal members. This has included outreach visits to local schools, college scholarships in engineering and science, and a mass mailing campaign. Focused on a thorough cleanup of the leaked material, protecting culturally significant plants unique to the area, and assessing further pollution risks to community members' health, the Yakama are hopeful that their advocacy will lead to a long-awaited homecoming for the Indigenous groups displaced.

 Courtney White

Breadfruit, a climate superfood: A new study concludes that breadfruit, a starchy, nutrient-dense tropical plant that smells like bread when roasted, is an ideal food source in a warming world. A neglected and under-utilized (NUS) species that has been part of indigenous agroforestry systems for centuries, breadfruit is highly adaptable and resilient to warming temperatures, say, researchers, in contrast to staple crops such as rice and wheat. Its availability, now and in the future, in food-insecure regions is significant too. Other climate superfoods include amaranth, fornio, cowpeas, and taro.

 Juliana Birnbaum

Dinner’s ecological footprint: Wouldn’t it be helpful if food packaging included a label that honestly rated the product’s impact on the planet and climate?  This could soon become reality in Britain, as a research team at Oxford has developed a scale to assess the environmental effect of producing popular food products based on criteria including land and water use, greenhouse gas emissions, and pollution. “This work is very exciting – for the first time we have a transparent and comparable method for assessing the environmental footprint of multi-ingredient processed foods. These types of foods make up most of the supermarket shopping that we do, but until now there was no way of directly comparing their impact on the environment,” said Peter Scarborough, professor of population health at the University of Oxford, in the press release. “This work could support tools that help consumers make more environmentally sustainable food purchasing decisions. More importantly, it could prompt retailers and food manufacturers to reduce the environmental impact of the food supply thereby making it easier for all of us to have healthier, more sustainable diets.”

Take Action on Nexus

Did you know that 92% of farms in the U.S. produce monocultures of four crops that are largely intended as livestock feed or engine fuel

Of the thirty-one thousand plant species that humans can eat, just nine make up two-thirds of all crop production: wheat, corn, rice, soybean, potatoes, palm oil fruit, sugarcane, sugar beet, and cassava. The restoration of food diversity is critical to our future and it is being led by smallholder farms, Indigenous groups, and traditional food cultures. This week, learn how we can adopt a diverse, plant-rich diet to create regenerative and resilient food systems.

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Photo Credits
1st photo: Mongabay (Brasil)
2nd photo: Phleon via Getty

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