Diet for a Sustainable Ecosystem: The science for recovering the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its People
Chapter 1. Introduction: Starting the Journey to Healthy Ecosystems and People
This sets the stage for the book. The reader is introduced to the Chesapeake Bay from an historical perspective that emphasizes that the food system played, and continues to play in this ecosystem. This is followed by an introduction to Food-Health-Environment problem. This includes mention of specific problems that will receive more attention in later chapters. The basis for the underlying philosophy of the book is discussed with reference to important pioneers. The chapter closes with an explanation of the organizational structure of the book.
Chapter 2. The Bay and Its Watershed: A Voyage Back in Time
This chapter acquaints the reader with the geological history of the Chesapeake Bay, its dimensions, and physical features. It includes information on climate change and atmospheric science needed to understand the formation of the Bay. It also discusses how humans have modified the physical bay, and ties that to the food system.
Chapter 3. Scientific Concepts that Inform the Pilgrimage of Understanding
The point of this chapter is to provide sufficient science background so that the reader can understand the subsequent chapters. The science is presented in a unified way that focuses on the similarities between human bodies and the body of water called the Chesapeake Bay. For example, circulation is discussed as an important feature of both humans and estuaries. This is a unique approach that draws more attention to similarities between human physiology and estuarine ecology, than it does to distinctions. It emphasizes the unity of nature, in keeping with the holistic philosophy developed in Ch. 1.
Chapter 4. The Precolonial Food System and how it shaped the Ecosystem
This chapter seeks to recreate the food system used by the native people of the Chesapeake region. It will use evidence from history (Capt. John Smith and other early narratives), archeology, and paleo ecology (sediment core data). It will discuss the native land and forest management practices, the evolution of fishing and hunting methods, and agricultural techniques. Special attention will be given to the arrival of corn and its impact. It will also highlight traditional ecological knowledge developed by the tribes.
Chapter 5. A Fishing Trip: The Science and Economics of Extraction from the Bay
The chapter will begin with an overview of the variety of fishing and hunting methods employed by native tribes and how they were adopted by colonists and their decedents. It will discuss the basic concepts of fisheries and wildlife management. The maximum sustainable yield (MSY) of single species management will be contrasted with ecosystem approaches to optimizing catches. Discussion will include optimizing and maximizing profit (MEY, Maximum Economic Yield) and doing the same for social outcomes (MScY, Maximum Social Yield). The chapter will distinguish commercial, artisanal, and recreational fishing/hunting practices and consequences. This chapter provides the background for the subsequent chapters on fishing and hunting as part of the Chesapeake Bay food system.
Chapter 6. Sturgeon and Shad: Foundation Species Eaten Away
Sturgeon and shad fisheries supported native peoples and the colonists that displaced them. The chapter will chronicle the demise of these fisheries and the causes. It will include a discussion of structural impediments to migration and restoration efforts underway.
Coauthor Dr. Andrij Z. Horodysky, Department of Marine and Environmental Science, Hampton University
Chapter 7. Menhaden: When uneatable Meets Industrial Delectable
This chapter tells the story of the industrialization of an uneatable forage fish and the consequences for the people and the ecosystem. It discusses how the development of this post-Civil War fishery brought new economic opportunity to African Americans and coastal communities, while diminishing a foundation species of the Bay ecosystem. Menhaden still dominate the commercial catch from the Bay and the fishery exerts enormous political pressure to thwart effective regulation. The chapter documents the struggle between fishing profits and conservation.
Coauthor: Dr. H. Bruce Franklin, Professor Emeritus, Rutgers University.
Chapter 8. Blue Crabs: Too Tuff to Lose?
The blue crab fishery is surprisingly as tough and resilient as the crabs themselves. The chapter will discuss the biology and ecology of this iconic species and the efficacy of management practices. Residents of Maryland and Virginia have long argued over who makes the best crab cakes. The two states also differ in their management approaches as will be addressed.
Chapter 9. Oysters Wars and Making Peace with the Consequences
Oysters are the ultimate foundation species of the Chesapeake Bay. The chapter documents the ecological importance of the oysters (ecosystem engineer, water filtering machines, and link between phytoplankton and higher trophic levels) and their demise from overexploitation and disease. This is a colorful tale that traces the arms race of more effective fishing techniques and regulations they evoke. It includes stories of armed conflict between competing oyster boats, and the last of the wooden skipjacks that can still legally scrape the bottom under sail power. Oysters more than any other species on the Bay tell the story of the consequences of the industrialization of a fishery coupled with market expansion through improved transportation (rail roads). It also tells the good-news story of citizens working with authorities to rebuild oyster reefs.
Chapter 10. Pigeon and Duck: Flights to Extinction and Not
The Chesapeake Bay is central to the Atlantic Coast Flyway and is famous for its populations of migrating birds. The chapter begins with the very sad extinction story of the Passenger Pigeon. It explains how the food system drove the once most numerous bird in North America, and perhaps the world to extinction. From billons to zero in three decades. The discussion links back to the story of oysters, industrialization, and railroads opening new markets. This disaster story is contrasted with a much brighter tale of how the various species of much hunted ducks on the Bay escaped the same fate. It highlights how regulations saved the ducks from market gunners and the role of hunters in managing habitat for the birds.
Chapter 11. From guano to WWII: too much fertilizer, animal protein and a greenhouse gas
The chapter documents the critical changes in agriculture in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, with particular emphasis on the transition to the chemical-industrial system that supports the Standard American Diet. Nitrogen is the central character in the story, which begins with the first shipments of guano in to the Chesapeake form Peru in the mid-19th Century. Three men, play critical roles in the story. The German chemist and agricultural scientist, Justis von Liebig was the classic reductionist-scientist of the 19th Century who documented the elemental nutrient ratios in crops, and the importance of nitrogen for proteins. George Washington Carver was born a slave and went on to stellar career in botany and agriculture, including "saving" farming in the southern US by the introduction of crop rotation and use of nitrogen-fixing plants. His work is foundational for modern organic agriculture. However, two more 19th Century German chemists changed the arc of food system history away from t Carver's organic approach. Max Haber and Fritz Bosch developed the process that uses fossil fuel energy to fix atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia. This innovation led to a revolution in making fertilizer and war, as the process fed both industrialized farms and munitions factories. Indeed, it was the excess capacity of WWII munitions plants that created the era of chemical agriculture based upon artificial fertilizers and pesticides.
Coauthor: Dr. Grace Brush, Professor, Department of Environment, Health and Engineering, Johns Hopkins University
Chapter 12. The War Comes Home: Swords to plow shears and nerve-gas to pesticides
This chapter follows closely on the hells of the preceding one. It documents the expansion of chemical-industrial-agriculture in the Bay region and how that changed the food system. This includes a discussion of pesticides, genetically modified crops and patented seeds.
Chapter 13. Slavery, Jim Crow, and Migrant Laborers Subsidize Cheap Food
No discussion of the food system in the Chesapeake Bay region would be complete without mention of the role of race and exploited labor. This chapter documents the role of chattel and then wage-slavery in bringing in the crops and other agricultural goods of the region. It discusses the special role people of color played in the seafood industry. It looks at the transition to a new migrant and immigrant workforce of color that labors to produce our food.
Coauthor: Robert Watson,M.A., Department of History and Political Science, Hampton University
Chapter 14. Alien Swine and Polluting Pork on the Shores of the Bay
This chapter introduces the reader to industrialized animal-based food production in the Bay region. Although the swine industry of the area focuses production in North Carolina, much of the slaughtering and packaging takes place on the James River of the lower Bay by Smithfield Foods. The chapter explores the consequences of pig production for the health of the environment and the consumer.
Chapter 15. Chicken Factories Alight on the Eastern Shore
Concentrated Feeding Operations (CFOs) to produce broiler chickens dot the landscape of the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. These facilities turn feedstock into unnatural chickens and pollution that fouls the air and water. The chapter discusses how this lightly regulated industry diminishes the health of the Bay, the workers and consumers.
Chapter 16. Raising and Eating Animals: A Path to the Doctor's Office and Mortuary
This chapter documents the health hazards of an animal-based diet. It starts with examining the important role of hunted, gathered and captured animals in sustaining the native peoples of the Bay region in an era when food was periodically scarce and people lived shorter lives. Then follows a discussion of zoonotic diseases associated with animal husbandry. The chapter closes with a discussion of the role of animal based foods in promoting the diseases of affluence; heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes.
Chapter 17. The fallacy of fish: the health consequences of eating seafood from the Bay
Seafood is promoted as an important part of a healthy diet. But is it? The science shows that animal seafood consumption is associated with poorer health-outcomes, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Seafood is also a source of dietary toxins including heavy metals and organic pollutants. The chapter examines a case study that looks at artisanal fishing, an under-served African American community on the Bay and contaminated catch. The chapter uses science to challenge deeply held beliefs about the consumption of seafood and health outcomes, including the efficacy of fish oil supplements. The chapter includes a discussion of protein as a false idol of nutrition.
Coauthor: Dr. Erica Holloman, Southeast CARE Coalition
Chapter 18. Sugar Twice Enslaves on Its Path from Exotic Condiment to Staple
The Chesapeake region was highly involved in the colonial-era triangle trade the connected the sugar colonies of the Caribbean to Western Europe and Africa. This brought both sugar and slaves to the Chesapeake. The sugar was produced by enslaved Africans in the Caribbean on pioneering industrialized plantations. More than any other, the sugar industry was the reason for chattel slavery in the New World. The chapter tells this story. While chattel slavery has past, virtual slavery to sugar persists as this addictive substance is widely consumed by African Americans and only somewhat less so by others in the Chesapeake region today. The chapter details patterns of consumption and the attendant health consequences.
Coauthor: Dr. Michelle Penn-Marshall, The Graduate College and V.P. for Research, Hampton University.
Chapter 19. Finishing the Journey: Urine and Feces as Misplaced Resources
The most often neglected aspect of the food system is the production of human feces and urine as a consequence of eating. Unsurprisingly, different diets means different quantities and qualities of human waste. The current food system breaks the nutrient cycle of nature. The inorganic nutrients and organic matter of feces and urine are not returned to the soil to support crops, but instead are diluted and flushed to waste treatment plants to drain into and pollute the Bay. This chapter will discuss the history of sewage treatment on the Bay and examine alternatives to the current approach to this problem. Coauthor: Carie Cutter, MS, Chemist, Hampton Roads Sanitation District
Chapter 20. Eutrophication: Obesity of the Bay and its People
Most of the degradation of the Chesapeake Bay traces to the food system. This chapter will discuss the impact of chemical industrial agriculture designed to produce food for and diet rich in animal foods. It will link the consequences for the landscape and the Bay those to the people who consume the food.
Chapter 21. Plastic Food System Waste Travels Far but Never Goes Away
Most of the solid waste polluting the Chesapeake Bay is plastic packaging of food system products such as beverage containers and processed food wrappers. This chapter will examine the origin and impact of the plastic pollution. It will also explore sustainable alternatives.
Coauthor: Dr. Robert Hale, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, The College of William and Mary
Chapter 22. Climate Change and the Acidification of the Bay
This chapter discusses the role of the food system in producing greenhouse gases and the environmental consequences. It will include methane production from cattle, manures, and wet soils. It will also address nitrous oxides produced from agricultural fields.
Chapter 23. Charting a Course to Better Human and Bay Health Begins at the Grocery
This chapter is a voyage through the retail end of the food system in the Chesapeake Bay region.
It explores how people access the food they eat and the impact of the choices they make. It will include discussion of food-deserts and the diet presented in the public school lunch room. The chapter will conclude with science-based recommendations for food purchasing choices that are best for the environment and the consumer.
Chapter 24. An Organic Whole Plant Based Food System: A Voyage Forward in Time
This chapter explores a shift to an organic agriculture designed to produce for a whole food plant based diet. It will examine methods such as polyculture, permaculture, crop rotation and no-till cultivation. It will discuss the Clagett Farm run by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the private urban Soidago Farm as models of organic implementation.
Coauthor: Dr. Martin Kaufman, Professor of Geography, Planning and the Environment, The University of Michigan, Flint
Chapter 25. A Tour through the Politics and Policy Afflicting the Bay and its Food System
The restoration of the Chesapeake Bay is a popular notion across the political spectrum in the states immediately bordering the estuary. Local citizens organized the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in 1967 to address the declining health of the Bay. Passage of the 1972 Clean Water Act
by Congress set the stage for organized efforts to reverse the deterioration of the Chesapeake Bay driven largely by the food system. By the early 1980's it was clear that nutrient pollution of the Bay needed to be curtailed by at least 40% to recover the system. Despite agreements orchestrated by the US Environmental Protection Agency and signed by the various government entities in the watershed, progress has been slow. Nutrient reduction targets haven't been met. The chapter will explore the roles of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and government entities in recovering the Bay. It will also explore the need for developing more effective policies to regulate polluters that are primarily part of the food system. The chapter will feature interviews with officials from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the USEPA Chesapeake Bay Program.