Sustainable Agriculture

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Sustainable Packaging

We are all back in snow covered Witzenhausen uni-bio.de and classes are in full swing with all the red cheeked students and a din of inspired conversation. In these first couple of weeks of 2010 we have had a visit from the Vermont Bread and Puppet troop for a puppet making workshop and a theater. We have had visitors from the College of the Atlantic for discussions about the vision for the Trans Atlantic Partnership and opportunities for students to do research and take classes at College of the Atlantic. The Organic Research Center and here in Witzenhausen with Kassel, Göttingen and Fulda.

Dr. Angelica Ploeger’s Sustainable Nutrition class is now concentrating on Life Cycle Assessment. We heard a comparative life cycle analysis of organic and conventional dairy farms from three colleagues and from Phd Candidate Mehrnaz Aminforoughi about on sustainability in milk packaging. The really intriguing thing about all this was the proposed ecological solution from a Norwegian study. According to the authors the best possible packaging solution, after a full life cycle analysis from production to disposal, is plastic bags. The plastic bags get used once and then burned. According to the research this uses much less electricity, requires less diesel in shipping and creates less overall GHG emissions.

This class leaves us all with a lot of unanswered questions and a lot of follow up research to do. What do we make of this if it is true? How much of a role does consumer awareness play in the food industry? Are we all so fed up with scientific analysis that we have stopped paying attention? Should we start buying things in plastic bags instead of in glass bottles?

Some helpful resources:

Science Direct, IFEU, Enviro Pac