Category Archives: Food Policy

Creek CNP Outline 11/2/16

Creeks of Johnson County

Theme: Restoration and Conservation and reconnecting with the land

General storyline: The four seasons will be analogous to the development of the destruction of our land and resources and will be threaded together with my families land and the waterway running through it juxtaposed with the greater area surrounding it. Spring is a time of birth and great opportunity and I will explain how the land we see today was shaped by natural process and then utilized as a partner by the Native People of The Americas. Summer is a time of agitation and preparing for the future survival in winter. I will use this verse to illustrate where man went wrong and what we still do wrong. Fall is a time of reflection and will be used to promote possible solutions to our wrong-doings as well as how we impact the entire globe all of its inhabitants. Winter is a time for huddling together and staying alive or being left in the cold to freeze to death. This will be an opportunity to predict what will be of our future if we stay on our current trajectory or if we merge together as one and begin to respect nature as a fellow, not a foe. As Thoreau said, “Alert and healthy natures remember that the sun rose clear, it is never too late to give up our prejudices.”

Main characters: Creek Hoard, Old Man’s Creek, Mother Nature

Interviews / Research: I will be interviewing a few scientist from campus to attain a clear understanding of what has happened as well as what my come in the future, as well as possible solutions. I will also be interviewing my family members to get an idea of what the land means to them. Research will be done to gather historical information about the area and what it has been used for in the past.

Arts Medium: I will write and read live a prose poetry, essay and short story. I will also include a visual medium and Music for thought throughout the reading.

Old Man’s Creek: Seasons of Change

When brainstorming ideas for CNP, a wave rushed over me and suddenly I had an abundance of ideas and a single topic to thread them with. However, when peeling back the layers of the onion, I realized that my single topic was actually just a metaphor for a much larger paradigm. I came in to this project knowing I wanted to tell the story of my land and what it means to me and my family; furthermore, I wanted to effectively explain why I am so hurt by state of the environment. I knew this was going to be difficult to explain all of the emotions, memories and thoughts pertaining to such a story, but I never thought I would be able to actually do the piece, and myself justice in just one semesters worth of work. This philosophy has now changed.

Moving forward, my piece will no longer be merely about one family or one plot of land, rather, it will encompass a myriad of issues both contemporary and historical, as well as predictive. When I imagine presenting my piece, I imagine a conglomeration of Thoreau style writings, pointing out the things that are innate to me and missed on most. I see a narrative that is Leopold like in its threaded connection to all that is around. Stylistically a mix between a TED talk, Moth Radio Hour and Def Jam.

A complicated story to tell but an important one. We all must grapple with our pasts in order to correct our futures. When all is said and done, hopefully this piece will inspire real, lasting change.

Thoreau said, “I went to the woods because I wished to deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” This is my goal and state of our union is my Walden.

Projected Plant Hardiness Zones Indicate An Uncertain Future

The USDA updated the Plant Hardiness Zone map in 2012 for the first time since 1990 because there had been such advancements in technology that the map became much more precise. The USDA will need to update again just half a decade later because of the ever changing climate and the impact it is having.

The National Climate Assessment, in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), have put together projected zone shifts by 2040. The maps indicate a positive feedback response that is accelerating the rate at which the zones are shifting. Some estimates have put Iowa in the zone that northern Louisiana occupied in the updated map.

This shift is currently having a great impact on agriculture and water quality, but may also impact our societal norms by a shifting demography simultaneously. We are in uncharted waters and the future is an unknown. Unfortunately, at this point all one can do is hold on and hope for the best.


The thirst for meat is rising worldwide at a rate that is unsustainable under the current model for production. This TED Talk provides a possible solution to some major issues: desertification, an increased demand for meat and climate change on the whole.  This is a radical idea, but it provides a paradigm for working with nature rather than leaving it to it’s own devices. We as humans are still animals and can provide an ecosystem service that can have benefits for all species living on this planet. We must come to terms with the reality that is before us, instead of fantasizing about an idealized outcome. Life is hard and it should be; one must struggle to ensure that progress is made. This talk may seem counter-intuitive to what most believe to be true, but if one were to look at how nature works at an optimum level, death and population correction is one of the most crucial parts of the equation. For an example, simply look at deer in Iowa, Kangaroo in Australia or what happened in Yellowstone after the wolves were eradicated. Without an apex predator, populations of some go out of control and destroy an even larger area than humans could. Finding a niche is the only way we can prosper and that niche is not from the outside looking in.

We must be participants in the ecological world using the most valuable tool nature gave us… our brain.


Intentional Cooperative Agriculture

Dan Barber, a famous chef from New York City, talks about his profound experience of seeing the best foie gras in the world being cultivated by a rancher in Spain. This talk highlights the missing link between our food and our lives. Many people think that food comes from the store and heat comes from the furnace. As a former chef, I can attest that most do not know and do not want to know where the they eat comes from… especially fine dining. A process like gavage is a prime example of humans manipulating nature to attain a product that is made naturally if one has the patience.



Ayman’s CNP Outline: Day in the Life of Islam, Iowa City and Climate Justice

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 2.20.26 PMWorking draft of Ayman’s Climate Narrative Project. “A Day in the Life of Islam, Iowa City and Climate Justice.”

Theme: Climate Justice and Islam

Arts Medium: “Day in the Life” series of photos, with verses from Islam, descriptions.

Story Outline:

Morning: Photographs of rising, any rituals, prayers. Photographs of breakfast. Photographs of kids going to school.


Day: Photographs of daily chores, cooking, sources of food, etc.


Lunch: Photographs of lunch.


Afternoon: Photographs of kids, park, nature, prayers. Photographs of your study, garden?


Evening: Photographs of evening meal.


Night: Prayers.


Day in the Life photo series:

Islam and Climate Change

Iowa’s Altered Landscape

Dew-coverd-PrairieMy CNP project this semester centers around how the state of Iowa has been transformed to a monoculture of corn cropland from diverse prairie grasses. This transformation has implications rooted in climate change through the alteration of the land in three main ways: (1) changing from a robust prairie grass system capable of surviving climatic change to an “eggs in one basket” approach to monoculture corn, which is less resistant to stressors. (2) Iowa is America’s (and world’s) largest producer of corn as a result of our once fertile soil from the dense root systems provided through prairies that was ultimately tilled up with the advent of the steel plow to now grow corn for ethanol biofuels, which some argue is not the answer to thwart climate change. And (3) a large portion of Iowa’s corn goes to feed the animals we humans eat, which in turn supports the agriculture (meat and dairy) sector (perhaps the largest contributor to potent greenhouse gases known to cause our warming planet Earth). It can be argued that the state of Iowa is the most altered landscape in the US and I hope to build off that to draw conclusions about the future or Iowa’s lands and climate change. One of the ways I hope to inspire and encourage people to take action against habitat and ecosystem loss related to climate change is through connecting with Nature. It is my belief that people in tune with Nature will understand its importance to the success of our species and others in an age where Nature can be the engine to minimize climate change.

For my project I am interviewing four people from different backgrounds. I have already interviewed Julie Decker (Executive Director of Harvest Preserve) of Iowa City about the 100-acre plot of land her organization has set aside for anyone to use who is interested in connecting with Nature (albeit spiritually, emotionally, or physically). My write up will be coming soon. The next three folks I have scheduled interviews for are with Liz Maas (Board of Directors President of Bur Oak Land Trust) to discuss prairie grass and wetland restoration, Dick Sayles (President of the Quad City Audubon Society) to gain a perspective of how Iowa’s native species have been impacted (past, present, and future) by Iowa’s altered landscape, and lastly Jeffrey Landgren (UI graduate student) who is an avid outdoorsman to learn about Iowa’s Nature versus other states.

I will likely do a film for my project but unsure if it will be more of a picture film or a traditional documentary type film. I have also tossed around the idea of doing a fake radio broadcast, news story, or commercial.

Water and Climate Justice

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 12.17.17 PM According to a new study in the Science Advances journal, ” two-thirds of the global population (4.0 billion people) live under conditions of severe water scarcity at least 1 month of the year. Nearly half of those people live in India and China. Half a billion people in the world face severe water scarcity all year round.”

In an age of climate change, should access to clean water be considered a human right?

And if so, how do we begin to consider water rights as a climate justice issue?

As the Guardian noted recently, agriculture and growing food demands account for the biggest water demand. ““Taking a shorter shower is not the answer” to the global problem, said Hoekstra, because just 1-4% of a person’s water footprint is in the home, while 25% is via meat consumption. It takes over 15,000 litres of water to make 1kg of beef, with almost all of that used to irrigate the crops fed to the cattle.”

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 12.20.23 PM

The Guardian provided a global overview:

“These water problems are set to worsen, according to the researchers, as population growth and increasing water use – particularly through eating meat – continues to rise.

In January, water crises were rated as one of three greatest risks of harm to people and economies in the next decade by the World Economic Forum, alongside climate change and mass migration. In places, such as Syria, the three risks come together: a recent study found that climate change made the severe 2007-2010 drought much more likely and the drought led to mass migration of farming families into cities.

“If you look at environmental problems, [water scarcity] is certainly the top problem,” said Prof Arjen Hoekstra, at the University of Twente in the Netherlands and who led the new research. “One place where it is very, very acute is in Yemen.”

Yemen could run out of water within a few years, but many other places are living on borrowed time as aquifers are continuously depleted, including Pakistan, Iran, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia.”

Check out this excerpt from the documentary series, Years of Living Dangerously, on the drought in Texas, and a community’s struggle with climate change dynamics: