One thing I really enjoyed about my topic on food policy was discovering the hidden side of food. For example, “natural” foods are not organic. “Natural” is a marketing tool to make people think they’re eating healthy. It’s a narrow word that doesn’t include how food is produced or processed. We also know that advertisers target sugary cereals to children watching cartoons on Saturday mornings. And advertisers market sugary drinks to children and teenagers. But did you know that food as a national security issue??
Food swamps reflect the imbalance between fast food restaurants and healthy food choices. A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog called Food Swamps: A New Urban Reality. A study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity concluded that food swamps contribute to obesity in adult populations in low-income areas. Food swamps are a better predictor of obesity rates than food deserts or areas with little access to healthy and affordable food. But what happens when you shrink the number of fast food places in a neighborhood? How does that affect the obesity rate? Does food policy solve a problem or create new ones?
When I started my dissertation on urban agriculture, I learned about the different ways that a city can grow food. Urban agriculture is growing, processing and distributing food in the city. It also is a link between agriculture and urban development – housing, commercial and business development, schools. Urban agriculture is also about food production and urban planning. It includes the suburbs and fringe areas near the city. Urban agriculture means growing food in containers, window sills, backyards, rooftops, freight containers, farms and community gardens. In 2018, I wonder how urban agriculture is evolving and if it can be a stable food source for the future. Below is a snapshot of urban agriculture today...
This month, my colleague, Dr. Patti Mason wrote a blog about Disparities in Rural Missouri. Dr. Patti knows about life in rural Missouri: her mother was from Cardwell, Missouri. She knows that people in the Bootheel of Missouri have more health problems than better-educated people living in larger cities around the United States. Of course, many health problems are related to food and individual lifestyle choices.
Food and water are basic needs for all life on Earth. Life includes nature (everything not made by humans), animals and people. On that note, here’s a list of food and water stories that connect to all life. Tops stories include palm oil, alternative food sources, smart water for cities, ocean health, and the Great Barrier Reef.
Shoku-iku is the Japanese word for “eating education” or food education. Since 2005, the Basic Law of Shoku-iku has been Japan’s national food policy. It serves as a “blueprint for conscious eating.” Starting in kindergarten, students learn to connect health, nutrition, food, and the environment. More than 4,000 diet and nutrition teachers teach in public schools. The result: 3.7% of Japan’s adult population is obese (around 2.8M people out of the total adult population of 86M). This is striking because 38.2% of the US adult population is obese (around 73M people in the total adult population of 219M). We’re talking obese, not overweight. How is Japan reducing obesity in adults, while obesity continues to rise in the US? What can we learn from Shoku-iku?
This week, I learned about a new trend in food policy. A study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity identified the presence of another source for obesity in adult populations: food swamps. Unlike food deserts (communities with limited access to healthy and affordable food), food swamps reveal the imbalance between excess fast food restaurants over healthy food choices. These neighborhoods have more drive-up restaurants and easy access to unhealthy foods compared to grocery stores and farmer’s markets. Food swamps are a better predictor of obesity rates than food deserts. And they are another tool to find ways to reverse the tide of obesity in adults.