UC Food Observer chooses a handful of important stories for you to read as you finish your work week. On the menu, in no particular order: a Q & A with author Alissa Hamilton, who challenges dairy consumption in ways that some may find surprising. The upwardly mobile barista: could Starbucks’ new partnership with Arizona State offer a workforce development model for America? As we celebrate the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, we seem poised to tackle food waste. What could an iconic World War I poster teach us? Savor flavor: Gastropod explores the science and history of natural and artificial flavoring. And in Brazil, a political battle is shaping up that is pitting that nation’s indigenous peoples against powerful agribusiness, timber and mining interests.


1. Scholar/author Alissa Hamilton has penned a book likely to spark controversy: Got Milked? The Great Dairy Deception and Why You’ll Thrive Without Milk. She sat down with the UC Food Observer for a straight talking Q&A you won’t want to miss.

“As long as the Dairy Group remains on the table, MyPlate signals that dairy is an essential part of a balanced diet. It isn’t. Nobody needs dairy for calcium, protein, or any other nutrient. What’s more troubling, milk is unhealthy for many people, whether because they can’t digest the lactose in it, or because they are allergic or sensitive to it.”


2. The upwardly mobile barista? Three-quarters of Starbucks employees – and an equal share of American adults— don’t have a bachelor’s degree. Research indicates that the growing income gap in American life is, in some part, the result of differences in access to higher education. Starbucks is trying to address this issue by partnering with Arizona State University to help its employees complete their college education. Could this model inform other service sector employers and enhance upward mobility for American workers? A terrific piece from Amanda Ripley and The Atlantic.


3. This week marked the 45th anniversary of Earth Day. The world seems poised to tackle the important environmental and ethical issue of food waste. What could an iconic World War I poster tell us about this? Read a UC Food Observer original piece to find out.


4. What is the difference between natural and artificial flavors? And how do certain products get their taste? Gastropod explores these questions, and more, in an episode entitled Savor Flavor. If you’re new to Gastropod (@Gastropodcast), be ready for an exquisite and tasteful experience learning about the world of food through the lens of science and history. The site features excellent visual curation, superb writing, and a fine podcast (about 52 minutes in length). Come hungry…you’ll want to savor every bite!


5. Brazil’s indigenous peoples are organizing against PEC 215, a proposed constitutional amendment that would shift the power to “demarcate” indigenous land from the executive branch to the legislative branch. The proposal is drawing fierce opposition from indigenous communities, because as many as 250 members of the Brazilian congress are linked to a powerful “ruralist” caucus that represents interests in agribusiness. By contrast, only one indigenous person has served in the Brazilian congress in that nation’s entire history. Many think that PEC 215 will worsen the already tenuous situation of the country’s impoverished indigenous communities, by further limiting their access to land. A must read, from Claire Rigby at The Guardian.


Have a great weekend.