Good morning! It’s been a busy week. We’ve wrapped up some of the week’s most important and interesting stories for you to read today…or over the weekend. Dive in!
In a sobering piece appearing in Civil Eats, Elizabeth Grossman reports on a new study linking food insecurity with poor health and behavior problems in America’s children. The numbers paint a stark portrait of hunger in America: nearly 50 million Americans are “food insecure”…and 15 million of those are children. About the study: two Rice University sociologists assessed the effects of food insecurity on K-1 students. Their findings? More “behavioral problems and worse overall health than those from families where food was plentiful.” And the health impacts can be significant: increased rates of asthma, anemia and developmental delays. Grossman digs deep into the topic, exploring what happens when food becomes scarce (coping strategies). Her conclusion? “More responsive and better-funded food assistance is needed.” An absolutely stellar read.
Pair with a UC Food Observer Q&A with Caroline Cahill, who is working in the field to reduce childhood hunger in her role as a Feeding America Child Hunger Corps fellow.
Is the future of medicine food? Since 2012, Tulane medical students “have been learning how to cook.” Tulane’s Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine has even built a teaching kitchen…and it’s the nation’s first medical school to have “a chef as a full-time instructor.” The Tulane program is receiving high marks and is being used by others; currently, about 10% of the nation’s medical schools are using Tulane’s curriculum. Research shows that the program is working. And with strong economic arguments supporting prevention, this is the kind of thinking that may herald a sea change in behavior…and health. A smart piece by Deena Shanker for Quartz.
Pair with a UC Food Observer Q&A with Dr. Preston Maring, who pioneered innovative food programs at Kaiser. He told us, “It is possible that some of the best public health tools we have are a sharp chef’s knife, a cutting board, and a salad spinner.”
Obesity rates increase. Despite ongoing efforts to reduce obesity in America, researchers are reporting a slight uptick. Nearly 38% of the nation’s adults were considered obese in 2013-2014 (an increase from the 35% reported in 2011-2012). Per Marion Nestle: “The trend is very unfortunate and very disappointing.” Sabrina Tavernise for the New York Times.
Why honey may be the best expression of local flavor you can find, anywhere. A fascinating piece about how honey reflects the “terroir of a region in its minutest form, down to the plants found in just a single square mile.” Learn about the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center at the Robert Mondavi Institute and their Honey Flavor Wheel. Kristen Hartke for the Washington Post. Editor’s Note: Incredibly relatable piece; local honey with the taste of Ventura County citrus orchards is used in our morning tea.
Water and soil
How water is reshaping the West. Western U.S. cities are dealing with complex and interconnected issues: urban growth, climate change and drought. And in some places, uncertainty about future water supplies is driving water storage projects that focus on “expansions and enlargements” of previous systems. Colorado focus. Good discussion of the “Reclamation era” history. Hillary Rosner for PBS Nova Next.
Restoring global soil quality is one of the best things we can do for climate change. Short piece on carbon sequestration. Good explanations and links for people wanting to learn more. Ben Schiller for Fast Company.
We’re treating soil like dirt. The year 2015 has been designated International Year of Soils by the United Nations. Part of the intent is to increase awareness about our absolute dependence upon soil as the thing that sustains us. In an op-ed piece written for The Guardian, George Monbiot writes about the dangers we face when we fail to provide proper stewardship for the soil that sustains us. Editor’s Note: This piece is from March, but is worth a second read.
Generation Peak Booze. A wonderful episode of Gastropod examines the peaks and valleys of alcohol consumption in the U.S. and the U.K. Learn about “synthalol,” a synthetic alcohol replacement that may be in our future. Gastropod provides a terrific romp through the past, present and future…read and listen.
The risks of assisting evolution. Biotechnology presents opportunities and risks. A well-considered thought piece by biology professor Elizabeth Alter for the New York Times. “And finally, we need to encourage a public conversation about these technologies…But to confront the big challenges, we’ll need an informed and educated public, sophisticated oversight and a broad conversation about what kinds of advances and risks we want to embrace.”
Have a great weekend. We’ll see you Monday!