We’ve told you about the UC Global Food Initiative, which was launched by University of California President Janet Napolitano in 2014. This ambitious initiative is addressing one of the most compelling issues of our time: how to sustainably and nutritiously feed a world population expected to reach 8 billion by 2025. And it’s pulling together all 10 UC campuses, five medical centers, UC’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the UC Office of the President to achieve these goals.
Whether it’s food production, food access or food policy, UC is researching it…and translating that research to policy and practice. They are pooling together their comprehensive resources to form working groups, share best practices and strengthen capabilities across UC. And they are discussing sustainable agriculture and food issues, at all levels, from student gatherings and campus dining halls to classrooms, laboratories, student farms and the president’s office in Oakland.
As UC President Janet Napolitano explained this month at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Sustainable Foods Institute, in front of national food and environment journalists, UC is building the next generation of scientists and leaders.
#UC President Janet Napolitano at the @MontereyAq Sustainable Foods Institute #MBASFI #GlobalFood https://t.co/in0V52Kni1
— UC (@UofCalifornia) September 12, 2016
Sustainably Farmed Fish in Future
Also speaking during the two-day event was Steve Gaines, dean of the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at UC Santa Barbara. As part of UC’s Global Food Initiative, Gaines and his team analyzed global fish stocks. They found that increasing the productivity of wild-caught fish would only meet 5 to 10 percent of global demand.
To prepare for the new demand, UC Santa Barbara’s Sustainable Aquaculture Research Center is helping to develop environmentally sound solutions for fish farming around the world, and looking at the policy shifts that could support it. Read the story.
Clearing Up Sugar versus Fat
A few hours north from Santa Barbara, a team of UC scientists and researchers is raising serious questions and concerns about how food and beverage manufacturers fund scientific research to shape messages.
A UC San Francisco researcher uncovered documents that showed the sugar industry paid to downplay scientific research detailing sugar’s dangers to heart disease in the 1960s, and put the blame on fat instead.
This is according to an analysis of documents published in a recent issue of JAMA‘s (Journal of the American Medical Association) Internal Medicine. Along with the documents found by a UC San Francisco researcher, the analysis was conducted by a team of UC scientists and researchers. Read the story.
Studying Obesity in Mexican-American Children
One in five Mexican-American children is obese, according to national statistics. Are children who don’t get sleep more likely to become obese due to poor eating habits and being less physically active?
To try to answer that question, the National Institutes of Health recently awarded $895,620 to Suzanna Martinez, Ph.D., assistant researcher for the UC Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) in the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
This will be the first pediatric study to examine health behaviors that link sleep to obesity in Mexican-American children. Read the story.
By the way, the UC Nutrition Policy Institute is our go-to source on nutrition. Learn more about UC Nutrition Policy Institute in our Q&A with its Senior Director of Research Pat Crawford.
Students Driving the Initiative
Increase food recovery. Advance food literacy. Expand experiential learning opportunities in food systems. These are just a few issues that UC’s 44 Global Food Initiative fellows are tackling to advance the systemwide initiative.
The 44 undergraduate and graduate students represent all 10 UC campuses plus UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Learn more about their work.
But it’s not just academic. Students are driving UC’s Global Food Initiative and supporting its efforts “to harness the resources of the University of California—its research, people, expertise, and tradition of public service—to put the world on a pathway to feed itself in ways that are nutritious and sustainable.”
Student ambassadors are go-to people for the initiative, and represent the program at campus events. For example, ambassadors promote student awareness of the programs, and report back to the UC Global Food Leadership Committee. At a recent Global Food meeting, I watched very engaged students present an action plan for their outreach.
That level of active student involvement in the program is what elevates the initiative beyond academic theories to life-changing programs and leadership opportunities.
Stay tuned for more stories of Global Food Initiative fellows and ambassadors in the future! Don’t forget to following #globalfoodinitiative on Twitter.
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