Sustainable Catch

I spent part of the summer, Thanksgiving break, as well as winter break in Lima, Peru. Something I noticed, and I liked, was that when going to different restaurants, most of them had a section in the menu called “sustainable catch.” Shrimp, salmon, tuna, and cod are amongst some of the most consumed fish and seafood all around the world.  Oceans provide many resources to humans and overexploitation of these resources could cause an imbalance of the ecosystem as well as a loss of food source for millions of people. There are several other fish species that are edible but there is no demand. I am becoming increasingly adventurous with my food choices, and I encourage everyone to be open to alternative sources of protein and nutrients. Specially if they are sustainable.

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Challah for Hunger

I came across Challah for Hunger at the University of Miami thanks to a friend. Challah for Hunger is a national non profit organization that bakes and sells Challah to benefit Mazon. Mazon works to end hunger amongst people of all faiths and backgrounds in the United States and Israel. It is an approach to hunger relief which recognizes the importance of people’s need for nutrition and sustenance as well as long term solutions. I was skeptical at first, because I am not of the same religious fate, however my friend showed me that it didn’t matter. We all just had one common goal: to help people in need. Volunteers for Challah for Hunger bake challah on Thursdays and sell them on Fridays at the UM Breezeway.

I think that this organization is great, and just like many others on campus they have the potential to make a change to eradicate hunger in South Florida. It is a matter of finding the interest, and the time to be able to help. I have heard several students say they wish they were involved in making a change but just don’t find the things to be involved in. This is a great cause. You get what you put in to it, and there is as little or as much commitment or responsibility as you choose to have. If you are not able to volunteer, I would suggest to stop by the breezeway and purchase a challah. I advise everyone to get involved in organizations, clubs, and as many things as they can. Studying about something to make a difference is good, but getting out there and making a difference is even better. If its not Challah for Hunger, there are several other things. But get out there, and help the world.

Whole Foods

http://www.foxnews.com/food-drink/2017/03/29/whole-foods-losing-staggering-number-shoppers-say-analysts.html

“Whole Foods losing ‘staggering’ number of shoppers…” This is not the first time Whole Foods has been on the news for losing customers. They have gotten attention for inflating prices, and in-correcting weighting items, and for several food recalls amongst other things. However, the more recent reason Whole Foods is in the news is because it is losing customers. Have people stopped eating organic? Do people no longer want organic food? That is not the problem. Whole Foods became famous for being one of the first big markets where everything was said to be organic, and therefore people chose to pay whatever price was listed, in order to have quality organic food. However, the rest of the people have been catching up to the organic movement. And as for everything else, if the demand grows, so does the supply chain. So now we see smaller, less transited, more conventional supermarkets trying to provide organic foods and brands, just like Whole Foods, but they do so at a less price. What seems to be bad news, and business, for Whole Foods, may be good news for everything else. It means the rise of (hopefully) cheaper organic food. This, will hopefully start pushing processed food out of the shelves, and will bring more natural foods at a more accessible price. This would be a significant push for public health, and people’s ability to consume healthier food.

“Beating Obesity” by Marc Ambinder

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/05/beating-obesity/308017/

This reading was kind of a rollercoaster for me. The author, Marc Ambinder, talks about the first hand struggles of being obese, as he had lived them. He talks about effective ways of dealing with obesity, about how people can prevent or work towards not being obese, and about several political things that have helped or made obesity rates worst. One thing that he said that I found to be true is that being obese comes at a high price. Unfortunately, obese people are more prone to be depressed, to attend less school or work, and over all spend 42% more on health care than healthy individuals. Often, when people think of solutions to obesity, they think of the “big two’s:” reduced food, and increased exercise. However, this fails to take into account physiological as well as societal forces that may influence an individuals weight.

Sedentary lifestyles, as well as an increase in fast food and portion sizes all have an increase in obesity. So does neurochemical addiction to certain foods, and a rise in stigma. Somethings that are often overlooked is that obesity tends to affect those of lower socioeconomic status. Not because they don’t exercise, or eat healthy. Often, it is because they lack supermarkets, or places where healthy food is sold. This, as we have mentioned in class, is referred to as a food dessert. They also have less access to healthcare such as preventative care that could stop a person from reaching obesity.

Marc Ambnider was a big proponent of bariatric surgery. He had it done, and successfully lost weight, and is until today at a healthy weight. As seen in his article, he is under the impression that this is a good solution. This is probably the only thing I disagree, from the viewpoint of someone that has had several health complications, I don’t believe it is necessary to reach these lengths. Of course, there are special cases, and I respect any one who chooses to take these measures, but I don’t necessarily believe it should be promoted as an easy solution. Another thing I agree is when he says that watching obese people has become a spectacle. This increases stigma, and is counterproductive to helping.

Finally, Marc addressed federal policies and regulatory approaches that could help regulate the food industry. So who do you think is more responsible for obesity? Individuals, or is it a combination of structural initiatives (access to gyms, parks, walking places), or lack there of, food giants, and political strategies?

 

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

“This is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question                                                                of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy.”

This is the first line of the book, and it basically tells what the next chapters will talk bout. Michael Pollan published In Defense of Food, after writing An Omnivore’s Dilemma. An Omnivore’s Dilemma focused on ecological and ethical dimensions of human’s eating choices, and it didn’t focus on human health. In this next book, he attempts to answer a question that a lot of his previous readers had asked: So, what should i eat? As starters, I think its weird that we have come to a point where people don’t recognize what is healthy and what they should eat. It has transformed to a point where we have minimal connection to our food, and food is a necessity rather than a commodity. Pollen states that for years, it had been culture, traditions, and parental figures that told us what to eat. Nowadays, it is nutritionists, scientists, and ultimately the government that is the most concerned with what we eat. (This being said, don’t you think its in their best interest to want to keep us healthy?)

The rise of highly processed food, known as the Western diet, has shaped not only “Western” cultures, but it has had a toll globally. However, with the increase in farmers markets, and more organic food available due to a rise in the organic movement, it is possible to leave the Western diet behind. This is, if we stop thinking of food as something bad, and start looking at the bigger picture. This, as Michael Pollan refers to, is called Nutritionism. Nutritionism, not to be confused with nutrition, is the paradigm that assumes  that scientifically identified nutrients in food determine the value of the individual food, rather than what the food is. This movement was effective because nutrients are somewhat abstract and invisible to the regular human, therefore we tend to listen to scientists or governments when they refer to something either as good or as bad. But no one ever says this orange is good. What they say instead is, the vitamin C in this orange is good. Or no one says this fish is good. They say the fatty omega 3’s in it are healthy. By this logic, people start misunderstanding the actual value of food, and even processed foods can be deemed healthier and natural foods, as what is being looked at are the ingredients.

I have always enjoyed reading Michael Pollan’s books, articles, opinions, and collaborations. He was a part of Food Inc, which we watched a while back. I think his knowledge and point of view on food is very informative, and something everyone should get behind. I know the difference between good and bad calories. For example, although 100 calories of Doritos is not that much, it is still worst than 100 calories of strawberries. Caloric count, as well as nutrient composition, don’t always make up foods. However, I never thought about nutritionism, and everything that Pollan talked about. These terms, good vs bad, are what create phobias and promote eating disorders. For example, bad carbohydrates, bad polysaturated fats, bad sugars, all of these things create a war on food. I have also seen several nutritionists growing up, and have talked to many people about food. Yet, after reading this book, I truly have a different idea of what actually is healthy in foods.

Food Culture Globally

“15 International Food Etiquette Rules That Might Surprise You”

http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/29/travel/international-food-etiquette-rules/

Globalization has given way to the assimilation of international foods within the American culture. As we discussed in class, there are several traditions and eating habits that stand out to us. However, sometimes we fail to recognize that our very own eating habits can be seen as strange to others. Not only does globalization of food help the economy, but it also increases availability and diversity. It does also influence nutrition patterns, which shape and affect cultures and people differently. For example, how do you think the globalization of fast food restaurants such as McDonalds or Burger King affect different nations? There was a McDonalds in my hometown (Cochabamba, Bolivia), which got shut down after a year because people simply did not believe in the concept of fast food. A few other cons of the globalization of food include insufficient nutrient intake, exploration of labor, and a decrease in local, traditional cuisine. There are several pros to food globalization, however the cons is something that I never really thought about,  so I decided to focus on that for this blog post.

I found this article to be funny, and just like we played the quiz game in class, there were several things from different cultures that I didn’t know. I think its important to keep an open mind and be aware of people’s cultures and traditions prior to going places. That being said, it is also important to recognize that people may be unaware of your practices, and thus have patience.

It’s not all bad news…

When talking about things concerning the environment, weather, global warming, emerging diseases, global hunger, poverty, etc, most things seem to be bad news. It seems like the levels of hunger, poverty, and other indicators are increasing and sometimes we fail to recognize the progress that is being made. Therefore, I wanted to focus on some good news. Although most of the world has suffered from malnutrition for years, things are getting better, and will hopefully get better.

I looked at the Global Hunger Index maps for the years 1992, 2000, 2008, and 2016, as shown below. The Global Hunger Index attempts to measure and track hunger globally. Its aim is to raise awareness of regional differences in hunger levels. There are four components used to measure this indicator; undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting, and child mortality.

1992
Year 1992
2000
Year 2000
2008
Year 2008
2016
Year 2016

 

As seen in the maps above, hunger levels have improved since the year 1992. There were several countries in Africa and South East Asia categorized as ‘extremely alarming’ and by 2016, no country is in that category. There were also several countries categorized as ‘alarming’ and by the year 2016, they decrease. Furthermore, by the year 2016, there is a large portion of the globe that falls into the ‘low’ hunger index category.

Although there has been significant progress over the years, the fight to eradicate hunger is far from over. There are still several countries falling under the ‘serious’ or ‘alarming’ hunger category. But as my post is meant to show : there is hope! There is hope for global hunger, the environment, and for the world.

Its important to note that there may be discrepancies in the way data is collected or expressed; such as grey areas that are noted as ‘insufficient data’. This data may also fail to account for small pockets of populations that are not well represented.