Data found in a new study suggests that climate change could lead to the death of over 500,000 people worldwide by 2050. In this article from the Washington Post, Chelsea Harvey reports that a team of scientists from the United Kingdom recently conducted a projection of the impact of climate change on food production and resulting food consumption using an independent variable group and a control group. The variable projection assumed heavy climate change, a 2 degree increase in air temperature compared to the air temperature from 1986 to 2005. Meanwhile, the control group assumed no climate change.
Resulting data suggests that climate change could lead to a 4 percent decrease in fruit and vegetable consumption and a 0.7 percent decrease in meat consumption, both of these contributing to the aforementioned 500,000 deaths. I think Mark Hertsgaard put it well in his piece on climate change, "How to Feed the World After Climate Change", explaining how he truly wondered if his 7-year old daughter would be able to enjoy a birthday cake with her child someday due to climate change. The way we look at farming, particularly sustainable farming, needs to change more than ever at this time. Furthermore, according to the scientists, the deaths would be due to lack of adequate nutritional values and individuals being underweight in general. They break it down further by pointing to the fact that preventable deaths by way of lack of fruit and vegetable nutrients would be most commonly seen in wealthier countries. While the model also showed that climate change could actually result in a decrease in deaths in places like Central and South America. Perhaps this could be the case across the board...
Now I know you are thinking, "how can he say that? a loss of crops being beneficial?", but, I feel as though the data is not concrete. This is simply a projection of what COULD happen and as we've discussed in class, we already produce far more food than we need (much goes to waste). At any cost, the article concludes by hammering home the point that it can no longer be avoided that even a modest temperature increase over the years could spell disaster for the crop yields we are currently accustomed to and overall human health.
In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Yum Brands CEO Greg Creed addresses a number of happenings within his company, among them, a divergence in China and how Pizza Hut needs a technological facelift. As a bit of background, Yum Brands Inc. is the owner of fast food chains such as Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC. Creed says that success in China has presented the opportunity for the company to create a spin off company, separate from Yum, that will trade on the New York Stock Exchange. On November 1st the company will do just that.
Furthermore, the article transitioned, displaying a piece of an interview transcription between the WSJ and Mr. Creed. He (Greg) mentions that the company's focus is now going to be more on brand building than restaurant running. Additionally, he explained Pizza Hut's recent struggles mentioning that, "[w]e've just made it too hard to get a better pizza" and that people expect the effortlessness of ordering something on Amazon to be just the same for pizza. I recognized an obvious case of McDonaldization on this point, specifically in efficiency. In his 1993 book, The McDonaldization of Society, author George Ritzer points to efficiency as a core value and positive of the fast food model. Thus, he would likely agree that Pizza Hut will need to simplify their online ordering to give people "the best available way to get from being hungry to being full" (13). Moving forward, Creed says they need to invest more in technology to combat this consumer issue. After that, he gave a glimpse into the product-development process in which he said that they venture outside of the food category they are working on for inspiration. Particularly with their cheesy core burritos, for which they spawned from Ben & Jerry's chocolate core ice creams. This reminded one of the example Ritzer uses with the USA TODAY, in which newspapers across the country began to adopt a theme of shorter stories after noticing their success.
The interview concluded as Creed explains why Yum is able to compete globally in today's "food-experience" landscape. He knows they are able to work well in this environment because they have scale and understanding of the preferred tastes in each of the 135 countries they operate in.
Childhood obesity and poverty are two of the most prominent social issues in today's American society. Among families, these two show a strong correlation, with poverty often leading to unhealthy eating habits in children. Many different ideas on how to get ahead of this problem are out there to be considered. But, Dr. Benard Dreyer, says, in a usnews.com article, that the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other anti-poverty tax policies have lead to signifcant positive changes. The EITC is a tax return for low to middle class working people that varies by income and number of children. Dreyer, a pediatrician, reminds his patients to take advantage of this so that they can provide for the betterment of their children's futures. He makes note of the fact that the EITC helped lift 5 million children out of poverty in 2013. A triumphant accomplishment given that he ties childhood poverty to asthma, obesity, infant mortality, and a greater risk for injuries. Dreyer says that a transition out of poverty allows for parents to be empowered to provide for better healthy habits and long term success.
Although Dreyer makes a number of valid points, writer Tracie McMillan would argue that the positive correlations come down to preference just as much as greater disposable income. In her 2012 article, "Do Poor People Eat Badly Because of Food Deserts or Personal Preference?", she makes reference to cases she's heard in which poor individuals would rather buy the latest Nike shoes versus wisely spending earned income on healthy, affordable meals. While food deserts play a role, McMillan feels that personal preference to certain foods is a hurdle that must also be overcome. To this Dreyer would likely push a point he made towards the end of the article in which he advocates for investment in early education programs as a part of the solution. This is because nutritious meals are provided, eliminating the possibility for a child to choose something not so good for them.
Dr. Dreyer wraps this need for early education programs into a four part plan which he feels will combat childhood poverty. Other components include raising the minimum wage, maintaining the WIC and SNAP programs, and providing high-quality, affordable child care. He says that these programs have been proven to lead to better outcomes. Unfortunately, this still leaves some kids to fall through the cracks, still disadvantaged. Less than 20% of impoverished children are eligible for child care subsidies, not to mention those kids with parents not working for a minimum wage. Rory O'Connor, producer of the eye-opening 2010 documentary, The Harvest, would assert that the assistance needs to come in some other fashion. In the film, he conveys the message that children in these farming families are trapped in poverty, with little upward opportunity. They and their parents would not benefit from a minimum wage increase. To which Dreyer would refute, saying that minimum wage jobs are certainly out there to be had, they are not tied to farming by any means.
At the end of the day, Dr. Dreyer presents a positive message that can and has already begun to benefit impoverished children across the nation.
A decrease in the number of timely-processed federal work visas hit Georgia farmers hard back in early May. As discussed in a piece from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, farmers, Kevin Eason and Russ Goodman have lost hundred of thousands of dollars from blueberry crops that were not picked on time. This is because the U.S. Department of Labor is very behind on processing of migrant worker visas. Ten percent of the visas were not processed in a timely manner, meaning approved 30 days prior to the arrival of a group of migrant workers. On this point, I recalled the long, drawn out, food additive process as detailed in Melanie Warner's 2013 novel, Pandora's Lunchbox. It made me consider why some people act shady in our food system, going through with the employment of illegal workers or new, untested additives. I feel this is because the time and money going into doing things the "right" way can mean utter failure for some businesses. One farmer even referred to the dilemma saying, " [...] if we can't get our crop, it means we'll go bankrupt"(1).
Both the news article and Tracie McMillian's book, The American Way of Eating, draw attention to the need for migrant farming, especially in the case of delicate crops. Fruits like peaches and raspberries need much greater hand labor to reach the supermarkets just right (28). As a result, it is quite an unfortunate circumstance for the Georgia farmers because machine harvesting slashes their viable blueberry outputs significantly. It is on the U.S. Department of Labor to get their problems figured out so that these time-sensitive crops are harvested on time from the willing hands of migrant workers. Many of these workers have come over before and are proven to be an non-threats. However, the department's nine percent dip in on time visas processed has spelled disaster for farmers and migrant workers alike.
This article brought light to the fact that the societal understanding towards sugar intake has changed greatly since the 1970s. The particular scientist, John Yudkin, believed sugar to be "the number-one health threat", contrary to the widespread feeling at the time which was that saturated fat was the main culprit. Yudkin was ridiculed and effectively shunned by the scientific and nutritional communities in the course of his action to express this view. This brought to mind the efforts of Harvey Wiley, the "Crusading Chemist", as author Melanie Warner refers to him in her book, Pandora's Lunchbox. Both had opponents in the American public, Yudkin's being the doctors and those looking after President Eisenhower following his heart attack, with whom he disagreed on the diet President Eisenhower should have been fed. Meanwhile, Harvey's came from across the food industry as he worked tirelessly to get legislation passed limiting potentially harmful food additives. Yudkin pushed his pioneering research findings only to be told criticized. Much in the same way, Wiley was one of the early food scientists to uncover the dangers of food additives, only to be continually knocked down by the food industry and all its corrupt governmental control. Although largely disregarded in their day, both Yudkin and Wiley and their work is appreciated today. Wiley is credited with establishing the Good Housekeeping seal of approval, rejecting more than a million dollars in magazine advertising for unhealthy foods, and is commemorated at the Harvey W. Wiley Federal Building, the FDA's headquarters. While Yudkin's sugar findings are being used by individuals around the nutritional community, not to mention, the U.S.' scaling back of sugar intake guidelines for the first time. To conclude, both John Yudkin and Harvey Wiley had their struggles in their professional careers but both stuck by their beliefs and are remembered for their hard work and accomplishments today.
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