Food

“You Can’t Fire Your Land”: How the Humble Farmer Dethrones Free Market Economics

One of the primary lessons in Economics 101 is that of the rules of supply and demand in a market economy and their relationship to price. The basics being that the price of a product will adjust depending on the level of demand and level of supply in any given market and will eventually settle on an equilibrium when supply balances with demand.

Now we don’t need to go into all the details, as, for the sake of argument, we are interested in only one theoretical law governing this relationship. It states that should the market for a particular good get over-saturated with supply, then the price of this good will keep going down until a point where producers will stop making it or scale down their operations as they will no longer be as profitable. Read More »

INESAD News: Linking School Food Policy and Children’s Health in America

Over the summer of 2012, INESAD‘s Ioulia Fenton is researching food and agriculture issues at Worldwatch Institute‘s Nourishing the Planet project. In her latest article, she discusses a new study suggesting that school food policy matters when it comes to the health of school kids in America.

New Evidence Shows That School Food Policy Matters When It Comes to Kids’ Health

Childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. According to the 2011 F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens Americas’ Future report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Trust for America’s Health, nearly one-third of all American kids ages 10 to 17 are either obese or overweight. This puts them at risk of more than 20 major diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

INESAD News: “Helping Poor Children Avoid Poor Diets”

Today, The Statesman in Austin, Texas, United States published a op-ed co-written by Danielle Nierenberg, Director at Worldwatch Institute‘s Nourishing the Planet (NtP) project and INESAD‘s Ioulia Fenton, who is spending the summer researching food and agriculture issues with NtP.

Helping Poor Children Avoid Poor Diets, The Statesman, Monday, August 13, 2012.

It’s almost time for kids to go back to school. But for many children in Austin, this means a return to terribly unhealthy school lunches fried chicken, pizza pockets, corn dogs, and desserts loaded with high-fructose corn syrup that jeopardize the health and well-being of America’s next generation. This needs to change. Read More »

Can We Use Trade to Make Us Healthier? A Case Study From Mexico

U.S. exports obesity epidemic to Mexico was the conclusion of a recent Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) report. The study looks at the health consequences of the North American Free Trade agreement (NAFTA), a tri-lateral trade liberalization agreement between Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. that came into effect in 1994. The researchers tracked the increases of U.S. exports into Mexico that followed NAFTA’s implementation. These included such items as soft drinks, snack foods, processed meats, and dairy, as well as raw inputs such as corn and soybeans that are used in the food processing industry. They then linked the rises to increased consumption of unhealthy foods and, thusly, to an incremental rise in the nation’s climbing obesity epidemic. Read More »

Relevance of Ancient Technologies to Today’s Global Problems

“More and more and higher-level technology” is heralded as the way that the human population will eventually get itself out of the global troubles it has wreaked. Under-researched genetically modified seeds to be sold to poor rural farmers in India; financially, socially and environmentally expensive Three Dams Project in China; and ethically dubious biofuel alternatives made in order to stem the toxic air pollution of the global transport industry. Each high-tech solution has its merits and its downfalls, of course, but do we always need to be looking forward or could we learn something from our ancestors? Read More »

Graphics: How Much Water Do You Eat?

Meat production is thirsty business. Do you know much water do you eat? INESAD’s latest inforgraphic provides some real food for thought. Did you know, for example that a beef burger takes 2,400 litres of water to produce, compared to 170 litres for a vegetarian burger.

Find out more at www.unwater.org and www.waterfootprint.org.  Read More »

Graphics: Dropping The Burger Water Bomb

March 22nd saw this year’s World Water Day kick off a series of upcoming events organised by the UN and other organisations to highlight global water issues.

Luckily, there is lots of good news, like the fact that half of the internationally agreedMillennium Development Goal on safe drinking water and sanitation has been met ahead of schedule. According to a joint report by the World Health Organisation and UNICEF:

“Since 1990, more than 2 billion people have gained access to improved drinking water sources.” Read More »

A Cornavore’s Dilemma: Fighting Back C(orn)olonisation

Corn, corn, corn; mountains of corn as far as the eye can see. The images of the piling up Iowa harvests were one of a number of poignant visuals brought forward by the 2007 documentary King Corn (available on Netflix). The fact is, US production of corn has been growing rapidly since the 1970s and this year American farmers will plant an unprecedented harvest – 94 million acres of corn crop. This is the largest since 1944 and will take up roughly a third of the country’s harvested cropland.

This expanse has been largely driven by a change in direction of US farm policy four decades ago. Previously, agricultural production was tightly controlled to ensure overproduction did not drive the prices that farmers could get for their harvests too low and helped ensure that available agricultural land was not overworked and the environment was not unduly harmed. Read More »

Book Roast: “Food Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know”

In this 2010 book Robert Paarlberg takes a Q & A approach to a broad set of food and agriculture topics, covering aid and trade, obesity and famine, organic farming and genetically engineered (GE) organisms, and the food system’s effects on health and environment, among others. The work is a self-proclaimed attempt at “rebalancing some debates around food and farming” for “an aware audience of non-specialists.” And on the whole, its strength lies in its accessible style and the common myths it dispels: how buying local produce, for example, is not necessarily more environmentally friendly or the fact that global market food prices do not automatically increase local consumer costs.

For all its breadth, however, the book is beset by problems. Read More »

Book Roast: “Catching Fire: How Cooking Made us Human”

Meat made us smarter! At least that is what the mainstream explanation has been for the development of larger brains in humans and our subsequent distancing from other earthly life-forms and eventual domination over our planet.  This is posited to have happened because through eating meat humans were able to consume a lot more calories than the traditional raw plant-based diets of early gathering societies. This, in turn, allowed for our stomachs to shrink as ‘we didn’t need a giant vegetable processor anymore’ (a sort of evolutionary, natural and slow equivalent of today’s stomach stapling) that allowed for more energy to be channelled to building other organs such as the brain. The brain, incidentally, uses an incredible 20 times the amount of energy as typical muscle mass. Real food for thought for those trying to diet, but I digress. Arguably, meat eating also meant that less time could be spent gathering and more time thinking up new and crafty ways to catch pray such as sharpening spears and rock-launching devices. Increasing presence of meat in the human diet from roughly 1.5 million years agois, thus, said to have set in motion the final stage of human evolution to bigger-brained, smarter creatures. Read More »

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