future of food in 2050

Posted by on Nov 5, 2012 in agriculture, cooking with kids, exercise, families, Food for thought, food politics, healthy food, healthy lifestyle, let's move, local food, news and happenings, school food, wellness | 1 comment

Last week the nation celebrated Food Day, a movement for healthy, affordable and sustainable food. The marquee for the event was a conference entitled Future of Food 2050.

Our advisor Dr. David Katz was a guest panelist at the event, speaking alongside Eric Meade, Vice President and Senior Futurist, Institute for Alternative Futures and Andrea Thomas, SVP for sustainability at Walmart.

We had the opportunity to connect with Dr. Katz prior to the event, asking him some of our questions regarding the future of food. Here are some highlights:

Butter Beans: What will the role of the lunch server be? Will there be an educational component to school cafeterias?

Dr. Katz: The only food options will be wholesome, mostly direct from nature, mostly plants. Education about food will be culture-wide, and by 2050 there won’t be much need for it in cafeterias anymore.

Butter Beans: Will nutrition education be incorporated into state and national education standards?

Dr. Katz: Yes. Food literacy will be as important and universal as any other kinds of literacy. There will be gaps, as there are with literacy, but not for want of embracing it as a priority.

Butter Beans: What will Myplate look like in 2050? What will the ratio of meat:vegetables be?

Dr. Katz: Meat will be optional/discretionary. MyPlate will no longer exist because the government will have acknowledged its conflicts of interest, and outsourced dietary guidelines to an independent organization such as IOM.

Butter Beans: How do you see the role of nutrition and food education evolving in schools and government policy?

Dr. Katz: The primary driver of dietary change will be culture change, and that in turn will change the food environment. Good choices will be easy choices, and often the only choices – reducing the burden on the educational system. But education about food choice, food important, food effects, food selection, and food preparation will be universal because these will be considered basic, modern survival skills.

Dr. Katz also noted that, “In the case of food, much depends on whether we make decisions while we still have options, or have decisions imposed on us because our options have run out. 2050 will look one way if we choose to update our culture, and quite another if we wait for demographic, economic, health and ecological calamities to make our choices for us.”

What will the state of our food system look like in 2050? Dr. Katz reflected that if our culture deemed that our health mattered as much as our wealth, you would see investments in our health increase.

Dr. Katz believes that we have to find ways to get our culture to think of health as a form of wealth, and not address health issues after they have manifested themselves, rather address them beforehand. He promotes prevention as a solution to health problems down the road, and in his vision of 2050 we are all much better off than we are now, as long as our culture collectively decides, and acts on creating a better food future for all.

Photo courtesy of trendhunter.com and usda.gov

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Let’s Move! Brooklyn

Posted by on Oct 22, 2012 in calories, exercise, families, food politics, healthy food, healthy lifestyle, let's move, local food, news and happenings, raising children, wellness | 1 comment

This past July, Catalyst Cares, a charitable organization promoting social mobility in communities throughout NYC that are prone to obesity, launched its second health and wellness campaign called Let’s Move! Brooklyn.

The main goal of Let’s Move! Brooklyn is to try and stamp out the food desert status and lower the obesity rate in Central Brooklyn by three percentage points in three years.

Let’s Move! Brooklyn is part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative. Both campaigns aim to educate children and their parents about nutrition and how to lead active and healthy lifestyles.

Lockie Andrews, the founder of Let’s Move! Brooklyn says, “Our mission is to educate and inspire children and their parents to make healthier dietary, fitness and lifestyle choices through a series of age-appropriate programs, town hall meetings, and advocacy initiatives.” Andrews launched Let’s Move! Brooklyn to help encourage an understanding about eating and living healthier lives through the cooperation of “health and wellness organizations with deep roots in Brooklyn.”

NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn was a featured guest at the launch event, declaring, “This organization’s mission speaks directly to our city’s obesity epidemic and together we will all fight to find solutions that will improve the health and wellness of all New Yorkers, especially for our residents in low income communities.” Speaker Quinn is an advocate of making fresh produce affordable and convenient for all NYC residents. Recently, she worked with Mayor Michael Bloomberg to implement lower prices at all the city’s farmers markets, offering greater access to nutritious whole foods for low-income New Yorkers.

We think that this is a great start to teach our city’s kids how to better take care of themselves and learn positive habits. With one in three of the country’s adolescents being overweight or obese, this is a dilemma that needs to be addressed now, and other organizations like Wellness in the Schools, City Harvest, Just Food, Edible Schoolyard NYC, and Veggiecation are helping to lead us on the path to correcting this ever-expanding issue.

At Butter Beans, one of our main goals is to get kids thinking about how their food choices affect their lives in the present, but also in the future. We provide them with the tools to create a balanced and delicious meal, made with whole foods, from scratch. Our food education programs illustrate to them how healthy eating is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

For more information, check out this report of the obesity rates in the Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bushwick neighborhoods of Brooklyn and read the Lets Move! Brooklyn press release.

For those who do not live in the Brooklyn area but want to get involved with the Let’s Move! campaign, visit this website dedicated to creating meet-ups across the country. The flexibility that Let’s Move! Meetup offers is deeply encouraging, helping foster the growth of community-based programs that aim to teach residents how to lead healthier lifestyles.

Photos courtesy of kcentv.com and Let’s Move!

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Let’s Move! Brooklyn

Posted by on Oct 22, 2012 in calories, families, food politics, healthy food, healthy lifestyle, let's move, local food, news and happenings, raising children, wellness | 1 comment

This past July, Catalyst Cares, a charitable organization promoting social mobility in communities throughout NYC that are prone to obesity, launched its second health and wellness campaign called Let’s Move! Brooklyn.

The main goal of Let’s Move! Brooklyn is to try and stamp out the food desert status and lower the obesity rate in Central Brooklyn by three percentage points in three years.

Let’s Move! Brooklyn is part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative. Both campaigns aim to educate children and their parents about nutrition and how to lead active and healthy lifestyles.

Lockie Andrews, the founder of Let’s Move! Brooklyn says, “Our mission is to educate and inspire children and their parents to make healthier dietary, fitness and lifestyle choices through a series of age-appropriate programs, town hall meetings, and advocacy initiatives.” Andrews launched Let’s Move! Brooklyn to help encourage an understanding about eating and living healthier lives through the cooperation of “health and wellness organizations with deep roots in Brooklyn.”

NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn was a featured guest at the launch event, declaring, “This organization’s mission speaks directly to our city’s obesity epidemic and together we will all fight to find solutions that will improve the health and wellness of all New Yorkers, especially for our residents in low income communities.” Speaker Quinn is an advocate of making fresh produce affordable and convenient for all NYC residents. Recently, she worked with Mayor Michael Bloomberg to implement lower prices at all the city’s farmers markets, offering greater access to nutritious whole foods for low-income New Yorkers.

We think that this is a great start to teach our city’s kids how to better take care of themselves and learn positive habits. With one in three of the country’s adolescents being overweight or obese, this is a dilemma that needs to be addressed now, and other organizations like Wellness in the Schools, City Harvest, Just Food, Edible Schoolyard NYC, and Veggiecation are helping to lead us on the path to correcting this ever-expanding issue.

At Butter Beans, one of our main goals is to get kids thinking about how their food choices affect their lives in the present, but also in the future. We provide them with the tools to create a balanced and delicious meal, made with whole foods, from scratch. Our food education programs illustrate to them how healthy eating is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

For more information, check out this report of the obesity rates in the Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bushwick neighborhoods of Brooklyn and read the Lets Move! Brooklyn press release.

For those who do not live in the Brooklyn area but want to get involved with the Let’s Move! campaign, visit this website dedicated to creating meet-ups across the country. The flexibility that Let’s Move! Meetup offers is deeply encouraging, helping foster the growth of community-based programs that aim to teach residents how to lead healthier lifestyles.

Photos courtesy of kcentv.com and Let’s Move!

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healthier lunches in public schools

Posted by on Oct 15, 2012 in calories, families, fast food, food politics, healthy food, let's move, lunch time, news and happenings, raising children, school food | 1 comment

6235929961_7ab2fe63d7Throughout the country, many public school students are not loving their new school lunches.

Since August, public schools have been mandated to follow the new nutritional guidelines set out by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, providing more fruits and vegetables while limiting levels of fat, sodium, and calories.

Due to the calorie restrictions, protein portions are smaller, food is less cheesy, and the milk is no longer chocolate, but plain and skim.

Before this regulation, lunches had no maximum calorie limit. Now, high school lunches top out at 850 calories, for middle schoolers it’s 700 calories, and elementary students receive just 650 calories.

Many students are upset that despite smaller portions of heavier food items (like meatloaf and chicken nuggets), lunches have gone up in price, at an average of ten cents per lunch. This increase in price is to help mitigate the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as to follow the federal requirement that lunch prices incrementally rise to help pay for their overall fees.

Despite the fact that many NYC public schools have already converted to low fat milk and whole grain breads, the introduction of more fruits and vegetables has led to more waste. The apples, pears, and bags of baby carrots are often seen in the trash, uneaten.

The New York Times’s Student Opinion blog asked NYC public school kids about their new lunches. They wanted to know if these new regulations are a “lost cause” or if lunch has the potential to be both “healthy and tasty?” Reading some of their reactions, it seems like from their standpoint and despite all the media reaction, not too much has changed. Most students say that next to their greasy pizza is a small scoopful of unappetizingly bland vegetables.

One student said, “I think that a healthier school lunch program is a lost cause. It is spending money that we don’t have for a lunch with fruits and vegetables that we just throw away.” Another student declared, “I believe that the food itself isn’t the problem moreover the overall picture of American health.”

Although some students reacted positively to the changes in school lunch, most students weren’t too thrilled about the change or would prefer for their lunch to remain the same. In spite of many students’ preference to avoid eating the fresh fruits and vegetables, research has shown that children must be exposed to a vegetable ten to twelve times until they are willing to eat it on their own.

For more information about students’ reactions across the country, check out an informative article from the New York Times. To learn more, here is an insightful interview with the Department of Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack.

Perhaps the best solutions are time, teacher participation and food education. With time, we will hopefully see students trying new foods, and liking foods they never though they would. In turn, teachers can act as role models, as they do in the classroom, by creating balanced plates of their own for students to see, and with food education, children will learn why it’s important to eat well, especially at lunchtime, and change will happen, slowly but surely.

Photo courtesy of woodleywonderworks

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Children and fast food marketing

Posted by on Oct 9, 2012 in fast food, Food for thought, food politics, healthy food, news and happenings, raising children | 0 comments

6319155216_0463fda84aA recent study from the researchers at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Kansas Medical Center suggests that children’s brains may be imprinted with the logos of popular fast food brands.

Using MRI technology, they monitored the brain activity of kids aged 10-14 as images of recognizable logos (some food-related, some not) appeared before them. The study found that the reward processing area and the appetite control area of the brain lit up only when the kids saw fast food logos.

Yet this reaction may not seem all that alarming. After all, whenever food is mentioned, our body’s natural response is to feel hungry. But these researchers found that children were likely to choose foods branded with a well-known logo. They were even asked to taste a hamburger from a label-less box compared to a hamburger with a box labeled from McDonald’s, and overwhelmingly, they favored the recognized McDonald’s labeled burger.

Dr. Amanda Bruce, the study leader, explained, “Research has shown children are more likely to choose those foods with familiar logos. That is concerning because the majority of foods marketed to children are unhealthy, calorifically-dense foods high in sugars, fat, and sodium.” Dr. Bruce and her associates believe that these companies are exploiting this knowledge to trigger the reward portions of children’s brains way before they have even developed self-control.

Click here to learn more about the study. Visit the Fast Food F.A.C.T.S website to get a better understanding of how marketing can affect children and check out this short news video about the report.

And if you’re hankering for a burger or some french fries, here are some recipes to kick that craving in a healthier way.

Photo courtesy of stefou!

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Food Waste: From “Farm to Fork to Landfill”

Posted by on Oct 2, 2012 in agriculture, families, featured articles, Food for thought, food politics, news and happenings | 1 comment

2878997800_c13c7ac94dHave you ever thought twice about throwing out last week’s leftovers? Turns out, you’re not alone! According to the fifth annual Eco Pulse survey, 39% of Americans feel the most “green guilt” for wasting food.

A recent issue paper from the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), “Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill,” established a framework about U.S. food waste, summarizing the opportunities available to reduce wasted food. Here are some of the paper’s major findings:

  • Americans trash 40% of our food supply every year (that’s around $165 billion)
  • The average American family of four ends up throwing away the equivalent of up to $2,275 annually in food
  • Food waste is the single largest component of solid waste in U.S. landfills
  • Just a 15% reduction in losses in the U.S. food supply would save enough food to feed 25 million Americans annually

Dana Gunders, a NRDC project scientist and the issue paper’s author states, “With the price of food continuing to grow, and drought jeopardizing farmers nationwide, now is the time to embrace all the tremendous untapped opportunities to get more out of our food system.”

Jonathan Bloom, author of “American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half its Food (And What We Can do About It),” attributes the main reasons as to why Americans waste so much food to abundance, beauty, and cost. He says,“In terms of beauty, we have reached the point where appearance trumps taste with our food. Anything that doesn’t meet those requirements — whether in the store or in the home — often ends up being thrown out.”

Yet, according to the USDA 1 in 6 Americans don’t have enough to eat.

In order to increase the efficiency of the American food system, the NRDC believes that we must collectively work together by involving decision-makers at every level of the supply chain. Dana Gunders and project scientists hold true that this type of multi-pronged response is needed to prevent this alarming issue from getting worse. They believe that the key decision-makers are the federal government, state and local governments, businesses both large and small, and of course, the individual American citizen.

Here are some tips to reduce your family’s food waste footprint today:

  • Grocery shop more frequently, to minimize the potential for wasting perishable produce.
  • At the grocery store or farmers market, bring reusable bags with you to save on throw away plastic.
  • Create a detailed shopping list to help curb costly and unnecessary add-ons.
  • Freeze any leftovers that you know will not be eaten within a few days, and reuse those leftovers from dinner to pack for lunch the next day.
  • Organize your fridge, and keep tabs on what it holds. Knowing your inventory helps reduce food waste. Keep half used items in plain sight so you feel inspired to use them up first.
  • Make an everything dish that uses up ingredients that need to be cooked, like a frittata, vegetable soup, quick breads or casseroles.
  • Compost: if you don’t have space for a compost bin, you can keep a sturdy freezer bag of your food scraps and store in your freezer. Freezing your compost will help cut out any smells. Many farmers markets take household compost, like GrowNYC. Just bring it on over, and your food scraps will be turned into fertile soil for use in urban farming and gardening projects.

Becoming informed of the waste that we contribute to is just the first step. Check out how some people have started to tackle the waste, and try finding a better home for your food than the landfill. For inspiring examples of food waste solutions, take a look at what City Harvest and the Food Bank for New York City are up to. Let us know what steps you are taking to help curb your food waste at home.

Photo courtesy of Loopzilla

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