Monthly Archives: January 2012

Americas corpulent students

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I’m a strong advocate of food systems education.  In the future I would love to provide schools with fresh, healthy food.  Children, teenagers, and adults should be familiar with the process of getting food from a farm, to their kitchen.  One day, I envision myself educating high school students about the health and economic benefits of local agriculture.  Some schools are starting farm to school programs, which provide students locally grown food during meals. I truly believe reducing the amount of processed foods and increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables (especially fresh, local) in students’ diets will raise grades, and overall health and attitude.  This in turn will help create an efficient learning environment.

Collecting data from students can expose their lifestyle choices and eating habits.  This allows teachers and parents to identify issues, and begin to resolve any health problems the students have.  Surveying students would be the best way of collecting data about food intake and individual lifestyles.  Some lifestyle factors that influence health would be leisure and physical activity, drug and alcohol intake, and food choices.  Data could be collected about dietary influences, such as family members or friends, and food preferences.  The weight and height of students could be collected as data to determine physical health.  Data could also be collected on the attitudes of students; weather students are feeling depressed or lazy during school can directly be caused by inadequate nutrient uptake.

Example survey questions:

What food do you eat the most?

What is your favorite food?

Where to you get your food?

Do you eat raw fruits or vegetables on a daily basis?

Do you eat processed foods on a daily basis?

What have you eaten in the past 24 hours?

Sources such as GIS (geographic information system) which is a mapping system of local grocery stores, farmers markets, community gardens, and emergency food locations can be helpful when determining local food availability/supply.  The US Census Bureau posse’s data on income levels in America.  This can affect family’s food choices, because healthier food tends to be more expensive.  Community Nutrition Mapping Project is part of the USDA and is a system that indicates food and nutrition on a national level.  CN map is separated into 5 categories: nutrient uptake, healthy eating patterns, physical activities, body weight, and food security demographics.

There seems to be an understanding that our countries educational system can improve, and the health of our young population needs to improve.  I hope to one day supply schools with fresh food, and teach students how to grow food and eat healthy.

Mini Report: Land use planning for sustainable food systems. By John Ikerd

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This journal discusses the need for agricultural land in future generations.  There needs to be a general understanding of the importance of effective land use planning and zoning to develop sustainable food systems. Fertile agricultural land must be available for future generations to grow food.   Land use planning is a critical function of sustainable government planning.

The term sustainability ultimately means meeting the needs of present generations without compromising the needs of future generations. This is a long-term idea.  Which contrasts the idea of economic value.  Economic value is focused on present times.  Humans would rather have something now, rather than wait weeks for it.  This explains why we pay for goods on interest.  Economic value is worth nothing to us when we die, so depleting our natural resources for money is not frowned upon, rather expected.

Land needs to be treated as a common good, rather than a public good.  Land was not created by anyone, so it should not belong to one individual. If people are allowed to own land, then everyone should have a say about the use of it.  People should still be able to profit off their land, as long as they are considering the future productivity of the land.

Agriculture runs on fossil fuels.  One day, the world’s civilizations will deplete all fossil fuels, and future generations will discover ways to grow food with renewable energy.  But land is necessary for the growth of food, regardless of the renewable energy sources available. If present generations do not prioritize the needs of land for future generations, there will be no land to grow food.

Governments need to designate large areas of land for sustainable agriculture. Soil management techniques need to begin on all areas of land that are currently used for agriculture.  Techniques such as reducing soil erosion, minimal tilling, and building organic matter in the soil will keep land fertile for future generations. Society can create these changes, but a public consensus needs to be established to start the fire.

Right from the heart……… and stomach

             Community nutrition plays a huge role in the development of a society’s nutritional status. Teaching small communities the benefits of eating healthy is the first step toward improving our countries health and well-being.  It sounds very simple, almost redundant, but it can be done.  We have all learned that eating our vegetables and staying active will keep us healthy; some more than others. But there are things like double cheeseburgers that are cheaper than tomatoes, and candy bars that are cheaper than apples.  People need to wake up and understand that there is a problem with the food system and eating habits in our country.

             There are programs in this country to improve societies nutrition. Government agencies such as the FDA and USDA ensure that the food we eat is safe, and readily available to the public. Yet salmonella outbreaks are increasing every year, and there are 48 million Americans that live in food insecure households.  There are programs designed to supply families with quality food in times of need, such as food banks.  And there are services designed to teach families correct eating habits, and healthy cooking techniques.  Schools are beginning to take a step further in nutrition education by teaching kids how to grow vegetables and cook healthy food.  Studies have shown that kids who eat an unhealthy diet have poorer grades in school than kids who eat a balanced diet.

             New scientific studies are coming out all the time proving that processed meats can lead to cancer, and fruits and vegetables can reduce cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. As these studies are becoming public, people are beginning to realize the benefits of nutrition, and are making healthy food choices.

            Teaching parents and children the benefits of nutrition can lead to great things for society.  There will be less health problems (diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.), which will lead to money saved from less doctor visits.  Jobs can be created (local farmers, dietitians, teachers) to improve a community’s economy, and increase local revenue.  Focusing on community nutrition will lead to a healthier, wealthier and smarter country. 

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Summer Project

Summer Project

Earth Oven