- Posted by Admin
- On November 24, 2017
- 0 Comments
- Australia, Community Gardens, Diverse Diet, food policy, Health Star Rating, hunger, Kenya, Nutrition, Student Bloggers, Study Abroad, Sustainable
Lea, Sabrina and Megan are passionate about nutrition and food policy issues. Through study abroad, school programs, and other extra curriculars, the students find ways to play a role in the health of their community. Great work bloggers!
Lea Kreisberg (American University) is currently studying abroad in Kenya and exploring the diverse Kenyan diet.
As someone who is passionate about nutrition, one of the most exciting parts about living abroad is experiencing new foods. Trying new foods and understanding the significance of those foods is one of the best ways to understand a different culture. In Kenya, food and drink is connected to the traditions of different ethnic groups and the food system. For example, the Kikuyu dish mukimo (a mixture of mashed potatoes, corn, and pumpkin leaves or green peas) is usually served during family gatherings or celebrations. Blacked eyes peas are added for special events such as weddings. Ugali (maize flour boiled to form a firm cake) is another important part of the diet in Kenya and other African countries. Corn is a staple food crop, however, the price of corn has been rising recently due to poor growing conditions. Sukuma wiki (kale, usually cooked with oil and onion) is frequently eaten with ugali. It directly translates to “push the week” or “stretch the week” in Swahili because nearly everyone can afford it. Diet also changes depending on where you live in Kenya. About three hours outside Nairobi in Kirinyaga I ate many dishes with green bananas, as banana trees grow well in the area and have become highly profitable. As a stranger in a new culture, I have found that food has helped me bond with new people. Cooking, eating, and drinking chai (tea) with people I meet allows them to show me an important part of their culture. I’m looking forward to implementing some new Kenyan foods into my own diet.
Megan Edison (Miami University Ohio) is passionate about innovative ways to globally combat food insecurity.
People need to eat in order to survive, but is there enough food? With approximately 325 million people in the United States, farmers are working tirelessly to try to feed the escalating population. Out of these 325 million, 42 million are food insecure (Feeding America, 2017), meaning that the quality, variety, or quantity of food is reduced, or that eating patterns are disrupted (USDA, 2016). I personally am very interested in finding new ways to grow a variety of foods in different locations in order to make food accessible to those in need. Growing crops sustainably and increasing biodiversity may help to produce a larger yield (Godfray et al., 2010). With large plots of land being dedicated to certain crops, people are looking to get creative in their growing practices in order to produce fruits and vegetables for themselves and their communities. This increase in a desire for sustainably produced foods helps to create communities that can support themselves. Farming industries and local gardens can both work to help produce a higher yield in an attempt to combat hunger.
Sabrina Kim (University of Virginia) is studying abroad in Australia and is learning about different strategies to help combat obesity in Australia.
The United States is not alone in its battle against a population-wide obesity epidemic. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2017), almost 2 out of 3 Australian adults were overweight or obese in 2014-2015. As a way of combatting this, the national government introduced the Health Star Rating (HSR) system in 2014 to aid the consumer in choosing healthier options at food retailers (About Health Star Ratings, 2016). The system includes an image on foods to indicate its healthiness with the overarching principle of “the more stars, the healthier.” Participation in the HSR program is voluntary, meaning that the HSR labels can be left off of foods. The HSR system is designed to operate within food categories – not between them. A breakfast cereal may have a 5-star rating, but alternatives could exist in other food groups. Along similar lines, HSRs are not present on fresh or unprocessed foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Despite these potential setbacks, the majority of Australian consumers expressed their desire to see the HSR system expanded to more products (Health Star, 2015). The Health Star Rating Advisory Committee has begun planning for the five-year evaluation of the HSR system, with the report culminating in 2019 (Jones, 2017).
Special thanks to Alexandra Jones of The George Institute for Global Health for her presentation on law and its role in food environments.
About Health Star Ratings (2016, December 23). Retrieved from http://healthstarrating.gov.au/internet/healthstarrating/publishing.nsf/Content/About-health-stars
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: Overweight & Obesity (2017, July 31). Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports-statistics/behaviours-risk-factors/overweight-obesity/overview
Health Star Rating System: Campaign Evaluation Report (2015, October). Retrieved from http://healthstarrating.gov.au/internet/healthstarrating/publishing.nsf/Content/8240FC006B958E48CA257FB000190995/$File/HSR%20Campaign%20Evaluation%20Report.pdf
Feeding America. (2017). Food insecurity in the United States. Feeding America. Retrieved from: http://map.feedingamerica.org/
Godfray, C. H., Beddington, J. R., Crute, I. R., Haddad, L., Lawrence, D., Muir, J. F., Pretty, J.,Robinson, S., Thomas, S. M., Toulmin, C. (2010). Food security: The challenge of feeding 9 billion people. Science 327(5967). 812-818. doi: 10.1126/science.1185383
Jones, A. (2017). Traffic Lights, Stars, and Stop Signs: Can a food label improve Australia’s diet? [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from: University of Melbourne Law School Learning Management System: https://lms.unimelb.edu.au/
USDA. (2016). Ranges of food security and food insecurity. USDA Economic Research Service. Retrieved from: https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/definitions-of-food-security/