Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Thinking Person's Guide to Feeding a Hungry Planet

just a Copy to pass on the good info

The Thinking Person's Guide to Feeding a Hungry Planet
Fri 27 Aug 2010
Applauding Two Grass-roots Champions in the Fight Against Hunger
Posted by Ambassador Kenneth Quinn under Food Production No Comments
September will mark the one-year passing of Dr. Norman Borlaug, an iconic and inspirational figure in feeding the world and the founder of the World Food Prize. Dr. Borlaug is credited with doing more than any other single person to provide food to a hungry world. How did he help deliver 1 billion people from hunger? The answer may be found in the final words he spoke on the last day of his life: “Take it to the farmer.”
Dr. Borlaug didn’t limit his work to a research facility. He was always out with the farmers, helping them double and triple their yields. When science was put in the hands of farmers, the increased yields were able to effectively lift whole villages out of hunger.
I became inspired by Dr. Borlaug’s efforts while working for the U.S. State Department on rural development efforts in the Mekong Delta during the 1960s and 1970s. My assignment put me face-to-face with hunger and opened my eyes to the tremendous need to produce more food.
When Norman Borlaug was born in 1914, there were 1.75 billion people in the world. When he passed away in 2009, there were 6.8 billion people, with a projected population of over 9 billion by 2050. Experts say the world will need to double food production by 2050 in order to meet demand.
However, producing more food is just one part of the solution in the fight against hunger. Distributing food so that it reaches those who need it most becomes another part of the solution. During my work in Vietnam, I saw how the development of rural roads facilitated the spread of agricultural technology as well as the distribution of food, improving the health and the economies of local communities. In many ways, the expansion of rural roads in Vietnam was similar to how 19th century farm-to-market roads and railroads transformed the U.S. economy. As 1 billion people around the world do not have adequate nutrition, the supply chain must find ways to ensure that the food being produced is widely available, especially in remote places and areas with severe need.
In my work at the World Food Prize Foundation, I feel like my career has come full circle. The rural needs of villagers I witnessed during my time in Indochina mirrors the needs of today’s small farmers (often referred to as “smallholders”) that the World Food Prize Foundation seeks to address this October. While the geographic scope of my work has broadened, the same need for abundant, affordable and accessible food remains.
For the first time in its history, the 2010 World Food Prize will be shared by leaders of two non-governmental organizations: David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, and Jo Luck, president of Heifer International®.
In reviewing the nearly 90 submissions, our selection committee considered two criteria: First, what were the individual’s achievements in increasing the quantity, quality or availability of food in the world? Second, what was the impact of their efforts? How did the individual demonstrate that their efforts produced more or better food? While Bread for the World and Heifer International’s efforts were not coordinated, they both demonstrated a grass-roots effort to advance the involvement of the smallholder, who in many developing countries are women.
To echo Norman Borlaug, our laureates both took their organizations’ efforts to the farmer. Both David Beckmann and Jo Luck focused on bringing the poorest people of the world into conversations and actions impacting food policies and programs. Rev. Beckmann and Jo Luck listened to those with the greatest needs and involved them in creating solutions. They helped advance the farmers’ views, and more importantly, their organizations shaped their programs’ response in accordance with the needs voiced by smallholders. David Beckmann and Jo Luck turned those with a need into grass-roots advocates who could create the political will necessary to confront hunger.
As I made the announcement of our laureates at the U.S. Department of State this June, it was inspiring to see the political will assembled. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton presided over the ceremony, which also included U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Rajiv Shah. During the event I was reminded of the developmental efforts I witnessed in Vietnam villages and how food production and distribution could create sustainable solutions to improve nutrition.
On Oct. 14, David Beckmann and Jo Luck will be presented with the World Food Prize during the Laureate Award Ceremony held in conjunction with the 2010 Borlaug Dialogue. Keynote speaker H.E. Kofi A. Annan, Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), 2001 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former secretary-general of the United Nations, will be joined by other global leaders committed to feeding the world by advancing the theme “Take it to the Farmer: Reaching the World’s Smallholders.” As part of this program, we are pleased that a number of farmers and farm leaders from around the globe will be participating and speaking alongside an eminent roster of distinguished international figures.
The World Food Prize Foundation is passionate about sharing Dr. Borlaug’s message and advancing his inspiring legacy, whether it’s at a U.S. State Department event announcing this year’s laureates, in discussions at the Borlaug Dialogues, or in online forums such as Plenty to Think About. Addressing the needs of many will require the voices, energies and service of many as we seek to address hunger around the globe and in our own communities.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Healthy eating starts with heathy packaging.

Healthy eating may no longer be a matter of just what you eat and drink. It may also depend on what you buy, store, prepare, and heat those food and beverages in.
A growing body of scientific research has linked the weak estrogenic compound bisphenol-A (BPA) to a variety of health problems, such as infertility, prostate cancer, and breast cancer.
BPA is the main building block of polycarbonate plastic, a hard plastic widely used to make kitchen utensils, food storage containers, travel mugs, and water bottles. BPA is also a main component of the epoxy linings found in metal food and beverage cans.

The problem: Polycarbonate plastics can leach BPA into our food and beverages.
Heat, acid, alcohol, harsh detergents, age, and microwaving can also exacerbate the release of BPA, says Frederick vom Saal, a biology professor and BPA researcher at the University of Missouri.
Because their reproductive organs are still developing, fetuses, infants, and children are especially vulnerable to synthetic estrogens BPA. This means pregnant women and kids can benefit from reduced exposure to BPA. Reproductive-aged women may also want to be careful.
“From animal models, it appears that the period right after fertilization and before a woman even knows she’s pregnant, is the most sensitive time in development,” says Randy Jirtle, a Professor of Radiation Oncology at Duke University. “So if women are even thinking of becoming pregnant, they should consider limiting their exposure to BPA.”
While BPA may be impossible to completely eliminate it from your life, there are a few key steps you can take to reduce exposure.
Limit canned foods & beverages. The epoxy liners of metal food and beverage cans most likely contain BPA. Vom Saal especially recommends avoiding canned foods that are acid (tomatoes, tomato-based soups, citrus products, and acidic beverages like cokes) and canned alcoholic beverages, since acids and alcohols can exacerbate the leaching of BPA.
The good news: Many foods and beverages can be purchased in glass containers (think beer, olive oil, and tomato paste) or frozen (like vegetables).
Don’t store foods in plastic. Glass food storage containers are inert and there are plenty of wonderful Pyrex containers on the market. Just be sure to wash the lids, which are made of plastic, by hand.
Filter your drinking and cooking water. Since detectable levels of BPA have been found in the water, vom Saal recommends removing it using a reverse osmosis and carbon filter, which generally can be found for less than $200. “In the long run, it’s cheaper than buying bottled water, which isn’t tested for BPA,” he says.
Filter your shower and tub water. According to vom Saal, the relatively small BPA molecules can easily be absorbed through the skin. BPA can be removed from the water by adding ceramic filters to showerheads and tubs. Just be sure to change them regularly.
Don’t transport beverages in plastic mugs. Instead, opt for an unlined stainless steel travel mug. This is especially important when transporting hot beverages, like coffee or tea.
Limit use of hard plastic water bottles. Those colorful light-weight plastic bottles may be great for hiking, but unfortunately, they are made of polycarbonate plastic. For everyday use when a little extra weight isn’t an issue, choose a stainless steel water bottle, and make sure it’s unlined—some metal water bottles contain a plastic liner that may contain BPA.
Klean Kanteen makes an excellent series of unlined stainless steel water bottles
Minimize hard plastics in the kitchen. Hard plastic stirring spoons, pancake flippers, blenders, measuring cups, and colanders regularly come into contact with both food and heat. Fortunately, all of these can easily be replaced with wooden, metal, or glass alternatives.
Skip the water cooler. Those hard plastic five-gallon jugs that many companies use to provide their employees and customers with “pure” water are usually made of BPA-containing polycarbonate. Opt for tap water instead.