This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Friday, August 30, 2013

Are You Having a Healthy and Sustainable Meal Today?

You may recall that the United Nations Population Division recently upped the size of its medium population forecast, suggesting that we may hit 10 billion if things continue as they are. The problem of feeding this number of people in a healthy and sustainable way is clearly a huge item on the global agenda. As we push for higher yields per acre and implement the kinds of changes that helped the food supply so far keep pace with population growth, we are confronted by the fact that having food is not necessarily the same as having healthy food. In the past few decades the western diet of more processed foods and more meat has gone hand-in-hand with higher levels of obesity and hypertension. Foottank.org just brought my attention to a new online magazine by the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (yes, the pasta people) that has a lot of interesting reading--far too much too summarize. You have to go read it for yourself. In particular, Foodtank's co-founder, Ellen Gustafson, has an article in which she asks some important questions:
- Is yield the most important value of our agricultural output, or should we be measuring other things, like nutrition or community health? 
- If we want a healthy population, what foods should we be focused on growing to feed people?

- How can we ensure that we are growing food for people today, but also setting up our grandchildren for food security tomorrow?
Some of the healthiest foods are those that are indigenous to different regions of the world and have been staples in the diets of peasants for hundreds or thousands of years. Now, the high mortality among these people traditionally might lull us into the belief that they didn't have a good diet. But it appears that they died from communicable disease despite having a good diet. We know how to control most communicable diseases, so if we can add a good diet back on top of that, we should be healthier down the road. Foodtank.org has a list of some of these, and before you say "Oh, these will never catch on" think about the way in which the quinoa of the Incas has all of a sudden become world famous.  

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