- Food insecurity across the globe
- Sustainable food systems
- Local agriculture in Arizona
- Food Safety
Hunger Across the Globe
Most of us have felt hunger at some point in our lives, often as a passing sensation before a meal. But for much of the world, hunger is an everyday experience and is tied to food insecurity. Food insecurity means not having consistent access to enough safe and nutritious food and not getting it without resorting to emergency food programs, scavenging, or stealing. If you are food insecure, you may skip meals, eat less healthy food than you want to (because you are forced to eat what is available), and may need to rely on food banks or emergency food programs.
Malnutrition is defined as poor nutrition and is often a result of food insecurity. Malnutrition can present in two ways:
- Undernutrition: when people do not have enough food, which means both a lack of calories (energy) and nutrients. In areas where agriculture and/or food distribution are interrupted by bad weather, poor policies or systems, or even war, people may not get enough food.
- Overnutrition: when people consume too many calories but not enough nutrients. Much of America suffers from overnutrition as the population eats a diet consisting of highly processed food lacking sufficient nutrients but is simultaneously unnecessarily high in calories.
We have a few federal programs to help feed people, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). But what is the long term answer? How do we reduce malnutrition in the world and successfully feed everyone? Through sustainable food systems.
A Solution to Hunger: Sustainable Food Systems
A sustainable food system meets our current needs and helps support an ongoing ecosystem for future generations without damaging the environment. Some challenges to a sustainable food system are:
- Making food affordable and accessible.
- Building a system that supplies highly-nutritious food.
- Eliminating .
- The negative impact of industrial technology in food production and distribution.
What can you do to help create better food systems? On the policy level, support laws that require farming methods to be sustainable. On a personal level, eat more locally grown foods.
Use this link to locate a farmers market near you.
The Impact of Industrial Technology on Food Production & Distribution
The food industry is a trillion-dollar business that starts on the farm and ends in your home. Still, along the way, there is a great deal of industrial technology that facilitates and damages the food, the process, and the environment. From selecting just a few crops to grow, the diet available to Americans is significantly narrowed. Eating broadly is an important strategy for healthy eating, but the US government only subsidizes eight crops. Therefore, farmers are more likely to choose a small variety of plants to grow. Additionally, farmers use many herbicides and pesticides to improve yield; these chemicals end up in the water we drink and ultimately hurt the environment. After harvest, produce is often processed to make it capable of shipping long distances. Although preservation increases how much food is available, preserving often adds salt or sugar or strips the food of other important nutrients. Lastly, there is an inherent cost to shipping items: both energy and fossil-fuels are expended to move food long distances. This travel has negative impacts on both the food and the environment. The industrialization has allowed us to improve some parts of the food production and distribution system, but at what cost? Similar and even more complex issues face sectors involved in raising livestock and fishing or farmed seafood.
What does Agriculture Look Like in Arizona?
Living in the desert, you wouldn’t think there would be very many farms, but actually, cattle are raised in every county in Arizona. Agriculture is a $23.3 billion industry in Arizona, with ranching and agriculture as its second-largest revenue source. Arizona is known for the “5 C’s”, which are climate, citrus, cotton, cattle, and copper. The climate is perfect for growing citrus fruits like oranges, tangerines, lemons, and grapefruit because temperatures typically do not fall below freezing in most of the state. Cotton was Arizona’s original crop. Nowadays, cattle are especially important as 98% of Arizona’s agricultural land is used for grazing. One interesting aspect of Arizona agriculture is gender equality; nationally, 36% of farmers are female, while in Arizona, almost 49% of the farmers are female.
Every year one out of six Americans gets sick from eating contaminated food or beverage, making food safety a serious public health threat. Not only do people get sick, but there are also serious economic ramifications such as medical costs and lost wages. A person has a foodborne illness when they get sick from eating or drinking something that is contaminated. There is a broad range of foodborne illnesses, with different signs and symptoms, depending on the source of contamination. Contamination can be from bacteria, viruses, parasites, heavy metals like mercury or cadmium, molds, poisonous mushrooms, pesticides, or pollutants. The two contaminants you are most likely to have heard about in the news are salmonella and E. coli. Regardless of how the person gets sick, the contaminant enters the body with the food or drink and travels into the gastrointestinal tract; therefore, common symptoms relate to the gut, such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, and nausea. Additional symptoms are dehydration, lightheadedness, rapid heartbeat, and vomiting. Even more severe symptoms include a high fever, diarrhea for more than three days, bloody stools, prolonged vomiting, and shocking signs. A foodborne illness can develop several hours or days after you ingest the contaminant; it’s not necessarily the last meal you ate that makes you sick! A common treatment for a foodborne illness includes:
- Drink plenty of liquids
- Avoid antidiarrheal medication
- Click on the link https://www.stilltasty.com/
- Search for “eggs” to learn how long you can keep them past the date on the carton.
- Search for your favorite food or beverage.
In the USA, the CDC (Center for Disease Control), the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), and the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) work to educate the public about food infections and intoxications prevent the spread of disease and control major outbreaks. These agencies work to identify outbreaks of foodborne illness, enforce food safety laws, monitor the use of pesticides, and track water quality. The government works hard to help keep our food safe, but you must also take action. Here are the key steps to prevent foodborne illness:
- CLEAN -Wash your hands, surfaces, utensils, fruits, and vegetables.
- SEPARATE – Don’t mix meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs with other food: store separately and use separate cutting boards.
- COOK – Heat food to the correct temperature, and keep it hot after cooking.
- CHILL -Keep food cold; do not thaw or marinate food at room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers promptly.
Other tips to stay healthy include:
- Buy food from a clean store.
- Scrutinize the food for signs of mold or rot.
- Do not buy dented or bulging cans.
- Avoid torn or open packages.
- Do not buy frozen items covered with frost or ice.
- Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood for only up to 2 days and wrap well to prevent leakage from preventing cross-contamination.
- Do not store leftovers in the can they came in.
- Consume leftovers that have been properly refrigerated within 3-5 days.
No one is immune from consuming contaminated food. But, whether you become seriously ill depends on the microorganism, the amount you have consumed, and your overall health. Also, some groups have a higher risk than others for developing severe complications from foodborne disease. Who is most at risk? Young children, older adults, and pregnant women all have a higher chance of becoming very sick after consuming contaminated food. Other high-risk groups include people with compromised immune systems due to HIV/AIDS, immunosuppressive medications (such as after an organ transplant), and long-term steroid use for asthma or arthritis. Exposure to contaminated food could also pose problems for people with diabetes, cancer patients, liver disease, and people who have stomach problems due to low stomach acid or previous stomach surgery. People in all of these groups should handle food carefully, make sure that what they eat has been cooked thoroughly to the proper temperatures, and avoid taking any chances to exposure.
- Discuss a few of the key domestic and global hunger issues commonly faced in your area and across the globe. (MCCCD Competency 12)
- Define malnutrition, including undernutrition and overnutrition. Identify factors that cause each type of malnutrition locally and globally. (MCCD Competency 12)
- Discuss why it’s important to advocate for and support the development of sustainable agricultural systems. (MCCCD Competency 13)
- Discuss the impact of industrial technology on health and the environment. (MCCCD Competency 13)
- Define the four key agencies that work together to regulate food safety. (MCCCD Competency 11)
- Define the 5 C’s and discuss Arizona’s agricultural strengths. (MCCDD Competency 13)
- Discuss foodborne illnesses, including contamination sources, common symptoms, at risk-groups, and recommended treatment options. (MCCD Competency 11)
- Define the four key steps of food safety. (MCCCD Competency 11)
A location that does not provide access to affordable, high-quality, nutritious food.