Posts Tagged: food
Food blog here, food blog there, food blog everywhere — including this one! The popularity and variety of food blogs has exploded, and proves many of us are little foodies at heart. In doing research for this post, I have to admit, I couldn’t believe what’s out there, especially about cooking. From vegan to Indian to coffee to crock pots to cooking with kids to Asian grandmothers to organic, it’s all there waiting for you.
The popularity and importance of food content is well documented. Last summer, the Huffington Post reported on the results of the July cable news ratings. The Food Network beat out all of the cable news networks - FOX, MSNBC and CNN - in every demographic measurement. This in spite of the fact that July was a big news month because of the death of Michael Jackson.
In most cases, blogs are about much more than food. Sometimes you get to know the writer’s family or garden or politics. When you find a good one, the photos are stunning. Whether or not we make the food that’s being blogged about, we can still have a little “flog” experience right in our own kitchen.
Here’s a link to the best cooking food blogs according to delish.com — guilty, but calorie-free, pleasures!
Healthy eating has gotten complicated. Fresh fruits and vegetables pack the produce aisle as never before. And new food products with added health benefits are being introduced all the time. Yet the food supply, and the agricultural system that supports it, has become increasingly criticized for its impact on the waistlines of millions of people in the United States.
“Agriculture and conventional food systems have provided the basis for long and healthy lives, and much of that improvement can be traced to healthier diets,” says UC Davis plant sciences professor Alan Bennett. “At the same time, we are faced with a growing critique that conventional food systems are a significant contributor to the health crisis that developed countries are facing, particularly related to obesity and diabetes.”
This dichotomy — that agriculture is both the problem and the solution to an increasing health crisis — is the backdrop for the 22nd annual conference of the National Agricultural Biotechnology Council (NABC) at UC Davis June 16-18. The conference, “Promoting Health by Linking Agriculture, Food and Nutrition,” will examine ongoing research strategies to promote health through food and diet, as well as how governmental regulatory systems provide oversight of the relationship between food and health.
Leading food, nutrition and agricultural scientists from around the country will be participating in sessions with topics such as designing and producing healthy food, social and cultural dimensions of eating habits, bringing nutrition science to regulations, and how business can find food and nutrition innovations.
NABC has been hosting annual public meetings about the safe, ethical and efficacious development of agricultural biotechnology products since its formation in 1988 by the Boyce Thompson Institute in collaboration with UC Davis, Cornell University and Iowa State University. Today the organization consists of 36 leading agricultural research and teaching universities, governmental agencies and institutions in the U.S. and Canada.
“With health care consuming so much of the developed world’s resources, there is a critical need to understand how diet, nutrition and the underlying agricultural production systems impact human health,” Bennett said.
More detail about the conference agenda, program speakers and online registration is at http://nabc.ucdavis.edu/.
Workers sort tomatoes at Russell Ranch
Part of our mission at the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis is to ensure access to healthy food. So we’ve focused much of our work on the intersection between agriculture and human nutrition.
An interesting new field of study in this area looks at flavonoids, which are compounds in fruits and vegetables thought to have beneficial antioxidant effects and other medicinal value – they may even help reduce cancer risk.
Measuring the amount of flavonoids is one way we can figure out just how nutritious the food we’re eating really is.
At our Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Facility, UC Davis Food Science professor Alyson Mitchell has looked at the relative nutrition of organic and conventional tomatoes by measuring flavonoid levels in samples from dried tomatoes over a 10-year period.
Aerial view of Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Facility
She found that flavonoid content is greater in organic than conventional tomatoes, and the differences have increased with time. Over time, it also appears that an increase in flavonoid content is correlated with lower amounts of organic nitrogen application.
These results suggest that over-fertilization can result in lower flavonoid content – and a reduction in the health benefits of tomatoes. You can find out more about this research here.
A commentary that appeared on the Web site Drovers.com, an information source for beef industry insiders, said the dialog at the Farm, Food & Health Conference held March 2 and 3 in Kansas City was "unbalanced and unrealistic."
"Much of the conversation at the . . . conference," Drovers editor Greg Henderson wrote, "centered around the idea that a 'movement' is taking shape in America to change our food system."
In the article, Henderson quoted conference speaker Larry Yee, director emeritus of UC Cooperative Extension in Ventura County and co-founder of the Association of Family Farms.
"Our current system is fundamentally unsustainable," Yee told attendees. "I believe the antidote is a 21st Century recreation of the food system."
Yee said there are deep flaws in the global economic paradigm and criticized modern industrial agriculture as a system that has been developed only to seek efficiency and profits. He said the current system is designed to produce cheap and abundant food and calories.
These examples were presented by Henderson as evidence of the "tone" of the conference, which he said inferred that local, natural and organic foods are "good," and that food produced with the assistance of modern technology - such as antibiotics, hormones, fertilizers and pesticides - are "bad."
"The first Farm, Food & Health Conference produced an unflattering and unbalanced view of American agriculture - and provided unrealistic expectations for a 21st Century food system," Henderson wrote.
There is no evidence to support the claim that farm subsidies -- by making fattening foods relatively cheap and abundant -- contribute to obesity in the United States, according to an analysis led by UC Davis researchers.
"U.S. farm subsidies have many critics. A variety of arguments and evidence can be presented to show that the programs are ineffective, wasteful or unfair," said Julian Alston, a professor of agricultural economics at UC Davis. "Eliminating farm subsidies could solve some of these problems -- but would not even make a dent in America's obesity problem."
According to Alston and his colleagues, farm subsidies have had only very modest, mixed effects on the total availability and prices of farm commodities, and cannot have contributed significantly to the obesity epidemic. In fact, the researchers have shown that the subsidies actually increase consumer prices and discourage consumption of one of the biggest suspects: sugar.
Alston and a team of other UC Davis agricultural economists studied the question with researchers in the UC Davis Department of Nutrition and the Iowa State University Department of Economics.
Their conclusions appeared in the December 2007 issue of "Agricultural and Resource Economics Update," published by the University of California's Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics.
(Photo by John Stumbos)