Food is a Human Right, Not a Product

food-human-rights

Article by Emmanuel Faber

Food is not a business like others. Food is not a commodity; it is not a consumer good – It is far more important. It is a human right, so defined by the United Nations.

We know the global industrial food system did miracles to broaden food access and reduce hunger. But it is reaching its limits. We are the first generation that consciously lives with them: obesity and malnutrition. Waste of food and water. Soil depletion. Climate change. Forced labor. Lack of women’s empowerment. The solitude of farmers. The crowds of migrants. They are all interconnected issues and related to the fact that the food system has disconnected people from their food. Many kids and even adults don’t even know the link between meat and animals, between fruits and trees. And this is a problem.

Emmanuel Faber believes that the founding vision set for his company by Antoine Riboud, inspired by discussions with the young generation of the May ‘68 French revolts, is the right one for our company: a dual project of both economic value creation and social progress. Antoine had a lifetime commitment to this vision, followed by his son Franck, who, in two decades as CEO of Danone, revived the Carasso family’s vision of yogurt as a health product and led us to create a unique portfolio of health-focused food and water brands.

Starting with taking care of the people: Since a decade, Faber has designed a unique global health insurance program, benefiting 70,000 employees in 25 developing countries. He aims for Dan’Cares to cover our 100,000+ people, and possibly more. He also launched a unique, gender-neutral Parental Policy earlier this year.
We are wholeheartedly convinced of how critical the first 1,000 days of life are. We have therefore pledged to fully empower all women in their choice of nutrition and to support breastfeeding. That has changed the way Faber and company operates Aptamil, Nutrilon and all of his local brands. They have pledged to make their breastmilk substitutes available to low-income families in a not-for-profit model.

We know such models can exist because a decade ago, we invented social innovation platforms to make “One planet. One health” a reality, starting with the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh and Danone Communities’ “social business” to bring access to water and nutrition. Our Danone Ecosystem Fund builds skills, social and economic opportunities for people in our food and water ecosystems, from farmers to street vendors and landfill scavengers in 70 countries. Livelihoods, a CO2 credits-powered investment platform, supports farmers to plant trees, helping them to create a sustainable living and connecting them on global supply chains. We already work with partners on these platforms, but they could be grown much further at scale.

Because in many countries consumers are shifting away from conventional food and retail and are exploring alternatives. This is putting pressure on the short-term performance reported by the large food and retail companies. Short-termism is a risk higher than ever, whilst what is at stake is the balance of efficiency and sustainability across time horizons. Should we surrender on the transformation to address the revolution and just focus on extracting capital out of our businesses, making a few even richer and a darker future for many?

Last week in Berlin, the Consumer Goods Forum Summit gathered around “global learnings from local successes.” Rightly so, as local food brands keep gaining share against global brands every year. People believe local is a way to reclaim their right to food: This is the lesson to be learned. In France, Faber’s government is bringing together, next month, a critical nationwide, multiparty conference on Alimentation, a word Danone uses to describe food sovereignty, and which encompasses cultural relevance, transparency and fairness.

So, now is the time when those who dare to believe that food sovereignty should be the goal of this industry — like Danone and many others — should start to more broadly support and be catalysts of change for people to reconnect with their food. Because food is a human right.

Faber and his companies are trying to have an entire generation change and be known as the Food Generation.

Source: Sustainable Brands

Valuing Rooftop Gardens

Article by Warwick Savvas and Sourceable

rooftop gardens

As our cities become increasingly denser, the available area for living outside, whether it be public or private open space, becomes more precious.

We are surrounded by more and more concrete, glass and steel. Ground level green space is also being lost as a consequence of medium and high density developments. Governments try to counter this through their planning regulations which often dictate that developments provide a required amount of ground level open space. However, overall the result is a nett reduction in green space in our cities.

The planning regulations also try to improve the quality of our urban spaces by mandating a stepping back of buildings from the street frontages. This can contribute to improved streetscapes, but results in a reduction of lettable floor area as the levels go up. People are intrinsically predisposed to surround themselves with living plants. Biophilia is a well-studied phenomenon that has been demonstrated to improve human well-being. When people move into a new development, they often express this desire by cramming in as many pot plants as they can to fill their outdoor terrace spaces. This is not only the case for many multi-storey residential developments. There is also a growing trend towards including greenery throughout new commercial workplaces and retail spaces.

Unfortunately, unless the building owner and/or tenants are committed to tending these sky gardens, the plants invariably die. Like some on-ground landscapes, greenery at height that is ad hoc and not integrated into the form and fabric of the urban environment, if it is reliant on manual irrigation, is unlikely to survive in the medium to long term, especially given the harsh California weather. All too often the living green is replaced with dead brown and the pots eventually get removed.

Rooftop Gardens

But what if the development was to integrate these features into the project from the beginning? Rather than being an afterthought, the terrace garden could be an integral part of the living space. Much like the best of all good architectural design, integration of indoor and outdoor space is possible at height. The roof terraces resulting from the planning scheme set back requirement, rather than being windblown, hot and hard paved spaces, could be lush garden rooms that increase the property value.

Rather than having a barren balcony terrace around the lunchroom-kitchen of an office development that no one ever visits, it could be a soft and comfortable space that gets used every day.

Creating these living green spaces need not be difficult or expensive and provided they are designed well and integrated into the overall project, they will be relatively low maintenance. As more and more of these projects are successfully realised, the technology and methods of establishing greenery at height improve to ensure success.
The greenery, as well as increasing property value, also provides many other benefits.

Some of these are tangible, such as the reduced temperatures caused by the shading and evapotranspiration effects of plants. Living systems also contribute to management of storm water by retaining water on site and removing contaminants.

Other advantages are less tangible, such as mental health benefits of being close to plants.

OUR APPROACH:

At Farm Urbana we help provide urban farming to rooftops, making these living green spaces valuable in keeping local grown food reachable to tenants and the community.

Most food is shipped from miles away across the country, and that creates transportation, storage, energy and pollution problems; by having communities grow their own food locally, they are consuming fresher more nutritious produce.

Farm Urbana is about providing the freshest fruits and vegetables while raising awareness for lifelong health and wellness, inspiring, and educating people to create economically sustainable neighborhoods.

Top 10 Smart Cities in North America

Today’s cities demand 21st century solutions to accommodate their growing populations in ways that not only maintain the quality of life, but also improve it. That’s where smart cities come in. Smart cities find ways to become more efficient, to deliver more services via mobile technology, to optimize existing infrastructure, and to leverage citizen participation to create better land-use decisions and to break down bureaucracy in order to stimulate a creative, entrepreneurial economy. Here are the top ten smart cities in North America:
smart city seattle
1. Seattle, WA
Seattle led the pack in Smart Economy and Smart Government rankings while coming in second behind Washington, D.C. in the Smart People category. Seattle is also home to lots of sustainability innovation and the home to the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, one of the world’s leading master’s program dedicated to sustainable innovation and entrepreneurship.

2. Boston, MA
Boston has an incredibly smart and innovative population, boasting more than 70 universities and leading North America in both patents per capita and venture capital investment per capita. Boston’s former mayor Thomas Menino was a big driver in the innovation agenda through the launch of the Innovation District, the creation of the Office of New Urban Mechanics, and support for acceleration programs, like the MassChallenge.

3. San Francisco, CA
The Bay Area entrepreneurial ecosystem is moving away from Silicon Valley and towards San Francisco itself. Much like Boston’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, San Francisco has a mayor’s office dedicated to civic innovation. Of course, for years San Francisco has been a leader in embracing sustainability and smart urban development as evidenced by their regular spot in the top of North American green cities rankings. San Francisco reports having 302 LEED certified buildings, which would place them in the upper echelon of North American cities.

4. Washington D.C.
Experts in the smart cities seem to agree that smart mobility is critical to improving the quality of life for citizens while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions from the transportation sector. D.C. came out in second behind only New York in the use of biking, walking, and public transit (54.6%) for daily commuting.

5. New York, NY
New York has pioneered the adoption of electric vehicles, embraced green and smart urban regeneration, and fostered a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem (Silicon Alley). New York has a significant number of universities and university-educated population and has been a leader, through outgoing Mayor Bloomberg’s commitment to initiatives like C40, in promoting the low-carbon economy.

smart cities

6. Toronto, CANADA
Toronto continues to be a leader in Canada across several fronts. Like other major cities on this list, Toronto has continued its commitment to smart densification with its ongoing transformation of its previously contaminated waterfront area.

7. Vancouver, CANADA
Vancouver recently developed an ambitious $30 million plan to become a major player in smart cities by focusing on nine key priorities ranging from more open data and increased digital services delivery to the launch of an ICT incubator.

8. Portland, OR
Portland has long been a leading player in the green cities arena, with innovations such as green roof standards, home an office of the paradigm shifting Living Building Institute, and also pioneering the development of eco-districts. On the mobility front, they have a fantastic set of clean, accessible public-transit options, particularly within the city.

9. Chicago, IL
Chicago is dedicated to being a green building leader, and with 405 certified LEED buildings, they are putting their money where their mouth is. Chicago also has an ambitious bike-sharing program, with 4,000 bikes and 400 solar-powered bike stations.

Montreal

10. Montreal, CANADA
Citizen engagement is critical to smart cities. In 2010, Montreal passed a bylaw which allows anyone who obtains 15,000 signatures to trigger a public consultation process on any topic. The first group of citizen activists to leverage this process obtained 25,000 signatures to generate an open public debate about how to support the increasing use of urban agriculture.

Source: FastCoexist

UK’s Urban Mushroom Farm Uses Recycled Coffee Grounds

The UK has its first urban mushroom farm that grows oyster mushrooms using recycled coffee grounds.

Mushroom Farm

According to GroCycle, a project launched by Fungi Futures CIC, a social enterprise based in Devon, coffee grinds represent a huge waste stream and recycling them to grow protein-rich Oyster mushrooms is a showcase for how food can be grown sustainably.

GroCycle explained that approximately 80 million cups of coffee are drunk every day in the UK, yet less than 1% of the bean actually ends up in the cup. The vast majority of the remaining grounds are buried in landfill where they decompose to produce methane.

Pink Mushroom

“It’s crazy that most large cafes are throwing their coffee waste away,” said Adam Sayner, company director. “It is still packed full of nutrients which can be turned into delicious Oyster mushrooms. We are making it possible to grow gourmet food from it instead!”

The GroCycle Urban Mushroom Farm in Exeter is based in disused office space, the farm takes coffee grounds from local cafés and uses them as a growing medium to produce Oyster mushrooms.

The project also noted the mounting evidence of the environmental impact of meat production, and said that the low impact method it has devised may also present a solution to produce protein-rich food more sustainably.

urban farm

“Growing mushrooms in this way is absolutely ideal for Urban Agriculture,” commented Eric Jong, company director. “It is where both the waste and demand for food are highest. We hope our farm will serve as a flagship model for more urban farms in the future.”

GroCycle also produced an online video course. The course is made up of 5 main modules and teaches the process of growing mushrooms on coffee grounds. It’s combined with a forum to connect members and features regular Q&A webinar sessions. The course has gone global as it has members from 23 countries around the world.

 

Floating Bamboo Domes Provide Growing Space For Urban Farms

bamboo dome concept in Jamaica

Jamaica’s agriculture sector suffers from many woes, including natural disasters that caused $14.4 billion in losses between 1994 and 2010, according to Dinesh Ram, the designer of this innovative floating bamboo dome concept. A noteworthy entrant in Inhabitat‘s recent Biodesign Competition, the Hope Waters Dome is designed to combat the twin dangers of rising sea levels and food scarcity in the water locked nation, and it could be built using locally available materials such as bamboo and plastic.  This is a unique way of bringing urban farms to a well-populated area.

 

The bamboo geodesic dome is designed to provide multiple functions, including growing space and meeting space. The bamboo frame would rest on a platform made with recycled plastic bottles for buoyancy, addressing Jamaica’s burgeoning problem of overstuffed landfills. The upper floors are designed to operate as an “urban agriculture learning center” where food can be grown without risk of inundation from rising seas.  The use of bamboo is also a great way to replace wood, concrete, and steel, as a building material resource for construction.  Entire stalks of bamboo are used to create latticed edifices, or woven in strips to form wall-sized screens. The effect can be stunning, and also practical in parts of the world like Jamaica, where bamboo thrives.

bamboo dome concept

“This icon of sustainable development is pre-fabricated, towed to a site, and can return the location back to its original state,” according to Ram. “Cost to build is roughly half compared to a traditional building of similar dimensions.”

 

Albeit just a concept at this point, the design recognizes that over the next few decades, we are expecting to see a one to two meter rise in sea levels. Given how much Jamaica, in particular, depends on its coastline for its economic well-being, now is the time to begin devising thoughtful solutions to build the country’s resilience.

Source: Inhabitat

Architects in Vietnam design “Verdant” University.

Architects in Vietnam have designed a “verdant” university campus in Ho Chi Minh City.

Vo Trong Nghia Architects specialize in green architecture and were brought in to design a campus for FTP University. The people of Vietnam have been under environmental stress as they have witnessed energy shortages, a rise in temperatures, an increase in pollution, and problems with vegetation and greenery. The architects decided to make a contemporary design that is very sustainable and blends very well with the Asian culture.

The university campus is a 242,000 square-foot site that explodes with plant life. The centerpiece is a unique building stretching over several city blocks, with staggered floors climbing higher in the corners, and framing a giant courtyard.

Balconies and rooftops will be lined with plants, giving the building the appearance of “an undulating forested mountain growing out of the city.”

Trees and gardens are planted in every turn on campus. All of this, according to the architects, “will provide shade and improve air quality, reducing the universities’ reliance on air conditioning.” And to save water, ground level gardens will seep into circulation wells that feed plants throughout the building.

Rapid urbanization has turned Ho Chi Minh City into a heat island, which is when cities grow warmer than their rural surroundings because land, plants, and forests replace heat-trapping concrete, brick, steel, and asphalt. The architects believe only 0.25% of the Ho Chi Minh City is covered with plant life.

Green University

They believe that while urbanization may be inevitable, turning our cities into ovens doesn’t have to be. The Vo Trong Nghia architects are thrilled in designing educational facilities. To them, it’s a chance to “aid the recovery of greenery that once flourished” and “foster a new generation of thinkers.” They believe that future enrollees of FPT University’s new campus, can be exposed to and learn to truly appreciate nature and bring hope to the future of Vietnam cities and planet.

Edible Gardens Help Fight HIV in South Africa

edible gardens

keyhole gardens are a representation of typical permaculture forms.

The country of Lesotho in South Africa is using edible gardens to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Lesotho is known to have a huge problem with HIV/AIDS infections. It is rated the third highest HIV prevalent country globally. The nation’s population is around two million, and almost a quarter of working-age adults are infected with  HIV. Non-governmental organizations and international agencies have helped out Lesotho’s government fight the epidemic by providing resources to stop poverty, food insecurities, and medical emergencies such as Tuberculosis, which has one of the highest infection rates in the world. Lesotho is the first in the region to implement the World Health Organization’s 2015 guidelines on the provision of antiretroviral therapy.

For antiretroviral therapy to work, patients need to have good nutrition. International agencies and organizations have helped out Lesotho in promoting crop diversity in subsistence farming and recycling household waste. This has helped Lesotho create keyhole gardens. These gardens are made by pouring organic waste, ash, and greywater into central composting bins, from which it filters into the surrounding soil.A cutaway provides easy access to the bin and gives the gardens the distinctive shape from which they take their name.  The result is a small plot of extremely fertile soil in which owners grow vitamin-rich vegetables such as spinach, beetroot, and carrots to complement a diet that is heavily based on corn and wheat. The edible gardens usually generate two harvests each year. According to Ian McKay, program director at Send a Cow, the organization has witnessed major improvements in the quality of diets in communities where it has worked over the past decade. The crops that are planted from the keyhole gardens have also been used for trade in meats and other vegetables such as corn. These gardens have aided in fighting off the HIV/AIDS epidemic and have found ways to help fight off poverty and food scarcity for this country. Source: MUNCHIES

From Architecture to Urban Farming

A Brief Story of a Vision of Urban Farming

 

“While doing research on solutions for sustainable mixed-use urban corridors, I came to foresee the value of incorporating urban farming into the common space of  habitats.”

In a brief story of her vision, Ruth brings us the case of urban farming as a growing movement to tackle problems that the world faces in the 21st century. Her story is personal.

She tells us how her vision evolved from childhood experiences in the Romanian countryside to her life in Rome. She had the mentorships of Professors, Zevi and Pellegrin, who introduced to her, Wright’s thinking and works. Later in her practice as an architect, her discovery of Permaculture, became a new passion for urban farming and local edible gardens.
She posed to herself some critical questions:

  • How can urban farming contribute to making the world a better place?
  • What is the connection between architecture, planning and urban farming?
  • What can each of us do to become self-reliable on the food we put on our table?
  • How can edible gardens become a design component integrated to urban development?
  • How can urban farming provide a stage for social interaction?

 

Some facts may help to put a global problem into perspective:

  1. The First Agriculture Revolution started about 10,000 years ago. As nomads settled, cities were born. The cities were surrounded by farms, which supplied its population with fresh food.

    San Gimignano, Photo: Pablo Charin, Rick Meghiddo, urban farming

    San Gimigniano surrounded by farms – Photo: Pablo Charin / Minube

  2. As the world’s population grew from 1.6 billion in 1900 to 7.5 billion today, the agriculture  transformed radically. Industrialized farming brought us ecological degradation.  Aggravated by the massive use of toxic chemicals, the path of food from the farm to the city became dependent on carbon-based fuel for transportation.
  3. Climate change is likely to expand the areas of drought, hurricanes and floods, diminishing the existing cultivable areas.
    Nwesweek 10/30/2015

    Newsweek 10/30/2015

    Milano EXPO 2015: Feeding the World, Rick Meghiddo

    Milano EXPO 2015: Feeding the World

  4. Today’s global population growth is about 75 million a year. We are likely to reach ten billion around by 2050. Too far away? Not really! That is just “around the corner.” By 2050, children born today will be in their thirties.

    World Population-1800-2050

    World Population-1800-2050

  5. One acre of land is needed to feed one person for one year. By 2050 we will need additional not-yet-existing cultivable land of about 10 million km2, equal to the size of the United States.

How shall we continue to feed the planet?

How shall we invent the future while we free cultivable land from the voracious appetite of urban sprawl?  If we want to create a decent living environment, the action is needed NOW. Here are some possibilities:

  • Increase mixed-use urban density along urban corridors.
  • Create cultivable areas within residential multi-family buildings, office buildings, schools, factories, hotels, etc.
  • Design common edible gardens as places for social interaction.
  • Design workspaces that provide edible gardens to its tenants.
  • Plan neighborhoods that include common cultivable areas.
  • Build multi-story farms.
  • Vertical Farming - Rendering: Blake Kurasek

    Vertical Farming – Rendering: Blake Kurasek

    Vertical Farming

    Vertical Farming

 

No single solution can fit all needs. The use of eco-friendly lightweight hydroponic systems that consume 90% less water than traditional farming can be incorporated into the built environment.

On the other hand, permaculture, first developed by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, brings a holistic approach that combines agricultural and social design principles. By increasing our awareness of “thinking globally and acting locally,” each of us can contribute to making the world a better place to inhabit.

 

Jean Phillipe Pargade Technical and Scientific School, Paris. Photo: Sergio Grazia

Jean Phillipe Pargade Technical and Scientific School, Paris. Photo: Sergio Grazia

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“In Defense of Food,” Advice for Health

 

Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food, offers advice on how to eat to achieve maximum health.

In Defense of Food

“Where does your food really come from, and what should you have for dinner? Chances are that your food traveled hundreds of miles before it landed on your plate. But some experts say eating local might make us healthier, and better stewards of the environment.”

Read an Excerpt (bottom half of post)

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
That’s the advice journalist and author Michael Pollan offers in his new book, In Defense of Food.
“That’s it. That is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy,” Pollan told Steve Inskeep on NPR.

    ‘Eat Food’

“We are eating a lot of edible food-like substances, which is to say highly processed things that might be called yogurt, might be called cereals, whatever, but in fact are very intricate products of food science that are really imitations of foods.” – Pollan

Pollan acknowledges that distinguishing between food and “food products” takes work. His tip: “Don’t eat anything that your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”
Take, for example, the portable tubes of yogurt known as Go-Gurt, Pollan says. “Imagine your grandmother or your great-grandmother picking up this tube, holding it up to the light, trying to figure out how to administer it to her body — if indeed it is something that goes in your body — and then imagine her reading the ingredients,” he says. “Yogurt is a very simple food. It’s milk inoculated with a bacterial culture. But Go-Gurt has dozens of ingredients.”

    ‘Not Too Much’

A large part of the conversation about food — like debating low-fat and low-carb diets — serves as a way of avoiding the idea that maybe we’re just eating too much, Pollan says. He says his advice about how to limit consumption is based less on science, which he says “has failed us when it comes to food, by and large,” and more on culture. “Cultures have various devices to help people moderate their appetite,” he says. “Once upon a time, there was scarcity. We don’t have that anymore; we have abundance. But if you go around the world, you find very interesting tricks and devices.”

“The French manage to eat extravagantly rich food, but they don’t get fat, and the reason is that they eat it on small plates, they don’t have seconds, they don’t snack.”
– Pollan on French culture and small portion sizes

“You do know when you are full, and the idea of stopping eating before you reach that moment [when you’re 80% full]… if you do that, you will actually reduce your caloric intake quite a bit.” – Pollan on Japanese culture and “Hara Hachi Bu”

    ‘Mostly Plants’

“There is incontrovertible but boring evidence that eating your fruits and vegetables is probably the best thing you can do for preventing cancer, for weight control, for diabetes, for all the different, all the Western diseases that now afflict us.” – Pollan

But can you follow Pollan’s advice and avoid processed foods without spending a ton of time and money?
“You’re going to have to spend either more time or more money, and perhaps a little bit of both,” Pollan says. “And I think that’s just the reality. It’s really a question of priorities, and we have, in effect, devalued food. And what I’m arguing is to move it a little closer to the center of our lives, and that we are going to have to put more into it, but that it will be very rewarding if we do.
“And if we don’t, by the way, we are going to suffer from this — you know, we hear this phrase so many times — this epidemic of chronic disease. But the fact is, we are at a fork in the road. We’re either going to get used to chronic disease, and be … in the age of Lipitor and dialysis centers on every corner in the city, or we’re going to change the way we eat. I mean, it’s really that simple. Most of the things that are killing us these days — whether it’s heart disease, diabetes, obesity, many, many cancers — are directly attributed to the way we’re eating.”

    Excerpt: ‘In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto’

by MICHAEL POLLAN

Food Science’s Golden Age
In the years following the 1977 Dietary Goals and the 1982 National Academy of Sciences report on diet and cancer, the food industry, armed with its regulatory absolution, set about reengineering thousands of popular food products to contain more of the nutrients that science and government had deemed the good ones and fewer of the bad. A golden age for food science dawned. Hyphens sprouted like dandelions in the supermarket aisles: low-fat, no-cholesterol, high-fiber. Ingredients labels on formerly two- or three-ingredient foods such as mayonnaise and bread and yogurt ballooned with lengthy lists of new additives — what in a more benighted age would have been called adulterants. The Year of Eating Oat Bran — also known as 1988 — served as a kind of coming-out party for the food scientists, who succeeded in getting the material into nearly every processed food sold in America. Oat bran’s moment on the dietary stage didn’t last long, but the pattern now was set, and every few years since then, a new oat bran has taken its star turn under the marketing lights. (Here come omega-3s!)
You would not think that common food animals could themselves be rejiggered to fit nutritionist fashion, but in fact some of them could be, and were, in response to the 1977 and 1982 dietary guidelines as animal scientists figured out how to breed leaner pigs and select for leaner beef. With widespread lipophobia taking hold of the human population, countless cattle lost their marbling and lean pork was repositioned as “the new white meat” — tasteless and tough as running shoes, perhaps, but now even a pork chop could compete with chicken as a way for eaters to “reduce saturated fat intake.” In the years since then, egg producers figured out a clever way to redeem even the disreputable egg: By feeding flaxseed to hens, they could elevate levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the yolks.
Aiming to do the same thing for pork and beef fat, the animal scientists are now at work genetically engineering omega-3 fatty acids into pigs and persuading cattle to lunch on flaxseed in the hope of introducing the blessed fish fat where it had never gone before: into hot dogs and hamburgers.
But these whole foods are the exceptions. The typical whole food has much more trouble competing under the rules of nutritionism, if only because something like a banana or an avocado can’t quite as readily change its nutritional stripes. (Though rest assured the genetic engineers are hard at work on the problem.) To date, at least, they can’t put oat bran in a banana or omega-3s in a peach. So depending on the reigning nutritional orthodoxy, the avocado might either be a high-fat food to be assiduously avoided (Old Think) or a food high in monounsaturated fat to be embraced (New Think). The fate and supermarket sales of each whole food rises and falls with every change in the nutritional weather while the processed foods simply get reformulated and differently supplemented. That’s why when the Atkins diet storm hit the food industry in 2003, bread and pasta got a quick redesign (dialing back the carbs; boosting the proteins) while poor unreconstructed potatoes and carrots were left out in the carbohydrate cold. (The low-carb indignities visited on bread and pasta, two formerly “traditional foods that everyone knows,” would never have been possible had the imitation rule not been tossed out in 1973. Who would ever buy imitation spaghetti? But of course that is precisely what low-carb pasta is.)
A handful of lucky whole foods have recently gotten the “good nutrient” marketing treatment: The antioxidants in the pomegranate (a fruit formerly more trouble to eat than it was worth) now protect against cancer and erectile dysfunction, apparently, and the omega-3 fatty acids in the (formerly just fattening) walnut ward off heart disease. A whole subcategory of nutritional science — funded by industry and, according to one recent analysis,* remarkably reliable in its ability to find a health benefit in whatever food it has been commissioned to study — has sprung up to give a nutritionist sheen (and FDA-approved health claim) to all sorts of foods, including some not ordinarily thought of as healthy. The Mars Corporation recently endowed a chair in chocolate science at the University of California at Davis, where research on the antioxidant properties of cacao is making breakthroughs, so it shouldn’t be long before we see chocolate bars bearing FDA-approved health claims. (When we do, nutritionism will surely have entered its baroque phase.) Fortunately for everyone playing this game, scientists can find an antioxidant in just about any plant-based food they choose to study.
Yet as a general rule it’s a whole lot easier to slap a health claim on a box of sugary cereal than on a raw potato or a carrot, with the perverse result that the most healthful foods in the supermarket sit there quietly in the produce section, silent as stroke victims, while a few aisles over in Cereal the Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms are screaming their newfound “whole-grain goodness” to the rafters. Watch out for those health claims.

*L. I. Lesser, C. B. Ebbeling, M. Goozner, D. Wypij, and D. S. Ludwig, “Relationship Between Funding Source and Conclusion Among Nutrition-Related Scientific Articles,” PLoS Medicine, Vol. 4, No. 1, e5 doi:10.1371/journal. pmed.0040005.

Excerpted from IN DEFENSE OF FOOD by Michael Pollan. Reprinted by arrangement with The Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc. Copyright (c) Michael Pollan, 2008.

Smoothie for Weight Loss & Better Complexion

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This is a good way to lose weight, and get a glowing complexion. Green smoothies are rich in immune boosting nutrients, which provide the body with minerals and vitamins. Also, a green smoothie gets their vibrant color from chlorophyll, a nutrient-rich pigment found in leafy vegetables, which cleans the body of harmful toxins, oxygenates the blood and helps boost energy.

    INGREDIENTS:

  • A bunch of Kale/or Spinach, fresh from Tower Garden
  • A bunch of Parsley/or Cilantro fresh fro Tower Garden
  • A few leaves of Mustard Green/or a piece of Ginger
  • 1 Cucumber, fresh from Tower Garden
  • 1 Green Apple
  • 1 Half Avocado
  • 1 Large Lemon juiced
  • Add water or ice

Blend the ingredients together and drink it immediately. ENJOY