A brief digest of food and nutrition-related items that caught our attention recently. Got items you think we should include? Send links and brief descriptions to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
The linkages between food, planet, and health have been drawn in sharp relief with the EAT-Lancet commission’s report, which includes a recommendation to drastically reduce meat consumption. It’s been interesting to follow media’s response to the report, now a few months old, and the pushback from certain interest groups. NPR included an overview. A critique of the diet, including one here and one here, is that it doesn’t meaningfully include impoverished people, and indeed, the process of creating the recommendations itself has been touted as Northern and fairly hegemonic. The New Food Economy included a story from a Sam Bloch, who tried to follow the EAT-Lancet recommendations for a week, and concludes that far beyond the challenge of the diet for an individual, the buy-in needed for food companies to shift would be massive (and maybe that’s the whole point). On Earther, there were two reflections on the diet, both by Brian Kahn:
“A flexitarian diet would reduce diet-related greenhouse gas emissions by almost 80%, whilst a vegan one would lead to reductions of over 90%,” Marco Springmann, a researcher at Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food who has conducted research on the topic, told me. He also said focusing on a more plant-based diet has clear human health benefits in terms of mortality.
Over on CivilEats, Eva Perroni conducted an interview with Tim Wise about the picture of Big Food and Farming, which I found interesting and helpful in the ways he bravely takes on the Gates Foundation:
I honestly had hope coming out of the 2007-8 food price increases that they would serve as a wake-up call to donor governments and foundations to shift policies to favor small-scale farmers and support more sustainable farming practices. Indeed, in international forums like the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the narrative did change. But agribusiness hijacked the policy agenda. I saw it everywhere I traveled. And the Gates Foundation deserves much of the blame for such technology-driven policies.
I’ve recently been encountering quite a few mainstream articles reflecting on the recent book, Pressure Cooker: Why Home Cooking Won’t Solve Our Problems and What We Can Do About It by three sociologists: Sarah Bowen, Joslyn Brenton, and Sinikka Elliott. One in Vox, one in The Atlantic, and one in Civil Eats, and all three an interesting read. The findings won’t be surprising to many of us who are parents or food researchers. I liked this summary by author Sinikka Elliott:
This idea that if we all make time for food and cooking good food at home, we’ll be healthier and stronger families—it’s an empowering idea. It gives us the sense that we can transform something in our lives. But it overlooks how so many aspects of family life are really thrust on to the shoulders of women.
Lastly, this long piece on taste used Trump’s use of ketchup on steak as a starting point, but ends up making a much more expansive point:
Context is king in interpreting food. “You’ve got to break on through,” Gold said. “There are French cheeses that, if you accidentally stepped on them in the street you would spend a half hour trying to scrub off your shoe, but yet when you eat them in the proper context … it’s just completely delicious.”