August 25, 2016

China’s Changing Diet: How to Turn the Tide

Becky Ramsing

Becky Ramsing

Senior Program Officer, Food Communities & Public Health Program

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Part 1 and Part 2 of the China’s Changing Diet blog series portrayed how individual and systematic dietary changes impact health and the global environment. Reversing trends takes time, but throughout history, the collective actions of committed individuals have had far-reaching impacts. In this section, we will discuss some changes already happening in China.

Chinese-language Meatless Monday poster

Chinese-language Meatless Monday poster

Moving the dial, motivation and Meatless Monday

Whether Dietary Guidelines can effectively spur diet changes is a difficult thing to assess. In China as in most countries, the rapid shift toward sugars, oils, meat and processed foods is counter to their past and present Dietary Guidelines. However, Dietary Guidelines can support the conversation and guide promotions toward diet changes. Much of the impact of the DG relies upon publicity, tools and education that follow their release. Read More >

August 24, 2016

China’s Changing Diet: Environment and Health Impacts

Becky Ramsing

Becky Ramsing

Senior Program Officer, Food Communities & Public Health Program

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

In Part 1 of the China’s Changing Diet blog series, we provided an overview of the recent shifts in how Chinese citizens eat and live as a result of economic growth, urbanization and food availability. In the following section, we will discuss the local and global impacts of these shifts and how Chinese health experts have addressed these through the newly-revised Chinese Dietary Guidelines.

Diet changes have lasting impacts on health and the environment locally and globally

In China, the incidence of obesity and its related complications have increased rapidly alongside dietary changes. The overall prevalence of overweight and obesity among Chinese people was increased by 38.6% and 80.6% respectively during the period of 1992-2002.[i] In 2012, 30.1% of adults were overweight and 11.9% were obese. 9.6% of youth were overweight and 6.4% were obese.[ii] Taking into account the sheer size of China’s population, over one fifth of all one billion obese people in the world now come from China.[iii]

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August 23, 2016

China’s Changing Diet: Meat and Dairy on the Rise

Becky Ramsing

Becky Ramsing

Senior Program Officer, Food Communities & Public Health Program

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

chinameat1 copyReflections on China’s Changing Diet: Local impacts, global implications, and promising solutions. 

China is eating differently, and it matters—a lot! China’s sheer size and growth mean that even small changes in diet and lifestyle patterns have large impacts in terms of public health, food safety and the environment. In this first blogpost, we summarize how and to what degree China’s diet has actually changed. Our second post will discuss the local and global implications of the shifts in China—and how China’s health experts are encouraging citizens to adjust their food and lifestyle choices. Finally, we will suggest simple and effective actions such as Meatless Monday that can be leveraged individually and collectively to move the dial toward a healthier China and thriving world. Read More >

August 10, 2016

Wasted Food and a New Spin on the 3 Rs

Erin Biehl

Erin Biehl

Senior Program Coordinator

Food System Sustainability and Public Health Program

World War I-era poster by the U.S. Food Administration

World War I-era poster by the U.S. Food Administration

This blogpost was co-written by Erin Biehl and Karen Banks.

For decades, we’ve heard the slogan: reduce, reuse, recycle. Those familiar “three Rs” are often represented by the well-recognized Mobius Loop, spinning infinitely on bins, packages, and bottles nationwide.

The three Rs and the symbol are intended to educate consumers about the waste hierarchy, which tells us that the prevention, reuse, and recycling of materials is far preferable to sending them to a landfill—and by some measures the campaign is working because recycling and composting have increased 500 percent since 1980 in the U.S. On the other hand, a considerable portion of the waste stream still eludes us: food. Each year, 52.4 million tons of food is thrown away in the U.S. That’s the equivalent of 1,200 USS Missouri battleships full of food. Another 10.1 million tons of food never make if off the farm field. Read More >

August 2, 2016

Community Food Assessments: A Wonderful Tool

Joyce Smith

Joyce Smith

Community Relations Coordinator

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

cfa-oroswWhen the Johns Hopkins Center for Livable Future (CLF) approached OROSW (Operation ReachOut SouthWest) with the idea of community food assessment study, we first had to figure out what a community food assessment, or CFA, is. Essentially, a CFA is a survey that researchers use to get a sense of how much food security or food insecurity a neighborhood is experiencing. We used it to survey people in the neighborhood and get their thoughts on food availability in southwest Baltimore.

We learned so much from the CFA findings. We found that not only are food deserts prevalent, but also that many residents travel outside Southwest Baltimore for their primary grocery shopping—to 29 different supermarkets and other food outlets. We learned that Read More >

July 29, 2016

CLF Aquaculture Links: July 2016

Dave Love

Dave Love

Associate Scientist, Public Health & Sustainable Aquaculture Project

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

AQ-news-300And the survey says… seafood consumers care about sustainability.  Nearly three quarters (72%) of respondents agree that shoppers should only purchase from sustainable sources. Sustainability was ranked as more important than price or brand, but only 54% of respondents were willing to pay more for certified sustainable products, such as Marine Stewardship Council approved products. The study findings were drawn from a population of 16,000 consumers from 21 countries including the U.S.  Read more at World Fish and Aquaculture. Read More >

July 28, 2016

Protein, Part 1—Do We Really Need It?

Becky Ramsing

Becky Ramsing

Senior Program Officer, Food Communities & Public Health Program

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

This post is the first in a series, Protein—Everything You Always Wanted to Know But Were Too Afraid to Ask. Stay tuned for the next posts!

proteins-1Does giving up meat mean giving up valuable protein and vitamins?

Not necessarily. First, let’s first break down what, exactly, protein is and why it’s important for our health.

Protein’s Role

Protein is an important energy-yielding macronutrient – meaning it provides us calories, or energy. Proteins build muscle and make up hemoglobin, which transports oxygen to our muscles. Proteins also have functional and structural roles building and repairing tissues. They are key players in signaling and chemical reactions as well–including enzymes and hormones.

Through a microscope, proteins look a bit like necklaces with beads that come in different shapes and sizes. To further the analogy, think of each bead as a different type of amino acid: each protein in our body has a specific amino acid sequence Read More >

July 22, 2016

Eating and Cooking in Madrid and Baltimore

Usama Bilal

Usama Bilal

CLF-Lerner Fellow

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

2016-madrid-marketA friend from Madrid will be visiting us in Baltimore next week. He enjoys eating and cooking at home, so I’d like to have a few dishes prepared for the next days. But a few factors, namely my location, the fact that I don’t drive, and my partner being out of town, make me realize that it’s going to be hard to fulfill my intentions of preparing a few healthy and hearty meals.

This reminds me of my time living in downtown Madrid four years ago. I’d work very long hours during the week, so I usually only had time to do my grocery shopping on the weekends. On a typical Saturday morning, I usually headed to the food market, five minutes walking from my apartment, and circled the 20 stores that sell only fresh produce, looking for the best deals (living within a student budget!). If it were late spring or summer, I’d end up with five pounds of oranges, six pounds of tomatoes (for gazpacho!), a few veggies for miscellaneous cooking and some change left from my five-euro bill. Read More >

July 20, 2016

Eating Less Meat May Help Your Gut

Becky Ramsing

Becky Ramsing

Senior Program Officer, Food Communities & Public Health Program

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

2016-meat-gut-microbiomeIn recent years, terms such as gut health and microbiome seem to have just dropped into our vocabulary. Today, poor gut health is often blamed for being overweight, chronic diseases, illnesses, and even our intelligence. Our microbiome—that is, all the microorganisms, including the commensal and pathogenic bacteria in the human body—plays a complicated and important role in many aspects of our health. And the microbiome in the gut is particularly important.

How does my burger affect my gut?

Choosing the best foods to eat can be confusing. We hear a lot about taking probiotics, prebiotics, kefir and kimchi for better gut health, but food choices Read More >

July 8, 2016

The Long Shadow of Redlining on the Food System

Usama Bilal

Usama Bilal

CLF-Lerner Fellow

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Last year Baltimore was shaken by an uprising that caught the nation and public officials off-guard. A good part of the conversation during the unrest revolved around issues of systemic and institutionalized racism. In response, the Johns Hopkins University started the 21st Century Cities Initiative; its first organized activity was a series of debates about “Redlining Baltimore.”

Back in the 1930s, as a part of the New Deal, a government sponsored program called the Homeowner Loan Corporation (HOLC) was created. This public agency helped the population finance home ownership through greatly subsidized loans. As part of its mission, the HOLC created maps that rated neighborhoods in terms of how the agency perceived each neighborhood’s investment risk. HOLC preferentially financed loans in neighborhoods deemed low-risk for investment. Read More >