10 Illuminating Discussions on Health and Nutrition From the Food Talk Podcast
By Jared Kaufman
Eating a better diet has been linked with lower levels of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. But unfortunately 821 million people — about 1 in 9 worldwide — face hunger, and roughly 2 billion people worldwide are overweight or obese, according to the U.N. World Health Organization. In addition, food insecurity is associated with even higher health care costs in the U.S., particularly among older people. To help direct worldwide focus toward solving these issues, the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals call for the elimination of hunger, food insecurity and undernutrition by 2030.
In these 10 episodes of the "Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg" podcast, expert guests discuss how they're working to connect people with nutritious food, take aim at common misconceptions about health and diet, and prove that food really can be the best medicine.
The idea that experts can't agree on health advice is a myth, says David Katz. In fact, his 400-expert-strong True Health Initiative is united in their call for a simple diet that emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains and water, which is the key not only to boosting your personal health and reducing your risk for disease but also lessening your impact on the environment. "We want to make common sense about diet common because it is shockingly uncommon at the moment," Katz says.
For Robert Graham, health is more than taking a pill when you feel sick. Instead, the roots of health are individualized and come down to five factors: food, relaxation, exercise, sleep and happiness. His integrative health practice, FRESH Med NYC, aims to use traditional wellness methods that are science-based and proven safe and effective. "I realized there had to be some new model of healthcare that honors the ancient wisdom or traditional medicine approach and incorporated, safely and effectively, into the conventional medical model," Graham says.
When people are considering their own well-being, they should also think about the health of the environment, says scientist Fabrice DeClerck — but conveniently, "changing our diets to more plant-based diets … not only is a key means to securing dietary health, but also is a key solution space for protecting the planet." In this episode of Food Talk, DeClerck emphasizes that while policy solutions are a necessary component of fixing the food system, we don't have to wait for politicians: All of us, especially young people, can collectively leverage our consumer power to compel the private sector to act — for our own health and that of the environment.
The message behind Wholesome Wave is simple: sharing nutritious food can help us understand each other's common humanity. However, chef Michel Nischan realizes that not everybody has equal access to the kinds of real, old-fashioned, farm-fresh foods he has spent his career advocating for. Nischan discusses how Wholesome Wave boosts people's ability to put healthy food on the table, including via projects that increase the benefit of supplemental federal food aid programs and encourage doctors to write prescriptions for fruits and vegetables.
As our food system becomes more globalized, so must our solutions to food insecurity and hunger. Lawrence Haddad, the executive director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and 2018 World Food Prize laureate, says that addressing poor food access will require alliances of governments, NGOs and private actors that are truly worldwide in scope. "No country has a monopoly on the problem of malnutrition, so no country has a monopoly on the solution. We all have to work together," Haddad says on the Food Talk podcast.
In a conversation with Dani Nierenberg and HAPPY Organization founder Haile Thomas at the Food Tank Summit in New York City, The Roots drummer and frontman Questlove discusses how he came to be involved in the food advocacy movement. With the HAPPY Organization, Thomas seeks to improve upon the poor nutrition education she received in school by bringing more engaging and empowering programs about nutrition, food waste and healthy lifestyles to schools and communities.
The food system is in crisis, but there is a path forward, says Dariush Mozaffarian, the dean of the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. "The answer for the future is that we need convenient, healthy, accessible food — whether it's made by others or made at home — that is healthy, nourishing, available to everybody and good for the earth," Mozaffarian says. He argues that academic institutions should play a more prominent role in the future of the food industry, as they generate scientific research and train future leaders in both the private and public sectors.
"Food is a private sector endeavor," declares Chef Sam Kass. Helping people eat better will require innovating new nutritious, affordable, delicious solutions, which he says is not something government can't do alone. "We need to support the entrepreneurs that are trying to solve those problems," Kass says. This means investors need to get involved and support health-related projects, and chefs need to step up and use their platforms to promote the role of food in well-being.
U.S. policymakers still lag behind in terms of understanding the role food plays in holistic health — this was a point of agreement among panelists at a Food Tank conversation on Capitol Hill. "We have these debates here in Congress that rip us apart over the high costs of health care, and yet one of the best ways to control health care costs is to make sure that people have access to good quality nutrition," Rep. James McGovern (D-MA) says. For Gregory Cooper, manager of DC Central Kitchen, the missing link for legislators is an understanding of not only the issues at play but also the ways people's lives are affected on a day-to-day and generation-to-generation basis.
"Let's not get cancer in the first place: how's that for a cure?" asks Fran Drescher, the actress and president of Cancer Schmancer. Drescher tells Dani Nierenberg that everyone — young and old — can create a healthier and cancer-free world by making small changes to their daily lifestyle habits, putting consumer pressure on companies to reduce the chemicals they use in food and cleaning solutions, and educating each other about the profit motives that drive the modern pharmaceutical industry.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Food Tank.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
Green groups applauded Sen. Jeff Merkley on Wednesday for introducing a pioneering pair of bills that aim to "protect the long-term health and well-being of the American people and their economy from the catastrophic effects of climate chaos" by preventing banks and international financial institutions from financing fossil fuels.