Global Food, Health, and Society

A Colby Community Website for ST297, Fall 2018

Category: Uncategorized (page 2 of 4)

Futuristic Sports Nutrition.

We are currently living in a Digital Age, the 21st Century compared to the previous ones is witnessing the greatest technological developments ever seen. Technology has permeated several aspects of our lives as human beings such as food. Hence, technological advancements have not only led to an increase in individuals’ health and well-being but also is also striving to ensured food security for generation to come. Thanks to technology, today, our food production methods are highly complex and so are our food processing procedures. Similarly, technology has also had tremendous impacts on sports overtime. Technological innovations have undeniably bettered sports owing to better training machinery, and sport genetics research etc.

Sports Nutrition Future

Next, what happens when you combine the power of technology into both food and sports? Sports nutrition as a separate field is already striving to improve performance through highly supervised diets that promise to optimize physical capabilities. So how then can technology influence the field of sports nutrition? Several ideas such as calorie computing applications have been brought to the table while some like wearable calorie trackers are currently being tested. I however believe that such technologies can only do so much for sports, I hold that the true essence of sport will always remain in an athlete’s dedication, practice and talent.

First, sports are extremely demanding physically, besides, work and energy play vital roles in sports. Food is said to be the fuel for the human body. As discussed in blog post one, carbohydrates are the essential requirements for energy. Because of starch intake, the body can convert the foods into glucose and glycogen utilized during sporting activities.

Futuristic Sports Nutrition

However, a big problem for athletes and nutritionists alike, is the ability to track energy intake and expenditure. Researchers have recently turned to technology to solve this problem. Thus, wearable fitness trackers have become overnight sensations. These devices are especially popular in the form of watches. A wrist device that can calculate an athletes’ energy expenditure while performing physical activities. This information is useful to both the athlete and their nutritionist in terms of recommending the appropriate amount food and nutrient intake.

Now, these devices act like sensors therefore tracking movement and by use of algorithms they can estimate the number of calories burned by an athlete.

Wearable Fitness Tracker

But, there lies a huge problem with this method, Sophie Charara, a sports blogger argues that “to give us an idea of how complex this estimation is, workout programs can make calculations based on age, gender, height and workout length.” She furthers that “our future challenge will be working out how much muscle mass you’re using. This is one of reasons why calories burned differs so much between different sports played for the same amount of time.  So, we need to add more data points when tracking these activities.” (Charara) The demands for these products are skyrocketing yet their results solely based on estimations.

Second, athletes’ food regimens are shaped by strict instruction from their nutritionists. Athletes are tasked to carefully watch their body weights thus they must constantly monitor and measured their calorie intake. This may nonetheless prove a difficult task for most athletes. Interestingly, technology aims to solve this problem as well. Recently, a phone application called MealSnap was launched. According to Sara Novak “after taking a picture of a food item, the info is transmitted to a calorie database and within minutes it returns the range of calories in your meal.” (Novak)

MealSnap App

MealSnap can certainly proof beneficial to a lot of athletes but there is a big question of the app’s accuracy.

Like MealSnap, there is also a smart scale called The Situ. This device can “look up ingredients, weigh the item and get you an immediate read-out on calorie, salt, sugar, protein and fat.” (Ben Schiller)

The Situ

In addition, this scale is said to be linked to the athlete’s phone. Indeed, such a device seems to be a must have as it promises to deliver. Nevertheless, even if an athlete was to thoroughly abide to this device, the margin of the performance will be lesser compared to if they were to heed a nutritionist’s advice.

Further, the intake of fat has proved detrimental to athletes. This is because fats take longer to digest therefore slowing the athletes down which ultimately affects their game performance. Technology again offers to provide a solution to this problem.

SCiO Device

Recently, a device named SCiO was introduced to the market. This is a tiny pocket molecular sensor’ that fits on the athlete’s keychain. SCiO “tells you the nutritional facts of what you’re about to put in your mouth.” (Jessica Leber) This device is also connected and transmits information to their mobile phone. Likewise, the google glasses are also said to see exactly how much you have eaten and promises to unveil the nutritional information on an athlete’s eating habits. (Dr. Grame. L. Close) In the same way, there are contact lenses capable of measuring blood glucose levels. Moreover, meticulous research is being done on these new technological fronts. Some researchers are even proposing a pill that sits in the human’s digestive organs and externally transmits information on the exact food quantity and type. (Dr. Close)

Finally, is this the future of sports nutrition? These new innovations are quickly gaining both momentum and popularity within the sports community. However, they all seem to have major setbacks that need to be adequately addressed. These devices and apps also prove a threat to the careers of sports nutritionists. Their increased usage eliminates the need for nutritionists because they both serve a similar purpose. Likewise, the cost of these devices is also an obstacle to them becoming widely adopted. Not all athletes are able to comfortably purchase them. I caution that if indeed this is the future for sports nutrition, then, tech developers ought to find more collaborative, less affordable and realistic approaches with actual nutrition researchers who still believe in traditional methods.

Works Cited

 

Grocery Stores Across the United States

As humans we need to eat, and to eat we need food, and to make food we need to either purchase it or grow it ourselves. In today’s society there is an extremely small number of people in the United States that grow all of their own food. As a result practically everyone has to purchase food in some capacity, whether it be at restaurants or fast food chains, farmer’s markets, or the most popular place to buy food, the grocery store. Almost everywhere one goes there is typically a grocery store of some capacity.

There are over 60,000 grocery stores in the United States that come in all different varieties. There are the traditional supermarkets that provide every type of grocery product ranging from fresh vegetables to meats. Another type is the limited grocery store that offers an extremely limited number of brands but still a wide variety of grocery items, with an example being Save-A-Lot. The next common type of store is categorized as supercenters and include stores like Target, that contain a decent number of grocery items, yet are bigger in selling non-food products. The final large portion of grocery stores are categorized as warehouse grocery stores. These stores offer discounted items that are purchased in bulk and can sometimes require a membership, an example being Costco (FoodIndustry). As one can see, the buying and selling of food products to the common man is a huge industry that has elicited the creation of many varieties of stores that each has its own perks.

 

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Real Bad FAD’s: Obesity, Food Insecurity, and Our Food System

Supermarket Shelves

Doesn’t it feel as though every time we walk into a grocery store, we are susceptible to purchasing the myriad concoctions the food industry develops that line the shelves, such as Coca Cola Zero and Twinkies? Isn’t it also the case that these types of food may be somewhat less expensive than the healthier options we seek? Does that mean that we should be buying white bread instead of wheat bread and soda in place of water?

In this way, my goal here is to discuss some of the most prominent and visible effects of our food system–namely, obesity and food insecurity, which are two concepts that undeniably have widespread impacts across the country. I will attempt to underscore the important conversation surrounding this complex, dynamic relationship and attempt to unravel the somewhat antithetical interconnectedness that the two possess, in order to assess and compare the two concepts within the parameters of our food system.


Why do some regions in the United States have incredibly high rates of obesity at the same time that there is a growing number of food-insecure people in those regions? How does obesity, defined by the CDC as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30.0 or higher,relate to food insecurity, which is defined by the USDA to be “a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life?” Some suggestthat food insecurity is a consequence of insufficient financial resources in the household, thus inhibiting those without adequate financial means from purchasing substantial, nutritious, and healthful foods to sustain their lives. In this way, the relationship between obesity and food insecurity is ultimately complex.

These maps illustrate obesity as a percent prevalence among males in 2001 (top) versus in 2011 (bottom). These data provide an example on just how drastically obesity rates have increased within the last several decades (IHME).

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The Benefits of Buying Locally Sourced Produce

Eating locally sourced food has become a popular trend recently, more people are attending farmers markets, co-ops and health food stores than ever before. While many people are aware that eating locally sourced foods most likely is better for your health, what they may not know is that there are many other benefits to eating what’s grown or raised in your backyard.

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Egg-citing News! Cholesterol Isn’t Always Unhealthy

Goat Cheese, Spinach, & Sun-Dried Tomato Quiche 

(Recipe Courtesy of Sally’s Baking Addiction)

Ingredients:

  • Pie Crust 
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3 packed cups fresh spinach
  • 4 large Eggland’s Best eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk3
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled or chopped
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Prepare the piecrust the night before to save yourself some time.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
  3. Heat olive oil and garlic in a skillet over medium heat. Add the spinach. Cook and stir until wilted. Set aside.
  4. On a floured work surface, roll out the chilled pie dough. Turn the piecrust dough about a quarter turn after every few rolls until you have a circle 12 inches in diameter. Carefully place the dough into a 9-inch pie dish. Tuck it in with your fingers, making sure it is smooth. With a small and sharp knife, trim the extra overhang of crust and discard. Using pie weights, pre-bake the piecrust for 8 minutes.
  5. While the piecrust is baking, whisk the eggs and milk together until combined. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, and spinach. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  6. After 8 minutes, remove the piecrust from the oven. Pour in the egg mixture. If desired, sprinkle the top lightly with more salt and pepper.
  7. Bake the quiche until it is golden brown on top and the center is no longer jiggly. Depending on your oven, this will take anywhere between 45 – 55 minutes. Use a pie shield to prevent the piecrust from over browning, if desired. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. This quiche makes great leftovers for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  8. Make ahead tip: Baked quiche freezes very well, up to 2 months. Thaw overnight and bake at 350°F (177°C) to warm up for 25 minutes, give or take.

Everyone knows that after working hard in the kitchen to make a Goat Cheese, Spinach, and Sun-Dried Tomato Quiche, you are probably not thinking about how the eggs embedded within the foundation of your quiche go on to affect your body on a physiological level. Instead, you focus more on the obvious delicious aspects of the creation that you worked so hard to make. However, we are here to ensure that you can become more cognizant of how your body is affected once you have finished eating your delectable quiche. For this recipe, we will discuss eggs, a crucial ingredient in this quiche recipe and all other quiches you might make. Eggs are fascinating on various levels and many aspects of analysis can be highlighted. However, we will consider the component of cholesterol. We will again turn to both the historical and scientific literature to gain a better understanding of how our body is impacted after eating such a foundational ingredient. Cholesterol has the ability to affect the overall health of an individual in more ways than one. Continue reading

Are we making the right choices?

In my earlier post, I discussed the accessibility of food, and how some corporations have perverted nutritional science in order to benefit themselves. Access to food is an important issue, and in the United States it is often correlated to economic status. Those with more wealth have access to more expensive food. This more expensive food falls under three categories; luxury goods (such as truffles or imported fruits), meat, and locally grown/organic food (these categories were created by generalizing the groceries available in an upscale grocery store, such as Whole Foods). These three categories exist in tandem, meaning that those with access to more expensive food are faced with a choice between them. The local/organic food is the more ethical option, for reasons this blogpost will delve into later, but will people choose the more ethical option over the option that is less ethical but more satisfying to themselves? Will those with the option choose what is better for them or better for the environment? By addressing these questions using philosophical logic, this blogpost aims to explore the ethics of these three choices.

Before the philosophical logic is presented on the ethics of choosing to eat meat, we must dive into why local organic food is the more ethical option. Local/organic food is the more ethical option for one main reason; environmental impact. To start with, local/organic food is locally sourced, as can be inferred in the name. This means that there is less of an environmental impact from the transportation of local/organic food, than any of the other options. These other options likely had to be flown or driven in to the supermarket from the source, which can be a large chain of transport. The average transportation chain is shown in the graphic below:

Transportation Chain Graphic

Looking at this graphic, it is clear that the non-locally sourced option involves a large amount of transportation, whereas the local/organic option takes less transportation. Purely from a carbon emissions standpoint, it is clear that there is less of negative environmental impact in the short distance transportation of local/organic food than in the long distance transportation of other options. Local/organic foods also help benefit the local environment; by buying local food we can help maintain farmland and green space in our community.2 As the local/organic foods have less of an environmental impact, they are a more sustainable option. This means that purchasing local/organic foods is better for the future of the environment as a whole. Taking into account the environmental impact, and the positive effect on local areas, both positives that the other options do not have, it is clear that the local/organic options are the ethical choice. Meat was not mentioned in terms of environmental impact due to transportation, because meat can fall under either of these categories.

Now that it has been established that choosing local/organic options are more ethical than the luxury goods because of environmental impact, we must explore the ethics of eating meat. To do so, we must define speciesism. Speciesism is the idea in one’s species that their species is inherently better than any others.1 It is thought to be one of the reasons of why a species will justify killing another to eat it (learned from an interview with a Philosophy professor). If one species, for argumentative purposes we shall call it species A, believes itself to be inherently better than species B, then it will have no moral or ethical qualms about killing species B, whether it be for eating purposes or otherwise. We see this often in today’s world, as many people eat meat, and some even hunt for sport. In these people we see speciesism at its pinnacle, as neither type have qualms about killing another species. This is an explanation for why one species will eat another, and without this speciesism, we see the existence of individuals who make the choice not to eat meat. These individuals have conquered their speciesism, and in an interview with a vegetarian, he stated that the main reason for his vegetarianism was “because they were not better or more special than any animal that would be slaughtered for meat”. In further questions we learned that they came to this conclusion when they learned that animals could feel, and some could even have conscious thought (such as dolphins). With more knowledge of an animal’s characteristics, they were able to overcome the idea that their species was better than any others. This raises the question; does education about an animal’s ability to feel pain lead to the overcoming of speciesism (and in turn would education about the ethics of local/organic foods change people’s choice whether or not to purchase them)? In self-reflection, I found the answer to be no. While I know that an animal feels pain, and that they can potentially have conscious thought, I still am inclined to eat meat. However, it is not because of speciesism. I do not think myself to be better than any other species, yet I am still inclined to eat meat. While speciesism is definitely a factor in why humans eat meat, it is not the only reason. To be frank, after lots of thought, the main reason I choose to eat meat is because I enjoy the taste. I put selfish enjoyment over the well-being of another animal. I choose to put personal experience first. We cannot therefore make a sweeping exclamation about the ethics of eating meat; it comes down to the individual and whether they believe that their satisfaction is worth the life of an animal. There are those who choose not to, and further research needs to be done into the philosophical and psychological reasons those that choose not to eat meat do so.

It is clear that the local/organic option of food is the more ethical option, mainly due to environmental issues, and the ethics that come along with choosing to eat meat remain unresolved, and for the reader to determine for themselves. Little was gleamed from this exploration other than that there will be those who make the choice against the ethics, and those who take the ethics into account. Perhaps people choose the luxury goods because they are a form of conspicuous consumption, and a status symbol. More research should be done into the philosophical and psychological conundrums that occur when someone makes the choice to put their self-pleasure before anything else (in terms of food choices), and see if that is the case.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Citations:

 

1“Ethics – Animal Ethics: The Ethics of Speciesism.” BBC. Accessed November 26, 2018.

 

2Klavinski, Rita. “7 Benefits of Eating Local Foods.” Native Plants and Ecosystem Services. September 20, 2018. Accessed November 26, 2018.

 

The Consequences of Chocolate Regulations

Chocolate has become an essential part of American life, through seasonal holiday marketing, baking (as an ingredient, topping, or decoration), and everyday consumption. It started out as a popular drink in the colonies, often used as a calming mechanism or to improve digestion. Solid chocolate only emerged in the mid-19th century with a chalky, unpleasant texture. It wasn’t until around 1920, once milk had been incorporated into the chocolate, that people preferred eating chocolate to drinking it.1 The supply of chocolate in the U.S. became abundant as new technologies created affordable chocolate that turned it from an expensive luxury to a mass-consumed product. Continue reading

Peanuts; A Brief History

processing the peanuts

BASIC PEANUT BUTTER RECIPE

2 cups (300 grams) unsalted shelled peanuts

1/4 to 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 to 2 teaspoons honey

1 to 3 teaspoons peanut or vegetable oil, if needed

DIRECTIONS

Heat oven to 350°F. Add the nuts to a round or square cake pan (or rimmed baking sheet). Roast nuts for 3 minutes, shake pan then roast another 3 to 5 minutes or until the nuts are lightly browned and smell nutty. Let cool until you can handle them.

If you are making crunchy peanut butter, add 1/3 cup of the roasted peanuts to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 6 to 8 times, or until the peanuts are chopped into very small pieces. Transfer chopped peanuts to a bowl and reserve for later.

Add the roasted peanuts to the bowl of a food processor. Process 1 minute then scrape sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Process another 2 to 3 minutes until the peanut butter is shiny and smooth. Add your desired amount of salt and honey then process until combined. Check the consistency, if it seems too thick, add oil, a teaspoon at a time, until you are happy with it. For crunchy peanut butter, stir in the reserved peanuts1.

A Brief History of Peanuts & Peanut Allergies

A peanut dominant recipe, like this one, may sound appetizing and make your mouth water upon imaging the sweet, yet salty, smell of peanuts roasting in the oven. However, for many individuals, this smell is not only off-putting, but also deadly. In the US alone, 0.6-1.0% of the entire population has a peanut allergy. This means that at Colby College, a campus of around 2000 students, 12- 20 students would likely be allergic to peanuts, given this statistic. The interesting and complex history of both peanuts and peanut butter throughout recent years will be discussed in how it relates to current nutritional and dietary studies, especially in regards to peanut allergies2.

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Aeroponics: A Compliment to Hydroponics and the Food System of Space

Aeroponics, the process of growing plants in an air environment without the use of soil or a medium, has caught the attention of farmers and space voyagers alike. The process, which entails spraying a suspended plant’s dangling roots with nutrient-rich water, takes place within a controlled environment, with little exposure to outside influences. As a result, the environment boosts plant development, growth, health, and flowering. Aeroponics is often coupled with hydroponics, creating a blissful relationship that advances plant yield and turnover rate. In the 21st Century, alternative food systems are constantly being researched; moreover, aeroponics has the potential to eradicate current commercial food procedures, due to its ease of cultivation and quick crop rotation.

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Intermittent Fasting: Just Another Gimmick?

Diet fads are not new. Every so often, a group of scientists or fitness enthusiasts will release a new diet which they claim will help you lose weight and revitalize your health. These include the Atkins diet, Paleo diet, and plant-based diet, just to name a few. There is another fad, however, that has slowly crept into popular culture which claims to have more significant benefits than any other diet. There are many scientists, in fact, who tout it as a scientific breakthrough and should be practiced by all individuals. This new diet is called intermittent fasting. Researchers claim that a regulated regimen of periodic fasting and feeding can help increase metabolism, slow aging, and even help prevent cancer (Virgin). There are many skeptics who believe this is indeed another fad. I, however, along with many scientific researchers, believe that intermittent fasting is truly beneficial for human health and can be the key to preventing obesity and several diseases. Continue reading

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