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General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Reblog] Why FoodScapes

English: Map from the Global Hunger Index publ...

English: Map from the Global Hunger Index published by IFPRI, Welthungerhilfe and Concern (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why FoodScapes | FoodScapes.

From the 8 October post

Global food trade has come a long way. Is it for the better or has it made survival, nutrition, diversity and safety better.  There is a vast, complicated web of food systems throughout the globe. I think it is an essential topic that influences public health or vice versa. Consumers have a variety of fruits and vegetables at their fingertips due to even more complex trade agreements.  We have become dependent on import/export of foods, that many of us have completely lost touch or are growing up not knowing where our foods come from and how it came to be in its form. It is what we eat.  Be advised that a good portion of what I do write about (rusty) will pinpoint New Mexico.  However, much of what I write is based on a perspective of think local, act global and I feel that foodshed research is essential to that kind of thinking.  Below are some examples.

High Food Price Index Coincides with Civil Unrest: Surely people fight over this stuff as it posits a large portion of a nation’s wealth.  There are numerous studies done by economists and Food and Agriculture Organization that negatively correlate a global hunger index and food price index and incidences of civil unrest.  According to a Cornell University study, an analysis of Arab nation uprisings coincided with food index price increases.  They did also acknowledge and control for other social justice and political issues, but it would be difficult to ignore the relationship between food and other issues in a country.

This could be for a number of reasons, and I believe that this has to do with balancing expenses and food being the highest expense. It is one of my biggest monthly expenses and has been getting much harder to budget into the household income.  And I cook often and find myself scratching my head wondering why $20 doesn’t go as far as it used to, but at least that is all I do and that is a privilege-not the case across the globe.   This reached a high in 2010 and the anger was very apparent in Egypt.

food commodity price index                 foodpriceindex72014

Food shed and Local Economies: There is a significant economic impact that the food industry has on local markets, such as small rural communities that can make or break job opportunities and small business entrepreneurships.  In New Mexico 90% of agricultural products directly or indirectly related to the food industry are exported as reported in Dreaming New Mexico.  The same goes for imported food.  However, much of the imported food is not the same shape as when it was imported and has been transformed into a food product.


October 16, 2014 Posted by | environmental health, Nutrition | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘One Billion Hungry’ Peak Missing From New FAO Numbers‘One Billion Hungry’ Peak Missing From New FAO Numbers

The article seems to point out that progress is probably being made in addressing world hunger, despite problems with reporting and statistical “number crunching”.  Still, hunger is directly related to government policies (as subsidizing export crops).

From the 10 October 2012 article at the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development

A revised estimate of the number of hungry people in the world was released yesterday, classifying 870 million as undernourished between 2010-12. Missing from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s figures was any reference to the one billion mark that the agency had claimed was reached in 2009 due to high food prices and the economic crisis. The new report cited a change in methodology and improved data as reasons for the shift…


Finding that there are 132 million fewer people hungry in 2010-12 than 1990-92, the report insists that the Millennium Development Goal of halving the prevalence of hunger in developing countries by 2015 is within reach if the trend continues.

The share of undernourished people in the developing world has fallen from 23.2 to 14.9 percent over the aforementioned 20 year period. Achieving the MDG would mean cutting that number to 11.6 percent, while current projections suggest that 12.5 percent is possible…


Those directing policy interventions, he argued, must know who the malnourished are, where they are located and when they are malnourished to be effective.

Gains made between 1990 and 2007 have since stalled due to the impact of the global economic slowdown. The report calls for safety nets for the most vulnerable, along with broad-based economic growth – particularly in agriculture – as a way of reducing the number of hungry.

SOFI cautions that growth in the agricultural sector, if policies fail to focus on crops grown widely by smallholders or those vulnerable to hunger, is not sufficient to improve food security. It cites Tanzania as a particular case where export-oriented cash crops, such as cotton and tobacco, received government research and extension support instead of assistance that is more directly tied to undernourishment – maize, root crops, pulses, and oilseeds…

The new SOFI paints a picture of global hunger that has gone from a worsening situation to a “steady improvement,” Svedberg observed in an exchange with Bridges. This has turned the “hunger problem” on its head, he added. Older estimates showed the hunger condition deteriorating, while the new numbers suggest that things are improving or stable…


Policy extends to a country’s infrastructure. For example, if roads are not in good condition, this leads to an increase in food prices.
I am a Facebook friend with a nurse in Liberia (met during a 2009 service project trip with the Friends of Liberia).  Recently he remarked on how much prices are increasing overall on consumer goods. This didn’t surprise me because of images I’ve seen within the past few months on Liberians roads, which are mostly dirt ..turning to almost unsurpassable mud during the 3 month rainy season.

While the UN commendably is working on improving road conditions, the problem remains for the present.
A few pics and images.
(Back when I was in Liberia as a Peace Corps volunteer in the early 80’s, I was only on the road once or twice in similar conditions.
Not sure why it is worse now, perhaps an increasing population and/or greater demand for goods).

This was taken about 15 miles from where I was stationed while in the Peace Corps. To be honest, I don’t remember ever being this bad.
Click here for related article.


“The road condition is causing serious shortages of basic goods around Tappita, Saclapea, Bahn as well as other towns and villages around Ganta,” said one of the local traders.

The bad road condition has caused transportation fares from Ganta to Tappita to go up to L$ 1200 from L$ 600 recently,” he added.

The bad road condition has also stalled movement from Ganta to Sanniquellie answer as far as the Loguatuo border in the Gbehlay Geh District


Harrison Wongbay, a store owner in Ganta and member of Ganta Trade Union proclaims, “Nimba County comes second in revenue collection in Liberia and in terms of food production again, Nimba is number one.  So [we don’t understand] why this piece of road between here and Gbarnga cannot be rehabilitated.”

“Because of this piece of road, he added, “truck owners are charging heavy fees to transport our goods to Nimba from Monrovia.”

If you search YouTube with the phrase Liberia roads, the results will include..


October 21, 2012 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , , | 1 Comment


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