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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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 >

“Meating” Local Demand

Caitlin Fisher

Caitlin Fisher

Program Officer

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

slaughter_facilities_map copy

click to enlarge map of slaughter facilities in Maryland

Memorial Day weekend—a time to gather with friends and family, honor those who died while serving in the military, and celebrate the warmer summer months to come. And for many, it’s a time to clean off and fire up the old grill.

As the holiday weekend approaches, you may find yourself thinking about where to buy your hamburgers and other grilling essentials. Should you visit your neighborhood farmers market and buy from a local farmer? Or head over to the family-owned butcher shop down the street? Or maybe you will scour the grocery shelves for any sign of products from a local farm. Read More >

Ruffled Feathers at Wicomico County Town Hall

Claire Fitch

Claire Fitch

Program Officer, Food System Policy Program

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

RS181_White chickens behind screen door 91830955-scrIt was 9:30 at night. The 100 or so people attending the Poultry Town Hall Meeting had been listening to a panel of speakers for two and a half hours, and the staff was ready to close up for the night. But the Q&A session would not wind down, and the Wicomico County Council President took the microphone to refute some points made by a team of us at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. (cf., this letter.)

The town hall took place in Salisbury, Maryland, at the Wicomico Youth and Read More >

Edible Insects: Ethics, Efficiency, and the Vegan Dilemma

Raychel Santo

Raychel Santo

Sr. Research Program Coordinator

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Edible insects at Grub Kitchen, UK.

Edible insects at Grub Kitchen, UK.

I cringed a bit as Andy Holcroft, head chef at Grub Kitchen (the UK’s first edible insect restaurant), described his first attempt at preparing food with insects. He had tried to make a dip out of mealworms, but ended up with a blender full of unpalatable gray slime. He realized at that moment that cooking with insects would be far different than the foods he’d prepared in his many years as a chef. A few years later, you’d never know it from looking at his menu – comprising an assortment of delicious insect-based and non-insect-based dishes, including toasted cumin mealworm hummus, dry-roasted seasoned insects, bug bhajis with cucumber raita, bug burgers, cricket and chickpea falafel, smoked chipotle cricket and black bean chilli, and cricket flour cookies. Read More >

CLF Responds to Misleading White Paper about Meat and Climate Change

Claire Fitch

Claire Fitch

Program Officer, Food System Policy Program

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

A few weeks ago, Dr. Frank Mitloehner—a Professor at the University of California, Davis—released a white paper, “Livestock’s Contributions to Climate Change: Facts and Fiction.” In it, Dr. Mitloehner uses incomplete greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions statistics to downplay the environmental impacts of animal agriculture. He states that livestock production is responsible for only 4.2% of U.S. GHG emissions, which fails to account for several major emissions sources (including the production of animal feed, the transportation of feed and animal products, and several other sources). The paper is critical of efforts, such as Meatless Monday, that encourage citizens to understand how their diet choices affect the environment and begin to reduce intake of animal products.

The Center for a Livable Future has provided technical assistance and scientific expertise to the national Meatless Monday campaign since 2003. We have addressed Dr. Mitloehner’s mischaracterization of the evidence and continue to support the adoption of Meatless Mondays as an achievable way for most Americans to take a step toward reducing their environmental footprint. Read our complete response to Dr. Mitloehner’s white paper here.

Limiting Antibiotics Misuse in Food Animals – Legislation We Need

Claire Fitch

Claire Fitch

Program Officer, Food System Policy Program

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

This blogpost is co-authored by Claire Fitch, Robert Martin, and Keeve Nachman.

RS47_E. Coli 104696230-scrAntibiotic resistance is a major public health crisis. Continued misuse of antibiotics will result in these lifesaving drugs no longer being effective in treating even the most routine infections.  Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide support for the need for immediate action to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics. Each year, at least two million Americans develop these infections, and of those, 23,000 die from them. Antibiotic-resistant infections are more costly to treat, can require lengthier hospital stays, and are more likely to require invasive procedures like surgery. Read More >

The Black Box – An inside look at the Dietary Guidelines process

Becky Ramsing

Becky Ramsing

Senior Program Officer, Food Communities & Public Health Program

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Frank Hu, February 26, 2016 at CLF.

Frank Hu, February 26, 2016 at CLF.

Every five years USDA and HHS hammer out a revised set of recommendations for how Americans should eat. The process, resulting in the Dietary Guidelines, is supposed to be transparent, accessible and systematic. But there is a black box in the process, says Dr. Frank Hu.

Dr. Hu is a member of the most recent Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) and a professor on the faculty of both the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. On February 26, he offered some insight into the process at the invitation of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, addressing students, faculty and staff at the Bloomberg School. Read More >

In Annapolis Policymakers Claim to Protect Farmers, Protect Bay

Christine Grillo

Christine Grillo

Contributing Writer

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Environmental Integrity Project“Farmers are the best preservationists,” said Maryland Senate President Thomas V. (Mike) Miller. “They’re God-fearing, law-abiding, loyal, hardworking people. And agriculture is the Number One business in Maryland.”

Yesterday morning the Maryland State Assembly began its session, and kicking it off was a summit convened in Annapolis by Baltimore radio show host Marc Steiner at WEAA (88.9 FM) and cosponsored by the CLF. The issues that seemed to burn the brightest were those around education, felons’ voting rights, and the opioid epidemic, as well as a short discussion about police brutality—although questions of conservation and agriculture Read More >

Dietary Guidelines Confusing on Red Meat

Christine Grillo

Christine Grillo

Contributing Writer

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

USDA MyPlate, 2010

USDA MyPlate, 2010

Last week the USDA and HHS released the new 2015 Dietary Guidelines. And while there are some evidence-based recommendations that make a lot of sense, there are some recommendations that leave us scratching our heads. There is also a disturbing omission of environmental concerns.

Perhaps the biggest piece of good news is that the Guidelines clearly call for a reduction in the consumption of “added sugars”—the new recommendation calls for a maximum 10 percent of daily calories. Could the agencies have gone a step further and specified that sodas and sugary drinks make up a big part of “added sugars?” Why, yes, they could have done that. Marion Nestle writes that “added sugars is a euphemism” Read More >