Wartime Rationing, Food Supply and Meatless Campaigns

Today is World Food Day, a day of action dedicated to achieving Zero Hunger worldwide. So it seems especially appropriate today to consider the predictions concerning the rising population, which may reach 11.2 billion by 2100. A common concern associated with more people on the planet is food production and access. How will we produce enough food to feed a growing population? And how do we do this sustainably? One potential solution lies in what we do with the food we produce: we currently waste about one third of the food we produce for human consumption annually.

For some new solutions we can look back to the old, particularly the food conservation efforts of the First and Second World Wars, when massive food redistribution programs sought to reduce American at-home food consumption and channel more food overseas to Allied soldiers and Europeans. During the First World War, the amount of food consumed

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Meat the Midwest

I’m in my graduate class of public health nutrition students—many of whom are vegans, vegetarians or plant-based eaters—when I pull out my Tupperware filled with leftover grilled steak kabobs. I feel like I’m serving BBQ at a PETA meeting. My cohort isn’t particularly judgmental, and even though I’ve been eating meat my whole life, I feel guilty about biting into my (juicy, red) meat in front of them.

I grew up in southern Illinois—emphasis on southern—which is nowhere near Chicago. A meal wasn’t a meal without a meat entrée Read More >

Protein: Year of the Pulse

This post is the second in a series, Protein—Everything You Always Wanted to Know But Were Too Afraid to Ask. Stay tuned for Part 3!

Year of the Pig, Year of the Goat, Year of the Pulse??? Every year, the United Nations initiates special observances to promote international awareness and action on important issues. This year is the Year of the Pulses.

Pulses for sale at a market

Pulses are a subgroup of legumes used mainly as protein sources in the diet. Common pulses include beans, dried peas, chickpeas and lentils. They’re high in protein, fiber and many vitamins. Known as being hearty crops and for their ability to grow easily in a variety of conditions, they’re an excellent part of healthy diets all across the world. (Legumes that are used as vegetables—peas, green beans or soybeans and groundnuts for oils—are not considered pulses.[i])

Pulses deserve a lot more attention than they get. Here are five great reasons to love a pulse:

  1. Nutrition and health
  2. Global and local food security
  3. The environment and climate
  4. Cost and simplicity
  5. Taste and variety

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China’s Changing Diet: How to Turn the Tide

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 >

China’s Changing Diet: Environment and Health Impacts

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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Meat, Paris, and Next Steps

roni-neff-cop21-parisThis post appeared on Food Tank on December 17, 2015.

We were in a public eatery outside Paris, surprised to find ourselves stumped by the question of how to get a serving of vegetables without taking any meat. The server handed customers plates only after putting one of several meat options on them, and my colleague, Raychel Santo, and I were eyeing the vegetable trays at the end of the line. We passed on the meat, but when we got to the veggies, drama ensued: because we’d passed on the meat, we didn’t have plates. We had to go backwards and ask the meat servers for plates, at which point they started to scoop meat onto them. No, just the plates, please. Just the plates? What will you do with just a plate? Granted, my French lacks finesse. But surely it can’t have been that unusual for people at the world’s major climate change conference to skip meat?

The incident in fact reflected our overall experience of marginalization at the COP21. Read More >

Why Must the USDA Flip-Flop on Meatless Monday?

USDA Dietary Guidelines: Where's the Beef in this photo?

This blogpost appeared in Huffington Post Food on August 2, 2012.

Last week, I watched with astonishment as a U.S. Cabinet member was intimidated by the industry his agency is charged with overseeing. Under pressure, Secretary Tom Vilsack, who heads the U.S. Department of Agriculture, capitulated to Big Meat. It’s nothing new to see industry’s influence on government, but when it takes the form of imposing action that holds the public’s health in disregard, it is especially  sobering.

The sad chain of events began last Monday, when a USDA employee encouraged participation in the Meatless Monday Campaign in an online newsletter circulated among its employees, as part of its “greening” effort. The newsletter said, “One simple way to reduce your environmental impact while dining at our cafeterias is to participate in the ‘Meatless Monday’ initiative.” Read More >

Survey Results from Sodexo’s Meatless Monday Initiative

Fewer than three weeks on the job and I have the privilege of writing my first official blog post about the release of exciting survey results from Sodexo’s Meatless Monday Initiative. Who is Sodexo and what are the exciting results, you ask?

First, let me introduce myself. I am the new Project Director of the Johns Hopkins Meatless Monday Project, which was launched in 2003 to serve as the scientific adviser to the national Meatless Monday campaign, a non-profit initiative of The Monday Campaigns in association with the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH). I recently completed my MSPH degree in Human Nutrition and certification as a Registered Dietitian through a coordinated program at the JHSPH. I am thrilled to be back at the Center in this capacity, and look forward to applying my knowledge, skills and enthusiasm surrounding food, nutrition, public health, and environmental sustainability to direct this exciting and dynamic project. Read More >

U.S. Dept. of the Interior among 2,000 Sodexo clients offered Meatless Monday

The Meatless Monday campaign just gained America’s protector of natural resources and heritage as one of its latest supporters. The U.S. Department of the Interior is one of Sodexo’s more than 2,000 corporate and government clients, which the food service giant encouraged to adopt its Meatless Monday initiative.

Sodexo announced today that it is all part of the company’s ongoing efforts to boost health and wellness and promote sustainability in the North American communities where it serves as many as 10 million meals a day. The Department of Interior joins several of Sodexo’s well-known clients, such as Toyota and Northern Trust Bank in adopting Meatless Monday.

The non-profit Meatless Monday campaign, which is operated out of New York City, was launched in 2003 with the help of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Center for a Livable Future. The public health campaign was first started simply to reduce America’s saturated fat consumption by 15%, following the recommendations of the Healthy People 2010 report issued by then U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher in 2000.

While reducing potential negative health effects, such as cardiovascular disease, remains a key goal, a few years ago the initiative expanded its focus to environmental impacts of intensive meat production. Those impacts can be quite substantial. Research suggests that it takes 20 times the amount of fossil-fuel energy to produce conventional beef protein than plant-based protein. According to a study out of California, it takes about 2,000 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. That’s almost ten times more than the 220 gallons water needed to produce a pound of tofu.

A Sodexo spokesperson says the Department of Interior reports that, “the population of customers at DOI is very health and environmentally conscience, so that Meatless Monday is a welcome addition to our program.” In a Sodexo news release, Toyota executive Will Nicklas was quoted as saying, “Meatless Monday has been successful here primarily because Sodexo helps our customers understand that it is not at all about becoming vegetarians or even weight loss, it’s about taking easy steps to guard our health and be good stewards of our environment.” Read More >

Oprah Enthusiastically Throws Her Support Behind Meatless Monday


Oprah celebrates Meatless Monday

Oprah celebrates Meatless Monday

Talk show host Oprah Winfrey may have just encouraged a large segment of her 30 million viewers to join the Meatless Monday movement following her latest show which gave us a rare glimpse into where some of our meat comes from.

The Meatless Monday campaign’s national awareness has more than doubled in the last 2 years. An FGI Research survey found that 30 percent of Americans are aware of the public health campaign. My guess is that following Oprah’s very public backing and the announcement last month that the food service company Sodexo implemented Meatless Monday national and global awareness is going to sky rocket!

The episode, entitled “Oprah and 378 Staffers Go Vegan: The One Week Challenge” featured celebrated “veganist” Kathy Freston and journalist Michael Pollan, best known for his book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” A large chunk of the show followed Freston encouraging sometimes belligerent but mostly willing Oprah Show staff members to eat a vegan diet for one week and their testimonials on how they did. A few employees said the experience helped them lose weight and become healthier. Following her experience, Oprah decided, quite enthusiastically, that her studio’s café would do Meatless Monday every week.

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Center for a Livable Future helped launch the national Meatless Monday campaign back in 2003. The campaign’s primary focus is to reduce America’s saturated fat consumption by 15%, following the recommendations of the Healthy People 2010 report issued by then U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher in 2000. Key recommendations from the recently released Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 reiterate the message that we need to reduce our consumption of solid and saturated fats.

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