Over one billion people worldwide lack adequate access to healthy food, even as the global food supply is more than adequate. At the same time, obesity persists, and diet-related diseases are the leading cause of death in the U.S. University of Michigan researchers are analyzing how food access disparities manifest in different communities, and are assessing the efficacy of current and potential policy solutions. Experts at the Sustainable Food Systems Initiative coordinate multidisciplinary approaches, while the Campus Farm and U-M Sustainable Food Program provide living, learning laboratories for U-M students to support more equitable food systems.
All signs point to bananas
To LSA Collegiate Fellow and anthropologist Alyssa Paredes, the banana narrative is a parable for commerce, environmental degradation, and disparity. By uncovering the complex paradoxes and disconnects in the banana industry, Paredes reveals how industrialized food production shapes the fate of many rural regions in our world.
This is how you feed potential
We’ve all heard the axiom: “Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime.” That’s all well and good, says Alex Bryan, BA ’07. “But it’s a lot easier to learn to fish if you’re not really hungry at the time.”
Faculty Spotlight: Jessica Kenyatta Walker
“The reason your neighborhood and your food system are connected is that they are your network. Your neighborhood is also where you can see investment and see those investments in your lawn, your business, your neighborhood, returned, because people stay.”
Faculty Spotlight: Cindy Leung
My research program mostly centers around food insecurity. For the past three to four years, I have been focused on student food insecurity because it has become such an emergent issue around college students’ health and wellbeing.
Even before COVID-19, many adults over 50 lacked stable food supply, didn’t use assistance
Even before the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc with the nation’s food supply and economy, one in seven adults between the ages of 50 and 80 already had trouble getting enough food because of cost or other issues, a new poll finds. The percentage who said they’d experienced food insecurity in the past year was even higher among those in their pre-Medicare years, and those who are African American or Latino.
Children with access to SNAP fare better as adults
Children whose families have access to food assistance get more education, live longer and are less likely to rely on public assistance or be incarcerated as they grow up, according to a U-M-led study.
Leah Penniman: “Farming While Black: Uprooting Racism, Seeding Sovereignty”
Some of our most cherished sustainable farming practices — from organic agriculture to the farm cooperative and the CSA — have roots in African wisdom. Yet, discrimination and violence against African-American farmers has led to our decline from 14 percent of all growers in 1920 to less than 2 percent today, with a corresponding loss of over 14 million acres of land.
For children, food insecurity means not only hunger but also stress, sadness
Parents who experience food insecurity might think they’re protecting their children from their family’s food situation by eating less or different foods so their children can be spared. But a new study led by U-M researchers shows that children know more about food insecurity—the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food—than their parents give them credit for.
Zahir Janmohamed: “De-colonizing Food Journalism”
Zahir Janmohamed, co-founder of the James Beard nominated podcast Racist Sandwich, discusses why he thinks the subjects of race, gender, class cannot be separated from discussions about food; and offers advice and lessons learned from his successes and failures to get traditional media to center their stories around non-white, non-male voices.
Health Inequities: The Poor Person’s Experience in America
Jessica Holmes presents an overview of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the potential impact of recent proposals on food insecure families, noting the impact of poverty on one’s overall health and life expectancy.
The (R)evolution of Indigenous Food Systems of North America
Sean Sherman, Oglala Lakota from the Pine Ridge reservation and founder of The Sioux Chef, is committed to revitalizing Native American cuisine. Through his research, Sherman has mapped out the foundations of indigenous food systems through an indigenous perspective.