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The Food Fix
Welcome to The Food Fix, where we talk with innovators figuring out how to better feed the world.
Category: Fitness & Nutrition
Location: East Lansing, Michigan
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The Food Fix is produced by students and faculty at the Global Center for Food Systems Innovation at Michigan State University....


by The Food Fix
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February 09, 2018 12:20 PM PST

By Max Johnston

Farms across the Midwestern United States are being forced to shut down and in some cases leave crops rotting in the field because farmers can’t fill open jobs.

According to one story, asparagus growers in Michigan lost over a million pounds of product in 2013 alone, due to labor shortages.

Stephanie Mercier is a principal at Agricultural Perspectives, a Washington DC-based consulting firm. She says that immigration laws are preventing Midwestern farmers from filling jobs, and that’s keeping food off the table.

In the immigration debate, voices from southern states like California, Nevada and Texas are often the loudest. But Midwestern farmers also rely on immigrant labor and have entirely different labor needs.

The problem? No one seems to be listening.

We talked about Midwestern crops, President Trump’s immigration plan and much more.

February 05, 2018 10:05 AM PST

By Gloria Nzeka

In countries like Sierra Leone in Africa, there are essentially two seasons: the wet season and the dry season.

This makes farming difficult. But something called ‘Inland Valley Swamp Farming’ may help.

Reporter Gloria Nzeka caught up with Sahr Joseph Kaifineh from Sierra Leone's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security to talk about IVS Farming.

January 29, 2018 01:22 PM PST

By Gloria Nzeka

Most know Stevia as a sweetener for their coffee or tea, but there is a complex agricultural operation behind the tiny packets.

Michigan State University just received a 3 million dollar grant to improve the taste of Stevia and help farmers produce it in the US.

Reporter Gloria Nzeka caught up with Ryan Warner, a professor in The Department of Horticulture at MSU, to talk about Stevia and the University’s research.

January 24, 2018 12:35 PM PST

Some critics argue that structural racism exists in many pillars of American society like the criminal justice system, politics and education.

Dr. Rich Pirog, the director of The Center for Regional Food Systems at Michigan State University, says that The US Food System has structural racism as well.

For the past two years Pirog and his colleagues have collected articles, studies and journals for an annotated bibliography on structural racism present in the US food system, now on the fifth edition.

Pirog talked about the origins of this structural racism, new efforts to address it and much more.

December 15, 2017 11:44 AM PST

By Max Johnston

To some, like myself, fried food is a delicacy. While frying some chicken in fat is delicious, it can harm our atmosphere.

The oil used in deep frying emits aerosols, small particles of solids and liquids, into the air. In London 10 percent of all airborne aerosols come from deep fryers alone.

And that frying could be affecting our weather.

These aerosols are all around us. They’re emitted by everything from hairspray to inhalers.
For a long time it’s been thought that aerosols are bad for the environment. They erode the earth’s ozone layer and contribute to climate change.

But researchers out of The University of Bath in the United Kingdom looked at the aerosols emitted from deep fryers. They say it’s a bit more complicated than that.

December 08, 2017 09:52 AM PST

By Max Johnston

When looking at the fight between crops and bacteria, it might help to think of it as a battle.

Attack and Defense. Bacteria tries to penetrate a plant’s armor and take it over. Plants build up their armor, and parry with acids and chemicals.

Researchers at Michigan State University have looked into this battle, and the role heat plays in the fight.

Bethany Huot is the lead author of a study out of MSU’s plant research laboratory. Her team's research focuses on how heat factors into this ‘bio-warfare.’

We talked about the battle between plants and pathogens and much more.

December 01, 2017 01:55 PM PST

By Gloria Nzeka

A non-profit organization in Pittsburgh is trying to feed hungry families, and decrease food waste through social media and networking.

412 Food Rescue works to bridge the disconnect between food waste, hunger and environmental sustainability.

We caught up with Co-Founder and CEO Leah Lizarando to talk about the program.

November 17, 2017 08:54 AM PST

By Gloria Nzeka

Eating healthy often appears to come with a high price tag or require a lot of effort and time. This is where creativity and Innovation in the food sector is needed.

One organization in Pittsburgh has successfully established an effective way to make healthy food accessible to the community.

"So we started this project where we go into the community and build
vegetables gardens in people’s backyards."

In this episode of the Food Fix, we spoke to Mr. Richard Piacentini, CEO of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh about Homegrown, a project that was inspired by former US first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Program.

Homegrown began as an initiative to encourage healthy eating habits in the
Pittsburgh community.

November 10, 2017 04:48 PM PST

By Max Johnston

This story is the second and final segment in our series on Childhood Hunger. Check out part I, here.

In the first part of our story, Susan Popkin from The Urban Institute talked about ‘food insecurity.’ Popkin said that food may be so hard to come by, that it may be leading children to crime.

“Hearing just, how matter of fact the kids were about ‘oh yeah, everybody runs out, nobody gets enough,’ that kids steal." Popkin said. "That they have to live with that everyday.”

Popkin and her team found that after-school programs, like the Harvest Share they started in Portland, Oregon, could address Childhood Hunger and the stigma around it.

Project Manager Micaela Lipman says that once kids were in these programs, they were eager to involve other people their age.

“They really, really, really wanted to work with other teenagers in other communities and learn what other folks were doing around the same issue," Lipman said. "So connecting with other teenage led groups in the area.”

Reporter Max Johnston takes you to a program in Lansing that's tackling childhood hunger.

November 03, 2017 03:46 PM PDT

By Max Johnston

This story is the first segment in a two-part story on childhood hunger.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, over 15 million households in the United States suffer from ‘food insecurity.’

Living in a food insecure household means that there isn’t easy access to high quality food. In fact, good food may be so hard to come by that it drives some kids and young adults to crime.

Susan Popkin is a Senior Fellow at The Urban Institute, a Washington DC-based thinktank.

She says food insecure households don’t have high-quality food, but they make do with what they have.

“They’re buying ramen noodles or something else that’s not perishable that they can keep around and is filling,” Popkin says. “It means a lot of times the adults in the house will go hungry or skip meals so that the kids can eat.”

Popkin and her team researched food insecurity in children and young adults from 10 communities across the country.

One of the many things that they found is that food insecure households are often located in so-called ‘food deserts.’ Areas, typically in cities, where grocery stores are few and far between.

“So instead they might have access to a bodega or a corner store where the prices are marked way up and the food quality is poor.” Popkin says. “They have to travel a long way to the full-service grocery store.”

Popkin says that most food insecure households qualify for some form of government assistance, but a lot of that money is used to just get them to a grocery store.

“I’ve talked to people that have spent an hour and half getting to the grocery store because they have to take two or three buses,” Popkin says.

Food insecurity trickles down to children and young adults, who often have a difficult decision to make. Some turn to crime to feed themselves and their families.

“Kids getting involved with stealing or even with feeling like they had to get involved with doing things for a gang and for girls getting involved with, they called it dating older guys,” Popkin says. “You know, they’re doing it because they don’t know what else to do.”

Popkin and her team at the Urban Institute found that being introduced to even small-scale crime at a young age had lasting effects on children and young adults. There were people from numerous communities that reported flunking out of school or seeing jail time.

The Urban Institute wanted to tackle food insecurity early on so they worked with a group of students near Portland, Oregon to design an after-school food program tailored to children and young adults.

“They came up with this idea that they would like to do a harvest share for their community. And that the kids would actually run the harvest share day. They set it up and checked everybody in and give everybody their grocery bag,” Popkin says.

Popkin says that having programs designed by and catered to children and teens got them access to food and brought in more people their age to the program.

A similar program has been operating in Lansing for the past decade. We’ll take a look at that program in part II of our series on childhood hunger.

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