If We All Ate Enough Fruits and Vegetables, There Will be Big Shortages

Allison Aubrey wrote . . . . . . . . .

If everyone around the globe began to eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, there wouldn’t be enough to go around. That’s the conclusion of a new study published in The Lancet Planetary Health.

Currently, only about 55% of people around the globe live in countries with adequate availability of fruits and vegetables – enough to meet the World Health Organization’s minimum target of 400 grams per person, per day.

With economic growth, presumably, production will expand. But the researchers project that by 2050, an estimated 1.5 billion more people will live in places with insufficient supply – unless challenges such as food waste and improved productivity are solved.

The report comes at a time when poor diets are a leading cause of premature death. In fact, a recent study founddiets are now responsible for more deaths than smoking around the globe. And it’s become increasingly clear that current dietary patterns are detrimental to the environment, too. Recent studies, including the EAT-Lancet study and the Global Nutrition Report, have pointed to the need for a radical shift in the food system aimed at nudging people toward more nutritious and sustainable diets.

“Current diets are detrimental to both human and planetary health and shifting towards more balanced, predominantly plant-based diets is seen as crucial to improving both,” write the authors of the new Lancet Planetary Health study.

Currently, the global supply of calories is more than enough to meet consumption. But many people eat poor-quality diets “characterized by cheap calories, highly processed foods and overconsumption,” the study concludes. These factors promote obesity – so we now live in a world where many people are simultaneously overweight and malnourished. The challenge is to promote a food system that moves “its focus from quantity toward dietary quality and health,” The authors conclude. The study authors include researchers from the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, D.C., and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Australia.

The authors argue that several actions are needed to meet the challenges: increased investments in fruit and vegetable production; increased efforts to educate people about the importance of healthy diets; and – given that about one-third of food produced globally is wasted – new technologies and practices to reduce food waste.

The predictions for fruit and vegetable shortfalls are based on modeling. The researchers draw on food production data, but there is uncertainty in their estimates, given factors such as a lack of data on global waste.

Nonetheless, they forecast that several countries will make gains in the availability of produce — such as India and Morocco. But Mexico and several countries in Central and South America, sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Pacific region will likely fail to have adequate supplies.

Another new report released Tuesday, from the World Resources Institute, focuses on ways to reform the food system to improve the health of the planet. It’s a deep-dive that’s been years in the making by a group of widely respected, science-based analysts.

They argue that we need to close three key gaps in order to feed the projected 9.8 billion people that will inhabit the planet by 2050: the food gap, the land gap and the greenhouse gas gap.

Consider this: The difference between the amount of food produced in 2010 and the amount we need by 2050 is an estimated 7,400 trillion calories, according to the report. Yes, the number is so big that it’s hard to imagine it. But the bottom line is, we need to get more calories from the world’s current cropland.

One way to do this is through improvements in breeding and technological advancements. The report spells out other fixes, too, including reducing the use of biofuels that divert edible crops to produce energy and reducing food waste. (The group ReFED has laid out these cost-effective strategies to cut food waste).

Yet another proposed fix: Nudge people toward a more plant-centered diet. Currently, agriculture uses nearly half of the globe’s vegetated land – and at least 30 percent of all cropland is used to grow feed for animals. The resource intensiveness of meat production is a leading cause of deforestation. If current trends continue, the WRI report estimates that we’d need an extra 593 million hectares – an area that is almost twice the size of India — to feed the population in 2050.

Currently, agriculture and the land-use changes associated with producing food — such as plowing and clearing vegetation — generate an estimated 25 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions, according to WRI. If today’s consumption trends continue, but agricultural productivity does not increase (beyond 2010 levels), the report concludes that we would have to clear most of the globe’s remaining forests to feed the world. And we’d exceed the greenhouse gas emission targets set by the Paris Agreement, which call for holding global warming below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures.

Ruminant livestock (including cattle, sheep and goats) use an estimated two-thirds of all the land dedicated to agriculture and contribute about half of the greenhouse gas emissions linked to agriculture. Demand for meat is growing as more people, in more countries, can afford it. But the report concludes that cutting back on ruminant meat consumption could have a significant impact.

The WRI estimates that if people in the U.S. and other heavy meat-eating countries reduced their consumption of beef (and other meat from ruminants) to about 1.5 burgers per person, per week, it would “nearly eliminate the need for additional agricultural expansion (and associated deforestation), even in a world with 10 billion people.” (The Better Buying Lab, an arm of WRI that focuses on getting people to eat more sustainably, has come up with some clever research-backed marketing ideas to get people to make the plant-centric switch.)

The WRI’s new findings are similar to recommendation made earlier this year by the EAT- Lancet study. A meat industry-funded group has responded to calls for cuts in meat consumption with its own analysis that concludes limiting meat and dairy consumption would have negative consequences. In this analysis, the Animal Agriculture Alliance concludes that meat and dairy provide “unmatched nutrition for healthy bodies, brains and bones.” The analysis also concludes that “U.S. farmers and ranchers continue to make huge strides in conserving natural resources and protecting the environment.”

As the population continues to grow, the conversations around how to change the food system to promote good health and environmental sustainability will go on.

Source: npr

Low Fruit and Vegetable Intake May Account for Millions of Deaths

Chiara Townley wrote . . . . . . . . .

Findings from a new study suggest that inadequate consumption of fruits and vegetables may be a major factor in heart disease death.

Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, fiber, potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants.

A diet that includes fruits and vegetables can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, and improve digestive health.

Previous research — part of the Harvard-based Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study — confirmed that a diet containing lots of fruits and vegetables can even lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.

After analyzing these results and combining them with findings from other studies, researchers estimated that the risk of heart disease is 20% lower among individuals who eat more than five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, compared with those who eat fewer than three servings per day.

The United States Department of Agriculture recommend that adults eat at least 1.5 to 2 cups per day of fruit and 2–3 cups per day of vegetables. According to another study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only around 1 in 10 adults meet these guidelines.

The global impact of inadequate nutrition

Now, a new study — the results of which the researchers presented at Nutrition 2019, the American Society for Nutrition annual meeting in Baltimore, MD — suggests that a low fruit intake can cause 1 in 7 deaths from heart disease, and that a low vegetable intake can cause 1 in 12 deaths from heart disease.

Analyzing data from 2010, researchers found that low fruit consumption resulted in almost 2 million deaths from cardiovascular disease, while low vegetable intake resulted in 1 million deaths. The global impact was more significant in countries with a low average consumption of fruits and vegetables.

The data suggest that low fruit consumption results in more than 1 million deaths from stroke and more than 500,000 deaths from heart disease worldwide every year, while low vegetable intake results in about 200,000 deaths from stroke and more than 800,000 deaths from heart disease per year.

“Our findings indicate the need for population-based efforts to increase fruit and vegetable consumption throughout the world,” says study co-author Victoria Miller, a postdoctoral researcher at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Medford, MA.

Tracking death toll by region, age, and sex

The researchers tracked the death toll by region, age, and sex using diet surveys and food availability data of 113 countries. They combined these with data on causes of death in each country and data on the cardiovascular risk linked to low fruit and vegetable intake.

The findings showed that fruit intake was lower in South Asia, East Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa, while vegetable consumption was lower in Central Asia and Oceania. Countries in these regions have low average fruit and vegetable intakes and high rates of deaths from heart disease and stroke.

When the researchers analyzed the impact of inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption by age and sex, they found that the biggest impact was among young adults and males. Miller adds that females tend to eat more fruits and vegetables.

“These findings indicate a need to expand the focus to increasing availability and consumption of protective foods like fruits, vegetables, and legumes — a positive message with tremendous potential for improving global health”, said Senior study author Dariush Mozaffarian, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy

Source: Medical News Today

Eating Colourful Fruits and Vegetables Lowering Risk of Age-related Cataracts

A $5.7 billion global medical bill to restore sight for the estimated 45 million people with cataracts could be slashed in half by a diet rich in colourful fruits and vegetables, according to an international study.

Researchers from China and the University of South Australia have published the first study of its kind to verify the link between foods high in antioxidants and a lower risk of age-related cataracts (ARC).

UniSA Senior Research Fellow Dr Ming Li and colleagues from Xi’an Jiaotong University analysed 20 studies from around the world looking at the impact of vitamins and carotenoids on cataract risk.

Despite some inconsistencies, the findings overwhelmingly support the benefits of eating citrus fruits, capsicum, carrots, tomatoes and dark green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and kale to delay the onset of ARC.

Their paper has been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition ahead of World Optometry Week (March 26-30).

“Age-related cataracts are the leading cause of visual impairment among the elderly throughout the world, with unoperated cataracts contributing to 35 per cent of all blindness,” Dr Li says. “Although cataract extraction surgery is an effective method to restore vision, it will have cost society more than $5.7 billion by 2020.”

With the population ageing dramatically and an increasing number of people needing surgery, urgent action is needed, the researchers say.

“If we could delay the onset of ARC by 10 years it could halve the number of people requiring surgery.”

Improvements would rely on global changes to most of the world’s diet, however, with current consumption of antioxidants well below the recommended level to prevent age-related cataracts.

Source: University of South Australia

Today’s Comic

2019 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce Released by the Environmental Working Group

See large image . . . . .

See large image . . . . .

Source: Environmental Working Group

Fruit and Vegetable Safety

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Eating a diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables provides important health benefits, but it’s important that you select and prepare them safely.

Fruits and vegetables add nutrients to your diet that help protect you from heart disease, stroke, and some cancers. In addition, choosing vegetables, fruits, nuts, and other produce over high-calorie foods can help you manage your weight.

But sometimes raw fruits and vegetables contain harmful germs, such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria, that can make you and your family sick. In the United States, nearly half of foodborne illnesses are caused by germs on fresh produce.

The safest produce is cooked; the next safest is washed. Enjoy uncooked fruits and vegetables while taking steps to avoid foodborne illness, also known as food poisoning.

At the store or market:

  • Choose produce that isn’t bruised or damaged.
  • Keep pre-cut fruits and vegetables cold by choosing produce that is refrigerated or kept on ice.
  • Separate fruits and vegetables from raw meat, poultry, and seafood in your shopping cart and in your grocery bags.

At home:

  • Wash your hands, kitchen utensils, and food preparation surfaces, including chopping boards and countertops, before and after preparing fruits and vegetables.
  • Clean fruits and vegetablesExternal before eating, cutting, or cooking, unless the package says the contents have been washed.
  • Wash or scrub fruits and vegetables under running water—even if you do not plan to eat the peel—so dirt and germs on the surface do not get inside when you cut.
  • Cut away any damaged or bruised areas before preparing or eating.
  • Dry fruit or vegetables with a clean paper towel.
  • Keep fruits and vegetables separate from raw foods from animals, such as meat, poultry, and seafood.
  • Refrigerate fruits and vegetables you have cut, peeled, or cooked within 2 hours (or 1 hour if the outside temperature is 90°or warmer). Chill them at 40°F or colder in a clean container.

Groups With a Higher Chance of Food Poisoning

Anyone can get a foodborne illness, but people in certain groups are more likely to get sick and to have a more serious illness. These groups are:

  • Children younger than age 5
  • Pregnant women
  • Adults aged 65 and older
  • People with weakened immune systems

If you or someone you care for has a greater chance of foodborne illness, it’s especially important to take steps to prevent it.

Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services