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Concept: Food security


Improving diet quality while simultaneously reducing environmental impact is a critical focus globally. Metrics linking diet quality and sustainability have typically focused on a limited suite of indicators, and have not included food waste. To address this important research gap, we examine the relationship between food waste, diet quality, nutrient waste, and multiple measures of sustainability: use of cropland, irrigation water, pesticides, and fertilizers. Data on food intake, food waste, and application rates of agricultural amendments were collected from diverse US government sources. Diet quality was assessed using the Healthy Eating Index-2015. A biophysical simulation model was used to estimate the amount of cropland associated with wasted food. This analysis finds that US consumers wasted 422g of food per person daily, with 30 million acres of cropland used to produce this food every year. This accounts for 30% of daily calories available for consumption, one-quarter of daily food (by weight) available for consumption, and 7% of annual cropland acreage. Higher quality diets were associated with greater amounts of food waste and greater amounts of wasted irrigation water and pesticides, but less cropland waste. This is largely due to fruits and vegetables, which are health-promoting and require small amounts of cropland, but require substantial amounts of agricultural inputs. These results suggest that simultaneous efforts to improve diet quality and reduce food waste are necessary. Increasing consumers' knowledge about how to prepare and store fruits and vegetables will be one of the practical solutions to reducing food waste.

Concepts: Nitrogen, Recycling, Sustainability, Food security, Eating, Irrigation, Agriculture, Nutrition


Food loss is widely recognized as undermining food security and environmental sustainability. However, consumption of resource-intensive food items instead of more efficient, equally nutritious alternatives can also be considered as an effective food loss. Here we define and quantify these opportunity food losses as the food loss associated with consuming resource-intensive animal-based items instead of plant-based alternatives which are nutritionally comparable, e.g., in terms of protein content. We consider replacements that minimize cropland use for each of the main US animal-based food categories. We find that although the characteristic conventional retail-to-consumer food losses are ≈30% for plant and animal products, the opportunity food losses of beef, pork, dairy, poultry, and eggs are 96%, 90%, 75%, 50%, and 40%, respectively. This arises because plant-based replacement diets can produce 20-fold and twofold more nutritionally similar food per cropland than beef and eggs, the most and least resource-intensive animal categories, respectively. Although conventional and opportunity food losses are both targets for improvement, the high opportunity food losses highlight the large potential savings beyond conventionally defined food losses. Concurrently replacing all animal-based items in the US diet with plant-based alternatives will add enough food to feed, in full, 350 million additional people, well above the expected benefits of eliminating all supply chain food waste. These results highlight the importance of dietary shifts to improving food availability and security.

Concepts: Kashrut, Food security, Replacement, Sustainability, Replacements, Meat, Food, Nutrition


As a major contributor to agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, it has been suggested that reducing animal agriculture or consumption of animal-derived foods may reduce GHGs and enhance food security. Because the total removal of animals provides the extreme boundary to potential mitigation options and requires the fewest assumptions to model, the yearly nutritional and GHG impacts of eliminating animals from US agriculture were quantified. Animal-derived foods currently provide energy (24% of total), protein (48%), essential fatty acids (23-100%), and essential amino acids (34-67%) available for human consumption in the United States. The US livestock industry employs 1.6 × 10(6) people and accounts for $31.8 billion in exports. Livestock recycle more than 43.2 × 10(9) kg of human-inedible food and fiber processing byproducts, converting them into human-edible food, pet food, industrial products, and 4 × 10(9) kg of N fertilizer. Although modeled plants-only agriculture produced 23% more food, it met fewer of the US population’s requirements for essential nutrients. When nutritional adequacy was evaluated by using least-cost diets produced from foods available, more nutrient deficiencies, a greater excess of energy, and a need to consume a greater amount of food solids were encountered in plants-only diets. In the simulated system with no animals, estimated agricultural GHG decreased (28%), but did not fully counterbalance the animal contribution of GHG (49% in this model). This assessment suggests that removing animals from US agriculture would reduce agricultural GHG emissions, but would also create a food supply incapable of supporting the US population’s nutritional requirements.

Concepts: Greenhouse gas, Essential fatty acid, Food security, Agriculture, Amino acid, Essential amino acid, Essential nutrient, Nutrition


The role of genetically modified (GM) crops for food security is the subject of public controversy. GM crops could contribute to food production increases and higher food availability. There may also be impacts on food quality and nutrient composition. Finally, growing GM crops may influence farmers' income and thus their economic access to food. Smallholder farmers make up a large proportion of the undernourished people worldwide. Our study focuses on this latter aspect and provides the first ex post analysis of food security impacts of GM crops at the micro level. We use comprehensive panel data collected over several years from farm households in India, where insect-resistant GM cotton has been widely adopted. Controlling for other factors, the adoption of GM cotton has significantly improved calorie consumption and dietary quality, resulting from increased family incomes. This technology has reduced food insecurity by 15-20% among cotton-producing households. GM crops alone will not solve the hunger problem, but they can be an important component in a broader food security strategy.

Concepts: Famine, Food security, Agriculture, Food, Household income in the United States, Food industry, Genetically modified food, Malnutrition


Analyse the effect of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), a wage-for-employment policy of the Indian Government, on infant malnutrition and delineate the pathways through which MGNREGA affects infant malnutrition. Hypothesis: MGNREGA could reduce infant malnutrition through positive effects on household food security and infant feeding.

Concepts: Nutrition, India, Affect, Food security, Effect, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Gujarat, Food


Household food insecurity, a measure of income-related problems of food access, is growing in Canada and is tightly linked to poorer health status. We examined the association between household food insecurity status and annual health care costs.

Concepts: The Association, Famine, Food security, Health care


Insufficient data exist for accurate estimation of global nutrient supplies. Commonly used global datasets contain key weaknesses: 1) data with global coverage, such as the FAO food balance sheets, lack specific information about many individual foods and no information on micronutrient supplies nor heterogeneity among subnational populations, while 2) household surveys provide a closer approximation of consumption, but are often not nationally representative, do not commonly capture many foods consumed outside of the home, and only provide adequate information for a few select populations. Here, we attempt to improve upon these datasets by constructing a new model-the Global Expanded Nutrient Supply (GENuS) model-to estimate nutrient availabilities for 23 individual nutrients across 225 food categories for thirty-four age-sex groups in nearly all countries. Furthermore, the model provides historical trends in dietary nutritional supplies at the national level using data from 1961-2011. We determine supplies of edible food by expanding the food balance sheet data using FAO production and trade data to increase food supply estimates from 98 to 221 food groups, and then estimate the proportion of major cereals being processed to flours to increase to 225. Next, we estimate intake among twenty-six demographic groups (ages 20+, both sexes) in each country by using data taken from the Global Dietary Database, which uses nationally representative surveys to relate national averages of food consumption to individual age and sex-groups; for children and adolescents where GDD data does not yet exist, average calorie-adjusted amounts are assumed. Finally, we match food supplies with nutrient densities from regional food composition tables to estimate nutrient supplies, running Monte Carlo simulations to find the range of potential nutrient supplies provided by the diet. To validate our new method, we compare the GENuS estimates of nutrient supplies against independent estimates by the USDA for historical US nutrition and find very good agreement for 21 of 23 nutrients, though sodium and dietary fiber will require further improvement.

Concepts: Approximation, Eating, Food security, Micronutrient, Nutrient, Estimation, Food, Nutrition


Responsible agricultural practices provide a useful lens through which to consider the lives and careers of researchers.

Concepts: Permaculture, Food security, Biodiversity, Sustainability, Agriculture


Polygyny is cross-culturally common and a topic of considerable academic and policy interest, often deemed a harmful cultural practice serving the interests of men contrary to those of women and children. Supporting this view, large-scale studies of national African demographic surveys consistently demonstrate that poor child health outcomes are concentrated in polygynous households. Negative population-level associations between polygyny and well-being have also been reported, consistent with the hypothesis that modern transitions to socially imposed monogamy are driven by cultural group selection. We challenge the consensus view that polygyny is harmful, drawing on multilevel data from 56 ethnically diverse Tanzanian villages. We first demonstrate the vulnerability of aggregated data to confounding between ecological and individual determinants of health; while across villages polygyny is associated with poor child health and low food security, such relationships are absent or reversed within villages, particularly when children and fathers are coresident. We then provide data indicating that the costs of sharing a husband are offset by greater wealth (land and livestock) of polygynous households. These results are consistent with models of polygyny based on female choice. Finally, we show that village-level negative associations between polygyny prevalence, food security, and child health are fully accounted for by underlying differences in ecological vulnerability (rainfall) and socioeconomic marginalization (access to education). We highlight the need for improved, culturally sensitive measurement tools and appropriate scales of analysis in studies of polygyny and other purportedly harmful practices and discuss the relevance of our results to theoretical accounts of marriage and contemporary population policy.

Concepts: Anthropology, Polyandry, Polygamy, Security, Food security, Polygyny, Demography, Marriage


BACKGROUND: It has been well-documented that Americans have shifted towards eating out more and cooking at home less. However, little is known about whether these trends have continued into the 21st century, and whether these trends are consistent amongst low-income individuals, who are increasingly the target of public health programs that promote home cooking. The objective of this study is to examine how patterns of home cooking and home food consumption have changed from 1965 to 2008 by socio-demographic groups. METHODS: This is a cross-sectional analysis of data from 6 nationally representative US dietary surveys and 6 US time-use studies conducted between 1965 and 2008. Subjects are adults aged 19 to 60 years (n= 38,565 for dietary surveys and n=55,424 for time-use surveys). Weighted means of daily energy intake by food source, proportion who cooked, and time spent cooking were analyzed for trends from 1965–1966 to 2007–2008 by gender and income. T-tests were conducted to determine statistical differences over time. RESULTS: The percentage of daily energy consumed from home food sources and time spent in food preparation decreased significantly for all socioeconomic groups between 1965–1966 and 2007–2008 (p <= 0.001), with the largest declines occurring between 1965 and 1992. In 2007--2008, foods from the home supply accounted for 65 to 72% of total daily energy, with 54 to 57% reporting cooking activities. The low income group showed the greatest decline in the proportion cooking, but consumed more daily energy from home sources and spent more time cooking than high income individuals in 2008--2008 (p <= 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: US adults have decreased consumption of foods from the home supply and reduced time spent cooking since 1965, but this trend appears to have leveled off, with no substantial decrease occurring after the mid-1990's. Across socioeconomic groups, people consume the majority of daily energy from the home food supply, yet only slightly more than half spend any time cooking on a given day. Efforts to boost the healthfulness of the US diet should focus on promoting the preparation of healthy foods at home while incorporating limits on time available for cooking.

Concepts: Time, Malnutrition, Flavor, Food security, Poverty, Cooking, Nutrition, Food