Food


Not too long ago, I woke up, grabbed my iPhone and popped onto Facebook to see what I had missed since falling asleep. What can I say other than I play on social media like it’s my job. Normally my news feed is full of baby photos, food, and travel shots and the occasional questionable joke. On this particular morning, I was faced with a photo of a food stamp with a note to “those on welfare” who “don’t work” and “milk the system.” The post was calling for “accountability.” I just shook my head in disappointment.

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While most political comments don’t hit me very hard (we all have a right to our opinion), I have a difficult time with those that group any set of people into a section and blame and berate them. It’s especially disturbing when those I know make these kinds of statements and then look me in the eye and say it to me as though I am above some kind of fray. Quite frankly, it makes me sick to my stomach. Yes, there are people who abuse all kinds of systems, regardless of their tax bracket, but too often I hear people equate poverty with laziness or worse, criminal behavior, and it’s heart-wrenching for me on a deeply personal level.

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I have made no secret that I come from way down. I grew up in various cockroach-infested apartments with a violent, drug-addicted ex-felon father and a mother who did me both a favor and a great disservice by leaving. The only person I had to watch over me and make sure that I had food, water, and ice for my wounds was my beloved, hardworking and retired grandfather who supported me with a $500 monthly budget that was paid to him via pension and social security.

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That included rent money.

When we lost our home (thanks to my father skipping bail) we moved into our fishing trailer and ate Pork and Beans nearly every weeknight for dinner. On weekends, we lived lakeside and ate the fish we caught. Finally, after we had to spend one third of our income on my eyeglasses, we went to sign up for food stamps, and stood in line for our boxed block of “government cheese.” For a former foreman and a little girl who was already made fun of for a number of reasons and who was particularly sensitive to her grandfather’s feelings, it was humiliating.

GERMANY, BERLIN, - ARCHE is a German Christian child and juvenilia registered association in ab problem district of East-Berlin, Berlin-Hellersdorf, It is considered as representative project in the fight against child poverty, O,p,s, Children during 5

I hated seeing my proud and dignified hero standing in line for handouts. This was a man who prided himself on being self-sufficient and instilled a sense of duty and independence in me from day one. We were not drug addicts living the high life-we were just poor.

“You will be educated and life will be better for you when you get older, Brenda Lynn,” he promised. He was going to fight like hell to see that it happened. “You just need to go to college and you’ll never have to go through this again.” But I was five years old. We had a few years, hospital trips, pairs of shoes, and meals to worry about.

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My grandfather had a moral fiber as thick as wool. He was a God-fearing man who treated everyone with dignity and respect, volunteered to help others, worked odd jobs to make money for us, and taught me to also treat everyone with dignity and respect, reminding me that “we are all equal, and we all put our pants on one leg at a time.” He may not personally have agreed with your way of life, but he’d certainly vote for your right to live as you saw fit as long as it did not hurt anyone else.

He tipped his hat to women on the street. He firmly shook the hands of men. He opened doors. He gave what he had to help others, and he kept his word. He pressed and polished our cheap clothes and shoes to make us look as nice as possible. He didn’t smoke, drink or do drugs. He paid his taxes-on time.

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My grandfather wanted what all good, decent and loving fathers want for their daughters–the best, safest and most dignified life. While he’d have to save up for a few months to buy me a new dress at Sears in order to see the bright surprise flash across my face, I believe we were rich. Very few children enjoyed the conversation, love, companionship and connection we had. Having a hamburger and slice of pie once a week was our “big date” when we could afford it, and believe me when I tell you that there is still no better “date” for me today.

I was raised to believe in hard work, the value of education, human interaction, honoring your word, equality and making your own way in this world and helping others. When he passed away, everything beautiful in my world went with him.

I was bounced from home-to-home and turned to the system only once when I was cold and needed somewhere to sleep over Thanksgiving. I walked into Juvenile Hall and asked to stay there. Those two days were enough time for me to realize that I needed to stay under the radar.
God knows it would have been easier to have food stamps to offer someone to take me in or medical insurance, but I had to make due without both. On the occasion that I needed to go to the doctor, I went to Planned Parenthood. Not to exercise my right to choose, but for breast exams and free medical attention in a facility that treated me like a human being.
When I tried to work at 14, I was told I was not old enough to get a full time job. So, I worked under the table when I could and accepted food, clothes and shelter from those who felt sorry for me. Equally humiliating.

When it was time to go to college, I had the grades and essays to get in, but I was under 24 and that meant that I needed a parental signature. I was on my own and never a ward of the court, a painful purgatory for someone who ached to just get to the starting line like everyone else.

Thanks to President Clinton, an amendment was made, making it possible for kids who had been on their own and who had stayed out of the system (i.e., bounced from home-to-home or on the streets) to prove they were alone and apply for loans on their own and go to school. With that, a scholarship and loans, I attended American University, excelled where I could and Interned at The White House.

In the time since childhood and now, I have made an incredible family of friends who are on both sides of the political fence. Some of my friends feel very strongly about helping others whereas others feel we should all be responsible only for helping ourselves. Some of my friends are gay and have been humiliated, put down, abused, shut out and treated as second-class citizens by family members and strangers alike solely because they love the “wrong” gender. I have friends who have started rehabilitation programs and others who have benefited from them. I have friends who go to church every week and others who have never stepped foot into one. I personally believe in God and God said that we should steer clear of judging others unless we want to be judged ourselves. I believe God judges deception, bigotry, cruelty and those who live their lives in ways that bring pain to others.

You may not believe this. We don’t have to agree. But I will still show you respect, not only because that’s how I was raised, but because it feels right on a deep and human level.

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I am writing this because I want to say that I was one of those “welfare” people so many people callously group into the “lazy” section of the room. While I am now often told by these same people that I am one of the hardest working people they know, the reality is that there is no way I would be where I am today without the help I received in my past. Some tell me, “Yeah, but you are an exception.”

No, I am not.

I am just one of the many people born under difficult circumstances who wanted to do better and needed a little help getting onto my feet. Now that I am on them, I do my best not to forget what it felt like when I was not. If anything, my past has benefited me in that it has served as a strong warning not to play the “we” VS “them” game as one day you might be the “them”.

 

*Text by  Brenda Della Casa, Nov.2013

The first permanent British settlers in North America turned to cannibalism to survive harsh conditions, finds an analysis of human remains with sharp cuts and chopping blows.

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Excavated last year from a dump at James Fort in Jamestown, Va., the fragmented remains belonged to a 14-year-old girl and date back to the “starving time” winter of 1609-1610, when three-quarters of the colonists died.

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Found with several butchered horse and dog bones, the skeletal remains — a tibia (shin bone) and a skull — featured a series of marks that provide grisly evidence of the dead girl becoming food for the starving colonists.

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The researchers were first struck by four shallow chops to the forehead which indicate a hesitant, failed attempt to open the skull.

“The bone fragments have unusually patterned cuts and chops that reflect tentativeness, trial and complete lack of experience in butchering animal remains,” Doug Owsley, a forensic anthropologist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., said in a statement.

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“Nevertheless, the clear intent was to dismember the body, removing the brain and flesh from the face for consumption,” he added.

Arrival of wives for the settlers at colonial Jamestown Virginia

At last the attempt succeed. A series of deep, forceful chops from a small hatchet or cleaver to the back of the head split the skull open. Flesh was removed from the face and throat using a knife, as sharp cuts and punctures marking the sides and bottom of the mandible, reveal.

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The highly fragmented skeleton did not allow the researchers to establish the cause of death of the girl, although a combination of digital and medical technologies made it possible to reconstruct her likeness.

The research team has named her “Jane.”

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Based on the anthropological evidence of her diet and the archaeological layer where her remains were found, Owsley and colleagues believe “Jane” arrived in Jamestown in August 1609, just months before the deadly “starving time” had begun.

According to Jim Horn, Colonial Williamsburg’s vice president of research and historical interpretation and an expert on Jamestown history, the “starving time” was brought about by a series of disasters that struck the community two years after it was established in 1607. These included disease, a serious shortage of provisions, and the siege of the native tribes Powhatan.

“Survival cannibalism was a last resort; a desperate means of prolonging life at a time when the settlement teetered on the brink of extinction,” Horn said.

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Of about 300 English settlers living at James Fort in the winter of 1609, only about 60 survived to the spring.

The researchers believe it’s likely that Jane wasn’t a lone case and several other dead bodies were cannibalized.

Indeed, numerous account describing cannibalism surfaced among the survivors soon afterward Lord De La Warr saved Jamestown by sailing into the settlement with food and new colonists.

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The facial reconstruction of Jane will be on display on May 3 at the exhibition “Written in Bone: Forensic Files of the 17th Century Chesapeake” in the National Museum of Natural History.

 

*  Text BY ROSSELLA LORENZI, MAY 1, 2013

Earlier this week, in our annual April Fool’s Day newsletter, we told you about a miracle plant from the Amazon that helped you to easily shed unwanted pounds. Well, for everyone who didn’t pick up on it, the article was an April Fool’s Day joke.

As a “thank you” for being loyal readers with a sense of humor, let’s look at some true miracle plants, fruits and vegetables found in Peru.

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Let’s start with maca, which is a root that belongs to the radish family. It is grown in the mountains of Peru and sometimes-called “Peruvian ginseng” because of the root’s long valued use and numerous applications.

Maca is rich in vitamins B12 and protein, which can be helpful for vegans. It also keeps you healthy by providing plenty of calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and amino acids.

But where maca gets interesting is it’s use for improved sexual function in both men and women. It serves to boost your libido and increase endurance. At the same time it balances hormones and increases fertility.

For women, maca relieves menstrual issues and menopause. It alleviates cramps, body pain, hot flashes, anxiety, mood swings and depression.

Many athletes use maca for peak performance. It keeps your bones and teeth healthy and allows you to heal from wounds more quickly.

This miracle root is also ideal for those who wish to boost their mental energy and focus.

Maca root is commonly used as a powder to help boost mental energy and focus. (photo: Wikimedia)

Kiwicha, known in English speaking countries as amaranth, is the next Peruvian miracle gluten-free whole grain. Just like quinoa, its seeds contain impressive amounts of proteins as well as amino acids. This plant may be instrumental in helping lower cholesterol, reducing the risk of hypertension, and heart disease.

Kiwicha contains many vitamins A, B-6, K, C, folate, and riboflavin.

There are many miracle uses for kiwicha, especially because eating it has been known to prevent grey hair. The word “amaranth” in Greek means “everlasting,” and the Aztecs called it “food of immortality.” In india, where it has been eaten since the 1500s, it’s know as “rajgeera” which translates as “king’s grain.”

The grain has earned a reputation for it’s high nutritional value and was selected for astronaut’s diet. Kiwicha was even grown in space travel by NASA in 1985. 

Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants that help protect the body from free radicals. (photo: Wikimedia)

The next item on our list of actual miracle foods is the chia seed. Ancient civilizations like the Incans, Mayans, and Aztecs used chia seeds to bring strength to hunters and warriors on long expeditions.

Chia seeds are rich in polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds’ lipid profile is composed of 60 percent omega-3s, making them one of the richest plant-based sources of these fatty acids.

The seeds also have a ton of fiber, which is known for lowering cholesterol and regulating bowel function. On top of that, Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants that help protect the body from free radicals, aging and cancer.

But they are also a dieter’s best friend because they have a gelling action that when eaten absorb a lot of liquid and give the eater the feeling of being full, known as satiety.

This feeling of being full and satisfied helps lower food cravings between meals. The combination of protein, fiber and the gelling action of chia seeds when mixed with liquids all contribute to their satiating effects and less snacking through out the day.

 Golden berries or Incan berries help prevent asthma and fight optic nerve disorders. (photo: Wikimedia/ Steven Depolo)
Orange- colored golden berries, also known as Incan berries, have been cultivated in the America for centuries. They have also been revered for their health benefits and mouth puckering sweet and sour flavor. They are commonly eaten raw like blueberry or raspberry and are often dried and sold in “dehydrated formats that resemble raisins in shape and texture.

Golden berries pack a punch of vitamin A, which is great for eye health. But they are also believed to help maintain a healthy weight, ward off disease, and improve organ function.

Traditionally, the golden berry has been used to help a variety of ailments including asthma, edema, optic nerve disorders, throat afflictions, intestinal parasites, and a variety of skin conditions. 

So maybe the sweat vine wasn’t exactly what you would call “real, ” but nonetheless there are a number of miracle plants that can be found within Peru. Who knows, if we keep looking we just might find the real sweat vine. 
 

By Diego M. Ortiz; April 5, 2013

Gaston Acurio announces wife Astrid Gutsche's new chocolate project

“For years, Astrid has been traveling around Peru, looking for the best native cacao, meeting producers and discovering the value of their work, forming alliances with them and creating a world in her heart.”

This is how Gaston Acurio, famed Peruvian chef and entrepreneur, introduced the new chocolate collection of his wife, Astrid Gutsche, on his Facebook page.

Melate, as the chocolate line is known, consists of bonbons, truffles, bars and kisses, all made with some of the finest cacao that Peru has to offer.

Where her husband has focused on bringing high-quality Peruvian food to the world, Gutsche has long sought to promote the country’s chocolate, and her efforts have paved the way for the international success of the sweet delicacy.

Among her projects is the Salon del Cacao y Chocolate, taking place this weekend, which will include many important national and international chocolate producers and masters.

Melate is expected to officially launch soon, but for now, the beautiful photos released by Acurio are helping to build anticipation. 

 

 

By Alix Farr; July 6, 2012

 (All photos: Gaston Acurio Facebook)

  http://www.peruthisweek.com/food-197-Gaston-Acurio-announces-wife-Astrid-Gutsches-new-chocolate-project/


COMMENTS:

Commented By: lapchole
On: July 6, 2012
yeah, that is what peruvians need….more fat and sugar, great for diabetes and the new obesity levels in peruvians. In addition, they will only be accessible to the 1% of the rich population in peru


Commented By: Natalia
On: July 7, 2012
I can´t wait to taste these chocolates. I know we have extraordinary and high quality cacao in Peru so I expect this project help many people to sell their crop and finished goods at fair prices and improve their quality of life, create new jobs and give oportunities. I saw the documentary about cacao by Gaston and Astrid and found it beautiful. And YES!!!! this is exactly what Peruvians need.


Commented By: Pato Vial
On: July 7, 2012
It is understandable that haute cuisine is not for everybody. If you like Mc Donalds – don’t switch! For the food and chocolate connoisseurs, these chocolates look fantastic!!! About time that delicious Peruvian chocolate gets attention. Last month, we were in Cusco on vacation and there is a huge chocolate tradition there. There are chocolate workshops and afterwards tasting sessions – a real treat. Enjoy

Food for hungry mouths, feed for animals headed to the slaughterhouse, fiber for clothing and even, in some cases, fuel for vehicles—all derive from global agriculture. As a result, in the world’s temperate climes human agriculture has supplanted 70 percent of grasslands, 50 percent of savannas and 45 percent of temperate forests. Farming is also the leading cause of deforestation in the tropics and one of thelargest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, a major contributor to the ongoing maul of species known as the “sixth extinction,” and a perennial source of nonrenewable groundwater mining and water pollution.

To restrain the environmental impact of agriculture as well as produce more wholesome foods, some farmers have turned to so-called organic techniques. This type of farming is meant to minimize environmental and human health impacts by avoiding the use of synthetic fertilizers, chemical pesticides and hormones or antibiotic treatments for livestock, among other tactics. But the use of industrial technologies, particularly synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, has fed the swelling human population during the last century. Can organic agriculture feed a world of nine billion people?

In a bid to bring clarity to what has too often been an emotional debate, environmental scientists at McGill University in Montreal and the University of Minnesota performed an analysis of 66 studies comparing conventional and organicmethods across 34 different crop species. “We found that, overall, organic yields are considerably lower than conventional yields,” explains McGill’s Verena Seufert, lead author of the study to be published in Nature on April 26. (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.) “But, this yield difference varies across different conditions. When farmers apply best management practices, organic systems, for example, perform relatively better.”

In particular, organic agriculture delivers just 5 percent less yield in rain-watered legume crops, such as alfalfa or beans, and in perennial crops, such as fruit trees. But when it comes to major cereal crops, such as corn or wheat, and vegetables, such as broccoli, conventional methods delivered more than 25 percent more yield.

The key limit to further yield increases via organic methods appears to be nitrogen—large doses of synthetic fertilizer can keep up with high demand from crops during the growing season better than the slow release from compost, manure or nitrogen-fixing cover crops. Of course, the cost of using 171 million metric tons of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer is paid in dead zones at the mouths of many of the world’s rivers. These anoxic zones result from nitrogen-rich runoff promoting algal blooms that then die and, in decomposing, suck all the oxygen out of surrounding waters. “To address the problem of [nitrogen] limitation and to produce high yields, organic farmers should use best management practices, supply more organic fertilizers or grow legumes or perennial crops,” Seufert says.

In fact, more knowledge would be key to any effort to boost organic farming or its yields. Conventional farming requires knowledge of how to manage what farmers know as inputs—synthetic fertilizer, chemical pesticides and the like—as well as fields laid out precisely via global-positioning systems. Organic farmers, on the other hand, must learn to manage an entire ecosystem geared to producing food—controlling pests through biological means, using the waste from animals to fertilize fields and even growing one crop amidst another. “Organic farming is a very knowledge-intensive farming system,” Seufert notes. An organic farmer “needs to create a fertile soil that provides sufficient nutrients at the right time when the crops need them. The same is true for pest management.”

But the end result is a healthier soil, which may prove vital in efforts to make it more resilient in the face of climate change as well as conserve it. Organic soils, for example, retain water better than those farms that employ conventional methods. “You use a lot more water [in irrigation] because the soil doesn’t have the capacity to retrain the water you use,” noted farmer Fred Kirschenmann, president of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture at the “Feeding the World While the Earth Cooks” event at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C., on April 12.

At the same time, a still-growing human population requires more food, which has led some to propose further intensifying conventional methods of applying fertilizer and pesticides to specially bred crops, enabling either a second Green Revolution or improved yields from farmlands currently under cultivation. Crops genetically modified to endure drought may also play a role as well as efforts to develop perennial versions of annual staple crops, such as wheat, which could help reduce environmental impacts and improve soil. “Increasing salt, drought or heat tolerance of our existing crops can move them a little but not a lot,” said biologist Nina Fedoroff of Pennsylvania State University at the New America event. “That won’t be enough.”

And breeding new perennial versions of staple crops would require compressing millennia of crop improvements that resulted in the high-yielding wheat varieties of today, such as the dwarf wheat created by breeder Norman Borlaug and his colleagues in the 1950s, into a span of years while changing the fundamental character of wheat from an annual crop to a perennial one. Then there is the profit motive. “The private sector is not likely to embrace an idea like perennial crop seeds, which do not require the continued purchase of seeds and thus do not provide a very good source of profit,” Seufert notes.

Regardless, the world already produces 22 trillion calories annually via agriculture, enough to provide more than 3,000 calories to every person on the planet. The food problem is one of distribution and waste—whether the latter is food spoilage during harvest, in storage or even after purchase. According to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, in the U.S. alone, 215 meals per person go to waste annually.

“Since the world already produces more than enough food to feed everyone well, there are other important considerations” besides yield, argues ecologist Catherine Badgley of the University of Michigan, who also compared yields from organic and conventional methods in a 2006 study (pdf) that found similar results. Those range from environmental impacts of various practices to the number of people employed in farming. As it stands, conventional agriculture relies on cheap energy, cheap labor and other unsustainable practices. “Anyone who thinks we will be using Roundup [a herbicide] in eight [thousand] to 10,000 years is foolish,” argued organic evangelist Jeff Moyer, farm director the Rodale Institute, at the New America Foundation event.

But there is unlikely to be a simple solution. Instead the best farming practices will vary from crop to crop and place to place. Building healthier soils, however, will be key everywhere. “Current conventional agriculture is one of the major threats to the environment and degrades the very natural resources it depends on. We thus need to change the way we produce our food,” Seufert argues. “Given the current precarious situation of agriculture, we should assess many alternative management systems, including conventional, organic, other agro-ecological and possibly hybrid systems to identify the best options to improve the way we produce our food.”

 

By David Biello  | S.A. / April 25, 2012

WILL the food crisis that is menacing the lives of millions ease up — or grow worse over time? The answer may be both. The recent rise in food prices has largely been caused by temporary problems like drought in Australia, Ukraine and elsewhere. Though the need for huge rescue operations is urgent, the present acute crisis will eventually end. But underlying it is a basic problem that will only intensify unless we recognize it and try to remedy it.

It is a tale of two peoples. In one version of the story, a country with a lot of poor people suddenly experiences fast economic expansion, but only half of the people share in the new prosperity. The favored ones spend a lot of their new income on food, and unless supply expands very quickly, prices shoot up. The rest of the poor now face higher food prices but no greater income, and begin to starve. Tragedies like this happen repeatedly in the world.

A stark example is the Bengal famine of 1943, during the last days of the British rule in India. The poor who lived in cities experienced rapidly rising incomes, especially in Calcutta, where huge expenditures for the war against Japan caused a boom that quadrupled food prices. The rural poor faced these skyrocketing prices with little increase in income.
Misdirected government policy worsened the division. The British rulers were determined to prevent urban discontent during the war, so the government bought food in the villages and sold it, heavily subsidized, in the cities, a move that increased rural food prices even further. Low earners in the villages starved. Two million to three million people died in that famine and its aftermath.

Much discussion is rightly devoted to the division between haves and have-nots in the global economy, but the world’s poor are themselves divided between those who are experiencing high growth and those who are not. The rapid economic expansion in countries like China, India and Vietnam tends to sharply increase the demand for food. This is, of course, an excellent thing in itself, and if these countries could manage to reduce their unequal internal sharing of growth, even those left behind there would eat much better.

But the same growth also puts pressure on global food markets — sometimes through increased imports, but also through restrictions or bans on exports to moderate the rise in food prices at home, as has happened recently in countries like India, China, Vietnam and Argentina. Those hit particularly hard have been the poor, especially in Africa.

There is also a high-tech version of the tale of two peoples. Agricultural crops like corn and soybeans can be used for making ethanol for motor fuel. So the stomachs of the hungry must also compete with fuel tanks.
Misdirected government policy plays a part here, too. In 2005, the United States Congress began to require widespread use of ethanol in motor fuels. This law combined with a subsidy for this use has created a flourishing corn market in the United States, but has also diverted agricultural resources from food to fuel. This makes it even harder for the hungry stomachs to compete.

Ethanol use does little to prevent global warming and environmental deterioration, and clear-headed policy reforms could be urgently carried out, if American politics would permit it. Ethanol use could be curtailed, rather than being subsidized and enforced.

The global food problem is not being caused by a falling trend in world production, or for that matter in food output per person (this is often asserted without much evidence). It is the result of accelerating demand. However, a demand-induced problem also calls for rapid expansion in food production, which can be done through more global cooperation.

While population growth accounts for only a modest part of the growing demand for food, it can contribute to global warming, and long-term climate change can threaten agriculture. Happily, population growth is already slowing and there is overwhelming evidence that women’s empowerment (including expansion of schooling for girls) can rapidly reduce it even further.

What is most challenging is to find effective policies to deal with the consequences of extremely asymmetric expansion of the global economy. Domestic economic reforms are badly needed in many slow-growth countries, but there is also a big need for more global cooperation and assistance. The first task is to understand the nature of the problem.

* By AMARTYA SEN;Cambridge, Mass. (May 28, 2008)
Amartya Sen, who teaches economics and philosophy at Harvard, received the Nobel Prize in economics in 1998 and is the author, most recently, of “Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny.”

8 Foods You Should Eat Every Day are:

1) Spinach

Sexual enhancement, Muscle growth, Heart healthy, Bone builder, Enhances eyesight

It may be green and leafy, but spinach is also the ultimate man food. This noted biceps builder is a rich source of plant-based omega-3s and folate, which help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and osteoporosis. Bonus: Folate also increases blood flow to the penis. And spinach is packed with lutein, a compound that fights age-related macular degeneration. Aim for 1 cup fresh spinach or 1/2 cup cooked per day.

SUBSTITUTES: Kale, bok choy, romaine lettuce

FIT IT IN: Make your salads with spinach; add spinach to scrambled eggs; drape it over pizza; mix it with marinara sauce and then microwave for an instant dip.

PINCH HITTER: Sesame Stir-Braised Kale Heat 4 cloves minced garlic, 1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger, and 1 tsp. sesame oil in a skillet. Add 2 Tbsp. water and 1 bunch kale (stemmed and chopped). Cover and cook for 3 minutes. Drain. Add 1 tsp. soy sauce and 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds.

2) Yogurt

Cancer fighter, Bone builder, Boosts immunity

Various cultures claim yogurt as their own creation, but the 2,000-year-old food’s health benefits are not disputed: Fermentation spawns hundreds of millions of probiotic organisms that serve as reinforcements to the battalions of beneficial bacteria in your body, which boost the immune system and provide protection against cancer. Not all yogurts are probiotic though, so make sure the label says “live and active cultures.” Aim for 1 cup of the calcium and protein-rich goop a day.

SUBSTITUTES: Kefir, soy yogurt

FIT IT IN: Yogurt topped with blueberries, walnuts, flaxseed, and honey is the ultimate breakfast — or dessert. Plain low-fat yogurt is also a perfect base for creamy salad dressings and dips.

HOME RUN: Power Smoothie Blend 1 cup low-fat yogurt, 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, 1 cup carrot juice, and 1 cup fresh baby spinach for a nutrient-rich blast.

3) Tomatoes

Cancer fighter, Heart healthy, Boosts immunity

There are two things you need to know about tomatoes: Red are the best, because they’re packed with more of the antioxidant lycopene, and processed tomatoes are just as potent as fresh ones, because it’s easier for the body to absorb the lycopene. Studies show that a diet rich in lycopene can decrease your risk of bladder, lung, prostate, skin, and stomach cancers, as well as reduce the risk of coronary artery disease. Aim for 22 mg of lycopene a day, which is about eight red cherry tomatoes or a glass of tomato juice.

SUBSTITUTES: Red watermelon, pink grapefruit, Japanese persimmon, papaya, guava

FIT IT IN: Pile on the ketchup and Ragu; guzzle low-sodium V8 and gazpacho; double the amount of tomato paste called for in a recipe.

PINCH HITTER: Red and Pink Fruit Bowl Chop 1 small watermelon, 2 grapefruits, 3 persimmons, 1 papaya, and 4 guavas. Garnish with mint.

4) Carrots

Cancer fighter, Boosts immunity, Enhances eyesight

Most red, yellow, or orange vegetables and fruits are spiked with carotenoids — fat-soluble compounds that are associated with a reduction in a wide range of cancers, as well as reduced risk and severity of inflammatory conditions such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis — but none are as easy to prepare, or have as low a caloric density, as carrots. Aim for 1/2 cup a day.

SUBSTITUTES: Sweet potato, pumpkin, butternut squash, yellow bell pepper, mango

FIT IT IN: Raw baby carrots, sliced raw yellow pepper, butternut squash soup, baked sweet potato, pumpkin pie, mango sorbet, carrot cake

PINCH HITTER: Baked Sweet Potato Fries Scrub and dry 2 sweet potatoes. Cut each into 8 slices, and then toss with olive oil and paprika. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 350°F. Turn and bake for 10 minutes more.

5) Blueberries

Brain stimulant, Cancer fighter, Heart healthy, Boosts immunity

Host to more antioxidants than any other popular fruit, blueberries help prevent cancer, diabetes, and age-related memory changes (hence the nickname “brain berry”). Studies show that blueberries, which are rich in fiber and vitamins A and C, boost cardiovascular health. Aim for 1 cup fresh blueberries a day, or 1/2 cup frozen or dried.

SUBSTITUTES: Açai berries, purple grapes, prunes, raisins, strawberries

FIT IT IN: Blueberries maintain most of their power in dried, frozen, or jam form.

PINCH HITTER: Açai, an Amazonian berry, has even more antioxidants than the blueberry. Mix 2 Tbsp. of açai powder into OJ or add 2 Tbsp. of açai pulp to cereal, yogurt, or a smoothie.

6) Black Beans

Muscle growth, Brain stimulant, Heart healthy

All beans are good for your heart, but none can boost your brain power like black beans. That’s because they’re full of anthocyanins, antioxidant compounds that have been shown to improve brain function. A daily ½cup serving provides 8 grams of protein and 7.5 grams of fiber, and is low in calories and free of saturated fat.

SUBSTITUTES: Peas, lentils, and pinto, kidney, fava, and lima beans

FIT IT IN: Wrap black beans in a breakfast burrito; use both black beans and kidney beans in your chili; puree 1 cup black beans with ¼cup olive oil and roasted garlic for a healthy dip; add favas, limas, or peas to pasta dishes.

HOME RUN: Black Bean and Tomato Salsa Dice 4 tomatoes, 1 onion, 3 cloves garlic, 2 jalapeños, 1 yellow bell pepper, and 1 mango. Mix in a can of black beans and garnish with 1/2 cup chopped cilantro and the juice of 2 limes.

7) Walnuts

Muscle growth, Brain stimulant, Cancer fighter, Heart healthy, Boosts immunity

Richer in heart-healthy omega-3s than salmon, loaded with more anti-inflammatory polyphenols than red wine, and packing half as much muscle-building protein as chicken, the walnut sounds like a Frankenfood, but it grows on trees. Other nuts combine only one or two of these features, not all three. A serving of walnuts — about 1 ounce, or seven nuts — is good anytime, but especially as a postworkout recovery snack.

SUBSTITUTES: Almonds, peanuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts

FIT IT IN: Sprinkle on top of salads; dice and add to pancake batter; spoon peanut butter into curries; grind and mix with olive oil to make a marinade for grilled fish or chicken.

HOME RUN: Mix 1 cup walnuts with ½ cup dried blueberries and ¼ cup dark chocolate chunks.

8) Oats

Muscle growth, Brain stimulant, Heart healthy

The éminence grise of health food, oats garnered the FDA’s first seal of approval. They are packed with soluble fiber, which lowers the risk of heart disease. Yes, oats are loaded with carbs, but the release of those sugars is slowed by the fiber, and because oats also have 10 grams of protein per ½-cup serving, they deliver steady muscle-building energy.

SUBSTITUTES: Quinoa, flaxseed, wild rice

FIT IT IN: Eat granolas and cereals that have a fiber content of at least 5 grams per serving. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed on cereals, salads, and yogurt.

PINCH HITTER: Quinoa Salad Quinoa has twice the protein of most cereals, and fewer carbs. Boil 1 cup quinoa in a mixture of 1 cup pear juice and 1 cup water. Let cool. In a large bowl, toss 2 diced apples, 1 cup fresh blueberries, ½ cup chopped walnuts, and 1 cup plain fat-free yogurt.

* Information provided by All-Star Panel: Joy Bauer, author of Joy Bauer’s Food Cures and nutrition advisor on NBC’s Today show; Laurie Erickson, award-winning wellness chef at Georgia’s Sea Island resort; David Heber, MD, PhD, author of What Color Is Your Diet?; and Steven Pratt, MD, author of the best-selling SuperFoods Rx

At harvest time in the highland village of Paucho, the first crop of potatoes are baked in a hole in the ground covered with hot rocks, in a ceremony called Watia – a homage to Pacha Mama, or Mother Earth.
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Peruvians are very proud of their potatoes

For thousands of years, the potato has been the staple diet of the people of the Andes.

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It was first cultivated on the

Altiplano of modern-day Peru and Bolivia, and Peru still has some 2,800 varieties of potato, more than any other country.

Like many people, I took the humble spud for granted, but after the launch of the UN Year of the Potato in Ayacucho in the Peruvian Andes, I am repentant at my lack of reverence for the third biggest food staple in the world.

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Boost consumption

I have never seen a vegetable invoke such high passions and poetry.

It was the theme for a seamless succession of carnival floats, colourful costumes, and traditional dance and music. All this was punctuated by cries of “la papa es Peruana” – “the potato is Peruvian”, just in case anyone forgot.

Despite this, consumption of the potato in Peru has dropped to half that of many European countries, with many Peruvians turning to rice or bread.

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Many potato-producing communities are very poor

But internationally high food prices, especially wheat – 80% of which is imported in Peru – are causing hardship for the country’s poor, who make up almost half the population.

Peru’s agriculture minister, Ismael Benavides, says the native potato is the answer.

The government is trying to boost its consumption by encouraging more people to eat bread baked with potato flour, starting with schoolchildren and prisoners.

“When I went to the UN in October to launch the International Year of the Potato somebody from an Eastern European country, Ukraine I think, said to me ‘I didn’t realise that potatoes came from Peru’. That showed me that we had to claim our place,” Mr Benavides said at the festival.

“The potato is very important in the diet worldwide and in this age of rising commodity prices… a number of countries, such as China and India, are looking to double or triple their production.”

Marketing tactics

Can Peru benefit from this projected surge in consumption?

“The paradox that we find today is that it is precisely those communities which have developed and given the world the potato are some of the poorest communities in the Andean chain,” says Pamela Anderson, director of the International Potato Centre, based in Lima.

“So part of what we do at the International Potato Centre is to take the native potato and really begin seriously and systematically marketing it, so that these small, poor farmers can use the native potato as a pathway out of poverty.”

The International Potato Centre is working with the government to drive the internal consumption of native potatoes, which come in a rich variety of colours, shapes and flavours.

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The idea is not only to help poor rural communities, but also the 70% of Peru’s population that lives in urban centres.

“The price of bread has gone up and I just don’t have the money to buy it as I used to,” says Hermelinda Azurin, who supports her two daughters working as a maid in Lima.

“A kilo of potato bread is 3.4 soles ($1.16) whereas normal bread has gone up to 5.40 soles ($1.84) in my neighbourhood. A kilo of potatoes is just 70 centimos ($0.23). Nowadays we eat potatoes every day in my family.”

The Peruvian government is also looking at exporting native potatoes. They are exotic-looking, organic and have vitamins and amino acids that regular white potatoes do not have.

“We feel the quality of this product should have a market abroad, especially as we are opening markets with the US, Canada and we hope soon with the European Union,” says Mr Benavides.

“These would fall under what is called fair trade, so we feel there’s great opportunities for these potatoes, native in particular.”

‘Infinite variety’

But it is precisely those new markets and free trade deals which many Peruvian farmers believe will mean they will have to compete unfairly with agricultural imports.

Mario Tapia, an agronomist who specialises in Andean crops, says a lack of investment in infrastructure is one part of the problem.

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Colourful potatoes are seen as a gastronomic treat abroad

“The potato yields are not so high because there is not high investment in the production, so to compete with farmers who have subsidies in their own countries will not be fair for those farmers in the highlands,” he says.

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With or without an export market, the government plans to boost the internal potato market and give technical assistance to the 1.8m potato growers in Peru.

In the gastronomic world, the native potato has enthusiastic advocates.

Peruvian restaurateur Isabel Alvarez says its “infinite variety of colours, textures, shapes and flavours” has prompted positive reactions in Europe.

“The potato is a world in itself, and it is a gastronomic world which we’ve only begun to explore,” she says.

With gastronomic plaudits and its spiritual place in Andean culture assured, the question remains: can Peru’s gift to the world now be used to help those who gave it to us in the first place?

* By Dan Collyns (BBC News, Ayacucho, Peru)

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For a species wired for survival, we have an odd habit of getting hooked on things that can kill us new research is revealing why – and opening the door to the long-dreamed-of cure

In the brains of addicts, there is reduced activity in the prefrontal cortex, where rational thought can override impulsive behavior.

Addictions occur when behaviors start to become excessive. They are driven by our systems that stand up, shake us, “the brain is saying this is good; we should do it again.”

· Summarized of TIME, July 16, 2007