The West Virginia Road Map for the Food Economy

The “buying local” trend has emerged within the last few years. In the United States, especially in West Virginia, food agriculture businesses are finding themselves at critical and electrifying times of opportunity. From 2006 to 2008, West Virginia small restaurants and hotels showed a 360% increase in purchases of local products. In the 2012-2013 school year, the WV Department of Education committed $250,000 in school food funds for local purchases. More than a dozen of county school systems reported buying directly from West Virginia farms in 2012, while four of these began buying locally since September 2011. Even the Martinsburg VAMC sees fresh, healthy meals as an ingredient of recovery for their patients and has spent over $23,000 on local food.

From 2002 to 2007, 39% more local West Virginia farmers began selling directly to consumers. And the dollar amount of direct-to-consumer sales increased by 55%. This means that farmers are capturing a greater portion of the consumer food dollar by marketing products as directly as possible from farm to table as demand grows, new business models are also emerging to provide the kinds of processing, aggregation and distribution required to meet the needs of sophisticated buyers.

This growth creates jobs for farmers and also for other parts of the state’s economy. A recent study by Downstream Strategies, LLC and WVU showed that if West Virginia farmers grew enough produce to meet the in-season fresh produce needs of all state residents, the shift would generate 1,723 new jobs and would result in about $190 million being retained in the state instead of flowing beyond its borders. Increased local sales of West Virginia products also creates the need for businesses that collect, process and distribute local food, which creates more local jobs. For example, one Iowa study found that every 1,000 cattle sent to small meat processing facilities supported 7.4 processing jobs.

So a common question that you might find asking yourself is… What exactly does “buying local” mean? There is no universally agreed-upon definition for the geographic component of what “local” or “regional” means, consumers are left to decide what local and regional food means to them. A 2008 survey found that half of consumers surveyed described “local” as “made or produced within a hundred miles” (of their homes), while another 37% described “local” as “made or produced in my state.”  The ability to eat “locally” also varies depending on the production capacity of the region in question: people living in areas that are agriculturally productive year-round may have an easier time sourcing food that is grown or raised 100 miles (or even 50 miles) from their homes than those in arid or colder regions, whose residents may define “local food” in a more regional context.

The Morgantown Farmers’ Market, for example, sells products that are grown or made within 50 miles of Morgantown city limits. So all of their products are supporting small family farms.

So, West Virginia has developed a “food charter” that’s designed to help us all focus, measure and celebrate our collective progress towards stronger local food systems. This Road Map for the Food Economy offers a vision for WV’s local food economy and provides ways of measuring how statewide and local policies, programs, and community efforts are contributing to the strength of this food economy. The Road Map is broken down into 2 parts: an action plan for building a food and farm economy over the next 5 years; and a “Food Economy Score Card” which allows us to measure the cooperative progress towards the goals of the action plan. The Food Economy Score Card will be updated annually and then the positive changes and progression will be distinguished in an annual report.

This Road Map is for everyone!It’s offered more as a tool to help people (and consumers) in West Virginia understand the key opportunities of the food policies and economy. Local government, citizens groups, policy makers, farmer groups, foundations, agencies, economic developers and other concerned groups are invited to adopt or adapt the Road Map as a guide to form an action plan for their own efforts.

So, how can you get involved?

          Adopt the Road Map for the Food Economy charter: encourage your local government, citizens group, legislators, farmer organization, community foundation, economic developers or other concerned agencies to sign on at

          Stay connected to statewide organizing efforts through the West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition by signing up for our newsletter, and by attending statewide events hosted by other groups — such as the West Virginia Small Farm Conference, hosted by WVU Extension Service and its West Virginia Small Farm Center.

          Buy Local: set a goal for how much your family, business or agency will spend on local food. At home, consider buying at least $10 worth of locally produced food per week. At work, consider sourcing at least $500 worth of local food for events and meetings each year.

          Find simple ways to work on the Road Map’s action items within your own community. Tell your school superintendent about the importance of Agriculture Education; let a farmer know about farm to school opportunities, or help start a nutrition education class at your local farmers market. If you are part of a civic organization, help that organization choose an action item to work on this year.

Why should the Road Map matter to you?

The problem that I’m really trying to shine light on is the fact that food access has a HUGE effect on food insecurity in the U.S. right now. The State Indicator on Fruits and Vegetables 2013 reports that the percentage of census tracts with at least one healthier food retailer within a ½ mile of tract boundary in West Virginia is at 59.3%. Currently, West Virginia does not have a healthier food retail policy. West Virginia also does not currently have a state-level farm-to-school/preschool policy. The entire state only has 1 food hub. Yes, only one! And West Virginia has no local food policy councils. That’s right… zero!

As a community why can’t get try to enclose this gap in food access with the products that are right in front of us? Well, only time will tell how this community attempts to resolve this problem.

Sustainable Table

HOD Backgrounder

2015 Dietary Guidelines

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The Summer of Institutional Food Service, Production, and Management Rotation Begins!

Well this week marked the kick off to my summer of my Institutional Food Service, Production, and Management rotation within WVU’s ISPP dietetic internship. Within this rotation, I am required to have a minimum of 240 hours of experience in a food service production system. Along with these hours, I have a set of objectives to complete as well.

Since Taziki’s Mediterranean Café has partnered with our Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD), I will be doing my rotation at WVU’s downtown campus’s Mountainlair location. The rotation is also attached to a class affiliated with the College of Business and Economics at WVU as well. So, not only are there other nutrition students working alongside me this summer, but there are business students registered for this class as well.

As a part of my rotation objectives, I will complete 2 major projects:

          The Theme Meal Project

          The Management Quality and Process/Performance Improvement Project

This rotation is broken down into 4 sections:

          Section 1: Storeroom, Safety, and Catering

          Section 2: Retail/Dining Room

          Section 3: Menu and Theme Meal Project

          Section 4: Culminating Experience: The Management Quality and Process/Performance Improvement Project

As outlined in my syllabus for the business class attached to the rotation through Taziki’s Mediterranean Café, Graduate students are required to:

          Hold a cumulative ServSafe review session for the undergraduates enrolled in the class on July 30th.

          Develop a marketing campaign to improve breakfast sales with the undergraduates in my group. (I’m the only Graduate student in my group). This will require me speaking to the General Managers about breakfast sales in the restaurant and apply this information to my Management Quality and Process/Performance Improvement Project.

          Develop a FOG BMP Report. This specific report is focusing on sustainability. The report will identify fats, oils, and grease best management practices for Taziki’s AND Martin’s BBQ Joint.

          Then, our last project will be split into 2 parts: the Food Systems Project: I’ll work to raise consumer awareness on the need to support local farmers and food.

o   Farmers’ Market Theme Meal

§  This will utilize the Morgantown Farmers’ Market

o   Management Quality and Process/Performance Improvement Project

§  This will focus on the proposal to use local animal proteins that can be used at Taziki’s and Martin’s BBQ Joint

Only time will tell how my rotation progresses!

Taziki’s Named Best On-Campus Food at WVU

Here is a picture of someone standing in front of my assigned station for the week!

Here is a picture of someone standing in front of my assigned station for the week!

The Food Production Plan to End Hunger is Out of this World!

NASA is funding research into 3D printed food which would provide astronauts with meals during long space flights. The futuristic food printers would use cartridges of powder and oils which would have a shelf life of 30 years.

While the idea may seem like something out of a Sci-Fi movie, the process of printing food has already been proven possible. The brains behind the innovation, Anjan Contractor, previously printed chocolate in a bid to prove his concept.

Anjan Contractor’s company, Systems & Materials Research Corporation, just got a six month, $125,000 grant from NASA to create a prototype of his universal food synthesizer. Contractor and his company, will now use NASA’s $125,000 grant to attempt to…. PRINT AN EDIBLE PIZZA! The grant was applied for on March 28th, 2013. Reportedly, the pizza printer is still in the conceptual stage and will begin to be built in two weeks.

But Contractor, a mechanical engineer with a background in 3D printing, envisions a much more mundane—and ultimately more important—use for the technology. He sees a day when every kitchen has a 3D printer, and the earth’s 12 billion people feed themselves customized, nutritionally-appropriate meals synthesized one layer at a time, from cartridges of powder and oils they buy at the corner grocery store. Contractor’s vision would mean the end of food waste, because the powder his system will use is shelf-stable for up to 30 years, so that each cartridge, whether it contains sugars, complex carbohydrates, protein or some other basic building block, would be fully exhausted before being returned to the store.

The printer will first print a layer of dough, which will be cooked while being printed. Tomato powder will then be mixed with water and oil to print a tomato sauce. The topping for the pizza will be a “protein layer” which could come from any source – animals, milk, or plants. The concept is to use basic “building blocks” of food in replaceable powder cartridges. Each block will be combined to create a range of foods which can be created by the printer. The cartridges will have a shelf life of 30 years – more than long enough to enable long-distance space travel.

Contractor and his team hope the 3D printer will be used not only by NASA, but also by regular Earthlings. His vision would mean the end of food waste, due to the powder’s long shelf life. There are some conveniences which would come along with the printer. For example, recipes could be traded with others through software. Each recipe would have a set of instructions which tells the printer which cartridge of powder to mix with which liquids, and at what rate and how it should be sprayed.

Another perk includes personalized nutrition. “If you’re male, female, someone is sick—they all have different dietary needs. If you can program your needs into a 3D printer, it can print exactly the nutrients that person requires,” Contractor said.

Many economists believe that current food systems can not supply 12 billion people with food security efficiently. This pizza printer is trying to change that number through this NASA grant.

The Audacious Plan to End Hunger

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Food Insecurity and Sustainability

Last week, international agricultural leaders met in Washington, DC to discuss plans to dispense and develop agriculture data collected in various countries to report global food security and nutrition.

Nutrition security is defined as secure access to an appropriately nutritious diet (ie, protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water) coupled with a sanitary environment and adequate health services and care, in order to ensure a healthy and active life for all household members.  Nutrition security requires that all people have access to a variety of nutritious foods and potable drinking water; knowledge, resources, and skills for healthy living; prevention, treatment, and care for diseases affecting nutrition status; and safety-net systems during crisis situations, such as natural disasters or deleterious social and political systems.

Food security is a part of nutrition security and exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. The four pillars of food security are availability, access, utilization, and stability.  Although nutrition security requires food security, the two terms are sometimes merged into the term food and nutrition security to emphasize both food and health requirements.

Two important limitations with current food security measurements are that the term food is generally equated to food energy only, usually from just a few staple foods, failing to measure the wide variety of foods that are needed to provide all the nutrients for an active healthy life; and terms are often used incorrectly and/or interchangeably for hunger (a feeling/scarcity of food), undernourished (lacking nutrients), malnourished (poorly nourished), and food insecurity (lack of foods needed for a healthy life).

The effect of income on nutrition security depends on the local cost of living and social and political systems providing access to land, food, water, housing, health care, and education. Dramatic increases in international food prices have the greatest impact on low-income, food-deficit countries. The recent financial, energy, and food crises have negatively affected poor consumers through soaring food prices; reduced household income; and reduced health and social assistance. Lack of dietary diversification aggravates the problem. The cause of the food price crisis is not necessarily an underlying shortage in global supply, but a combination of high energy prices, pockets of agricultural failure, the financial crisis, and national policy errors resulting in a general price panic. In some countries, there are also increasing demands on the food supply for feeding livestock and making biofuels. Nations are at a higher risk for volatile food prices if their nutrition security is dependent on global financial systems and oil, such as for producing agrochemicals, operating machinery for harvesting, processing, and transportation.

Globally, approximately 30% of children under 5 years old are stunted and 18% are underweight. As growth slows down, brain development also lags behind and, as a result, stunted children are more likely to learn poorly. The global prevalence of underweight and stunting in children under age 5 years is decreasing, but prevalence is still unacceptably high in some regions. Approximately 15% of children are born underweight; however, almost 60% of newborns in developing countries are not weighed at birth.  Access to caloric intake in developing nations has increased during the past 40 years. In 1969-1971, 33% of the population had inadequate access as compared with the current estimation of 16% in 2010.

Micronutrient deficiencies affect more people (36%) than caloric deficiencies (12%), emphasizing the importance of addressing the quality of food in agricultural systems. Micronutrient deficiencies result in fatigue, lethargy, reduced learning ability, brain damage, reduced immunity, miscarriages and other pregnancy complications, blindness, and goiter, and raise the risk for mortality, especially from diseases such as diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria, and measles.

The following five micronutrient deficiencies are of particular concern: iron deficiency, folate deficiency, vitamin A deficiency, zinc deficiency, and iodine deficiency disorder. It is estimated that >1 million children’s deaths worldwide could be prevented with adequate vitamin A and zinc and an additional 24,500 deaths prevented with adequate iron and iodine. Adequate micronutrient status improves health and intellectual abilities and the evidence for addressing deficiencies is compelling, cost effective, and achievable.

Sustainability creates and maintains conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony and fulfills the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations. During the last 50 years, the physical and functional availability of natural resources has shrunk faster than at any other time in history due to increased demand and/or degradation of biodiversity, soil, forests, water, and air. This has been compounded by a range of factors, including human population growth, changes in lifestyles, and diets that use more land, water, and energy resources. It is imperative to encourage environmentally responsible practices that conserve natural resources, minimize# the quantity of waste generated, and support ecological sustainability of the food system.6 Individuals can make the biggest single contribution to the environment by shifting to a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.

Agriculture contributes to the livelihood of 40% of the world’s population with 90% of farmers owning <5 acres. Agriculture is multifunctional because it produces or contributes to food, medicines, nonfood items, ecological services, livelihoods, social stability, culture, and tradition. The combination of community-based innovations, local knowledge, and science-based approaches maximize output and sustainability of food and water resources.

Local food systems, local consumption, and domestic outlets for farmers’ products can alleviate the risks inherent in international trade. Investment in local infrastructure, marketing systems, extension and communication services, education, as well as research and development, can increase food supply and improve the functioning of local agricultural markets, resulting in less volatile prices

Micronutrient deficiency prevention and control strategies include:

        Increased food diversity with improved dietary quality, bioavailability, and quantity;

        Disease control;

        Improved knowledge and education on prevention and control for policy makers and the general public;

        Supplementation to high-risk groups; and

        Where deficiencies are high, fortification technologies, such as biofortification, open market fortification of processed food, and targeted fortification

Schools that integrate health and nutrition into their classrooms and communities can become centers of excellence and hubs of knowledge and practice beyond the school-aged child. School meal programs provide complete or supplemental meals to promote nutrition, school participation, and learning potential. Gardens in schools can spread to communities and increase awareness of the importance of good nutrition and dietary diversity. Integrating health and nutrition education into lessons, meals, and gardening activities promotes healthy habits such as dietary diversity, food and water safety, food processing, nutrient preservation, sanitation, and hygiene.

Members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (registered dietitians; dietetic technicians, registered; and other health practitioners) have an important role in achieving global nutrition security whether working domestically or internationally. The tips that follow show how to become involved in promoting global nutrition security:

        Increase awareness of how current world events relate to malnutrition.

o   Promote awareness of global nutrition security issues.

o   Learn about, respect, and understand diverse customs and cultures.

o   Write articles addressing global nutrition security for your local newspapers, state Academy association, political leaders, and nutrition or health promotion newsletters.

o   Encourage support for global and domestic outreach efforts promoting nutrition security.

o   Become actively involved to ensure nutrition security programs support sustainable development.

o   Establish a class on global nutrition security issues.

        Network by joining a professional internationally focused interest group.

o   Join organizations such as: The Overseas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; the Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group of the Academy; the American Society of Nutrition’s International Nutrition Council; the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior’s International Special Interest Group; the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior’s International Nutrition Education Division or the American Public Health Association’s International Health Section.

o   Attend national and international professional meetings that have a strong agenda addressing global nutrition security.

o   Become familiar with international food assistance and education programs such as Oxfam America, Heifer International, or Bread for the World.

        Volunteer in local, national, or international humanitarian assistance efforts and medical missions.

        Take a class in global nutrition.

o   Learn more about the ramifications of domestic policy decisions on world food security (eg, trade, food regulations, import and export tariffs, and foreign aid).

o   Learn about the policies, programs, and issues related to nutrition security.

        As the nutrition experts, registered dietitians and dietetic technicians, registered, can provide continuing education seminars to other nutrition and medical professionals.

        Become more “green” as you make personal choices. Personal and national decisions affect our immediate environment and also people and environments in other parts of the world.

o   Teach others how changes in their eating and purchasing practices can reduce consumption of the world’s nonrenewable resources.

o   Support sustainable food and water efforts locally and internationally (eg, gardening, water filtering, well construction, fish ponds, and reforestation).

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Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Nutrition Security in Developing Nations: Sustainable Food, Water, and Health

Is SNAP-Ed Under Attack?

Is the Farm Bill’s Nutrition Education Program under Attack?

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Since the Farm Bill is up for re-authorization, Congress is currently threatening to cut one of its components. This component is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs’ nutrition education (SNAP-Ed).

SNAP-Ed empowers recipients to purchase healthy foods within a very tight food budget. The program employs hundreds of RDs in all 50 states. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ (AND) Farm Bill Work Group is making slight revisions to the 2012 Farm Bill Recommendation document to highlight the SNAP-Ed program among other aspects of the bill.

The recommendations include talking points related to:

          Empowering consumers

o   Maintain current funding for SNAP Nutrition Education (SNAP Ed), an effective program that empowers participants to change behaviors for healthy eating using knowledge tailored to their lifestyle.

          Provide access to healthy and safe foods

o   Protect and strengthen the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), key programs in our nation’s nutrition safety net.

          Assure a healthy and safe food system

o   Ensure funding for a variety of community-based and regional agriculture initiatives that expand the availability of regionally-grown food, create jobs, and promote economic development.

o   Support farm practices and policies that conserve soil, water, air, habitat and biodiversity, as these are essential to our survival, and help to assure that a next generation of farmers has access to land and the skills and incentives to grow healthy foods.

          Assure sound science for future evidenced-based decision making

o   Maintain funding for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Agricultural Research Service that includes Human Nutrition Research Centers for vital research to drive better nutrition, eliminate hunger, increase food security and healthy food systems and eliminate diet-related health disparities, including obesity and assure the availability of nutrition monitoring, food composition and related data.

o   Maintain funding for the Specialty Crop Block Grants in order to support food safety and nutrition research and a diversity of fruits, vegetables and nuts available to help people achieve the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Farm Bill overview:

The Farm Bill is a critical piece of legislation that determines not only what farmers grow, but what is available in the United States food supply. Farm policies have existed in the U.S. since the establishment of our country. The 1920’s brought about the first big shift in agriculture policies, focusing on direct government intervention to provide income support by increasing crop prices and controlling supplies. Legislation continued to support farmers through direct income payments and crop supply management until 1996. At that time fixed income support payments were removed, making a shift to the modern commodity payments currently in place, and focused on issues surrounding food safety, food assistance and the environment.

The most recent Farm Bill, 2008 Food Conservation and Energy Act, included several key provisions that impacted nutrition.

          – Renamed the “food stamp program” to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), to reflect a modern program, putting healthy foods within reach for people.

          – Authorized a small pilot program, the Healthy Incentives Pilot, to research the effect of incentives in encouraging SNAP participants to purchase healthful foods such as fruits and vegetables.

        –   Created the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to coordinate agricultural research and Extension programs.

          – Established funding for new programs to support producers transitioning to organic agriculture and to increase research in organic agriculture.

So, now the real question is- what will happen next? Only time will tell….

AND Farm Bill

2012 Farm Bill recommendations

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