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World Food Day

October 11, 2012
By YVONA FAST , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

We love the various flavors and ethnic variations of food. We celebrate food all year long. Most ethnic and religious holidays center around special dishes: pumpkins and candy for Halloween, turkey and cranberries for Thanksgiving, chocolate treats for Valentine's Day.

We all need to eat to survive. Some get too much, while others don't get enough food.

Oct. 16 is World Food Day, first established by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 1979. Since then, World Food Day has been observed annually in more than 150 countries, raising awareness of the issues behind poverty and hunger around the globe, and focusing on approaches to ending hunger worldwide.

Article Photos

Bean soup
(Photo — Yvona Fast)

But today in the Western world, we suffer from overabundance. We have become used to products that are always available, affordable, convenient and instantly gratifying. Much of our food comes pre-cooked and shrink-wrapped, and companies are developing ever larger portions in order to sell more food. For example, between 1983 and 2003, the size of an average bagel sold in the U.S. skyrocketed from a 3-inch diameter with 140 calories to a 6-inch diameter containing 350 calories.

As a result, obesity rates in developed nations have more than doubled since 1980 (World Health Organization). At least 2.8 million adults die each year as a result of being overweight or obese.

Nowhere is the problem as bad as in the U.S., where obesity has reached epidemic proportions. According to the Centers of Disease Control, two-thirds of Americans weigh more than we should, and more than one-third of adults in the United States are obese. Obesity is an important factor in diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer and kidney disease. In 2008, health care costs related to obesity reached $147 billion. That is expected to rise even higher, to $300 billion by 2018.

But even in America, a land of plenty, 49 million people lack dependable, consistent access to food. Often it's a choice between buying food and paying rent or medical bills.

Yet 2,000 calories per day is all most adults need. While Americans are chiefly concerned with curbing the nation's obesity epidemic, in other countries hunger is the world's number-one health risk. Worldwide, one out of four children is underweight, and one in seven people go to bed hungry. Each year, 5 million children die from lack of food. There are about 925 million hungry people in the world, 98 percent of them in developing countries.

In order to provide a common focus for action, World Food Day adopts a different theme each year. Most of the themes revolve around agriculture because only investment in agriculture will turn this situation around. This year, World Food Day spotlights farmers' co-ops and agricultural cooperatives, which help farmers share resources. More than 2.5 billion people - one-third of the world population - are small farmers and their families.

"Cooperatives and producer organizations have a key role to play in bringing about a future without hunger," FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva said in a press release. "Standing alone, a smallholder has fewer opportunities. When farmers get together, they have better conditions to negotiate price, and have better access to assets and services."

There are also efforts to fight world hunger on the local level. On Oct. 14 in Saranac Lake, the CROP Walk will raise funds to fight hunger in our community and throughout the world. The Saranac Lake walk is one of more than 1,600 walks around the country, Money raised supports grassroots, hunger-fighting development efforts around the world through Church World Service. Up to 25 percent of the funds go to support local efforts to fight hunger, such as our local Interfaith Food Pantry. CROP Hunger Walks are ecumenical, interfaith, multi-cultural hunger education and fundraising events. For more information, go to www.churchworldservice.org/site/TR/CropWalks/General?sid=1557&type=fr_informational&pg=informational&fr_id=15162.

We must work to ensure that more food is sustainably produced and adequately distributed. We need to encourage local, sustainable agriculture in communities at home and around the world to bring food security.

This week's recipes are inexpensive, wholesome, nutritious and satisfying. When you sit down for dinner you're your family, discuss where your food comes from, who cultivates it and what actions you can take to make the food system more just and sustainable.

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Basic Bean Soup

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Ingredients:

1 cup dry beans, such as Great Northern, pinto or pea beans

1 quart vegetable or chicken broth or water

Bay leaf

A few grains of allspice

1 small carrot

1 small parsnip

1 small leek

1 celery stalk

1/4 turnip or few leaves of cabbage

Beef bone or a couple of chicken wings, optional

3 or 4 potatoes, cut up

1 clove of garlic

Salt - 1 teaspoon or to taste

Fresh marjoram and fresh parsley, for garnish

1/2 cup tomato sauce or diced cooked tomatoes, optional

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Directions:

Soak beans overnight in 1 quart of water. Or bring to a boil in the morning, cook 3 to 5 minutes, turn off heat, and let sit for an hour or longer. Drain.

Chop the vegetables. Place everything in a pot with broth, water, vegetables, beans, bay leaf and allspice. Cook about 20 minutes. If using a beef bone or chicken wings, add them now. Add the potatoes, and cook 20 minutes longer, or until vegetables are desired consistency.

Remove bones and meat, if using.

Mash garlic with salt, tomato sauce or tomatoes, and fresh herbs. Cook about 5 minutes to blend flavors, taste, and adjust seasonings.

For a vegetarian soup, omit meat and add 1/2 tomato sauce or diced cooked or canned tomatoes at the end with the garlic and herbs.

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Artisan Wheat Bread

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Ingredients:

3 cups warm water

1-1/2 tablespoons yeast

1-1/2 tablespoons salt

3 cups whole wheat flour

3-1/2 cups all purpose flour

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OR

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Artisan Rye Bread

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Ingredients:

3 cups warm water

1-1/2 tablespoons yeast

1-1/2 tablespoons salt

1-1/2 cups rye flour

1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour

3-1/2 cups all purpose flour

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Directions:

Dissolve yeast in water; add salt and flour. Mix vigorously with a wooden spoon until well combined. Allow to sit, loosely covered, about 2 hours.

Sprinkle top of dough with a little flour and divide into 2 or 3 parts. Shape loaves with your hands and place on parchment paper. Let dough rest and raise 20 to 40 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees, and place a pizza stone or cast-iron skillet to heat in the oven. If you wish, you can refrigerate part of this dough for up to 2 weeks at this point.

Carefully slide the bread with the parchment paper onto the hot pizza stone. Immediately set a pan with 1 cup of water in the oven. Bake about 40 minutes.

For a crispier bottom crust, slide the bread off the parchment paper after about 20 to 25 minutes.

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Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: cooking and writing. She can be reached at www.wordsaremyworld.com.

 
 
 

 

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