The Bacteria Babies Need

Artistic representation of bacteria. I always love a good science story…Did you read this one? The Bacteria Babies Need. 

In short, an essential bacteria in the gut of babies is disappearing to the point of being endangered. The micro-bacteria, B. infantis, essentially is the muscle on the block; it keeps the bad guys out including pathogenic bacteria.  The disappearance of the bacteria is due to decreasing breastfeeding rates and rising cesarean rates and antibiotic use.

Babies who do not have the bacteria grow up to be more likely to suffer from diabetes, allergies, and are more likely to be overweight. As of now, nothing can be done to ensure that a baby gets the bacteria. Some countries are undertaking studies to introduce the bacteria into the guts of babies.

Why is this important? We know so little about how our bodies function on a micro-bacterial, chromosomal, or cellular level. And, yet, out food systems are changing at a faster rate now than ever before. I worry about how much fast food and processed foods we are eating. What does this giant diet shift mean to our guts, our planet, and to the diversity of our foods.

A variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Many of the fruits and vegetables are on heart-shaped dishes.

As the author writes, “we’d also be wise to heed these findings on the microbiota as a harbinger of what’s to come.  The promotion of infant formula in place of breast milk, and our reliance on processed foods into adulthood, have had some unforeseen and frightening repercussions for our health. The industrialization of our food supply is changing us from the inside out”.

Discussion questions:

  • What does food diversity look like in your community?
  • What can you do to eat a variety of foods?

PS: Want to know what some cities and states are doing to combat this issue? Read more here.

Book Report: How the Other Half Eats

In “How the Other Half Eats: The Untold Story of Food and Inequality in America,” Priya Fielding-Singh provides a comprehensive examination of the link between food and inequality in America. She explores how food is not only a basic necessity for survival, but also a symbol of cultural identity, class, and social status. The book’s title is a nod to Jacob Riis’s classic book “How the Other Half Lives,” which exposed the living conditions of the poor in New York City in the late 19th century. Fielding-Singh’s book is a modern-day counterpart, offering an inside look at the ways in which food insecurity and poverty intersect.

Fielding-Singh’s research is based on interviews with individuals from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds, ranging from wealthy tech executives to low-wage service workers. She delves into the complexities of food insecurity and how it affects different groups of people in different ways. For example, she highlights how food insecurity can lead to health problems and obesity among low-income individuals who rely on cheap, unhealthy foods to survive. She also points out that food insecurity disproportionately affects people of color, who are more likely to live in food deserts and lack access to healthy, affordable food options.

One of the book’s strengths is its ability to humanize the statistics surrounding food insecurity. By sharing the personal stories of those affected by food insecurity, Fielding-Singh gives readers a glimpse into the day-to-day struggles of those living in poverty. She also shows how individuals and communities are working to combat food insecurity and promote food justice. For example, she profiles a nonprofit organization that provides free meals to children during the summer months when school is out, and a community garden that brings fresh produce to a low-income neighborhood.

Fielding-Singh also examines the role of policymakers and government programs in addressing food insecurity. She points out that while programs like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) can help alleviate food insecurity, they are often stigmatized and underfunded. She suggests that policymakers need to do more to address the root causes of food insecurity, such as low wages and lack of affordable housing.

Overall, “How the Other Half Eats” is a timely and insightful look at the link between food and inequality in America. It provides a nuanced understanding of the complex issues surrounding food insecurity and offers a hopeful message about the ways in which individuals and communities can work together to promote food justice. It is a must-read for anyone interested in the intersections of food, poverty, and social justice in America.