The Lempert Report LIVE

Transforming Food Swamps: The Future of Nutrition, Agriculture, and Food Safety in the U.S

July 24, 2023 Phil Lempert Episode 87
The Lempert Report LIVE
Transforming Food Swamps: The Future of Nutrition, Agriculture, and Food Safety in the U.S
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever wondered why certain neighborhoods are trapped in food swamps and plagued with health risks? What if local communities could transform these swamps into edible landscapes with nutritious food options? Drawing a clear image of this current health hazard, we reveal the dire straits food swamps pose in the United States and how local leadership and community involvement can turn the tide. Together, we investigate the White House's role in fostering the next crop of diverse agricultural professionals and the impact of H-E-B's innovative wellness clinic in Texas. We also delve into the controversial issue of certain US food additives being banned in Europe, sparking questions about our food safety regulations.

How can supermarkets and restaurants better cater to their customers' needs? Boldly challenging the industry norms, we generate innovative ideas and strategies to revolutionize the grocery and dining scene. We turn the spotlight on charter schools who are paving the way, combating food swamps head-on by cultivating food within their premises and uplifting their communities. Glimpsing into the future of agriculture, we discuss the crucial role of youth education in shaping a healthier, more sustainable future. Rounding off the episode, we dive into an intense debate on controversial food additives, scrutinizing the safety measures by the US Food and Drug Administration and contrasting them against Europe's stance.

Phil:

Welcome to the Lempert Report LIVE. On today's broadcast, the risk of living in a food swamp. The White House invests $262 million in educating agriculture professionals, H-E-B opens wellness clinics. And, on the Bullseye, why are US food additives being banned in Europe? So, Sally, let's get started. You know we've all heard about food deserts, but now there's a new phrase out there called food swamps. What's a food swamp and why should we be concerned?

Sally:

Right, like food deserts filled these areas have very few healthy food options, or no healthy food options, or a supermarket within a reasonable distance, particularly when there is no public transportation. It needs to be within a walkable distance, but in addition, they have many takeaway stores or convenience places to get food, where we're overloaded with unhealthy food options that aren't coming from a fresh food market.

Phil:

So what's interesting to me? There's a new study from Augusta University in Georgia. They studied 3,038 counties in the US. That represent 96.7% of the United States, And those with high rates of obesity related cancer deaths had a greater fraction of older people, black residents and low income families, higher rates of diabetes and obesity. And guess what? People who live in food swamps are 30% more likely to die from obesity related cancers. So I guess the question that we really have to address here is we know that this exists. We know it exists in food deserts now, food swamps. What do we do about it? I mean, that's the biggest problem because supermarkets especially if you look at what happened in Chicago when Ron Manuel was the mayor, he brought in just about every supermarket CEO asked them to open up stores. They did. It didn't work. We're starting to see more large supermarkets. Walmart has pulled out of Chicago. What we find is Whole Foods closed their banner store in San Francisco because of crime. They weren't able to maintain a good business there. So the question is how do we combat this very serious problem? And I think that what we really need to do, because we can't say, okay, these people can order online because some of them don't have smartphones. Some of them don't have a place where they can get these foods. The question is how can we induce companies to go into these food swamps and help people?

Sally:

Yes, absolutely, And I think this is also one of those situations where we really need to focus on our local leadership, on your local councils, and what you can do to create and improve your neighborhoods to make them more walkable for people. Community gardens are also another great way that some people are addressing this. We just talked about on the show last week about a charter school that has created a whole way of growing food within a container at their school and they're providing food to their community in that way. So I think that we have to look at our local leadership. your council members, your mayor and the community has to come together and find ways to attract these businesses to come in and bring these better food options. But also, let's put in some sidewalks. Let's make the community easier to navigate.

Phil:

And also let's give them some incentives to open up these stores. That's something that Jeff Brown was able to get from the federal government in Philadelphia and he's been very effective and the stores are open and he's doing great and the community is doing great. So there are models out there that can make it work. The White House has announced last week or two weeks ago, 262.5 million investment in institutions of higher education that will foster the next generation of diverse AG professionals across the nation. So this is all about educating people to work in agriculture, and this is so important because what we find is the average age of a farmer is in their 60s. they've got some severe problems. So if, in fact, we can use this to identify and inspire the next AG leaders, they're all going to win.

Sally:

Absolutely, and you know I hope Americans really realize the value in programs like this, that you know, programs like this go in and help our youth to learn what the future of our food system and agriculture looks like. And not only are they helping food but they are helping communities that are underserved in these areas or that haven't quite had the opportunity to get involved in the food system and the agricultural system. So you know, we're looking at ethnic communities and we're looking at underserved communities that need a little help in getting these programs going so that they can they have a chance at some of these great jobs, at being a part of our future agriculture.

Phil:

Absolutely, and it just helps everybody. The closer and we've talked about this for years, that the closer the people can come to growing their food, the better it is, the better understanding and the health outcomes are huge. Talking about health outcomes, H-E-B, one of my favorite retailers, has opened yet another wellness primary care clinic. It's at Katy, Texas. It's a full service primary care unit for those age 12 and older. They manage illnesses through a food as medicine approach aAnd what they're doing is offering physical therapy, health and nutrition coaching, clinical pharmacists, specialty referrals labs. Their staff is board certified physicians, nurses, other licensed medical professionals. And you know, now H-E-B can have a one stop shop for all of our medicines, so we can go into the store, buy healthy foods and then, you know, make sure that we're treating our bodies intelligently.

Sally:

Yes, i love this program and I think about the clinics that CVS started, and somehow some of the drug stores started doing that, where they could give vaccinations and where they could treat very minor situations, and how that made this kind of healthcare much more accessible to some people, because we all know how hard it is to get a doctor appointment these days and get it via healthcare professional. But what an even better match with what H-E-B is doing to where you can actually discuss a nutritional approach to your health and your well-being. And there you are in the store where you can go and buy those recommended nutritious foods that you need to have to feel better.

Phil:

And to your point, getting doctor's appointments are absurd. A lot of doctors don't want to be doctors anymore, for whatever reason. In fact, this morning I just got an email from a practitioner that we use that he's decided to give up his practice and move to the south of Spain. So gone, you know, just like that. So H-E-B, Kroger, a lot of these areas, Hv-Vee, who are opening up these affordable wellness clinics. It's great, it's kudos to them and we just need more of them. On today's bullseye, we have to question why food additives are allowed here in the US but banned in Europe. Potassium bromate is a suspected carcinogen that's banned for human consumption in Europe, China and India, but not here in the US. In the US, the chemical compound is used by some food makers, usually in the form of fine crystals or powder to strengthen dough. It's estimated to be present in more than 100 products. There's evidence that it may be toxic to human consumers, that it may even either initiate or promote the development of tumors. That was from Professor Erik Millstone, an expert on food additives at England's University of Sussex. As he told CBS News, he said that European regulators take a much more cautious approach to food safety than US counterparts. A range of other chemicals and substances banned in Europe over health concerns are also permitted in the US, including titanium dioxide, Brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate one that I can't even pronounce and propyl paraben. Millstone, who spent almost half a century researching food and AG science, said that most Americans were likely completely unaware that they're being exposed on a daily basis to substances in their food viewed as dangerous in Europe. In a statement to CBS News, the US Food and Drug Administration said all food additives require pre-market evaluation and regulations require evidence that each substance is safe at its intended level of use before it may be added to foods. Post-approval, our scientists continue to review relevant new information to determine whether there are safety questions and whether the use of substance is no longer safe, the agency added. In a statement to CBS News, the FDA said that, when used properly, potassium bromate converts into a harmless substance during food production. The FDA acknowledged, however, that not all of its compound used in any given recipe may convert during the production process, but their control measures were utilized to minimize the amount in final products. The Lempert Report is all about inspiring ideas, making our industry think and challenge each other. Let's think about being the shopper and how we can bring our supermarkets and our restaurants closer to meet their needs. I hope you'll be back to join us next week on the next installment of the Lempert Report LIVE when we focus on the biggest and the best insights and the things that really matter. Visit us at SupermarketG uru. com all week long for the latest marketing analysis issues and trends. I'll see you back here next Monday at 2 30 pm Eastern for more.

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