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Bionutrient Food: Increasing the Quality of Our Food Supply

Wednesday, November 18, 2015 - 7:30pm to 9:30pm
Joe Rosenfield '25 Center Room 101

 

Dan Kittredge is passionate about raising the quality of nutrition in our food supply.
 
For the past half century at least, the goal of most plant breeders and agricultural practices has been to improve traits in our fruits and vegetables such as size, productivity, growth rate, transportability, and pest resistance, with the dominant effort being toward higher yields.  Little attention has been paid to the nutritional content of these foods.
  
In the last decade, however, a number of scientific studies have found an actual decline in the nutritional value of some of our foods.  For example, a study by researchers from the University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, found “reliable declines” from 1950 to 1999 in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorous, iron, riboflavin, and Vitamin C in 43 different fruits and vegetables.  Similar findings are reported in studies by the Kushi Institute and in Great Britain.

Various explanations have been put forward to explain these declines, from natural cycles to improved testing procedures, new transportation and storage methods, and food irradiation.  Dan Kittredge, though, believes the explanation is to be found in a decline in the health of our soils. 

Kittredge, executive director of the Bionutrient Food Association (BFA), has been an organic farmer since childhood, when his parents purchased an organic farm in Barre, Massachusetts.  He grew up on that land and in his adult years managed it.  In 2008 he launched the Real Food Campaign, the forerunner to the BFA, to empower and educate farmers toward the production of quality food for the improvement of human health.  Kittredge’s experience managing organic farms and developing sustainable agriculture techniques has connected him to farmers in Central America, Russia, and India in addition to the United States.  Explains Dan, "For me, it’s about looking at food and plants in a new way – providing the ideal environment for a plant’s genetic potential to manifest itself.”
Kittredge started the BFA, he says, because he wanted to be a better farmer.  “The crops I grew regularly succumbed to pests and diseases. A crop that gets the nutritional compounds it needs can flourish and resist pests and diseases. A crop that doesn't will get sick. If nutrients are not in the plant--because they aren't in the soil to begin with or because the plant cannot access them due to agricultural practices-- then we humans aren't getting them either.”
  
There are 65 different elements in the human body that are necessary for our bodies to function, Kittredge points out.  Humans evolved to get these elements from our food, and our food only gets them from the soil. Most soil tests only report out about three of these elements--nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, or NPK. The Bionutrient Food Association is helping farmers address the full spectrum of elements and build a biological system in the soil, so they can grow healthier crops for healthier food.

Kittredge will speak on "Bionutrient Food: Increasing the Quality of Our Food Supply,” at 7:30 p.m. in room 101 of the Joe Rosenfield Center at Grinnell College.  His presentation, sponsored by the Center for Prairie Studies, is free and open to the public.
 

International scholars to discuss publishing houses in India, Kenya

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - 7:30pm to 9:30pm
Joe Rosenfield '25 Center Room 101

Urvashi Butalia, “Publishing Against the Grain: A Story from India”
Billy Kahora, “Of Creative ‘Interventions’ and ‘Social Contracts’: Looking At Kwani”

Two international scholars, Urvashi Butalia and Billy Kahora, will give a joint lecture about publishing houses in India and Kenya at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4, at Grinnell College.

The Grinnell College Center for the Humanities is sponsoring the lecture, which is free and open to the public. The event will take place in room 101 of the Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, 1115 Eighth Ave, Grinnell.

Butalia, founder and CEO of Zubaan, a feminist publishing house in India, will discuss "Publishing Against the Grain: A Story From India." Butalia co-founded Kali for Women, India's first feminist publishing house, in 1984. Zubaan, the publishing house she runs today, is a successor of Kali and publishes books about and by women, as well as archiving women's histories.

Butalia has been published widely in edited volumes, newspapers and magazines both in India and abroad. One of her best-known works was featured in the award-winning history, "The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India," which received the Oral History Book Association Award in 2001 and the Nikkei Asia Award for Culture in 2003. In 2011, she was awarded the Padmashree, an honor for civilians presented by the Indian government to Butalia for her work in the field of women's education.

Billy Kahora, managing editor of Kwani Trust in Nairobi, Kenya, will discuss publishing houses as creative collectives. Established in 2003, the Kwani trust is dedicated to developing, publishing and distributing quality, creative and contemporary African writing. As managing editor, Kahora has edited seven issues of the Kwani journal as well as other Kwani publications, such as Nairobi 24 and Kenya Burning.

An award-winning short fiction and creative nonfiction author, Kahora has had his work featured in many publications in Kenya and abroad, including Vanity Fair. His story "Treadmill Love" received the Caine Prize in 2007 and his stories "Urban Zoning" and "The Gorilla's Apprentice" were shortlisted for the prize in 2012 and 2014. He also is a past recipient of the Chevening Scholarship and an Iowa Writer’s Fellowship.

The Folklore of the Freeway: Connectivity, Creativity and Conflict in the Age of Highway Construction

Wednesday, November 11, 2015 - 7:30pm to 9:30pm
Joe Rosenfield '25 Center Room 101

 

Eric Avila, Professor of History, Chicano Studies and Urban Planning and Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for the Division of Social Sciences, UCLA

The Folklore of the Freeway: Connectivity, Creativity and Conflict in the Age of Highway Construction

Eric Avila is Professor of History, Chicano Studies and Urban Planning at UCLA and currently serves as Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for the Division of Social Sciences. As an urban cultural historian of Los Angeles and the United States in the twentieth century, Avila is author of "Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Fear and Fantasy in Suburban Los Angeles" (UC Press, 2004) and "The Folklore of the Freeway: Race and Revolt in the Modernist City" (Minnesota, 2014).  Currently, he is writing "American Cultural History: A Very Short Introduction" for Oxford University Press.

He studies the intersections of racial identity, urban space, and cultural representation in twentieth century America. Anyone with an interest in American history, urban studies, race relations, or the relationship between communities and development will be interested in his talk. For the Humanities Center series on “Sites of Creativity: Streets, Salons, Studios, and Schools", he will talk about communities of color and their resistance to the building of highways in this way mapping the creative strategies devised by urban communities to document and protest the damage that highways wrought.