2014 was a busy year in the world of food—the historic drought in California, the unprecedented Ebola outbreak, and fast food worker strikes. Here are 8 of the best magazine articles about food from last year.
“Are Your Chicken Nuggets Ruining Your Antibiotic Ointment?” by Tom Philpott, in Mother Jones
In 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported that “61 percent of the antibiotics sold to the meat industry are ‘medically important’—meaning that they’re commonly used in human medicine, and thus in danger of losing their effectiveness through resistance.” Tom Philpott shines a light on the frightening topic on the use of non-therapeutic antibiotics in industrial animal agriculture and the problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
“Dignity: Fast-food workers and a new form of labor activism” by William Finnegan, in The New Yorker
Is the fast food worker serving you your Happy Meal making a fair wage? What kind of labor rights do they have? William Finnegan weaves readers through a maze of fast food labor history, mixed with the story of unionized fast food workers and a portrait of a mother and McDonald’s employee. Finnegan cites a recent study by the University of California-Berkeley and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that finds that 52 percent of fast-food workers are on some form of public assistance—an ironic tragedy for the people making and serving the nation’s food.
“The Dry Land” by Matt Black and Dana Goodyear, in The New Yorker
California suffered its third year of historic drought. Dana Goodyear writes, “without water, nearly half a million acres of crops have been fallowed,” as she introduces Black’s photo essay depicting the 2014 drought which echo images of the 1930’s Dust Bowl. Readers can hover over the images to read fact-dense captions about the drought and its impact on the Californian economy.
“How Ebola Caused a Hunger Crisis In Liberia” by Alex Park, in Mother Jones
As the world watched the Ebola outbreak unfold across West Africa this year, few people realized the vast impact the outbreak would have on other aspects of the economy. Alex Park outlines that in Liberia, “90 percent of respondents said they were eating less at every meal since the beginning of the outbreak, and 85 percent were eating fewer meals every day.” With almost 8,000 cases and 3,414 deaths from Ebola in Liberia as of December 30, 2014, there is no doubt that the outbreak will continue to cause hunger and economic decline across the country.
“How Insects Could Feed the World” by Emily Anthes, in The Guardian
Entomophagy is the practice of humans eating insects, including arachnids and myriapods (centipedes). Emily Anthes takes readers on a taste test of locusts, beetles, mealworms, and other insects as she seriously considers the idea of eating insects and insect-derived protein as a solution to the question of how to feed nine billion people in 2050. With a list of over 1,900 edible insects, the thought of using insects to feed the world seems less far-fetched every year. Readers can almost feel the crunch of “chirps,” a high-protein cricket-flour chip, as Anthes munches insects from around the world.
“Kids Who Eat More Fast Food Get Worse Grades” by Belinda Luscombe, in Time Magazine
Luscombe highlights a study published in Clinical Pediatrics, which found a 20 percent difference in test scores between 11,740 school children who reported not eating fast food and those who reported eating a lot. The fact that fast food isn’t very healthy isn’t a new idea, but this article shines a light on new evidence that fast food consumption is related to lower academic achievement in students tested in math, science, reading, and literacy in fifth and eighth grade.
National Geographic Future of Food Series in National Geographic
“It doesn’t have to be industrial farms versus small, organic ones. There’s another way,” opens Jonathan Foley’s National Geographic article kicking off an eight-month series of “The Future of Food.” With food related photos displayed on the iconic yellow cover on newsstands worldwide, National Geographic’s magazine and website content explored the question of how to feed nine billion people by 2050.
“The Quinoa Quarrel; Who owns the world’s greatest superfood?” and the related photo essay “Native Lands” by Lisa M. Hamilton, in Harpers Magazine
Quinoa, a complete protein and deemed a super-food by many, has been heralded as a plant to feed the world. That is, if plant breeders can coax it into growing well outside of its traditional 12,000’ elevation homeland of the Andean plateau, also known as the Altiplano. Lisa Hamilton roams the Andes capturing their stark beauty in words and photos while outlining the argument unfolding between Andean nations holding rights to their quinoa plants and the international community of plant breeders eager to grow quinoa on low-land prairies. Spanning the topics of food sovereignty, agricultural policy, and indigenous legend, the article takes readers on a journey to a volcanic rim, learning 3,000 years of quinoa history and its destiny.