Info Session and Open Meeting!!

Just a reminder that our final info session for GlobeMed at Northwestern is on Monday, October 1 from 7-8pm at Harris 107.  Additionally we encourage you to come to our open meeting, on Wednesday, October 3 from 7-8pm in McTrib 3127.  We look forward to seeing you there!


GlobeMed Info Sessions!!!

Dear all incoming freshmen: Welcome to Northwestern!! We’re glad you are here and we can’t wait to meet you! And we can’t wait for you all to apply to join GlobeMed at Northwestern!!

Dear all other undergrads: Welcome back, and we can’t wait for you to apply to join GlobeMed at Northwestern!!

The details:

Info sessions to join GlobeMed at Northwestern are on Thursday, September 27 and Friday, September 28 from 7-8:30pm in University 122.

 

We look forward to seeing you there! If you have any questions, feel free to email northwestern@globemed.org at any time!


Public Health and Organic Food

Many of you may have heard that a recent study from Stanford researchers indicates that the health benefits of eating organic food are not as readily apparent as once thought, at least over a course of a few years (http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1355685).  Utilizing over 200 peer-reviewed studies that examined both the differences between organic and non-organic food and the health of people who eat organic and non-organic food, researchers concluded that: “The published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods.” 

 

Reaction was widespread, but to make a gross generalization, many consumers were upset and felt duped or misled by companies advocating the benefits of organic food, which is often more expensive than comparable non-organic products.  After all, it only makes logical sense that putting more chemicals and artificial pesticides into your body would be worse for your health; this study seemed to refute that. 

 

There are a number of things to keep in mind, however, as people immediately pointed out after the study was published (http://www.npr.org/2012/09/07/160766896/organic-food-study-may-not-change-consumer-habits, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/07/opinion/why-organic-is-better-never-mind-the-study.html, http://articles.latimes.com/2012/sep/05/opinion/la-ed-organics-20120905, etc):

-First, the studies are short-term, looking into the health of individuals over a small period of time.  What the long-term effects of eating organic food are is perhaps even more important than understanding the short-term effects, and while such studies are currently under investigation the jury is still out and will be for a while longer.  Even though the health benefits alone were inconclusive for organic food, the study does say there is a much greater amount of pesticide residue on non-organic food.

-Second, having a specific organic label for certain types of foods adds to the transparency of the food industry, which has been anything but transparent in the past.  Having a clear understanding of where and how food is grown and processed is important to consumers.  The organic label, which is regulated by the FDA and the USDA, is just one relatively small way in which individuals can clearly recognize how a specific product came to be.

-Third, organic food is proven to be better for the environment.  Industrial, non-organic farms use chemicals and pesticides that are devastating for the local environment, polluting watersheds and negatively affecting animals and plants downstream.  Organic farms, on the other hand, contribute less to climate change, and do not put harmful chemicals in the soil, making them more sustainable.  Furthermore, organic meats are free of antibiotics and hormones that similar non-organic foods contain, thereby decreasing the presence of drug-resistant bacteria and hormone-related side effects such as early puberty in girls. 

-Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, organic food promotes a healthy lifestyle, where people celebrate the spirit of eating things that are maybe not necessarily better for you and your health but are grown sustainably and often locally, with the environment and the future in mind.  Organic food, as NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof writes, can promote the health and happiness of farm animals: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/09/opinion/sunday/kristof-where-cows-are-happy-and-food-is-healthy.html?src=me&ref=general.  Organic food, in this way, becomes a moral choice, not just a personal health choice. 

 

In the coming weeks it will be interesting to see how consumers react to the Stanford study; there may well be a decrease in the number of organic products sold. But it looks as if, at least in the interest of public health for cows and humans alike, organic may still the way to go.  The bioethics aspect, in a way, is the organic, locally grown cherry on top.


GlobeMed Grapevine’s goals for the 2012-13 school year:

Hello everyone, Labor Day has come and past, and the new school year is almost upon us. We, the GlobeMed chapter at Northwestern University, have made it a big goal this year to update our official blog, the GlobeMed Grapevine, as often as possible. We hope that by increasing blog activity, including posting and sharing articles, posing important questions, and even offering opinions on current issues, we will educate and inspire our followers and readers on relevent public health and global health topics. Additionally, our blog will extensively cover all of the current activities within the chapter as well as detail GlobeMed events and other global health events on and around campus. Our mission statement as a national organization is: “to strengthen the movement for global health equity by empowering students and communities to work together to improve the health of people living in poverty around the world.” Through this blog, we will attempt to fulfill this mission statement by sparking conversations and informing students about not only the problems we face but also the myriad of potential solutions and what we as a community can accomplish.

We start today with an article published yesterday on NPR’s health blog, “Shots”. It discusses the power of what has been called “herd immunity”, as well as the utter importance of vaccinations in fighting epidemics such as cholera. Share your thoughts and remember to keep checking back here all throughout the school year!

 

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/09/04/160546912/zanzibar-shows-cholera-vaccine-can-protect-even-the-unvaccinated?ps=sh_sthdl