Friday, June 10, 2016

Tufts Research Day 2016: Global food security

The Tufts Research Day is an annual event highlighting inter-disciplinary work on a cross-cutting topic. The 2016 event, on April 25, was titled Research Day on Global Food Security: Crisis and Opportunity. The format was a series of short accessible "lightning talks." My session on metrics and data needs included Tufts faculty members: Colin Orians (biology), Jennifer Coates (nutrition science and policy), and Christine Wanke (public health).

My talk focused on the diverse measurement tools for and policy uses of domestic food insecurity statistics. The conclusion is that there is no fundamental economic or physical barrier preventing us from having much lower rates of food insecurity and hunger in the United States.


Anonymous said...

OK, here are a few observations...

Please tell us this "Tufts Research Day" presentation was intended to be performed for 5th graders. If instead, it was for your academic colleagues, well Tufts should be looking into clawing back salary and benefits from you.

You did, however, clear up some nagging suspicion when you explained how you prefer to blow off statistical analysis and just wing it with how the data makes you feel emotionally. Why do you call yourself an economist? Is that Tufts' job description? If so, well, you know...clawback

All that being said, you explained how your conclusion is couched not in academics but in emotion and gut instinct but you left us hanging in suspense as to what it means re: impacting food insecurity in America. Your hunch is there are no fundamental economic or physical barriers to reducing food insecurity (how you arrived at those conclusions from the information you presented is truly a wonder -- certainly it helps to ignore even the most rudimentary statistical analysis). But you stopped short of telling us just what the hell you think IS wrong with us. If it's not economic and it's not physical, then it must be social? Psychological specifically, since there is no economic or physical component. Are you suggesting certain social classes are simply too lazy and stupid to adequately feed themselves and their children? Could it be that simple? And if it is, do you still think food insecurity is a problem or might you consider it a normal part of our society under the circumstances? I mean, if food insecurity has no foundation in economics, then we can stop throwing money at it as a problem, right? It sounds like you’re suggesting we might declare victory and beat a hasty retreat from the field. Are you advising Barak Obama and/or Hillary Clinton?

Could you please enlighten us further regarding your deeply held beliefs around food insecurity and how you imagine we should embrace it in our society? I could ask some 5th graders how they feel about it but there are none handy, and since you are right here and you brought it up, well, could you tear yourself away from your work (and I use the term lightly) to bring us up to speed on your intuitions? Thank you so much for sharing with us academic work you obviously have put so much thought into.

Parke Wilde said...

Hi Anonymous. Thanks for your comment, harsh as it is. My faculty page has good links to research in refereed journals. Reflecting on your comment that a 5th grader could do better than I can at speaking on this issue, I also found a video for your interest. You are very welcome to keep commenting in this forum, but do start signing in rather than hiding behind anonymity.

J said...

Parke - enjoyed this very much and have shared it with colleagues, thanks for taking the time to post it.


Anonymous said...

By way of reducing hunger in the U.S. could you comment on food stamp fraud? Do you account for this in your research? It's a long standing issue but recent events bring it to the forefront:

Parke Wilde said...

Thanks for sharing those links.

I have sometimes wondered if the two types of fraud in the two stories are connected. It makes little sense to "traffic" or trade SNAP for cash at a discount if one has a typical SNAP benefit amount (because even low-income households spend more than that amount on food). But, if one acquires extra SNAP benefits fraudulently, as in the first link, the logic of exchanging for cash increases.