Our relationship with food is complicated. Food fuels our bodies. It is our lifeline. Yet, 400 million adults worldwide are underweight. On the flip side, 1.9 billion adults worldwide are overweight.

Making healthy lifestyle changes such as eating healthier, fresher foods takes time and requires engagement from the individual, the family and sometimes even the community.

But it’s more than that. Supplies of healthier food need to be readily available, high-yield, safe and nutritious. In today’s society, food production is complicated. It doesn’t go from the field to the table directly or in minutes.

In recognition of World Food Day on October 16, we are sharing how five Clemson faculty members are answering this global health crisis through programs that range from producing more nutritious crops to those that ignite physical activity, creating a healthier world for all. Scientists across the University’s seven colleges are working tirelessly to address health- and food-related issues by finding ways to eliminate hunger, malnutrition and obesity. Read on.

SARAH GRIFFIN

Sarah Griffin has dedicated most of her career to evaluating and researching food education programs and health initiatives. Through programs that educate families about making informed food choices, work to prevent and manage obesity as well as promote healthy eating and active living, her focus is on serving South Carolina residents. Now, she’s working with Clemson Extension Services to co-lead a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-sponsored project to help promote healthy lifestyles such as eating fresh foods and exercising to reduce obesity and its health risks in three South Carolina counties. Read more. 

ALEDA ROTH

Most people don’t consider where the food they consume comes from: How does it get made? Who makes it? Where do the ingredients come from? The answers to those questions are more complicated than you might think. Aleda Roth, Clemson’s Burlington Industries Distinguished Professor of Supply Chain Management, has made it her life’s work to track down the sources of the foods we eat. She explains how a sick dog and her passion for research led her on a mission to find the roots of our consumables. Often, the truth is hard to digest. Read more.

RAJAN SEKHON

An ever-growing population requires more sources for food and fuel. While corn and sorghum fit the bill, they suffer from approximately 20 percent loss in crop yield in the U.S. annually, an issue that must be addressed to ensure the plants can provide for the population of tomorrow without putting a taxing  farmers’ resources today. Rajan Sekhon, an assistant professor in the department of genetics and biochemistry, is studying this loss of plants in his newest research with Clemson colleagues and a multi-university consortium. Read more.

DIL THAVARAJAH

Millions face issues caused by malnutrition — and it isn’t only limited to those who are underfed; it plays a significant role in today’s obesity epidemic and causes economic burdens for health care systems worldwide. With the help of Dil Thavarajah, lentils might be the answer. While they may be small, they have a huge impact on digestive health and fueling the body’s functionality. Read more.

BRIAN WARD

Advances in agriculture have helped farmers around South Carolina and the nation improve quality and productivity. As a Ph.D. student, Brian Ward began his career hoeing weeds and recording crop data. Now, the Clemson research scientist has made another discovery that could revolutionize how farmers work and increase the output of organic products — a new fertilizer. This discovery may put organic farming on a level playing field with conventionally grown crops. Read more.