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Nielsen Report Investigates Why People Buy Organic Food

Most people want to eat healthy, but it’s not always easy. People are rushed, stressed, busy, and during the recession, there was less money to spend on healthy food, which tends to be more expensive. Nielsen just released the findings from their global study on healthy eating. They surveyed 27,000 consumers in 55 markets from Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East/Africa (including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, South Africa), North America and Latin America.

Certainly the trend towards organic foods continues. 40% of respondents purchase organic food. And why is that the case?
Not surprising, 76% of people feel that organic foods are healthier, and that’s a good reason to buy them. Some of the other results – such as 51% of people saying that organic foods are more nutritious – are also health-related. The most interesting result is that a full 49% of respondents said they buy organic food because the farming practices are better for the environment. That shows a conscious awareness and concern for the environment and how our purchasing habits (in this case for food) directly affect the environment. This is a good sign.

The Nielsen study explores the environment angle further and finds that 33% of people concerned about the environment are focused on finding local food. This is definitely a growing trend. The Sustainable Food Blog (from has an incredible post about buying local food: How Buying Local Can Pull States (and the Country) Out of Debt. And lots of bloggers also speak to the benefits of buying local food, which go beyond the quality of food and health of consumers.

A big disappointment from the Nielsen study is that North Americans are by far the worst when it comes to buying locally. Only 24% of those surveyed actively purchase locally made food. Clearly there’s room for that to improve.

Deforestation in Brazil Drastically Increases Malaria Cases

According to researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, deforestation has a significant impact on malaria. They published their findings in the journal, Emerging Infectious Diseases.

The researchers found that a loss of just 4% of forest cover was associated with nearly 50% more cases of malaria.
“It appears that deforestation is one of the initial ecological factors that can trigger a malaria epidemic,” says Sarah Olson, the lead author of the new report and a postdoctoral fellow at the Nelson Institute, Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment.

It seems that clearing the rainforest trees leaves the perfect habitat for mosquitoes – open spaces, partially lit water pools.

The chart shows the increased amounts of total deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. Since 1988, over 145,000 square miles of forest have been cleared. Slide the slidebar below the chart to the left and right to see the accumulated deforestation from 1988 to 2009. The rate has slowed, but the amount is still astronomical.

In 2009 there were 306,000 reported cases of malaria in Brazil. The highest number of cases was in 1999 (637,470 cases). According to the research on deforestation and malaria cases, the effects of deforestation are seen 5-10 years after.

U.S. Lags in Energy Research and Development

Japan invests the most in energy research and development as a percentage of its GDP. The US ranks last.