Every fall, I get the urge to go back to school. I have a college degree in Business and did use it for many years in my jobs after I graduated. I stopped working outside of the house when my second son was born and have not gone back to working a full-time job. I would never go back to the position I held in my last job. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great job. I worked in sales for Kraft Foods selling lines like Maxwell House coffee and Stove Top Stuffing to Stop & Shop’s headquarters. It was a great job with many perks. As much as I loved the job then, it was not very fulfilling. There was no great joy to be had in selling truckloads of Stove Top stuffing before Thanksgiving and Christmas. I don’t think I made a difference in the world doing that.
I have spent many years thinking about my next career and what I could do that would make a difference. The area that has always interested me the most is in the field of nutrition. This past summer, I was visiting with my brother-in-law, who is a CPA, and he informed me that he was starting a class in Biology. I asked him how he was doing this and he told me that he was taking it through Coursera. Coursera offers hundreds of courses for free in a multitude of areas.
The mission of Coursera is as follows:
Coursera is an education platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide, to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free.
We envision a future where everyone has access to a world-class education. We aim to empower people with education that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in.
After checking out the course offerings that were starting in the fall, I selected Nutrition, Health, and Lifestyle: Issues and Insights taught by Jamie Pope from Vanderbilt University. I just completed Week 1 of the class and I love it. I learned so many things all from the comfort of my home. I watched lectures, took quizzes and had an assignment. I won’t receive any actual credit for the class but I thought this would be a great way to increase my knowledge on the subject and see if online learning is right for me.
After watching some of the lectures, I am amazed at the perceptions of people and how they view food. Below are two examples that really struck me.
The subject of one of the lectures was about a book Hungry Planet: What the World Eats. A description from Amazon: The age-old practice of sitting down to a family meal is undergoing unprecedented change as rising world affluence and trade, along with the spread of global food conglomerates, transform eating habits worldwide. HUNGRY PLANET profiles 30 families from around the world–including Bosnia, Chad, Egypt, Greenland, Japan, the United States, and France–and offers detailed descriptions of weekly food purchases; photographs of the families at home, at market, and in their communities; and a portrait of each family surrounded by a week’s worth of groceries. Featuring photo-essays on international street food, meat markets, fast food, and cookery, this captivating chronicle offers a riveting look at what the world really eats.
One of the 30 families photographed and interviewed is from China. In that household, there is a mother, father, son and grandmother living together. In their picture of their weekly food intake, KFC was front and center. The author said this was the son’s favorite food and that there is a KFC opening every day in China. Now if you look at the information listed below and see where China is on the list of most obese countries, do you think there is a link?
A recent study published in The Lancet in May 2014 reports the number of overweight and obese people worldwide increased from 857 million in 1980 to 2.1 billion in 2013 — an increase of more than 145%. More than half of the 671 million obese people in the world live in 10 countries, and America tops the list:
Top 10 Most Obese Countries
1. United States
The second example from that same lecture came from a family that lives in Mexico. Their picture showed the family with their weekly food choices and what my eyes immediately went to was the six or seven 2 liter bottles of Coke. The mother is a nurse and told the author she thought that if a company is allowed to sell a product it must be good for you. That is the power of marketing. That is crazy!
I am excited to be learning new things and we’ll see if this leads to possibly pursuing a degree in nutrition. For now, I am looking forward to week 2! Check it out if you can. You would be surprised at how many different courses there are and they are all free!