- Author: Liz Sizensky
- Author: Ann Brody Guy
The San Francisco Chronicle reported this exercise in a 2016 interview with Crawford about newly approved USDA nutrition labels that would include added sugar information and thereby eliminate the need for such complex computations by consumers. Sadly, these nutrition guidelines have yet to come out. Why not, if we know that added sugar is related to heart disease, diabetes, tooth decay and other negative health conditions? Why hasn't this regulation been adopted? Crawford works to provide the research needed by policymakers to reduce the barriers to implementation of helpful policies such as this one.
Pat Crawford's work on improved food labeling is but one example of the way that for decades her timely and rigorous research has demonstrated the role of sugary foods and beverages in the development of diabetes, and obesity and in helping to fuel America's childhood obesity epidemic. In countless ways Crawford, who is retiring this year after more than 40 years of service at the University of California, has supported the adoption of public policies that promote safer, healthier food and beverages for all people, across the state and the nation.
You can draw direct lines from her resume to countless major policy advances in nutrition education and public health. Since earning her master's degree in public health nutrition and her registered dietician credential at UC Berkeley in 1972, Crawford has been a force of unceasing productivity as a researcher, an evaluator, an educator and a leader. Early in her career she managed the nation's largest biracial study of girls' health, the National Growth and Health Study. During the course of this long-term study, she went back to school to obtain her doctorate in public health nutrition. She soon was hired as the first UC Cooperative Extension Nutrition and Obesity Prevention specialist and she co-founded and directed UC Berkeley's Atkins Center for Weight and Health. The work of the center focused largely on food and nutrition policy to improve the health of children, and it provided a structure whereby University research could be effectively shared with community health workers throughout the state. Local and state health professionals found in the center an extension partner eager to conduct research that would answer important questions and provide real-world solutions, productively linking research, policy and practice.
The Center for Weight and Health, which in 2015 merged with the UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI), became known for rigorous research that is aligned with UC ANR's core values of addressing food security, obesity, socioeconomically based health disparities, and access to healthy foods. After the merger, Crawford became NPI's Senior Director of Research, working with her long time collaborator, Lorrene Ritchie, the NPI director.
Ritchie stated that in addition to Crawford's academic achievements, she is the consummate mentor — a “career godmother” for Ritchie and many others. She said, “Pat has an uncanny ability of knowing what you are good at — even before you yourself do — and mentoring you to build on that strength. Likewise, she has an uncanny ability to know your weaknesses, and help you to overcome those by developing new skills or pairing you with others who have those skills.”
That kind of nurturing is rare, Ritchie noted, particularly in the competitive environment of academia. Through mentoring, she added, Crawford has ensured new generations of researchers will continue this work.
“Pat has proven that you can be caring and compassionate yet still be highly effective.”
What does highly effective look like? A few examples illustrate the impact that Pat Crawford's work has had on nutrition policies and trends.
To improve the food environment at child care centers and schools, the Center/NPI provided the evidence for:
- California's 2010 Healthy Beverages in Childcare Law, requiring child care centers to make water and other healthy beverages available at all times.
- The 2013 Foundations for Healthy Nutrition in Childcare Act, requiring nutrition education for all child care providers.
- “Competitive food” policies — banning unhealthy sodas and snacks that competed with more nutritious school lunches — a policy that started in California and later was implemented at the federal level in the USDA's 2016 “Smart Snacks Standards.”
- The expansion of school garden and cooking programs in California and nationwide.
- An expansion of support for replacing packaged foods with healthier scratch cooking in school cafeterias.
To promote more nutritious food in programs serving low-income families the Center/NPI advocated:
- Improvements in the federal Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program including quadrupling the amount of vegetables and legumes WIC provides and adding information about physical activity needs for young children.
- Food bank policies that increase the amount of fruits and vegetables distributed and reduce the amount of snack foods and sugary beverages. Their free online course on how to make these policy shifts is a popular web resource for food banks across the country.
To advance education and communication:
- Crawford co-founded the first interdisciplinary conference on childhood obesity. Twenty years later, the biennial meeting is the premier obesity conference in the nation.
- The “My Healthy Plate” nutrition-education tool, which replaced the old Healthy Eating Pyramid, was developed, tested, presented and promoted by Crawford and her extension colleagues before the plate concept was officially adopted by USDA in 2011.
- California became the first state to put calories on chain-restaurant menus. Crawford's evaluation of Kaiser Permanente's pilot study of menu-board labeling provided the evidence needed by policymakers. Calorie labeling in chain restaurants has been expanded nationwide.
- Crawford's evaluation of California's SNAP-Ed program, the education arm of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, (or SNAP, previously known as food stamps), has informed programming focused on the prevention of chronic disease through efficacious nutrition changes in the environment.
Although Crawford would be quick to tell you that her work is collaborative, she has been a researcher or important influence on nearly every population-based nutrition policy success. She has served as president of the California Nutrition Council and on countless state and national committees and task forces focused on improving health and addressing obesity, including being an advisor to California's Let's Get Healthy Task Force. Most recently, she co-authored a seminal Healthy People 2020 report for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, on model policies to increase fruit and vegetable intake in the population.
Training the next generation
Given her commitment and her influence, it's no wonder that Pat Crawford won the 2013 David Kessler Award for Extraordinary Contributions to the Public's Health, as well as multiple honors from the American Public Health Association. In 2018, the UC Berkeley School of Public Health honored Crawford as one of its 75 most influential alumni in recognition of her significant contributions to reduce the epidemic of childhood obesity in California and across the country. And she's not done yet — as an emeritus Cooperative Extension specialist, her research will go on. That won't surprise anyone who knows her. As Crawford said in a 2015 interview, “What keeps me passionate is knowing that change is possible when high-quality, policy-relevant research is conducted and communicated to decision-makers and those who work with children.”
To honor the work that Crawford does and to continue this kind of work, the Nutrition Policy Institute has established a student fellowship fund to train the next generation of students on nutrition research and its policy impacts. Donors to the student fellowship fund help honor Crawford and help NPI continue its work to improve the nutrition and health of children.
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
After nearly 38 years of working for University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, Janine Hasey, retired on July 1 as the UC Cooperative Extension orchard and environmental horticulture advisor for Sutter and Yuba counties.
Hasey has worked mainly with walnuts, kiwifruit, cling peaches and almonds. Over the course of her career, walnut acreage in Sutter and Yuba counties has grown from 17,000 acres to 47,000 acres.
Collaborating with local farmers, Hasey conducted research on tree pruning, pest management, walnut rootstocks and varieties, water quality, cover crops, and irrigation management.
“Janine has been a tremendous asset to our entire agriculture industry during her 38-year tenure with UC Cooperative Extension,” said Sandra Gilbert, Rio Oso walnut grower.
Gilbert, who farms with family members, said, “Working side-by-side as Janine conducted research on our ranches, often with other scientists from the UC system, has been a pleasure. She has provided important information that has dramatically changed the methods we employ to produce walnuts.”
Hasey has been the “go-to person” for the California kiwifruit industry, said Tom Schultz, past chairman of the California Kiwifruit Commission and current chairman of the Kiwifruit Administrative Committee.
“It would be hard for me to list all the kiwifruit research projects that Janine has tirelessly worked on for the benefit of our California kiwifruit industry,” Schultz said. “She has always been the first person that we would contact in our UC Cooperative Extension system when a kiwifruit research project was needed. If it was an insect problem, fungus, canker, you name it, Janine was always there to help us either solve the problem or name the best researchers to contact for help.”
To show other walnut growers the results of experiments, Hasey held field days at the Gilberts' ranch.
“It's rewarding to see other growers demonstrate their high regard for Janine when they flock to the on-site meetings to witness results of her test plots,” Gilbert said. “We have a number of test plots where the on-site grower meetings really bulge. Growers, buyers and nurseries are eager to examine growth patterns, production, nut quality and crack outs of new varieties. Janine has provided quality information that is paving the way for advanced tree vigor, more timely harvest schedules, quality nuts and higher production.”
A recent change in walnut training management, at first met with skepticism, was the no-pruning, no-heading practice introduced by UC Cooperative Extension orchard management specialist Bruce Lampinen and Hasey. “We had a paradigm shift when we realized that lateral bearing walnuts do not have to be headed to grow during the training stage,” Hasey said.
Gilbert agreed: “Watching over the plot for the past 6 years, we were all taken aback by the superior growth and early production this method provided. After adding in the significant labor savings for pruning labor and brush removal costs, savvy growers quickly put this method into action on their own ranches.”
The farm advisor's research also helped walnut growers estimate plant water needs. “Watermark soil sensors and leaf-pressure chambers proved invaluable in determining optimum water needs for orchards leading to significant advancements in tree health with the added benefit of often saving large quantities of water,” Gilbert said. “The use of the pressure chambers is a regular part of our employee training now.”
After earning an M.S. in plant pathology, Hasey was selected by UC ANR for an intern program in 1981. She trained with mentors on tree crops in Sutter and Yuba counties and weeds, environmental horticulture and wine grapes in Napa County.
“I was drawn to the flexibility of the position, responding to problems and challenges as they arose, solving those problems through applied research and collaborative work with colleagues, conducting extension meetings and field days, and the opportunity to work with so many growers, PCAs and Master Gardeners,” Hasey said.
In 1983, she returned to Sutter-Yuba counties as a UCCE farm advisor working mainly with walnuts, kiwifruit and almonds, later adding cling peaches. In 2011, she began serving walnut growers in Colusa County. In 2014, she added UCCE director for Sutter-Yuba counties to her responsibilities.
“She has been a foremost resource and promoter of agriculture and is responsible for keeping our industry in front of the pack,” Gilbert said. “On behalf of the entire Gilbert family, we have enjoyed and learned from every encounter and hope that Janine doesn't entirely kick her work shoes off to the side.”
In retirement, Hasey, who has received emeritus status from UC ANR, plans to continue some research projects, contribute to the Sacramento Valley Walnut Newsletter and remain involved in the local agriculture industry. “I am looking forward to traveling more, but I'm not planning to ride into the sunset for a while.”
“I can't think of a better career than working with so many fine individuals in orchards and vineyards throughout these counties, diagnosing problems and researching methods to increase production, reduce labor costs and manage pests and diseases with products safer to humans and the environment,” Hasey said. “We've persevered through droughts and floods, good times and bad.”