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So you'd like your beef to come from safer pastures? Check out this new tracking system.

If you eat meat, this could be a method to insist on implementing in the U.S.

So you'd like your beef to come from safer pastures? Check out this new tracking system.

South Korea is doing this traceability thing with their farm-to-table movement.

Note: I'm going to set aside the debate about whether people should eat meat (it's a whole 'nother article, let's be real) and talk about best practices in bringing safe cuts of meat to consumers.


Truce?

Because what South Korea is doing is pretty rad.

The Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has been tracking cattle from birth to the supermarket since 2004 in an effort to assure consumers that food is safe to eat. It's described as a tightly engineered collection of data for agricultural products from production to the grocery store — requiring a lot of coordination between farms, distributors, and middle men.

The program is voluntary unless the brand wants certain designations like GAP ("good agricultural practice"). In order to achieve that coveted label, they are required to register for the traceability program.

The program started when citizens became incredibly skittish about mad-cow disease.

Mad-cow disease is pretty rare, but it scared the bejesus out of people when it made headlines. Since then, other microorganisms like E. coli and superbugs have raised concerns about beef, too.

South Korea's government was thinking about how to protect people:

"The idea was to remove problematic meat before it reached the market. ... In this case what they wanted was to be more pro-active to sell meat that is free of bacteria and bad microorganisms."
— Professor Rajiv Kishore, University at Buffalo School of Management

They're tracing information about the cow, including whether it was ever ill, whether it was given antibiotics, and what farm and group of cows it came from.

All the consumer has to do to find out this information is scan a code on the package.

Scan and bam! You know your beef's credit history and mother's maiden name. Image by Paul Wilkinson/Flickr.

Now that people have had several years to get acquainted with this, what's up?

Researchers with the University at Buffalo's School of Management surveyed 245 shoppers at a Korean consumer food convention about the food tracing program.

One of the researchers, Rajiv Kishore, tells Upworthy that nearly 70% of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they intended to buy products supported by the beef traceability system in the near future. Responses of consumers who were motivated to purchase the higher-priced, traceable beef over the non-traced, cheaper alternatives also showed that they didn't care to actually track down the information via the QR code. Simply knowing the data was there and was being (reliably) documented was good enough for them.

"It's my bulgogi, I'll QR if I want to." Image by Tragrpx/public domain.

Why?

Because they really, really trust their government's oversight of the program. Unlike some countries (*cough cough*), they feel their government is given enough control and power to enforce the data collection to keep farms and distributors compliant. So when citizens see a label on a food package that's certified by their government, they presume it really means something and isn't just "greenwashing" — in other words, cattle farmers can't just pay a lot for a fancy label that makes people feel good.

Can this work in America?

"Rhymes with Schmitizens Zunited?" Image by Sutha Kamal/Flickr.

There are lots of challenges to re-creating this practice in the United States. Kishore acknowledges that since there is no traceability program of this caliber in America, the only way to come close would be to survey consumers about how they would feel about such a program in the abstract.

Certainly, beyond that, America would have a lot to contend with in terms of competing interests. If popular demand called for such a high-caliber tracking system, it would require passing legislation. As seen with GMO-labeling efforts, that hasn't been a straightforward, people-powered process.

But there is a lot of talk in America about free-market principles, too. Kishore touches on this:

"In today's world, the fact is that consumers are willing to pay a premium price. These products are more expensive than the regular non-certified, and people are willing to pay that higher price; it creates a market incentive."

South Korea's model gives us a lot to think about.

South Korea has been doing this for around 11 years (and remember, it's voluntary — not imposed on cattle farmers). Whether America ends up implementing this or not, this is a practice to watch globally. It may make its way here if the market demands it.

And hey, maybe having a surefire way to track down foods that could need a recall and pulling them from shelves before customers purchase them isn't a bad idea anyway.

Anyone who's ever had a bout of food poisoning, can I get a "hallelujuah"?

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

via Pixabay

Over the past six years, it feels like race relations have been on the decline in the U.S. We've lived through Donald Trump's appeals to America's racist underbelly. The nation has endured countless murders of unarmed Black people by police. We've also been bombarded with viral videos of people calling the police on people of color for simply going about their daily lives.

Earlier this year there was a series of incidents in which Asian-Americans were the targets of racist attacks inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given all that we've seen in the past half-decade, it makes sense for many to believe that race relations in the U.S. are on the decline.

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Photo courtesy of Macy's
True

Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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