September 22, 2015 | By Roger Thurow

Cultivating Nutrition: Fortified Crops and Good Nutrition in the First 1,000 Days

Roger Thurow and Chicago Council Research Associate Louise Iverson outline the important role of fortified crops in ensuring good nutrition during the first 1,000 days, for Devex’s Future Fortified series.

A woman holds sweet potato fortified with vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency accounts for more than 600,000 deaths globally among children under 5. Photo by: <a href="" target="_blank">HarvestPlus / CC BY-NC</a>

In a rural village in northern Uganda, Aron, a bright-eyed and playful 15-month-old toddler, eagerly gobbled up a lunch of sweet potatoes and greens. His mother, Brenda, a smallholder farmer like many women in sub-Saharan Africa, cultivated and harvested this meal in her nearby fields.

These sweet potatoes, though, weren’t the ordinary sweet potatoes of Africa, which have white or yellow flesh that provide calories but little in the way of nutrients. These are biofortified, betacarotene-enriched orange sweet potatoes, developed by Ugandan scientists, and being disseminated by an organization called HarvestPlus to combat Vitamin A deficiency.

Vitamin A deficiency affects 200 million women and children worldwide, and is associated with increased risk of death among children, as well as vision disorders which can lead to blindness. Vitamin A deficiency accounts for more than 600,000 deaths globally among children under 5. In Uganda, about one-third of children under 5 and women of childbearing age suffer from vitamin A deficiency. While vitamin A supplements are a treatment option, they are costly, and the supply and distribution can be unreliable, particularly in rural areas.

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| By Roger Thurow

A Wondrous Journey

Cruising down I-80 in the summer is one of the most wondrous, and paradoxical, drives in the country.

| By Roger Thurow

1,000 Days and Migrant Stress

The first 1,000 days of a child's life is a critical time for development, where nutrition--and stability--lay the foundation for a lifetime. 

| By Roger Thurow

Outrage and Inspire with Roger Thurow - Am I About to Lose My Second Child, Too?

The latest podcast in our ongoing series with Roger Thurow. Hear how even the best nutrition projects can be undermined by bad water, poor sanitation and hygiene, and lousy infrastructure.  From northern Uganda, we hear a mother’s agony when her healthy, robust child suddenly falls ill after a few sips of water…unclean water, it turned out.

Roger Thurow on SDG 2.2

Roger Thurow sat down with Farming First to talk about the individual and societal consequences of malnutrition. 




Digital Preview of The First 1,000 Days

In his new book, The First 1,000 Days, Council senior fellow Roger Thurow illuminates the 1,000 Days initiative to end early childhood malnutrition through the compelling stories of new mothers in Uganda, India, Guatemala, and Chicago. Get a first-look at photos and stories from the book in this new web interactive.

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» Order your copy of the book.


The First 1,000 Days

Roger Thurow’s book will tell the story of the vital importance of proper nutrition and health care in the 1,000 days window from the beginning of a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday.

The 1,000 days period is the crucial period of development, when malnutrition can have severe life-long impacts on the individual, the family and society as a whole. Nutritional deficiencies that occur during this time are often overlooked, resulting in a hidden hunger. It is a problem of great human and economic dimensions, impacting rich and poor countries alike.

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The Last Hunger Season

In The Last Hunger Season, the intimate dramas of the farmers' lives unfold amidst growing awareness that to feed the world's growing population, food production must double by 2050. How will the farmers, Africa, and a hungrier world deal with issues of water usage, land ownership, foreign investment, corruption, GMO's, the changing role of women, and the politics of foreign aid?

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Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman, award-winning writers on Africa, development, and agriculture, see famine as the result of bad policies spanning the political spectrum. In this compelling investigative narrative, they explain through vivid human stories how the agricultural revolutions that transformed Asia and Latin America stopped short in Africa, and how our sometimes well-intentioned strategies—alternating with ignorance and neglect—have conspired to keep the world’s poorest people hungry and unable to feed themselves.

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