Category Archives: Research

King County small and mid-sized farms could benefit with direct marketing support, according to report

Identifying Direct Market Opportunities and Challenges for King County Farm Businesses: A Strategic Initiative of King Conservation District
Read the full PDF report: Identifying Direct Market Opportunities and Challenges for King County Farm Businesses: A Strategic Initiative of King Conservation District

King County farmers who sell direct to consumers, restaurants, and institutions could benefit by receiving support for direct marketing resources, according to a new report [PDF] published last week by the University of Washington Center for Public Health Nutrition (CPHN).

The study was sponsored by King Conservation District (KCD), a natural resources assistance agency authorized by Washington State, and aimed to understand the current state of King County’s direct market farm economy, and the perceived challenges and areas of opportunities where farmers could use support in relation to direct marketing.

The study found that most King County farmers wanted to expand their direct market customer base and sales and that on-farm sales, farmers markets, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) comprised the greatest percent of sales for farmers. Farmers appreciated these markets for the relationships they create between customers, the community, and farmers and because they can return greater profit margins, however farmers felt they could do better with more marketing and advertising support and better consumer education about the value of their products.

Lina Pinero Walkinshaw, a research scientist on the project says, “People who have seen the report thus far have been excited to hear the results, and feel the report resonates with what they’ve experienced and have heard in the community.”  So far, the project team has heard from KCD, representatives at King County, and other farm and agricultural stakeholders.

UW researchers surveyed King County farmers in 2018 as part of this project to determine their specific market needs and challenges and to identify strategies farmers could use to scale up their businesses and establish sustainable business models.

King County farmers who sell directly to consumers include markets such as:  farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), pick-your-own operations, on-farm sales, and roadside stands. The report also examines King County farmers’ experience selling directly to schools, hospitals, grocery stores, and restaurants.

Jennifer Otten, associate professor and principal investigator for the project, anticipates King County, the City of Seattle, as well as other agricultural stakeholders in the region, including state and local farmers market groups will find this report useful. Otten has also found that there is increased recognition that these markets could help some farmers survive, succeed, and grow in a risky and competitive business environment.

Researchers expect the findings will be used to inform future grant initiatives and strategic initiatives, as well as to support KCD in brainstorming with partners how to best support farmers to grow a strong direct market economy.

Authors contributing to this report include Lina Pinero Walkinshaw, a research scientist with the Center for Public Health Nutrition, Emilee Quinn, a research coordinator with Center for Public Health Nutrition, and Jennifer Otten, a researcher with the University of Washington Center for Public Health Nutrition, and an associate professor in environmental and occupational health sciences and nutritional sciences.

Learn more about the project and read the report

Spot urine sodium-to-potassium ratio predicts stroke risk

In an analysis of data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), UW researchers found that individuals with a urinary sodium-to-potassium ratio greater than 1 was associated with a significant 47% increased risk of stroke.  A urine sodium-to-potassium ratio less than 1 may be related to a clinically relevant reduction in stroke risk and is a feasible target for health interventions.

The study, published in Stroke in January was co-authored by Dr. Michelle Averill, a UW lecturer in environment and occupational health and a core faculty member in nutritional sciences.

Averill says, “This paper supports current dietary guidelines to reduce sodium and increase potassium. However, the majority of individuals do not meet current dietary guidelines, and the effort to meet the very low sodium diet recommendations by patients can be overwhelming and stressful. Our analysis may offer more feasible goals for patient populations.”

An interdisciplinary group of UW researchers collaborated with Averill on the findings including Robyn McClelland, a research professor in biostatistics, Joseph Delaney, a research associate professor in epidemiology, and Adam Drewnowksi, director for the center for public health nutrition and the nutritional sciences program.

Michelle Averill received her PhD in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Washington and she now both lectures and researches in the field of nutrition, obesity, and diabetes. Averill is the clinical coordinator for the Graduate Coordinated Program in Dietetics at the University of Washington and she is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Rice Less Nutritious as CO2 Levels Rise
– New Study Published

A study published today in Science Advances shows for the first time that rice grown at concentrations of atmospheric CO2 expected by the end of this century has lower levels of four key B vitamins. The findings from an international research team analyzed rice samples from field experiments started by a University of Tokyo professor. It includes UW Nutritional Sciences Program Director Adam Drewnowski as a co-author and has received global news coverage. Results also support research from other field studies showing rice grown under higher CO2 concentrations has less protein, iron and zinc.

graphic of depleted nutrients in rice in study
Elizar Mercado, UW School of Public Health

Rice is the primary source of food for more than 2 billion people. Decreases in the nutritional content of rice could have a disproportionate impact on health outcomes in the poorest rice-dependent countries, according to the team, which includes researchers from the University of Washington schools of public health and medicine.

Selected News Articles:

Increasing CO2 levels reduce rice’s nutritional value
UW Medicine Newsroom, May 23, 2018

Rice becomes less nutritious as CO2 levels rise
Eureka Alert, May 23, 2018

Media Contact: University of Washington School of Public Health – Jeff Hodson:, 206.685.8904

New Publication: “Healthy Nutrition: From Farm to Fork”

Jamie Bachaus, NSP MPH student, and Jennifer Otten, NSP Assistant Professor, guest authored the March 2015 issue of Elevate Health, the quarterly research digest of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. The issue explores the link between public health and food systems and looks at recent evidence on how the US food system impacts such things as food availability, affordability, and quality.  Download the Issue