Food Politics

by Marion Nestle
Sep 2 2008

Junk foods in schools–still there

Every now and then the CDC surveys the use of “competitive” (translation: junk) foods in public schools.  The latest survey reports little change from 2004.  About 80% of public schools let kids buy snacks or sodas during school hours, although what those items are varies widely.  About 70% of schools sell sports drinks but only about 30% sell fruits and vegetables.   Kids can buy bottled water in about 80% of public schools, which makes me wonder whatever happened to free water from drinking fountains.  I’ve been in schools that do not sell competitive foods at all.  Something to consider?

Sep 1 2008

Plastics are OK says ADA

The American Dietetic Association says plastic water bottles are OK to use and there is no need to worry about them.  Aren’t you relieved?  No conflicts of interest are noted in this report, but I hear rumors, as yet unconfirmed.

Aug 30 2008

Court says no to private testing for mad cow

Sometimes I think we live in an alternate reality.  The U.S. Court of Appeals (District of Columbia Circuit) has now overturned a lower court ruling that allowed Creekstone Farms Premium Beef to conduct its own tests for mad cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE).  Imagine!  Creekstone wanted to demonstrate that its beef was free of BSE so it could be sold in Asia.  But that would imply that other meat was not safe and force other companies to test as well.  Apparently, the USDA does not think that would be fair and the Appeals Court agrees.  What about fairness to beef eaters?  About that, the court had nothing to say.

Aug 29 2008

Slow Food Nation!

I am at the huge Slow Food Nation event in San Francisco and took part last night in the reading of the Slow Food Declaration for a Healthy Food and Agriculture Policy, now collecting signatures online as well as open for discussion.  Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved, has some especially interesting comments on his worth-reading blog on the event.

Aug 28 2008

Bisphenol A is OK, says FDA

According to Food Chemical News, the FDA has just released a report exonerating bisphenol A from causing harm from the small amount that leaches from plastic bottles into what you and babies are drinking. I can’t find the report online but I will be most interested to see what it says. I hope the science is sound and the FDA’s assessment makes sense.

And here is the actual FDA report, so you can decide for yourself.

Aug 26 2008

Canada has its own problems with food safety

The New York Times (August 23) reports a third death in Canada linked to cold cuts contaminated with Listeria, along with another 17 or more cases of illness. Nothing unusual here except for this statement: “The outbreak came as Canada’s Conservative government was considering a controversial plan to transfer all or some of the responsibility for food inspection to the food industry.” I hope they are kidding. Fox guarding chickens, anyone?

As of today, it’s 12 deaths and 26 confirmed cases with a bunch more under investigation.

Aug 25 2008

USDA releases report on school lunch program

The USDA has just published an analysis of its school lunch program. Among other useful information–the history, funding, etc–this report asks an interesting and pointed question: Does the school lunch program promote obesity in order to support industrial agriculture? The answer: it just might. This is a must-read for anyone interested in doing anything to make school lunches better for health and the environment.

And here’s a commentary in the San Francsico Chronicle from some folks on the front line of school lunches in the San Francisco Bay area.  Even a little more money would go a long way.

Aug 23 2008

Pet Food Politics is out!

I am off to California for Slow Food Nation and the launch of Pet Food Politics. The events start with readings at pet food stores, Holistic Hound in Berkeley (Sunday, 4:00 p.m.) and Noe Valley Pet Co. in San Francisco (Monday, 6:00 p.m.). Others are listed under Public Appearances. I’ve never done readings in pet food stores before, so this should be fun. Stay tuned.

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