Food Politics

by Marion Nestle
May 16 2008

Pushing infant formulas: still a problem

Patty Rundall, of the British Baby Milk Action, a group that advocates for breastfeeding, and who also represents the Baby Feeding Law Group, which advocates for laws controlling marketing of infant formulas, sends this most interesting article from The Independent about the latest efforts by Nestlé (really, no relation) to prevent the UK Health Department from enforcing marketing restrictions on infant formulas. Will this saga never end?

May 15 2008

What Americans worry about when they worry about food

The latest consumer survey from the International Food Information Council has arrived, along with its press release. When it comes to food, Americans say one thing but do another (no surprise, this). The respondents to this survey are confused about calories, sugars, and fats, are buying lots of functional foods (although not as many as marketers would like), are not exercising enough, and are not taking nearly enough responsibility for food safety. For those of you interested in public health nutrition, there is much work to be done. Get busy!

May 14 2008

Play with your food!

I’ve been reluctant to post all the photos sent recently of clever food sculptures and carvings, mainly because they typically arrive without attribution. But today’s New York Times has a worthy account of this kind of food art, with links to slides of work by various artists. And then there’s the video of James McMahon carving a portrait of James Beard – “the father of American gastronomy” – on a watermelon.

May 14 2008

Rising food prices: who is at fault?

The New York Times writes today that India’s politicians, economists, and academics are responding to the charge that increasing prosperity in their country is responsible for the global rise in food prices. No way, they say. Like Vandana Shiva (see previous post), they cite other reasons: the West’s diversion of crop land to produce biofuels, agricultural subsidies that undermine agriculture in developing countries, trade barriers that do the same, high consumption of beef and oil resources, and high degree of food waste, along with the decline in the exchange rate of the U.S. dollar. Time for some leadership on all sides, I’d say.

May 13 2008

China introduces food labeling!

China, it seems, has never required nutrition labeling on food packages but is now getting around to it–at least on packages made for export. Can’t wait to see what the labels will look like (see previous post).

May 13 2008

Chinese fast-food photos: source?

Three people, including my son in Los Angeles, sent me these terrific photos yesterday, ostensibly of exotic fast food in Beijing, and offered by G. Pollak. The photos are a great cross-cultural experience. But who is G. Pollak and what’s the story about them?

May 12 2008

Wanted: photos of NYC menu boards

New York City readers: Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is collecting photos of calorie labels on restaurant and take out menu boards.  Have a digital camera or cell phone handy?  They are asking for photos of menu boards and close ups of the calorie information from Starbucks, Chipotle, Quiznos, Jamba Juice, Subway, etc.   Upload the photos at www.flickr.com.  This requires establishing a free account.  Once you’ve done that, join the group “CSPI Menus” and upload.  If that doesn’t work, you can mail photos  to hhenry@cspinet.org.  Thanks!


May 12 2008

Food prices again: risks vs. benefits

Alexandra Lewin, a doctoral student at Cornell, is working with Corporations and Health Watch in Washington, DC, which “tracks the effects of corporate practices on public health.” Her latest contribution is an analysis of the effects of higher food prices on school lunch programs. Given the impossibly small amount of money schools have to work with, they will surely, she says, “find it ever more difficult to say no to an easy source of revenue: soda, cookies, and other junk food. Here we go again.”

On the other hand, Dan Barber, the fabulous chef of Blue Hill in Manhattan and Stone Barns, writes in the New York Times that higher food prices now “could lead to better food for the entire world.” Market forces, he says may well force more attention to the benefits of small farms “bringing harvests that are more healthful, sustainable and, yes, even more flavorful.” This, of course, is what Michael Pollan and Alice Waters were quoted as saying a month or so ago. I hope they are right.

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