Food Politics

by Marion Nestle
Jul 1 2008

Calories in alcoholic beverages revealed!

Consumer Federation of America (CFA) has a new Alcohol Facts chart out that compares the calorie content of alcoholic beer, wine, and hard liquor. CFA produced it to fill the regulatory gap in labeling of alcoholic beverages–they are regulated by an arm of the Treasury Department (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) and viewed as revenue generators, not something that might affect health. It’s amusing to see where the calories are…

Jun 30 2008

The tomato (maybe?) saga continues

The epidemic of illness caused by the unusual saintpaul type of Salmonella has now affected more than 800 people, and federal agencies seem more than perplexed about its source. The FDA says tomatoes, and called for their removal from the market, an action with devastating consequences for the tomato industry. But cases are still turning up. Perhaps that is why the CDC thinks maybe something else might be the cause. Salsa? Guacamole? The produce industry is understandably interested and two websites are excellent sources of day-to-day information: the straight-news Packer, and the tell-it-like-it-is Perishable Pundit. Go to the FDA website for updates on the ongoing investigation and also provides lists of tomatoes safe to eat. Part of the difficulty in following this story is that two federal agencies are involved: the FDA and the CDC. The CDC has its own version of events (with useful maps of where the cases are in the U.S.). The USDA , which only deals with animal foods, doesn’t seem to be part of this one. It should be. The ultimate source of this outbreak has to be animal waste. This tomato (?) outbreak is precisely why we need a single food agency to oversee food safety. When, oh when?

Update, July 1: The Wall Street Journal reviews the outbreak and explains why the produce and restaurant industries are so angry.

Update, July 2: The Wall Street Journal quotes the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Mike Leavitt , saying that because multiple countries and multiple agencies are involved in the investigation, “it shows the need for better cooperation.” No. It shows the need for a single food agency!

Update, July 3: I’ve just discovered USA Today’s nifty time line of the tomato saga.

Jun 29 2008

Eat, eat: a fourth meal and now “linner”

I subscribe to Advertising Age because its writers are right on top of food trends, the latest of which appears to be encouraging people to eat more often. Fast food chains, it seems, are pushing “Linner,” the eating occasion between lunch and dinner. Take a look at what the suggestions are and take a guess at the calories. This must derive from Taco Bell’s Fourth Meal idea of a year or so ago. You know the rule: the more times a day you eat, the more calories you eat. Actually, the kicker on this one is the link with alcohol–the more times a day you eat, the more beer (or whatever) you drink. Enjoy!

Jun 28 2008

NYC menu boards: photo collection

Center for Science in the Public Interest has posted a collection of photos of New York City menu boards with calorie labeling.  Take a look and see what you think of how this requirement is working.

Jun 27 2008

Farmers’ markets: where are they?

Thanks to Mark Douglas of for sending me his site’s new interactive map of farmers’ markets in the United States.  I have no idea how his group acquired this information but you can type in your community and up pops a list of local markets with maps to find them.  I tried Ithaca, New York, and up popped the terrific local institution right there on the Cayuga inlet.

Jun 26 2008

Obesity prevention: what states are doing

I am often asked what states are doing about obesity, especially in children. Fortunately, the Robert W. Johnson Foundation makes it easy to answer that question. It tracks state-by-state legislative and other actions aimed at improving diets and physical activity levels. The Foundation’s latest report indicates “growing momentum,” but many “remaining challenges.”

Jun 25 2008

Japan gets serious about obesity

Thanks to Jack for reminding me about my Eating Liberally post in answer to the question: What’s with Japan’s taking everyone’s waist measurements and making everyone who fails the test do something about it?  Interesting idea.  Can’t wait to see how it works out.

Jun 24 2008

Doof-a-Palooza: July 12

If you live in Northern California and want to see the Google campus, here’s a good excuse: attend a fundraiser for Doof-a-Palooza, a prospective TV series for kids that looks like fun. I watched a couple of clips (accessible on the Doof website), and thought they’d be good for grownups too. Sorry to have to miss it but thanks to Joel Moskowitz of UC Berkeley’s Center for Community and Family Health for letting me (and now you) know about it. Doof? Food spelled backwards, of course.

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