Food Politics

by Marion Nestle
Dec 19 2007

Should herbal supplements be irradiated?

NOTE: Correction to this post.  I must have been asleep when I wrote it.  Sorry!

Apparently, the Herbal Products Association has petitioned the FDA to allow herbal supplements to be irradiated at doses high enough to kill contaminating bacteria. The American Public Health Association says this is not a good idea. I don’t think so either, of course. I call irradiation a “late-stage techno-fix,” meaning that it takes dirty products and sterilizes them. Shouldn’t the dietary supplement industry get its act together and produce clean supplements to begin with?

Dec 18 2007

The Government Goes Organic?

Apparently, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has gotten a new management company to take the House of Representatives cafeteria healthy and green. Get this: the House, which serves 2.5 million meals a year, “is switching to locally grown, organic, seasonal and generally healthy food. It will be served in compostable sugar cane and corn starch containers instead of petroleum-based plastics. Even the knives and forks will be biodegradable.” The Senate, needless to say, is “the last place in America to abandon elevator operators and smoking in hallways.” Now, if they would just pass a decent Farm Bill…

Dec 17 2007

A holiday joke?

At least I think it’s a joke. Fortune Magazine lists the 101 dumbest business ideas of the year. Here’s #13, from Disneyland:

It’s a fat world, after all

Disneyland announces plans to close the “It’s a Small World” attraction to deepen its water channel after the ride’s boats start getting stuck under loads of heavy passengers. Employees ask larger passengers to disembark – and compensate them with coupons for free food.

Dec 17 2007

The Farm Bill, Alas

So after all that fuss about nutrition standards in the Farm Bill (see previous post on the topic), the Senate dropped them from its version. So now advocates for school nutrition are back to square one. Here’s what the Washington Post has to say about this fiasco. On the bright side, this failure to act gives advocates a chance to get to work at the state level and put even better standards in place. Onward!

Dec 17 2007

Baseball tragedy is supplement industry’s hope?

One industry’s tragedy is another person’s dream. In this case, the tragedy is performance-enhancing drug use by baseball players (say it isn’t so). But look what the dietary supplement industry has to say about that problem: what’s bad for baseball is good for us!

Dec 16 2007

Michael Pollan’s latest

Here’s another great piece to read on a cold, snowy day. Michael Pollan’s latest is a beautifully constructed synthesis of the meaning of two bad things that happened this year: Bee Colony Collapse Disorder and community-acquired Multiple Resistance Staphylococcus aureus. Both, he shows, are the result of industrialized agriculture. Bees are migratory workers? No wonder they are stressed. The question, Pollan says, is “not whether systems this brittle will break down, but when and how.” Read it and get busy.

Dec 16 2007

Detox in a box and other functional foods

My colleague Ellen Fried knows that I love to read articles about functional foods–the food industry’s hope for survival and growth. It’s a wet, snowy Sunday in New York and a great day to curl up with some good reading. Here’s what the Guardian Unlimited has to say about functional foods. Here favorite is Detox in a Box. I think mine may be the irony. The very companies that brought us junk food now want to put neurotransmitters in it. Can’t wait.

Dec 15 2007

New info from USDA

The USDA says it has just released the data from its “What We Eat in America” survey on nutrient intakes from foods for 21 gender/age groups by race/ethnicity and family income. USDA has also posted historical materials from past USDA surveys and analyses dating back to the 1894. It’s great to have all of these in one place.  They are always a lot of fun to read and play with. Enjoy!

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