Food Politics

by Marion Nestle
Oct 26 2007

Update on the unchanging farm bill

The Senate Agricultural Committee voted to continue $288 billion in farm subsidies, as well it might. Its members must have lots of friends among the top 1% of subsidy beneficiaries, those who (according to the Chicago Tribune) collectively get 17% of the cash–an average of $377,484 each. At this point, nobody expects much good to come out of the farm bill, due to be voted on next week. Reformers say they just don’t have the votes. I guess we’ll just have to start organizing now for the next round.

Oct 25 2007

Sneaky veggies: a good strategy?

Sneaking vegetables into desserts so kids will eat healthier foods seems like such a bad idea that I can’t believe anyone would do a book on it let alone two people with virtually identical recipes. Never mind plagiarism. Mimi Sheraton, the delightfully outspoken former restaurant critic of the New York Times writes on Slate.com: “A plague on both their houses.” She cites reasons: it’s the wrong nutrition message, it’s lying too your kids, there are better ways to get kids to eat foods they think they don’t like, and the amounts of vegetables sneaked into those brownies are too small to matter much. On this last point, she quotes me. Isn’t teaching kids to be adventurous eaters worth doing? Or am I missing some point here?

Oct 25 2007

Calorie labeling: New York City tries again

The New York City Board of Health announced yesterday that it would seek public comment on its revised proposal to require chain restaurants to post calories someplace where customers can actually see them. The new proposal replaces the original proposal that was stuck down by the courts a few weeks ago. This time, the requirement will apply to all chain restaurants that have 15 or more outlets in the country. Amazingly, this encompasses 10% of New York City restaurants. Not so amazingly, the restaurant industry is not so happy about this and, according to today’s New York Times, has not decided yet whether to go back to the courts. You have thoughts about this? Send them in and go to the hearing on November 27.

Oct 24 2007

Doing something about diabetes and obesity in New York City

City University and the Public Health Association of New York City have just released their long-awaited report, “Reversing the Diabetes and Obesity Epidemics in New York City: A Call to Action.”  The report focuses on public health–rather than individual–causes of these problems and makes recommendations about how to change the environment to make it more conducive to eating better (less, I call it) and moving more.   It’s a good place to go for data on the extent of these problems.  Enjoy (?)

Oct 24 2007

The selling of Alli

Glaxo, the company that makes Alli (a.k.a. Xenical), says it has sold 2 million packages of the diet drug since June when the FDA approved over-the-counter sales. How did Glaxo do this? In interesting ways, says the Wall Street Journal.

The New York Times says the company says 70% of people taking the drug say they are losing weight. Maybe so, but under some coercion. Eat too much fat while taking the drug and you can expect some messy side effects.  There has to be a better way….

Oct 24 2007

More on diet and hyperactivity

Remember that paper in the Lancet I discussed a bit ago–the one about food additives and hyperactivity? It’s being taken so seriously that the New York State Assembly Committee on Mental Health, Mental Retardation, and Developmental Disabilities is holding a hearing on it on October 30. If you have strong feelings about the relationship of food additives to hyperactivity in kids, here’s your chance to get them heard.

Oct 24 2007

Doritos and the Colbert presidential campaign: A good source of funding?

Eating Liberally’s “kat” took me to see Frank Rich’s interview with Stephen Colbert last night and what fun that was! But no such thing as a free event, apparently. Today, kat wants to know what I think about Doritos’ sponsorship of Colbert’s campaign. Take a look at her question and my response and weigh in on this, please. Even if it’s a joke…?

Oct 23 2007

Unsafe meat: now we know why?

So now we know (courtesy of the New York Times) why E. coli O157:H7 recalls are becoming more frequent: the meat industry isn’t following food safety rules. These rules were require meat and poultry producers to develop and monitor plans for producing safe food, and to test to make sure the plans are working. Two problems here: the companies aren’t bothering to follow the rules, and the onsite USDA inspectors aren’t bothering to enforce them. Standard food safety rules–HACCP and pathogen reduction–work really well, but only if designed, followed, and enforced to the letter and spirit. I keep asking: what will it take to get Congress to act on the food safety issue?

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