Food Politics

by Marion Nestle
Oct 31 2007

The Canadian Heart Foundation pushes junk food too

Thanks to Yoni Freedhoff, a physician in Canada, for sending his blog notice about an alliance between the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation and Disney to market food products. Take a look at the foods the Foundation is endorsing. This reminds me of similar alliances between the American Heart Association and sugary cereals. The American Diabetes Association used too have a deal like that with Post Cereals, but stopped doing that after Jane Brody wrote about it in the New York Times (I discuss these alliances in What to Eat).

Oct 31 2007

Toxins in the environment: USA Today series

I’m always surprised when people criticize the shallowness of USA Today when its reporters consistently write in-depth investigative reports that other newspapers ignore. This week, the paper is doing a series of reports on environmental toxins–lead, methylmercury, and endocrine disruptors. The one on the relationship of coal burning power plants to methylmercury in fish is particularly relevant to food issues (and is the subject of a chapter in What to Eat).

Oct 31 2007

Food, nutrition, and cancer prevention: the latest word

The World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research has just come out with an update on their 1997 report on diet and cancer risk and prevention. After five years of research, the groups have produced ten recommendations. These, no surprise, look not all that different from most other sets of dietary recommendations issued for the last 50 years or so for prevention of chronic disease risk.  The recommendations emphasize staying lean and being active (“eat less, move more”). The report will be loaded with data, charts, and references and I’m looking forward to getting my copy. Enjoy!

  • Be as lean as possible within the normal range of body weight.
  • Be physically active as part of everyday life.
  • Limit consumption of energy-dense foods. Avoid sugary drinks.
  • Eat mostly foods of plant origin.
  • Limit intake of red meat and avoid processed meat.
  • Limit alcoholic drinks.
  • Limit consumption of salt. Avoid mouldy cereals (grains) or pulses (legumes).
  • Aim to meet nutritional needs through diet alone.
  • Mothers to breastfeed; children to be breastfed.
  • Cancer survivors: Follow the recommendations for cancer prevention.
Oct 30 2007

Chocolate is a health food! (well, maybe)

I am so happy to hear that the French chocolate company, Barry Callebaut, is marketing a probiotic chocolate–one packed with friendly bacteria like the kind in yogurt. Only the company claims that chocolate is a better source of probiotic bacteria than yogurt. And you only need to eat half an ounce a day! Chocoholics rejoice! Skeptics roll your eyes! Personally, I like my chocolate unfunctional. File this one under Techno-Foods.

Oct 30 2007

Food theater: Milk-n-Honey

This play, described by the New York Times as a Brecht-like primer on the politics of food, is followed by an After Show Café, with free cupcakes and fair-trade certified coffee from the Lower Eastside Girls Club, where the audience can meet the actors and special guests. Anna Lappe (co-author of Grub) is hosting two special guests: Eric Schlosser on Sunday November 11, 3:00pm to 5:30pm, and yours truly on Wednesday November 14, 7:30pm to 10:00pm. Anna says you can find the showtimes and order tickets at this site.

Oct 29 2007

Food history: the diet squad

Thanks to Fred Tripp who sent me this article from the Wall Street Journal about a little known (at least to me) aspect of food history: teams of intrepid dieters in the early years of World War I who competed to see who could eat for the least amount of money and maintain their weight. The guys managed this for under today’s equivalent of $4 per day, and some of them gained weight–no surprise since they were taking in more than 3000 calories a day. The article is a lot of fun but I wish the writer had provided references. Does anyone know the source?

Oct 28 2007

Pyramid for moms

The USDA has just announced its new MyPyramid for moms–for the special nutritional needs of women who are pregnant, nursing, or expecting twins, triplets, or more. You log in a bunch of information about yourself and your condition, and bingo! You get your own private dietary prescription. Anyone out there pregnant or nursing? Try it and see if it’s useful.

Oct 27 2007

ConAgra’s Peanut Butter Recall: the story

CIO, the magazine for corporate Chief Information Officers, has an interesting report on this year’s recall of Peter Pan peanut butter. It’s written from the standpoint of company data managers, the folks responsible for setting up tracking systems for product recalls. Fine, but what about food safety systems?

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