Thanks to Fred Tripp for making sure that no serious foodie misses yesterday’s Wall Street Journal report on eating rats in Viet Nam. Here is the food system connection: Because so many Vietnamese birds were destroyed to prevent the spread of bird flu, people are eating snakes and cats instead. With these predators out of the way, the rat population has exploded and lunch seems an excellent use for them. Interesting idea. A barbecue stand in Washington Square anyone?
As suggested by the story in today’s New York Times, we can expect to hear much fuss about a new study showing that obese people and smokers cost less to treat. Of course they do. They die sooner. Healthy people are expensive say some Dutch economists in this new study. Economists have an interesting way of looking at such things; all they care about is money. But what about quality of life? Shouldn’t that count as economic value?
So many people have sent me news about the proposed legislation in Mississippi to ban overweight people from eating in restaurants that I must say something about it. I thought it was a joke, but no such luck. The bill truly exists. Nobody expects it to get anywhere but I still think it’s bad public policy. For one thing, I still remember lunch counter sit-ins during the civil rights movement, plenty of them in Mississippi. For another, this won’t fix the environment to make it easier people to eat more healthfully. Here are some alternative suggestions: How about requiring restaurants to give a price break for smaller portions or making smaller portions and healthy kids’ meals the default?
The USDA has now given us a poster child for the food industry’s good intentions in helping to improve the American diet. The agency’s new fact sheet on dietary fiber documents how the food industry has used technology to add fiber and whole grains to processed foods. Even so, the total amount of fiber and whole grains available in the food supply just doesn’t seem to budge. Why not? The USDA says the grain-based food industry isn’t giving the agency the data it needs to demonstrate increases and that “a collaborative working relationship” is needed to get better data. Getting more data from the food industry–especially about food composition–would be nice but isn’t going to help people eat more fiber-rich foods. For that, how about eating unprocessed foods!
New York City’s calorie labeling proposal, which seemed to be heading for menu boards at the end of March, is now back in litigation thanks to the NY State Restaurant Association. CSPI filed an amicus curiae brief on the previous round of litigation and is working with Public Citizen on a new version. The saga continues.
CSPI has just completed its investigation of the extent of food marketing in the Montgomery County, Maryland, school district. Guess what? There is plenty of it, even in elementary schools:30% of elementary schools use candy, baked goods, soda, fast food, or restaurant food at fundraisers. Guess what? Most of the marketing in junior high and high schools is also for junk foods. And all this is still happening despite excellent wellness policies. We have work to do!