Food Politics

by Marion Nestle
Dec 19 2007

4-star calories

If the previous post was about taking off fat, this one is about putting it on. Ray Sokolov, a former editor and food writer for the Wall Street Journal, had some fun with the USDA’s food composition data base (click on Search and take it from there). He estimated the calories in a main course from Mario Batali’s Babbo and Thomas Keller’s Per Se. I doubt the comparison is fair, but it sure is fun. Guess which one had the most!

Dec 19 2007

Boat powered by human fat?

The trouble with the Internet is that it is unedited and not well sourced. So I offer this one with some skepticism. Another joke? Well, it’s a great-looking boat and something has to be done with 10 liters of fat removed during liposuction. I guess.

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.

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