by Marion Nestle

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Nov 27 2015

Weekend Reading: Kima Cargill on Food Psychology

Kima Cargill.  The Psychology of Overeating: Food and the Culture of Consumerism.  Bloomsbury, 2015.


I did a blurb for this one:

Psychologist Kima Cargill takes a tough, critical look at today’s consumerist culture from the perspective of research as well as of observations drawn from her clinical experience with patients struggling with weight issues. To stop overeating in today’s food environment means finding effective ways to counter the many moral, political, economic, and social imperatives to consume. The ideas in this book should inspire readers to think of obesity in an entirely different way—more as the result of a consumerist society than of individual weakness.

Nov 13 2015

Weekend Reading: Philosophy Comes to Dinner

Terence Cuneo, Andrew Chignell, Matthew C. Halteman, editors. Philosophy Comes to Dinner: Arguments over the Ethics of Eating.  Routledge, 2015.

I was happy to do a blurb for this book, having met Andrew Chignell and participated in an online course he ran at Cornell based on the book.

In recent years, I’ve seen an explosion of student and public interest in the politics and ethics of food.  It’s great to have philosophers contributing to this discussion, and this book explains why.

When thoughtful people differ about issues in food and nutrition, it isn’t always easy to decide what the right thing is to do.  Philosophers have ways of looking at controversial issues that help with such decisions.  This book lays out some typical arguments and explains how the major philosophical frameworks can help sharpen the discussion.

Nov 6 2015

Weekend reading: Yael Raviv’s Falafel Nation

Yael Raviv.  Falafel Nation: Cuisine and the Making of National Identity in Israel.  University of Nebraska Press, 2015.

Yael Raviv is an adjunct instructor in my department at NYU and has been researching and working on this book since I have known her.

The cuisine of Israel is trendy right now, something that Raviv could not possibly have guessed when she began this project.

Although her book focuses on the years from the Zionist immigration wave beginning in 1905 (the Second Aliya) and the 1967 Six-Day War, it deals with older and more recent ways in which food affected and was affected by the complexities and contradictions of religion, ethnicity, nationalism, and subsequent waves of immigration in this country.

Raviv is not claiming that food can solve the political problems of the region, but her book demonstrates that food can help us understand them.

Oct 16 2015

Weekend reading: Tom Farley’s Saving Gotham

Tom Farley, MD.  Saving Gotham: A Billionaire Mayor, Activist Doctors, and the Fight for Eight Million Lives.  Norton, 2015.

Dr. Farley is the former New York City Health Commissioner under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the second Tom in that position (the first was Tom Frieden, now head of the CDC).

He has produced a wonderfully written, personal, eye-witness, in-the-trenches account of how the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene led the nation in creating public health interventions to reduce smoking, get rid of trans fats. put calorie labels on restaurant menus, and reduce soda consumption—with impressive improvements in the health of New Yorkers.

His book also covers the Department’s failures to convince the USDA to allow a pilot project to get sodas out of SNAP and the courts to support the city’s proposal to cap the sizes of sugary drinks at 16 ounces.

For me, a New York City resident  who lived through these events and wrote about some of them in Soda Politics, this book was fun, even gossipy, and disclosed things I hadn’t known.  It has much to teach anyone about how the politics of city public health agencies, how to get things done in complicated city institutions, and how to treasure even the smallest successes.

This particular health department had three things going for it: courageous health commissioners, huge city health problems that desperately needed to be addressed, and a mayor fearless (and rich) enough to take on the challenges.

Farley ends the book with a quote from Bloomberg:

While government action is not sufficient alone, it is nevertheless absolutely essential.  There are powers only governments can exercise, policies only governments can mandate and enforce, and results only governments can achieve.  To halt the worldwide epidemic of noncommunicable diseases, governments at all levels must make healthy solutions the default social option.

That is, ultimately, government’s highest duty.


Oct 9 2015

Weekend reading: Sustainable farmers

Forrest Pritchard.  Growing tomorrow: A Farm-to-Table Journey in Photos and Recipes.  The Experiment, 2015.

I did a blurb for this book:

Who says that nobody is going into farming these days or that you can’t make a living growing foods organically and sustainably?  Certainly not the 18 pioneers described in this lovely, inspiring book.  Forrest Pritchard chose farmers of diverse crops—mushrooms, honey, lobsters, avocados, grain, beef, and more—and tells the personal stories of how they created lives of deep productivity and satisfaction.  Any aspiring farmer or consumer of freshly farmed products will get great pleasure from reading this book and admiring its photos.

Oct 5 2015

Soda Politics is published—today!

Today is the official publication date for Soda Politics.  This means it should now be available in bookstores and open for review and comment.  Cover for<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Soda Politics<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />

For more information, see the book page for it on this site.  There you will find the blurbs, reviews, media interviews, and the list of media resources—videos, audios, music, movies, commercials, and anti-commercials—that I ran across while working on the book.


Oct 2 2015

Weekend Reading: Emily Yates-Doerr’s “The Weight of Obesity”

Emily Yates-Doerr.  The Weight of Obesity: Hunger and Global Health in Postwar Guatemala. University of California Press, 2015.

Emily was a student in NYU’s anthropology department and I’ve admired her work for a long time.  Her book is based on her remarkable dissertation work, and I was happy to be asked to blurb it:

Emily Yates-Doerr gives us an anthropologist’s tough analysis of how one resource-poor Guatemalan population responds to an increasingly globalized food supply as it transitions rapidly from widespread hunger and malnutrition to the increasing prevalence of obesity and its health consequences.  The Weight of Obesity views this “nutrition transition” from the unusually revealing perspective of an insider who experienced it personally with eyes wide open.

For me, the most riveting parts of her book are the transcribed conversations between clinic nutritionists and patients newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes—a case study in the cultural gap between nutrient-based advice (“nutritionism”) and the way people actually eat.  The effects of the rapid influx of “ultra-processed” products on the health of the populations studied here are also painfully clear.  This is an ethnography of the nutrition transition caught just as these cultural and dietary shifts were occurring.

Sep 18 2015

Weekend reading: the politics of organic foods

Lisa F. Clark. The Changing Politics of Organic Food in North America. Edward Elgar Publishing, 2015.

I did a blurb for this one.  It’s right up my alley.

Lisa Clark’s scholarly account of the development of the organic movement in the United States and Canada beautifully explains the decades-long transition from understanding organic production as inextricably tied to healthy soils, communities, and social justice (“process-based”) to views of organics as meeting certain standards for marketing purposes (“product-based”). Read this book and you will care deeply about the difference in these views as well as understand current debates about the future of organics.

In case you want to know why I favor organics, I do so from a process-based perspective.  I like what organics do for soils, communities, and social justice.  This book does a great job of explaining the basis of the debates over these issues.

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