by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Food-movement

Dec 8 2014

Sugary drink advocacy, Mexican style

The creatively active Mexican advocacy group, El Poder del Consumidor, launched a new video take-off on Coca-Cola ads—“Haz feliz a alguien” (“Make someone happy”)—with a demonstration on Mexico City’s Zocalo in front of the National Cathedral.

 

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They sent along a translation of the video:

What would make you happy this Christmas?

That my dad were here with us.

PLAY SPORTS/EXERCISE (posted at the bottom of the screen to mimic Coke ads here)

That my mom could see her grandson.

PLAY SPORTS/EXERCISE

That my dad could play soccer with me.

PLAY SPORTS/EXERCISE

Make someone happy this Christmas.

50,000 people in Mexico are blind because of diabetes.

Someone’s limb is amputated every 7 minutes because of diabetes.

In Mexico, 66 people die each day from drinking sugary drinks.

Make someone happy.

Share this video and remove soda from your table.

Oct 27 2014

Yes, food is worth serious study.

Yesterday, the New York Times Magazine carried this advertisement:

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It’s from the University of California’s new Global Food Initiative: “Helping the world feed itself sufficiently and nutritionally—that’s the power of public.”

I’m proud to be a graduate of UC Berkeley, a public university that provided me with an education—from undergraduate through doctoral—that was, at the time, at a cost low enough so I could take advantage of it.

If Food Studies had existed when I was a student there, I would have enrolled in it immediately.  Instead, I had to wait until we could invent it at NYU in 1996.

But how wonderful that the UC system is using the Global Food Initiative to advertise the power of a public education.

And how wonderful that food education is respectable enough to be advertised in the New York Times.

Oct 24 2014

Weekend reading: Congressman Tim Ryan’s Real Food Revolution

Congressman Tim Ryan.  The Real Food Revolution: Healthy Eating, Green Groceries, and the Return of the Family Farm.  Hay House, 2014.

Congressman Tim Ryan (Dem-Ohio) describes himself on his Website as

a relentless advocate for working families in Ohio’s 13th District. He was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2002 and was sworn in on January 7, 2003. Successfully reelected five times, he is now serving in his sixth term…He is a champion of efforts to make college more affordable, revitalize America’s cities and improve the health and well-being of American families and children.

I did a blurb for his latest book and meant every word:

It’s wonderful that Congressman Tim Ryan cares about the way food affects the health of Americans.  I just wish more members of Congress cared about these issues too.

Aug 13 2014

Sales of packaged, processed foods are declining: Three reasons why

Everybody agrees that the packaged food industry isn’t selling as much as it used to.  Here are three explanations for this trend.

1.  The packaging: The Wall Street Journal says it’s all about the old-style packaging that makes foods seem unnatural.  Clear packaging works better for sales.

2.  More sophisticated consumers: The Hartman Group research and consulting firm has a new report analyzing this trend: “Recipe for Growth in Packaged Foods:”

The biggest long-term challenge facing the U.S. food industry is that taste preferences are changing. This is most apparent among highly urbane and educated consumers, where the arbitrary boundaries of “too sweet” and “too fatty” are altering in ways inimical to the core food science paradigm of the U.S. food and beverage industry.

The U.S. food industry routinely serves crude flavor profiles associated with the unsophisticated farm cuisine of Middle America: heavy on salt, dairy and animal fat and, in the past half century, sugar…For years, there was growing demand for these flavors in all sorts of foods, primarily because U.S. preferences were not changing.

Now they are. The increasing multiculturalism of the U.S. population plus the globally well-traveled, savvy upper-middle class have created a large population of consumers intentionally seeking complex flavor profiles imported from much more sophisticated food cultures.

3.  Not enough corporate social responsibility: Oxfam’s Behind the Brands campaign achieved two coups in the last week or so.  First General Mills and now Kellogg have signed on to its Climate Declaration which commits them to reducing greenhouse gases produced in their processing chains.  Oxfam organized more than 200,000 signatures on a petition—and produced a report, Standing on the Sidelines—to induce these companies to pay more attention to their effects on climate change.

Food advocacy is making headway.  Keep at it!

Oct 24 2013

Happy Food Day, 2013

October 24 is Food Day, which its organizer, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), calls “a nationwide celebration of healthy, affordable, and sustainably produced food and a grassroots campaign for better food policies.”

Food Day aims to help people Eat Real. That means cutting back on sugar drinks, overly salted packaged foods, and fatty, factory-farmed meats in favor of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and sustainably raised protein. Food Day envisions shorter lines at fast-food drive-throughs—and bigger crowds at farmers markets.

Food Day is about taking personal responsibility for what you eat—what I like to call “voting with your fork.”

Join the Movement: The most important ingredient in Food Day is you! Use October 24 to start—or celebrate—eating a healthier diet and putting your family’s diet on track.

It is not, alas, about working to change policies that will make it easier for people to make healthier food choices.  For that, you must celebrate World Food Day on October 16 (and see post on that topic)—getting political and voting with your vote!

The food movement needs both (compromise on October 20?).

In honor of both, here’s this from Eat, Drink, Vote.

ClayBennett_Cartoon

 

 

 

Jul 18 2013

The Mayors’ Forum: History in the Making

Last night’s forum with six candidates for Mayor of New York surely marks the first time that political candidates have had to grapple publicly with food issues—those of greatest concern to members of the 12 co-host organizations and 76 supporting organizations involved in planning this event.

The issues:

  • Ending hunger and food insecurity
  • Improving the wages and conditions of food industry workers
  • Getting city food agencies to be more responsive to public concerns
  • Improving access to healthy foods among low-income residents
  • Expanding participation in school meal programs and improving the quality of school food
  • Taking action to reduce the health consequences of obesity among city residents
  • Using the city’s vast purchasing power to support regional agriculture and the food economy
  • Integrating the Hunts Point Produce Market into the regional food economy
  • Promoting use of city land for urban farming

The candidates made it clear that they had thought about these questions and had come prepared to answer them.

The take home lesson: New York City’s food movement is strong enough to make city candidates sit up, listen and take food issues seriously.

The agenda is clear: maintain the momentum and hold the next mayor accountable.

For a recap:

The candidates who appeared:

  • Sal Albanese – @SalAlbanese2013
  • Bill de Blasio – @deBlasioNYC
  • John Catsimatidis – @JCats2013
  • John Liu – @JohnLiu2013
  • Christine Quinn – @Quinn4NY
  • Anthony Weiner – @AnthonyWeiner

 

New Picture (7)

One of the co-host organizations, the Food Systems Network of NYC, puts the agenda in a slightly different way, in its “Recipe for the Future of Food“:

  1. A New Public Partnership for Food (a City of New York Department of Food and an Independent New York City Food Systems Council)
  2. Better Health and an End to Hunger
  3. A Strong Food Economy with Good Jobs
  4. Support for Regional Agriculture through Smart Procurement and Protection of Working Land and Water Resources
  5. New Farm-to-Plate Distribution Infrastructure
  6. Better Food Waste Reduction and Nutrient Recovery

There’s plenty to do.  Do it!

Addition:  The account in the Wall Street Journal.

May 5 2013

Reflections on the 10th anniversary of Food Politics

My monthly (first Sunday) column in the San Francisco Chronicle appeared today.

I used the May 1 publication of the tenth anniversary edition of Food Politics (Michael Pollan wrote the Foreword) to reflect on what ‘s happened since the book first appeared in 2002.

A decade later, the Chronicle’s headline writer put it this way: 

Plenty of positive change happening

Q: I see that “Food Politics” is out in a 10th anniversary edition with an introduction by Michael Pollan, no less. Has anything changed in the past decade?

 

A: I can hardly believe it’s been ten years (eleven, actually, but who’s counting) since the University of California Press published “Food Politics.” This has been a great excuse to look back and realize how much has changed. Optimist that I am, I see much change for the better.

My goal in writing “Food Politics” was to point out that food choices are political as well as personal. In 2002, reactions to this idea ranged from “you have to be kidding” to outrage: How dare anyone suggest that food choices could be anything other than matters of personal responsibility?

How times have changed. Today, the idea that food and beverage companies influence dietary choices is well recognized. So is the reason: the industry’s economic need to increase sales in a hugely competitive food marketplace.

Business pressures created today’s “eat more” food environment – one in which food is ubiquitous, convenient, inexpensive, and in which it has become socially acceptable to consume foods and drinks frequently, anywhere, and in very large amounts. Given this kind of marketing environment, personal responsibility doesn’t stand a chance.

If the “eat more” food environment is the problem, then the solution is to do something to make healthier food choices the easy choices.

And plenty of people are doing just that. In the last 10 years, we’ve seen the emergence of national movements to promote healthier eating, especially among children. These movements – plural, because they differ in goals and tactics – aim to create healthier systems of food production as well as consumption.

On the production side, their goals are to promote local, seasonal, sustainable, organic and more environmentally sensitive food production. On the consumption side, some of the goals are to improve school food, restrict food marketing to children, and to reduce soda consumption through taxes and limits on portion sizes.

These movements do plenty of good. I see positive signs of change everywhere.

Healthier foods are more widely available than they were when “Food Politics” first appeared. Vast numbers of people, old and young, are interested in food issues and want to get involved in them. The first lady is working to improve access to healthier foods for low-income adults and children.

Wherever I go, I see schools serving healthier meals, more farmers’ markets, organic foods more widely available, young people joining Food Corps, more young people going into farming, more concern about humane farm animal production, more backyard chickens and urban gardens, and more promotion of local, seasonal and sustainable food to everyone.

When my university department launched undergraduate and graduate programs in food studies in 1996, we were virtually alone. Universities viewed food as too common a subject to be taken seriously. Now, practically every college and university uses food to teach students how to think critically about – and engage in – the country’s most pressing economic, political, social, and health problems. Many link campus gardens to this teaching.

Food issues are high on the agendas of local, state, national and international governments. I can’t keep up with the number of books, movies and websites covering issues I wrote about in “Food Politics.”

These achievements can also be measured by the intensity of pushback by the food industry. Trade associations work overtime to deny responsibility for obesity, undermine the credibility of the science that links their products to health problems, attack critics, fight soda taxes, lobby behind the scenes, and spend fortunes to make sure that no city, state or federal agency does anything that might impede sales.

Food and beverage companies faced with flat sales in the United States have moved marketing efforts to emerging economies in Asia, Africa and Latin America, with predictable effects on the body weights and health of their populations.

Despite this formidable opposition, now is a thrilling time to be advocating for better food and nutrition, for the health of children, and for greater corporate accountability. As more people recognize how food companies influence government policies about agricultural support, food safety, dietary advice, school foods, marketing to children, and food labeling, they are inspired to become involved in food movement action.

I’m teaching a course on food advocacy at New York University this semester. I want students to take advantage of their democratic rights as citizens to work for healthier and more sustainable food systems. Whether they act alone or join with others, they will make a difference. So can you.

The development of the food movement is the biggest and most positive change in food politics in the last decade. May it flourish.

May 1 2013

Today: The Tenth Anniversary edition of Food Politics

Please welcome the Tenth Anniversary Edition of Food Politics.

It’s comes with an exceptionally gracious Foreword by Michael Pollan.  I wrote a new Preface and a lengthy Afterword to bring it all up to date.

Doing the Afterword gave me a chance to think about what’s happened in the food movement over the past ten (eleven, really, but who’s counting) years since Food Politics first appeared in 2002.

Indeed, a great deal has happened, and much of it good, thanks to everyone who is working to create a healthier and more sustainable food system.

Read and enjoy!

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