by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Food-policy

Aug 9 2017

Starting out in food policy: advice

I get lots of inquiries like this one from readers working at not particularly satisfying jobs.  This one came with the subject line: Wanted:

My passions really lie in health and wellness, improving the food industry, and ensuring everyone has equal access to healthy, sustainable foods, and an understanding of nutrition and how to be healthy….I’ve read your book What To Eat, and am currently reading Food Politics…As I also want a career that involves educating people about what they are putting in their bodies, and the complexities of the industry, I would really appreciate any advice you can offer with regards to graduate programs to look into, steps I should be taking, career paths to consider, etc. I am happy to answer any questions you have about my interests or experiences if that’s helpful.

Here’s what I said:

Hi.  I don’t know any shortcuts.  If you want to be treated like an expert, you have to be an expert.  If you want to talk to people about food, learn as much about food, nutrition, physiology, and human behavior as you can.  If you want to talk about the food industry, this too will take work–and lots of time, if you want to do this well.  You need to figure out where you want to fit into the current system.  Do you want personal clients?  To work for institutions?  To write?  To work with community groups?  To teach?  If so, at what level?  One way to do this is to go online and look at lots of agriculture, food, nutrition, public health, and public policy graduate programs.  Lots.  You will soon figure out which ones sound the most like what you are looking for.  Pick the one that feels like the most fun, and go for it!  Time will pass.  Knowledge will accumulate.  Expertise will come.  Courage!

 

 

 

 

 

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Jul 28 2017

Weekend Reading: Urban Food Policy

The International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES) has issued a new report with five case studies on successful urban food policy.  lead authors are Corinna Hawkes and Jess Halliday.

the five:

  • Belo Horizonte—food security
  • Nairobi—urban agriculture
  • Amsterdam—healthy weight
  • Golden Horseshoe (Ontario, Canada)—food and farming
  • Detroit—urban agriculture

It’s wonderfully written and illustrated.

And it is highly instructive about what has to be in place to put these policies in action (the report calls them enablers).

You want a food policy in your town?  This will help.

Jul 7 2017

Weekend reading: A People’s Food Policy

From the UK comes one of the best documents I’ve ever seen about food system policy:

It has information about why we need a coherent, comprehensive food policy, what it has to address, how to set priorities for putting policies in action, and how to build a movement to get there.

Olivier de Schutter, formerly the United Nations special rapporteur on the Right to Food, wrote the Foreword.

We need one of these for the United States.  In the meantime, this is really useful.

Food organizations, professors, students: take a look.

Here’s the main site where you can find out more about this initiative.

 

 

 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByOC-u0iVRMGLUVKem12RHNhMU0/view

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Jun 20 2017

The administration’s war on food: summary by the Environmental Working Group

Scott Faber, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Environmental Working Group summarizes Trump’s Full-Scale War on Food.  Since taking office, he writes, Trump has:

  • Proposed to cut food safety funding for the Food and Drug Administration by $117 million.
  • Proposed to cut funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, by $193 billion – a 25 percent cut – and cut international food aid by $2 billion.
  • Delayed new labeling rules for menus and packaged foods that would give consumers more information about calories and added sugars, and so far failed to issue a draft rule to implement a new law on disclosing genetically modified ingredients in food.
  • Weakened new rules designed to drive junk food out of U.S. schools.
  • Proposed to eliminate several Department of Agriculture programs that helped farmers sell directly to local consumers.
  • Proposed to eliminate funding for an entire division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that works to reduce obesity.
  • Withdrawn new rules to protect drinking water supplies from polluters and proposed cutting the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by 31 percent.
  • Proposed to suspended two of the largest farmland stewardship programs and mothball others.
  • Postponed new rules designed to strengthen animal welfare standards on organic farms and proposed to eliminate funding for programs that help farmers switch to organic farming.
  • Reversed a ban on a pesticide linked to brain damage in kids and proposed cutting EPA funding for pesticide review programs by 20 percent.
  • Punted on new rules to protect farmworkers from pesticides, and proposed to eliminate a program to train migrant and seasonal farmworkers.
  • Mothballed new voluntary sodium guidelines that would drive reformulation of foods.
  • Called for so-called regulatory “reforms” that would block agencies like the FDA and USDA from adopting new rules designed to keep food safe, update food labels or provide students healthier meal options in schools.

This is an impressive list, calling for serious resistance.

How?  That’s the question….

 

Mar 22 2017

Blueprint for a National Food Strategy

Food policy clinics at the Harvard and Vermont law schools have issued a new report—interactive no less.

The report argues that

our food system often works at cross-purposes, providing abundance while creating inefficiencies, and imposing unnecessary burdens on our economy, environment, and overall health. Many federal policies, laws, and regulations guide and structure our food system. However, these laws are fragmented and sometimes inconsistent, hindering food system improvements. To promote a healthy, economically viable, equitable, and resilient food system, the United States needs a coordinated federal approach to food and agricultural law and policy – that is, a national food strategy.

The strategy needs to focus on :

  • Coordination: Create a lead office and an interagency working group, and engage local governments.
  • Participation: Create an advisory council, develop methods for participation, feedback, and response.
  • Transparency and accountability: Create a strategy document,  publish progress reports.
  • Durability: Ensure updating, implement procedures.

Yes, it’s wonky, but if you download the pdf you get to weigh in on all this.

Mar 20 2017

The President’s Budget: What Does it Mean for Food Politics?

The President announced his budget last week.

I’ve been asked to comment on what it means for food programs.

My quick and dirty answer: small-minded and mean-spirited.

The document lacks crucial details essential for interpretation, so you can only guess.

For USDA, for example, the document says the 21% cut in its budget:

  • Fully funds the Food Safety and Inspection Service.
  • Provides $6.2 billion for WIC (that’s a few hundred million below what it gets now)
  • Provides $350 million for USDA’s competitive research program(that’s about what it got in 2016)
  • Reduces USDA”s statistical capabilities (it doesn’t say by how much)
  • Eliminates the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education program.  This program is tiny—$200 million in 2016–but it reaches more than 2 million people.  Will cutting McGovern-Dole make America great again?  Hard to imagine.

It cuts FDA’s department but says nothing about FDA’s food or food safety programs.

One problem is that you have to know how to read these things.  For example:

  • The budget eliminates or sharply reduces Meals on Wheels, the program for senior citizens.  This is because it eliminates the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program.  Why get rid of it?  They say because it’s not proven to work—but it does.
  • The National Institutes of Health will lose $6 billion.

The cuts are in programs that can be cut, the smaller and most vulnerable.  Hence: small-minded, mean-spirited.

Urge your representatives to resist!

Addition, March 21

Do not miss John Oliver’s analysis of this budget

Nov 3 2016

Food Policy Action’s 2016 Congressional Scorecard

This year, only three Senators—Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Richard Durbin—got top scores from Food Policy Action for their votes on food and farm issues.  This is down from the 29 who earned perfect scores in 2015.

In the House, 79 representatives got perfect scores as opposed to 87 in 2015.

The annual Scorecard ranks lawmakers on whether they support legislation on issues such as GMO labeling, hunger, fisheries management, food waste, pesticides, the EPA’s waters of the U.S. rule, among others.

Image result for food policy scorecard map

It’s disappointing that fewer legislators are getting top scores, since one of the purposes of this activity is to hold them accountable and encourage more liberal voting on food and farm issues.

 

 

Oct 27 2016

Resources for food advocates

Some new resources for food system advocates have just come my way.  Use and enjoy!

  • Food Tank and the James Beard Foundation have issued their third annual Good Food Guide, a searchable guide to 1,000 food nonprofit advocacy organizations.  You can download the guide here.
  • Healthy Food America offers a Sugar Overload Calculator.  This is a mini-game that kids (or adults) can play to guess the sugars in commonly consumed foods.  Most will surprise.  Some will be a big surprise.
  • Healthy Food America also has Maps of the Movement, illustrating where soda tax initiatives are underway in the United States.   Can’t wait to see how they do on November 8.
  • The World Cancer Research Fund International’s NOURISHING framework is a terrific introduction to policy approaches to promoting healthy diets and reducing obesity.
  • The Fund also has a useful graphic about the importance of policy approaches to obesity.  I ran across it on Twitter: 

capture

 

 

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