by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Uncategorized

Apr 9 2021

Weekend advocacy: The People vs. Big Soda

I’ve just received a copy of Larry Tramutola’s The People VS Big Soda: Strategies for Winning Soda Tax Elections.

Larry was involved in the successful Berkeley soda tax initiative, and this is his account of how they won an election wtih an astonishing plurality of 76%.  I consider this initiative to be a model of how to do food advocacy, and it’s great to have this practical guide to the details of starting a campaign like this or, for that matter, any other food campaign.

He covers such matters as:

  • Coalition building
  • Dealing with industry arguments
  • Framing the issue
  • Recruiting volunteers
  • Winning despite limited financial resources
  • Building power, step by step
  • Staying with it no matter what happens

These are important lessons for anyone involved in food advocacy.

I can’t find anything about this booklet online, which means that if you want one, you must contact him at:

Larry Tramutola
191 Ridgeway Avenue
Oakland, California 94611
PHONE510-658-7003
Apr 8 2021

Plant-based: an attempt to keep up

Information pours out about plant-based meat and dairy substitutes.  Here are some recent items, pro and con:

Apr 7 2021

The vintage Coke parody ad strikes again

A reader, Ken Kaszak, sent me a link to a post on Quora Digest featuring this “advertisement,” which I put in quotes because it is not, in fact, an actual Coca-Cola ad; it is a joke at Coca-Cola’s expense.

I know this because I wrote about it in Soda Politics.  For starters, the ad says it is produced by “The Soda Pop Board,” but no such trade association exists.  Here’s the page from Soda Politics.

I included a footnote that explains where this parody came from: “The origins of the Parody ad are explained by Dryznar J. Favor from clever dudes, March 4, 2004. http://jdryznar.livejournal.com/64477.html.  The “Not parody” image was constructed from information from AND at www.eatright.org/corporatesponsors.  The parody ad was created by RJ White, as he explains at http://rjwhite.tumblr.com/post/472668874/fact-checking.  It was posted at The City Desk: Fictional Urbanism.  http://thecitydesk.net/baby_soda_ad.”

Once something like this starts going around, there’s no stopping it, not least because this ad seems so plausible, given the kinds of marketing I describe in my book.

Remember these?  They were for real, but fortunately are not around any more.  Parents who used these bottles put in them what was on the labels.

 

 

Apr 6 2021

Something new to worry about: feral pigs

The Food and Environment Reporting Network (FERN) and National Geographic have jointly published an investigative report on the battle to eradicate feral hogs.  

Today, there are between six and nine million hogs running wild across at least 42 states and three territories. The exact number is difficult to pin down, and the estimated cost of the damage they cause—probably about $2.5 billion annually, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture—is likely an underestimate.

I don’t know about you, but this came as news to me.  I had no idea there were so many running around wild or that they were causing so much damage.

Rooting is also their most destructive behavior: Pigs drive their snouts and tusks into the ground and, like stubby-legged bulldozers, plow through crops, soil, forest floor, and golf green. They do it in search of grubs or acorns to eat, to cool off on summer days, to communicate, and, as far as scientists can tell, for the sheer joy of it. In the wake of a sounder, a newly planted field can resemble no man’s land on the Eastern Front, gutted in a network of trenches and craters several feet deep.

But I can see what the problem is:

“We haven’t been able to find a crop that feral swine won’t eat,” says Stephanie Shwiff, a research economist with National Wildlife Research Center.

While trying to figure out what to do about them, consider this.  According to the USDA, there are now fewer hogs on farms.   Its survey of 4,900 producers found 74.8 million hogs on U.S. farms on March 1, down 2 percent from a year earlier.

I knew you would want to know about this.

Tags:
Apr 5 2021

Industry-funded study of the week: Hummus this time

Dietary Patterns and Nutritional Status in Relation to Consumption of Chickpeas and Hummus in the U.S. Population.  by  Cara L. Frankenfeld and Taylor C. Wallace.   Appl. Sci. 202010(20), 7341; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10207341

Conclusion: ” Adults who consumed chickpeas and hummus were 48% and 62% less likely to have metabolic syndrome, respectively. Consuming chickpeas or hummus may be a practical means of improving diet quality and nutritional status. ”

Funding:  This research was funded by an investigator-initiated, unrestricted educational grant from Sabra Dipping Co., LLC.

Conflicts of Interest: T.C.W. has received prior research support from Sabra Dipping Co., LLC. C.L.F. declares no conflict of interest. The sponsor had no role in the study design; the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; the writing of the manuscript; or the decision where to submit the paper for publication.

Comment: That’s what they all say about the sponsor’s role, despite substantial evidence to the contrary (in many other cases).  Sabra is owned by PepsiCo.

Hat tip: To Daniel Bowmn Simon for sending me this one.

Apr 2 2021

Weekend reading: More public funding for agricultural research

The press release says it all:  “New Report Highlights How Stagnant U.S. Public Funding for Agricultural Research Threatens Food Systems.”

Stagnant public funding for agricultural research is threatening the future vitality of U.S. food systems – posing risks to farmer productivity and profitability, the steady supply of affordable food for consumers, and ultimately global food security, according to a new report.

The report, jointly commissioned by Farm Journal Foundation and the American Farm Bureau Federation and authored by the IHS Markit Agribusiness Consulting Group, highlights the vital importance of public funding for agricultural research and development (R&D).

New innovations are crucial so that farmers can increase their productivity and meet rising global demand for food, even as climate change intensifies. The world population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, and food production will need to increase by 60%-70% to meet rising demand. While private-sector funding for agricultural R&D has been increasing, U.S. public spending has been flat for the past decade.

Here’s the big picture.

Here’s what’s happening with USDA research funding—flat.

And here’s what’s happening with overall agricultural research.  Public funding is flat.  Industry funding is rising rapidly. 

Why is this a problem?  Because industry funds research aimed at developing and marketing profit-making products

This leaves research aimed at public health to be supported by the public.  Research is needed to

  • Increase productivity
  • Improve crop protection
  • Promote animal health and welfare
  • Prevent animal diseases
  • Protect against pandemics
  • Reduce effects of climate change

Industry won’t fund these research areas if there’s no profit in them.

That’s why more public funds need to go to agricultural research.

Here’s a one page summary.

Here’s the full report.

 

 

 

Apr 1 2021

How’s this for an idea: April Food Day

If you, like me, are not in the mood for jokes that won’t seem funny today, here’s an idea for an alternative.

Mar 31 2021

Soda taxes in Latin America

The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) has produced a report on soda taxes in the region.

What’s happening with soda taxes in Latin America is impressive.

Soda taxes, no matter where they are, seem to be doing what they are supposed to:

Latin America is a model for Dietary Guidelines (Brazil) and front-of-package warning labels (Chile).

Wish we could do these things.