by Marion Nestle

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Sep 14 2022

Product innovation of the week: Cannabis ice cream

I learned about this from a newsletter I subscribe to, Dairy Reporter (this is why I subscribe).

Consumers can now taste a new cannabis-infused ice creams made by Boston’s Emack & Bolio’s in collaboration with cannabis operator MariMed.

The ice creams are vegan, no less.

Two vegan flavors – Cup O’ Coffee Chip and Chocolate Sunny Days – have already debuted, and a dairy line is arriving ‘in two weeks’, DairyReporter understands…“Our R&D team pays close attention to consumer trends and food categories that make sense to consider infusing with cannabis,”​ a MariMed spokesman said. “Ice cream has seen enormous growth, particularly craft ice cream.”

They are sold only in Massachusetts for now.​

“MariMed was looking to partner up with an ice cream company to develop products using their full spectrum cannabis oil and CBD,”​ Emack & Bolio’s founder Robert Rook told DairyReporter. “We both wanted great tasting product, with clean ingredients infused with the best full-spectrum cannabis oil.

Yum?

I tried to find ingredient lists for these products, but all I could find was a press release.

I wrote and asked for them.

Stay tuned.​

Sep 13 2022

Food insecurity statistics: some good news!

The USDA has released its annual report on food insecurity.  The news is relatively good.

It’s even relatively good for households with children.

Why the sharp downturn?

USDA ducks this question (too political, I guess): “This report does not provide an analysis of possible causal explanations for prevalence or trends in food insecurity.”

But the reason is obvious:  increased participation in federal food assistance programs and higher benefits from those programs.

If people have more money for food, they will buy more food and feed their children better.

See:

And the USDA documents:

 

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Coming soon!  My memoir, October 4.

For 30% off, go to www.ucpress.edu/9780520384156.  Use code 21W2240 at checkout.

 

Sep 12 2022

Conflicted interests of the week: the Dairy Council and nutrition scientists

I was interested to see this article in Hoard’s Dairyman: Bringing dairy research to thought leaders.

It explains how food trade associations build relationships with nutrition scientists.

The article discusses the role of the  National Dairy Council (NDC) , in getting research on the benefits of dairy products “into the hands of our science-based colleagues around the country and even globally.”

This is why NDC circles various conferences and meetings on our calendar where we present dairy research and continue establishing relationships with credible third-party organizations.

One of the most important groups is the American Society for Nutrition (ASN)…ASN is the world’s largest nutrition science organization with about 7,000 members from more than 100 countries representing the academic, government, and private business sectors. Many ASN members embody the next generation of scientists and it’s critical we get to know each other.

The article goes on to explain how the NDC:

  • Worked to ensure that the latest dairy science was part of this year’s ASN agenda.
  • Led a symposium on dairy’s components and cardiovascular health and diabetes.
  • Presented on dairy’s unique nutrient package
  • Holds leadership positions within ASN.

But:

ASN is just one stop for NDC. We’ll also be involved with conferences hosted by other key organizations, such as the Mayo Clinic, Institute of Food Technologists, International Dairy Federation’s World Dairy Summit, Institute for the Advancement of Food and Nutrition Sciences, and others.

I am a member of ASN and have long been concerned about its too cozy relationships with food companies and their trade associations.  I eat dairy foods and think they have a reasonable place in healthy diets, but they are not essential to human health.  Research debates on dairy products continue, and the close involvement of the NDC in a nutrition professional association compromises the independence of that association.

When I complained about the inherent conflicts of interest in such relationships, ASN officials explained that they want the association to be inclusive, a “big tent.”

Inclusivity is nice, but in this case the benefit goes more to the NDC than to the ASN.

Hoard’s Dairyman is not something I usually see, so I thank Lynn Ripley for sending.

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Coming soon!  My memoir, October 4.

For 30% off, go to www.ucpress.edu/9780520384156.  Use code 21W2240 at checkout.

 

Sep 9 2022

Weekend reading: State of the world’s food resources (hint: declining fast)

If you are up for a dose of reality, try this report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.

It does not have much good news.  The key challenges:

  • Human-induced soil degradation affects 34 percent – 1 660 million hectares – of agricultural land.
  • More than 95 percent of our food is produced on land, but there is little room for expanding the area of productive land.
  • Urban areas occupy less than 0.5 percent of the Earth’s land surface, but the rapid growth of cities has significantly impacted land and water resources, polluting and encroaching on prime agricultural land that’s crucial for productivity and food security.
  • Land use per capita declined by 20 percent between 2000 and 2017.
  • Water scarcity jeopardizes global food security and sustainable development, threatening 3.2 billion people living in agricultural areas.

The remedy?  The report talks about technical solutions but also says: “Land and water governance must be more inclusive and adaptive, to benefit millions of smallholder farmers, women, youth and indigenous peoples.”

An important point to recognize is that many agents of change in the landscape remain excluded from the benefits of technical advances. This applies to disproportionately poorer and socially disadvantaged groups, with most living in rural areas. While technical solutions to specific land and water challenges may be within grasp, much will depend on how land and water resources are allocated. Inclusive forms of land and water governance will be adopted at scale only when there is political will, adaptive policymaking and follow-through investment.

If only.

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Coming soon!  My memoir coming out in October.

For 30% off, go to www.ucpress.edu/9780520384156.  Use code 21W2240 at checkout.

 

Sep 8 2022

USDA’s new collection of miscellaneous charts

The USDA’s Economic Research Service was damaged serriously when the Trump Administration moved its offices out of Washington DC to Kansas, and it is taking some time to recover.

It’s still publishing what it calls Charts of Note.

These are on all kinds of topics dealing with farm production and food consumption.  Here are a couple of examples I found particularly interesting.

Here’s the first:

This one shows that small and medium size farms make money selling direct to consumers at farmers’ markets and via Community Supported Agriculture, but the largest farms benefit most from these opportunities.  Restaurants and grocery stores don’t source much from smaller farms and neither do regional distributors.

The challenge for small and medium size farms is to find more and better distribution channels.\

And here’s the second:

I picked this one because I like the design and because this watermelon has seeds.  You can hardly buy a watermelon with seeds anymore.

I’ve been convinced that seedless watermelons don’t taste as good as the ones with seeds.  This year, I bought some seeds from old-fashioned watermelon and planted them in my place in Ithaca, New York.   They are now ripe, and edible.  But alas: I don’t think they taste any better than the ones without seeds.

Next year, we plant seedless.

One big question: how do you get create seeds for seedless watermelons?   This, I had to look up.

Seedless melons are referred to as triploid melons while ordinary seeded watermelons are called diploid melons, meaning, that a typical watermelon has 22 chromosomes (diploid) while a seedless watermelon has 33 chromosomes (triploid). To produce a seedless watermelon, a chemical process is used to double the number of chromosomes. So, 22 chromosomes are doubled to 44, called a tetraploid. Then, the pollen from a diploid is placed on the female flower of the plant with 44 chromosomes. The resulting seed has 33 chromosomes, a triploid or seedless watermelon. The seedless watermelon is sterile. The plant will bear fruit with translucent, nonviable seeds or “eggs.”

Aren’t you glad I asked?

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Coming soon!  My memoir coming out in October.

For 30% off, go to www.ucpress.edu/9780520384156.  Use code 21W2240 at checkout.

 

Sep 7 2022

What’s up with the White House Conference on Hunger, Food, and Health?

Here’s what I do not know about this conference:

  • The agenda
  • Who is speaking
  • Who is invited
  • What will be announced

Everything I do know about it is in this message sent from the White House last week.

White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health Stakeholder Update

The Biden-Harris Administration is hosting the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health on Wednesday, September 28, 2022 and we need your leadership.

For the first time in over 50 years, the White House will convene public and private sectors, catalyzing our nation’s leaders around a coordinated strategy to accelerate progress and drive significant change to end hunger, improve nutrition and physical activity, and reduce disparities.
It’s time to take back our nation’s health. We need your help bringing people together to deliver on bold action and to make meaningful change in every community.

It will take everyone working together to be the change needed to finally end hunger and reduce diet-related diseases and disparities. Thank you for being a leader as we build a healthier and more equitable future for America.
Here are some ways to be a leader for change in your community:

      • Sign up to receive email updates about the Conference and learn more.
      • Host an event or watch party to bring people together to take bold actions in your community. An event toolkit has been developed to assist you in planning for these.
      • Share your ideas and stories about how to end hunger and reduce diet-related diseases and disparities.
      • Watch the livestream of the Conference on Wednesday, September 28, 2022
      • Help spread the word about the Conference on social media by using #WHConfHungerHealth and tagging @WhiteHouse

    White House Conference Website

      • Please share the

    White House Conference website

      • with your networks! Interested stakeholders can sign up here for updates:

    https://wh.gov/OPE-hungerhealthconference-signup

      .

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Coming soon!  My memoir coming out in October.

For 30% off, go to www.ucpress.edu/9780520384156.  Use code 21W2240 at checkout.

 

 

Sep 6 2022

Food industry funded studies of the week: grapes!

I very much appreciate the weekly newsletter, ObesityandEnergetics.org (If you want to subscribe, do so here).

I particularly enjoy its section, Headline vs Study.  Here’s the most recent, with my additions.

Headline: “Astonishing” Effects of Grape Consumption and “Remarkable” Impacts on Health and Lifespans.

Study: Grape Powder (Not Grapes) Modulates Gene Expression, Reduces Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, and Extends Longevity… In Female Mice.

I took a look at the study.

  • Conclusion: “These results suggest the potential of dietary grapes to modulate hepatic gene expression, prevent oxidative damage, induce fatty acid metabolism, ameliorate NAFLD (non-alcohol fatty liver disease), and increase longevity when co-administered with a high-fat diet.”
  • Funding: This work was supported in part by the California Table Grape Commission. The sponsor was not involved: in the preparation of the article; in study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the article for publication.

Here is another study:

Study: Behavioral and Genetic Changes of Grape Powder (Not Grapes)… In Female Mice.

Its funding?  “This research was supported in part by the California Table Grape Commission.”

And one more:

Study: Grape Powder (Not Grapes) Modifies Hepatic and Urinary Metabolite Profiles… In Female Mice.

This study is also enlightening.

  • Conflicts of interest: [onE of the authors] “serves on the scientific advisory board of the California Table Grape Commission. There are no other conflicts to declare.”
  • Acknowledgements:  [two of the authors] “acknowledge grant support from the California Table Grape Commission and seed grant funding from Long Island University. The California Table Grape Commission was not involved: in the preparation of the article; in study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the article for publication.”

Comment:  As usual, these authors deny the problems inherent in industry funded studies that have marketing of health benefits as their primary purpose.  Grapes are fruits.  Fruits are healthy.  Do grapes perform health miracles?  Only if you believe in miracles.  Should you eat grapes?  Sure, if you like them.

You don’t believe this is about marketing?  Here’s one more headline (thanks to Karen Zornow Leiding for sending).  And you know who funded this.

Eating grapes can counteract harmful effects from processed foods, while boosting metabolism too

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Coming soon!  My memoir coming out in October.

For 30% off, go to www.ucpress.edu/9780520384156.  Use code 21W2240 at checkout.

 

Sep 5 2022

Labor Day: I’m celebrating mine

This is what I’ve been working on for the past few years.  It’s coming out early in October!

For 30% off, go to www.ucpress.edu/9780520384156.  Use code 21W2240 at checkout.