Food Politics

by Marion Nestle
Sep 19 2007

Breakfast?

My son Charles, who lives in Los Angeles, sends this interesting site on which a photographer, Jon Huck I presume, has taken pictures of people posed with what they eat for breakfast. The breakfast project is along the lines of the spectacular books, Hungry Planet among them, done by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio, and for which I wrote the introduction. These are fascinating takes on what people really eat (as opposed to what they tell nutritionists). Enjoy!

Update: Turns out you can join this project. Take a camera with you to breakfast and send the results to Jon Huck. He will post your entry.

Sep 18 2007

Uh oh. Another salad scare

This time it’s E. coli in bagged salads from Dole. I recently visited the packing plant where the contaminated spinach originated a year ago and could not believe the state-of-the-art testing and holding prodedures that company put in place. Everybody needs to be doing this sort of thing. This is why federal regulations, imperfect as they are, so badly need to be instituted.

Sep 17 2007

Food Industry Wants Regulations?

Looks like the food industry has just discovered that regulations might be good for business, especially if the rules get passed now while Bush et al.–devotedly against strict regulations–are still in power. Seems to me that regulations do three good things for business: they level the playing field, they instill confidence in consumers, and the are the right thing to do. Here’s what the Wall Street Journal has to say about this new move, and what the New York Times said about it yesterday.

Sep 17 2007

Institutional Food Service: The Ultimate

Thanks to Alexandra Lewin for sending me this short video of a convention of commercial companies providing food service to prisons (and schools). At first I thought it was a satire, but I have an uneasy feeling that it’s not. Your thoughts?

Sep 16 2007

Does Nutritional Epidemiology Work?

If you have some time, take a look at Gary Taubes’ thoughtful piece on epidemiology in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. His new book, Good Calories, Bad Calories, comes out in a couple of weeks and I am eager to read it. I’m just keeping fingers crossed that it doesn’t start another low-carb craze the way his “Big Fat Lie” piece did in the New York Times magazine five years ago.

Sep 16 2007

Another Beverage Association End Run?

Why am I not surprised to read in today’s New York Times that the Beverage Association has “adjusted” its promise to take sugary soft drinks out of schools? Promises, schmomises. As long as you can keep selling drinks in schools. My opinion: let’s get the vending machines out of schools altogether. They didn’t used to be there. They don’t have to be there now. Bring back water!

Update: The Beverage Association has its own version of what its doing to protect our health. Check it out and see what you think. And here’s what the Wall Street Journal says about this.

Sep 15 2007

Lower Your Cholesterol with Cheerios? Oh Please

My neighborhood grocery store is displaying a wall of Cheerios boxes with this banner over the inevitable heart: “You can lower your cholesterol 4% in 6 weeks (see back for details).” I immediately turned to the back to learn that “Cheerios is the only leading cold cereal clinically proven to lower cholesterol. A clinical study showed that eating two 1 and 1/2 cup servings daily of Cheerios cereal reduced cholesterol when eaten as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol.” I like Cheerios, but come on? What clinical study? A footnote gives the reference to a study published in Nutrition in Clinical Care (1998;1:6-12). I immediately went to look for it but alas, the journal ceased publication in 2005 and is not available online or in the NYU or Cornell libraries. Want to take a guess at who might have funded the study? If anyone has a copy, please send. The FDA used to be able to demand serious scientific substantiation for health claims like this one, but no more. Congress says one study is sufficient, no matter how old, designed, or paid for. The courts say advertising is a form of free speech and protected by the First Amendment. Caveat emptor.

Update: Andy Bellatti of Small Bites reminds me that as always, Center for Science in the Public Interest was there first. Nutrition Action Healthletter talked about the study–surprise! funded by General Mills–in 2005.

Sep 14 2007

Burger King Joins the Group; Will Stop Marketing to Kids (Sort of)

The last holdout, Burger King, says it too will stop marketing the worst of its junk foods to kids. This means it will only advertise kids’ meals that meet these criteria:

  • No more than 560 calories per meal;
  • Less than 30 percent of calories from fat;
  • Less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fat;
  • No added trans fats; and
  • No more than 10 percent of calories from added sugars.

It’s agreed to cut back on some other practices too. A big step forward? Will this do any good? Let’s wait and see?

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