Food Politics

by Marion Nestle
Aug 5 2007

The Yearly Kos Convention

I’m just back from participating in a panel discussion on alternative food chains at Yearly Kos in Chicago–the first time this group of Netroots Nation and blogging activists (many on Daily Kos) has discussed food issues at its convention (see the completely unbiased report on the panel, posted by its chair, Daily Kos diarist orangeclouds115). The convention was well worth attending if for no other reason than to see all of the Democratic party candidates for president (exception: Joe Biden) on stage answering hard-hitting questions from a very tough audience with highly diverse opinions. If you still have the idea that young people are not interested in politics these days, try this. I found it inspiring (not everyone agrees).

Aug 5 2007

Another Interview

Andy Bellatti is a student in my NYU department but also running a nifty blogging site on nutrition issues. He just posted an interview with me. See what you think.

Aug 3 2007

Simpsons Movie or Burger King ad?

I’m confused. Is Simpsons a movie or a lengthy ad for Burger King? And is this about marketing to children or what? You can watch the ads and decide for yourself.

Aug 3 2007

Bottled Water Spin

The bottled water industry must be really, really worried. Today’s New York Times has a full-page ad from the International Bottled Water Association promoting the health benefits of bottled water (“So, as far as we’re concerned, the drink in everyone’s purse, backpack, and lunch box should be water”), its use in emergencies, and its environmental friendliness (“The bottles our member companies produce are 100% recylable”). You will be pleased to know that the Association supports “new, more comprehensive recycling laws to reduce the amount of plastic waste in our environment.” The Association says: “We realize that there are many different points of view on these issues. We want to hear your thoughts.” They do? They should read today’s letters to the editor. If you want them to hear your thoughts, you can do so on their site. What do full-page ads in the Times cost? $80,000? That’s a lot of bottled water.

Aug 3 2007

Everybody causes obesity?

And now yet another study, this one in the July 2007 Economic Inquiry, says that social factors influence body weight. This study doesn’t say friends make friends fat, but says that the average body weight in a population has a “social multiplier” effect. This, they say, in conjunction with low food prices, encourages weight gain. Read what Dr. David Katz at Yale has to say about obesity “contagion.” He says: “There was virtually no obesity 100 years ago, but I’m pretty sure people did have friends back then. What they did not have was cars, suburban sprawl, fast food, and video games. Human nature and relationships are not the root cause of epidemic obesity; the obesigenic modern environment is.” Indeed.

Aug 2 2007

Alcohol and Energy Drinks: A Dangerous Mix?

My friend Michele Simon, author of Appetite for Profit, is now working for the Marin Institute, which describes itself as “alcohol industry watchdog.” She sends along a copy of the Institute’s new report on alcohol and energy drinks. In case you were wondering what’s in all those energy and sports drinks, why manufacturers want to add alcohol to them, and what their hazards are, especially to young adults, check this out. I think the drinks taste pretty bad on their own and the alcohol covers the taste, but this report lays out how the manufacturers deliberate target young adults for marketing campaigns that suggest mixing them with alcohol. The report covers the other ingredients in these drinks, things like guarana, ginseng, and–my favorite–taurine, an amino acid essential for cat reproduction.

Aug 1 2007

Scientifically engineered “superfoods”

Eating Liberally is now interviewing me on a regular basis in a post called “Let’s Ask Marion.” Today’s question is about foods created by technologists to introduce some health benefit–what I like to call “techno-foods.” It is timely because today’s New York Times has a report by Andrew Martin of his visit to the recent convention of the Institute of Food Technology. Are these foods really designed to make you healthy? Or are they about the financial health of their makers?

Aug 1 2007

FAQs

At the top of the right-hand side of this site is a link to FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions). I’m still trying to figure out the technical tricks for doing these, but for now I’ve posted 7 comments on things that people ask me all the time: (1) how to study nutrition, (2) what is food studies, (3) food advocacy, (4) trans fats and obesity, (5) organics, (6) locally grown, and (7) soy and health. Click on FAQs and there they will be. Enjoy!