Food Politics

by Marion Nestle
Aug 30 2007

What’s My Take on Diet Books?

That same commenter had a second question: “What’s your take on all the diet books that are out there these days?”

I’m not sure which ones you mean in particular, but it doesn’t matter. They are all pretty much the same. They promise that if you just do this one thing, weight will pour off. All of them work–for some people, for some period of time. All of them say they are easy to follow and are a breakthrough, and all provide a semblance of biological rationale (some better than others). Whatever the gimmick–low fat, low carbohydrate, high volume of fruits and vegetables, low glycemic index, whatever–all have to be based on some method to reduce calories. Calories count. That’s why it matters to eat less and move more. Diets that suggest “eat more” fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, however, do make sense. But the ones that suggest eating more fat usually don’t (because fat has more concentrated calories). Whatever the diets suggest, they are unlikely to be harmful for a few weeks.

Aug 29 2007

What a Concept: Oreo Pizza!

I am indebted to Michele Simon for sending a photo of this flier for the latest innovation in home-delivered food–Oreo Dessert Pizza. I’m sorry I can’t figure out how to make the photo bigger so you can see it better, but the way this works is that with any online pizza order you get a dessert pizza worth $3.99 tossed in.   And, if you order two 20-ounce sodas, you get slap-on cooler wrappers, whatever those might be.  The flier doesn’t disclose Nutrition Facts, so you have to guess the calories.  Hint: Lots. Somebody try this and report back please.

This flier

Aug 29 2007

Leona Helmsley Leaves Fortune to Dog

Despite his name, Trouble, Leona Helmsley must have adored her dog. She left him $12 million in her will. This ought to take care of whatever he needs for the next few years, including some terrific, melamine-free dog food. According to the Associated Press, she didn’t leave a dime to two of her four grandchildren. Hey, families are like that.

Aug 29 2007

F as in Fat: More Obesity in America

The Robert Wood Johnson report on climbing rates of obesity awards the prize to Mississippi as the first state to reach 30% of the population as overweight. The most distressing finding: rates are rising in one-fourth of the states, with the highest rates in the south. What to do? “Make healthy choices easy choices,” says the report. Good idea: make it easier for everyone to eat less or better and to move more.

And here’s what the New York Times had to say about this.

Aug 29 2007

Livestock and Climate Change?

Today’s New York Times business section is worth reading for an article about advertisements run by PETA and the Humane Society stating that eating meat has a worse effect on climate change than cars do. The ads are based on a report from FAO (the Food and Agriculture of the United Nations) arguing that the “livestock sector” is a huge contributor to greenhouse gases and water pollution.  This sector, says the report, accounts for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions.  This seems like a lot but the report adds it up from three sources: deforestation, digestive gases, and manure. Livestock, the FAO report says, should be a leading focus for environmental policies.

Somehow, this report got by me and I’m glad to know about it.  It links diets that are good for people with those that are good for the planet and gives more good reasons for the value of eating a largely plant-based diet.

Aug 28 2007

Instant Guide to the Farm Bill: Video

Those clever film folks who make The Meatrix videos, have a new one out on the Farm Bill. Can’t understand the Farm Bill? Try this–it won’t take long–and see if it helps.  It is also at this site.

Aug 27 2007

Marketing to Kids: Upfront Video

I’m a long time subscriber to Advertising Age, which is just a great source of information about the amounts of money food companies spend on marketing in general and to kids in particular. Thanks to Michele Simon, author of Appetite for Profit, for sending me a link to an Advertising Age video on how food marketers are adapting to their recent promises to stop advertising junk foods directly to kids. Not to worry. They have ways.

Aug 24 2007

Anyone know anything about lead in fruit?

A comment on the dried fruit post asks: ” in California, we now have warning labels on the shelves for balsamic and red wine vinegars for lead content…A lot of California grapes are grown close to highways, and as such, there’s residual lead in the soil from decades of leaded fuel. Do you have any sense about whether the lead is coming from the grapes being concentrated or if it’s coming from the barrels that they’re using to age the vinegar? …I wonder [if] white wine vinegars (or cider vinegar, or any other vinegar) aren’t equally implicated.

Anyone know anything about this? I’d like to learn more.