Food Politics

by Marion Nestle
Sep 25 2007

Going to India: Returning October 6

I am leaving this afternoon to give the annual Howard lecture at the Navdanya Center for Biodiversity run by Vandana Shiva. This lecture, held on the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi on October 2, is named after Sir Albert Howard who helped found the organic farming movement in India. The lecture celebrates sustainable non-violent agriculture in India.

I’m not sure about the electronic arrangements and I will be doing some traveling so I may not be able to keep up with the postings. In the meantime, take a look at the China bloggings of Jim Harkness, who heads the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, and is in China visiting organic farms and other innovative agricultural initiatives. Jim is fluent in Mandarin so what he hears does not get too lost in translation. I will post if I can. Otherwise, I’ll be back October 6.

Sep 24 2007

Fed Up: America’s Killer diet

In case you missed CNN’s weekend investigative report on America’s obesity epidemic, you get another chance online. I was interviewed for it and appear for 5 seconds right at the beginning. I’m always suspicious of programs that show lots of pictures of overweight people (with heads discreetly cut off); they usually miss key points as well as being insensitive. I’m curious to know what you thought of it. CNN went to a lot of trouble to do all those interviews and all that filming. What did you learn from it? Do tell.

Sep 23 2007

CSPI hosts kids’ video contest

The Center for Science in the Public Interest is running a “Junk-Free Schools Video Contest” (see information about how to enter). It invites young filmmakers to make the case for getting junk food out of schools. The winner will receive a $100 gift certificate for iTunes and CSPI will showcase the video on its school foods website. Deadline: November 1, 2007. Get busy!

Sep 23 2007

School food: the cupcake problem?

Today’s New York Times quotes me discussing the “cupcake problem,” the deal breaker in many attempts to get junk foods out of schools. I don’t have anything against cupcakes–I love them too–but in reasonable frequency and size. Friends with school-age children tell me the kids are bombarded with sweets in school for birthdays, rewards, trades, and treats. Cupcakes have become the flash point for arguments about who should control what kids eat. I, of course, think schools should set a good example. Your thoughts?

Sep 23 2007

What to Eat: Hebrew Edition

An Israeli colleague tells me that What to Eat is out in a Hebrew edition. I haven’t seen it, but he knows this because he reads Haaretz. I can’t read the article, but I had a great time with the interviewer, Shahar Smooha, and, if the cartoon (!) is any indication, it must be a lively story. Translations welcome!

Sep 23 2007

Food safety advocacy

Today’s question: “Dr. Nestle, any suggests of a group fighting listeria/listeriosis to fund? Given your expert stature, you are my best source. ..My father was Dxd [diagnosed] with this around May 1 after being admitted to hospital apr 19 – But the suffering from it and cost of it – what if my mom hadn’t had a spare $100,000 – unbelievable. And I am sure insurance covered another million or so. In 5 mos.”

Here’s my thought: Listeria are among those newly emergent bacteria that arrived along with industrial food production. They are especially nasty because they grow happily at cold temperatures. I’m not aware of groups specifically devoted to fighting this one, but there are excellent groups working on food safety issues in general. One is STOP–Safe Tables Our Priority–created by mothers of children who died from the effects of eating hamburgers contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7. The food safety issues are the same. Both bacteria would be less of a problem if we had a better food safety system. But let’s ask: does anyone know of any groups working specifically on Listeria issues?

Sep 21 2007

King Corn comes to New York October 12

It’s a movie worth seeing. Here’s the trailer!

Sep 21 2007

Debate: Is overweight a problem or not?

I am indebted to Joel Moskowitz of UC Berkeley’s Center for Family and Community Health for passing along this amazing series of debates from the L.A. Times. This week, Kelly Brownell (a psychologist at Yale) and Paul Campos (a lawyer from Colorado) debate whether rising rates of obesity even exist let alone constitute a cause for concern. The debates were published over the course of a week: September 17, September 18, September 19, September 20. Enjoy (?). Decide for yourself.