by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Books

May 23 2009

And now…orange juice!

I’ve been hearing about Alyssa Hamilton’s new book (pub date: May 26) for some time now.  It’s called “Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice.”  From what I can tell, it takes on the orange juice industry for processing the joy out of the juice.  Hamilton is currently with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy in Minneapolis.  She is Canadian and the Toronto Star has just interviewed her about the book.

I’m looking forward to reading it.  My son in California has an orange tree growing in his backyard.  The juice from its oranges is delicious even though it doesn’t taste nearly as sweet as commercial orange juice.   Orange juice producers want to offer a stable, consistent product.  It sounds like this book suggests that the taste-and-health costs of that consistency are pretty high.

Mar 19 2009

Food lobbying and its consequences

My NYU Department developed programs in Food Studies based on the premise that food is so central to the human condition that studying it is a great way to get into much larger social questions.   I’ve just found a terrific example in the April 9 New York Review of Books in which Michael Tomasky reviews So Damn Much Money: The Triumph of Lobbying and the Corrosion of American Goverment, by Robert G. Kaiser. I immediately ordered a copy.

According to the review, the book chronicles events in the history of a Washington, DC lobbying firm, Schlossberg – Cassidy, run by former staff members of  Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, chaired by George McGovern (Dem-SD).  The firm parlayed its thorough knowledge of food assistance programs into a consulting practice devoted to helping corporations deal with pesky regulations and policies that affect agriculture, food, nutrition, and health.  To give just one example: the firm’s first academic client was Jean Mayer, the nutritionist president of Tufts University.  He recruited the firm to get Congress to appropriate $27 million for a national nutrition center at Tufts.  The result is the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University.

But this first earmark set a precedent that led to today’s deeply corrupt system of rampant congressional earmarks,  election campaign contributions, dependence on polls and focus groups, and climate of political partisanship.

A book about food lobbying and its larger political and social consequences!  I can’t wait to read it.

Feb 23 2009

The latest on the meat front

In case you were wondering how come Bill Niman is no longer associated with Niman Ranch meats, yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle explains the whole sad story, one framed by the writer as a matter of idealism vs. economic realities.

Perhaps coincidentally, Nicolette Hahn Niman’s new book,  Righteous Porkchop, is just out.  This is a thoughtful and affecting memoir of her version of the events–her background as an activist lawyer, her romance with Bill, and their work together.  I blurbed it, pointing out that it should establish her as an independent national voice for efforts to reform industrial animal production.

I also blurbed Betty Fussell’s entertainingly researched cultural history of American beef, Raising Steaks. If you want to know what the fuss about humanely and sustainably raised meat is about, these books are a great starting point.

 
Dec 24 2008

Cookbook history: just in time for Xmas

The Economist, of all things, is getting serious about Food Studies.  It has a lovely history of cookbooks in its current issue, accompanied by a wonderful illustration.  The writer is anonymous, of course (I will never understand why The Economist doesn’t let its writers sign their articles–most annoying).  Cookbooks, says Anonymous, do more than teach how to cook.  They tell us what’s happening in society and help us deal with life.  Buy cookbooks as presents, read them, try a recipe or two, and eat the result!  I can’t think of a better gift.  Happy holidays to all!

And here’s an idea: if you happen to have more cookbooks or books about food than you have room for, and are looking for a wonderful and appreciative home for them, send them to the NYU Fales special collection of materials on Food and Cookery.   The collection has 20,000 volumes so far, thousands of pamphlets, and a rapidly growing collection of papers from food professionals.

Sep 6 2008

WHO issues report on social determinants of health

The World Health Organization has just issued the final report of the “Marmot Commission” on Social Determinants of Health: “The development of a society, rich or poor, can be judged by the quality of its population’s health, how fairly health is distributed across the social spectrum, and the degree of protection provided from disadvantage as a result of ill-health.”

This book-length report (7MB to download) is now the most authoritative source available on why and how changes in the social, economic, and political environment–including food and nutrition–are so necessary to improve global health.  Use it!

Sep 5 2008

The Economist reviews Pet Food Politics

I don’t do this sort of thing very often on this site so please indulge me a little.  Today’s issue of The Economist features Pet Food Politics as its lead Books & Arts review.  I recorded a podcast to go with it and that’s available too.  Enjoy! (I did).

Aug 23 2008

Pet Food Politics is out!

I am off to California for Slow Food Nation and the launch of Pet Food Politics. The events start with readings at pet food stores, Holistic Hound in Berkeley (Sunday, 4:00 p.m.) and Noe Valley Pet Co. in San Francisco (Monday, 6:00 p.m.). Others are listed under Public Appearances. I’ve never done readings in pet food stores before, so this should be fun. Stay tuned.

Jun 4 2008

the first anniversary!

I was on my way to Copenhagen last week on the first anniversary of this blog so I’ve only just remembered it. Here’s the first post from a year ago. Thanks to all of you who have been reading and commenting throughout the year. It’s been fun (and instructive) to hear from you.

I’ll report on the Nordic nutrition meetings in the next post.