by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Food-policy

Nov 17 2017

Weekend perusals: Food system policy databases

Policy wonks, students, advocates:  If you are looking for data on what countries are doing to promote healthier people and food systems, check out these resources:

Advocates: these are great sources of ideas.

Nov 16 2017

Food Policy Action’s 2017 Scorecard on Congressional Votes

Food Policy Action has released its annual scorecard, evaluating how our federal legislators vote on food issues.  In case you haven’t noticed, they aren’t voting on much these days so there wasn’t much to score.

In the Senate, there was only one vote (on the nomination of Scott Pruitt as USDA Secretary), although ten bills were introduced.

In the House, there were five votes and 11 bills.

Overall scores averaged 49%—dismal.

The site has a handy interactive map; click on it to see how your legislators are voting.

In case you want to see just how badly Congress is doing, I’ve been posting these scorecards since they started:

One thought: maybe it’s just as well.

Share |
Oct 18 2017

Keeping up with food politics: new reports

Reports related to food politics flood in.  Here are a few from the last couple of weeks.

The Nation: Special Issue on The Future of Food: Setting the Table for the Next Generation

Global Alliance for the Future of Food: Unravelling the Food-Health Nexus: Addressing Practices, Political Economy, and Power Relations to Build Healthier Food Systems.

Multiple channels across food systems threaten human health. The resulting health impacts are severe, but are rarely examined together, systematically. Each impact appears as discrete and unrelated to the next, but through a systems view their interrelationships, linkages, and complex associations are revealed. The health impacts of food systems disproportionately affect the most vulnerable in our communities, and are compounded by climate change, poverty, inequality, poor sanitation, and the prevalent disconnect between food production and consumption. The true costs of these impacts are staggering…Over the coming months we will be tracking reactions and feedback to determine phase II of research for reviewing the positive health impacts of food systems, and begin to plan a global  convening focused on the food-health nexus.

IPES (International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems): Too Big to Feed

Consolidation across the agri-food industry has made farmers ever more reliant on a handful of suppliers and buyers, further squeezing their incomes and eroding their ability to choose what to grow, how to grow it, and for whom….The rush to control plant genomics, chemical research, farm machinery and consumer information via Big Data is driving mega-mergers – and stands to exacerbate existing power imbalances, dependencies, and barriers to entry across the agri-food sector. Dominant firms have become too big to feed humanity sustainably, too big to operate on equitable terms with other food system actors, and too big to drive the types of innovation we need.

EUPHA (European Public Health Association): Healthy and Sustainable Diets for European Countries

A new research agenda for Europe in the field of sustainable food systems is needed. Recent experience has demonstrated that there are many separate, relevant domains of research (e.g. involving nutrition, food science, sustainability, agriculture, economics, social science as applied to farmers and farming communities, research into acceptability of food products to the public, and other research fields as well), but that researchers in these various areas rarely interact with each other. Accordingly, what is needed is a new European research infrastructure devoted to the multidisciplinary aspects of food research, “from field to fork”, as is often stated.

Share |
Aug 9 2017

Starting out in food policy: advice

I get lots of inquiries like this one from readers working at not particularly satisfying jobs.  This one came with the subject line: Wanted:

My passions really lie in health and wellness, improving the food industry, and ensuring everyone has equal access to healthy, sustainable foods, and an understanding of nutrition and how to be healthy….I’ve read your book What To Eat, and am currently reading Food Politics…As I also want a career that involves educating people about what they are putting in their bodies, and the complexities of the industry, I would really appreciate any advice you can offer with regards to graduate programs to look into, steps I should be taking, career paths to consider, etc. I am happy to answer any questions you have about my interests or experiences if that’s helpful.

Here’s what I said:

Hi.  I don’t know any shortcuts.  If you want to be treated like an expert, you have to be an expert.  If you want to talk to people about food, learn as much about food, nutrition, physiology, and human behavior as you can.  If you want to talk about the food industry, this too will take work–and lots of time, if you want to do this well.  You need to figure out where you want to fit into the current system.  Do you want personal clients?  To work for institutions?  To write?  To work with community groups?  To teach?  If so, at what level?  One way to do this is to go online and look at lots of agriculture, food, nutrition, public health, and public policy graduate programs.  Lots.  You will soon figure out which ones sound the most like what you are looking for.  Pick the one that feels like the most fun, and go for it!  Time will pass.  Knowledge will accumulate.  Expertise will come.  Courage!

 

 

 

 

 

Share |
Jul 28 2017

Weekend Reading: Urban Food Policy

The International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES) has issued a new report with five case studies on successful urban food policy.  lead authors are Corinna Hawkes and Jess Halliday.

the five:

  • Belo Horizonte—food security
  • Nairobi—urban agriculture
  • Amsterdam—healthy weight
  • Golden Horseshoe (Ontario, Canada)—food and farming
  • Detroit—urban agriculture

It’s wonderfully written and illustrated.

And it is highly instructive about what has to be in place to put these policies in action (the report calls them enablers).

You want a food policy in your town?  This will help.

Jul 7 2017

Weekend reading: A People’s Food Policy

From the UK comes one of the best documents I’ve ever seen about food system policy:

It has information about why we need a coherent, comprehensive food policy, what it has to address, how to set priorities for putting policies in action, and how to build a movement to get there.

Olivier de Schutter, formerly the United Nations special rapporteur on the Right to Food, wrote the Foreword.

We need one of these for the United States.  In the meantime, this is really useful.

Food organizations, professors, students: take a look.

Here’s the main site where you can find out more about this initiative.

 

 

 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByOC-u0iVRMGLUVKem12RHNhMU0/view

Share |
Jun 20 2017

The administration’s war on food: summary by the Environmental Working Group

Scott Faber, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Environmental Working Group summarizes Trump’s Full-Scale War on Food.  Since taking office, he writes, Trump has:

  • Proposed to cut food safety funding for the Food and Drug Administration by $117 million.
  • Proposed to cut funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, by $193 billion – a 25 percent cut – and cut international food aid by $2 billion.
  • Delayed new labeling rules for menus and packaged foods that would give consumers more information about calories and added sugars, and so far failed to issue a draft rule to implement a new law on disclosing genetically modified ingredients in food.
  • Weakened new rules designed to drive junk food out of U.S. schools.
  • Proposed to eliminate several Department of Agriculture programs that helped farmers sell directly to local consumers.
  • Proposed to eliminate funding for an entire division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that works to reduce obesity.
  • Withdrawn new rules to protect drinking water supplies from polluters and proposed cutting the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by 31 percent.
  • Proposed to suspended two of the largest farmland stewardship programs and mothball others.
  • Postponed new rules designed to strengthen animal welfare standards on organic farms and proposed to eliminate funding for programs that help farmers switch to organic farming.
  • Reversed a ban on a pesticide linked to brain damage in kids and proposed cutting EPA funding for pesticide review programs by 20 percent.
  • Punted on new rules to protect farmworkers from pesticides, and proposed to eliminate a program to train migrant and seasonal farmworkers.
  • Mothballed new voluntary sodium guidelines that would drive reformulation of foods.
  • Called for so-called regulatory “reforms” that would block agencies like the FDA and USDA from adopting new rules designed to keep food safe, update food labels or provide students healthier meal options in schools.

This is an impressive list, calling for serious resistance.

How?  That’s the question….

 

Mar 22 2017

Blueprint for a National Food Strategy

Food policy clinics at the Harvard and Vermont law schools have issued a new report—interactive no less.

The report argues that

our food system often works at cross-purposes, providing abundance while creating inefficiencies, and imposing unnecessary burdens on our economy, environment, and overall health. Many federal policies, laws, and regulations guide and structure our food system. However, these laws are fragmented and sometimes inconsistent, hindering food system improvements. To promote a healthy, economically viable, equitable, and resilient food system, the United States needs a coordinated federal approach to food and agricultural law and policy – that is, a national food strategy.

The strategy needs to focus on :

  • Coordination: Create a lead office and an interagency working group, and engage local governments.
  • Participation: Create an advisory council, develop methods for participation, feedback, and response.
  • Transparency and accountability: Create a strategy document,  publish progress reports.
  • Durability: Ensure updating, implement procedures.

Yes, it’s wonky, but if you download the pdf you get to weigh in on all this.

Page 1 of 512345