by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: International

Jan 30 2018

Israel’s Front-of-Package labeling scheme delayed (guess why)

The Israeli health ministry has developed a new front-of-package labeling scheme for foods to choose (green) and to avoid (red).  Here are the red labels:

The Israeli food industry, no surprise, does not want labels that might discourage purchases.   According to the Jerusalem Post:

Bowing to pressure from the local food manufacturing industry and importers via their lobbyists,
the Health Ministry on Wednesday decided to postpone implementation of reform it initiated last
year to mark food packages with red or green circles that will indicate whether or not the food is
healthful.
Instead of these designations being required in March 2018 as initially proposed, they will be
mandatory on only some products from January 2020. Requirements will become a bit stricter a
year later.

Here’s my prediction: front-of-package labels will be a big international deal this year and I will be writing about them often.

Hat tip to Bernard Epel of Tel Aviv University for forwarding this information.

Dec 7 2017

The French food industry v. public health: front-of-package label

A colleague in France, Serge Hercberg, a nutrition professor at the University of Paris writes to say that the French government’s decision on October 31 to support voluntary adoption of a “Nutri-Score” front-of-package label is now under attack by the food industry.

Nutri-Score looks like this (A is nutritious, lower grades less so):

The food industry wants something like this (of course it does, nobody can possibly understand it):

My colleague writes:

However,a powerful trade group, which includes major manufacturers of breakfast cereals, candies and cookies, is encouraging its members to instead select another type of nutrition al label. The trade group’s position is aligned with that of six food conglomerates – Mars, Mondelez, Nestlé, Coca-Cola, Unilever et PepsiCo (known as the “Big 6”) – who announced in March that they intended to develop an alternative system for the European Union.

With his nutritionist colleague, Chantal Julia, he describes in The Conversation what this fight is about.  I particularly like their example of how the two schemes help (or do not help) consumers choose between a yogurt and a fruit puree.

The Conversation article also comes in a French version.

Oct 11 2017

On my mind: The U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals

When I give talks these days, I usually wear a pin—the O in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development GOals (SDGs).  These were authorized by the U.N. General Assembly in 2015 to be achieved by 2030.

Each goal has specific sub-goals.  These are listed here in interactive format.  Food comes up in several, but mainly in Goal 2 (End Hunger) and a bit in Goal 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production).  Here are the first three sub-goals for Goal 2:

The SDGs have sparked many organizations to take action.  The U.N. makes taking small actions easy for individuals by producing “The Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World“—things you can do from your couch, your home, or outside your home.

Here’s the U.N. report on how progress toward the goals looked in 2016.

I wish chronic disease prevention was more prominent in these goals, which would make food more prominent, but this is a start and well worth knowing about.

Jun 24 2016

Israel food: more random observations

Lunch in the old Yemenite section of Tel Aviv, now the up-and-trendy Kerem Ha Teymanim.

The restaurant is Shlomo Doron’s The Joy of the Wipe.  This doesn’t quite get at the meaning, which is what you do to eat hummus with pita bread.

The restaurant is near the Carmel Market.  These are great bowls of dates, dried fruits, and nuts.

Entire stalls are devoted to halvah, the candy made with sesame seed paste.

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I did a day trip to the completely improbable Rutenberg restaurant: unexpectedly lovely food in a place remote from major cities, next to ruins of an electric plant and a bridge that used to cross the Jordan “river” (now a brackish small stream).  The restaurant is smack on the border with Jordan, 200 feet below sea level, and 45 degrees centigrade (112 degrees Fahrenheit—I’m not kidding) on the afternoon I visited.  The far end of the nearby stone bridge is in Jordan, and so is the watchtower on the hill in the back.

 

Beautiful food.

The chefs with a portrait of the eponymous Rutenberg, who had something to do with the nearby electric plant, now in ruins.

If ever there were a destination restaurant, this is it. Camels, maybe, but foot traffic?  Hence: improbable.

Jun 22 2016

The food scene in Israel—some early observations

Wandering around in the Rehavia neighborhood in Jerusalem, I saw a local park with a just-starting composting program.

Down the street from the official residence of the Prime Minister (that would be Benjamin Netanyahu), is the headquarters of the International Jewish Vegetarian Society.

I’m surprised at how little food advertising I’m seeing.  This restaurant overlooking the crater at Mitzpe Ramon is an example that seems typical.  Nestlé (no relation) ice cream bars are everywhere.

Coca-Cola is everywhere too, but this venerable truck is the only one I’ve seen.  This one was in Tel Aviv.

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Jun 20 2016

The food scene: Tel Aviv

I’m in Israel this week at a meeting on Sustainable Food Systems* along with some basic food tourism.

The trip started with a visit to the small-but-impressive farmers’ market at the Port of Tel Aviv.

The market is under umbrellas to protect people, sprouts, and other vegetables from the intense Mediterranean sun (it’s hot here).  

The market is in two sections, separated by an indoor section with stalls for an amazing array of (mostly) locally produced artisanal food products.

And here’s Shir Halpern who developed this market, runs others, and is doing everything possible to encourage young farmers.

This is a great way to start any visit to a new country.

*Just for fun, here’s my interview in today’s Haaretz—-in Hebrew.   And here’s an English translation (thanks to Hemi Weingarten of Fooducate)

Oct 2 2015

Weekend Reading: Emily Yates-Doerr’s “The Weight of Obesity”

Emily Yates-Doerr.  The Weight of Obesity: Hunger and Global Health in Postwar Guatemala. University of California Press, 2015.

Emily was a student in NYU’s anthropology department and I’ve admired her work for a long time.  Her book is based on her remarkable dissertation work, and I was happy to be asked to blurb it:

Emily Yates-Doerr gives us an anthropologist’s tough analysis of how one resource-poor Guatemalan population responds to an increasingly globalized food supply as it transitions rapidly from widespread hunger and malnutrition to the increasing prevalence of obesity and its health consequences.  The Weight of Obesity views this “nutrition transition” from the unusually revealing perspective of an insider who experienced it personally with eyes wide open.

For me, the most riveting parts of her book are the transcribed conversations between clinic nutritionists and patients newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes—a case study in the cultural gap between nutrient-based advice (“nutritionism”) and the way people actually eat.  The effects of the rapid influx of “ultra-processed” products on the health of the populations studied here are also painfully clear.  This is an ethnography of the nutrition transition caught just as these cultural and dietary shifts were occurring.

Jul 13 2015

Nuclear negotiations with Iran: the food politics

My dear friend, the food writer, cookbook author, and restaurant consultant Joyce Goldstein, is also a careful analyst of today’s global political scene.

She points out that the New York Times account (exceptionally clear, by the way) of the ongoing nuclear talks with Iran suggests one reason why they are going on endlessly:

To sustain itself during its marathon meetings, the United States negotiating team has since the beginning of June consumed at least 10 pounds of Twizzlers, 30 pounds of mixed nuts and dried fruit, 20 pounds of string cheese and more than 200 Rice Krispie Treats, according to its informal count.

Fruits and vegetables anyone?

Let’s join in a chorus of “Give Peas a Chance.”

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