The controversy surrounding New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s recent plan to ban sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces ranges from praise for taking on “America’s expanding waistline” to deriding him as a “nanny” for infringing on our personal choices and freedoms. But what’s largely missing from the debate is a real critique of the true villain in this battle—Big Food. Read more
Paula Deen’s public admission that she has Type 2 diabetes and her follow-up announcement that she is also a paid spokesperson for the pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, and its diabetes drug, Victoza, has sparked an interesting debate about the deeper issues surrounding our food system—especially the impact it has on the many people diagnosed with diabetes. And according to Deen’s comments on the Today show, she implies to her millions of fans, that the primary ways to deal with this largely diet-related disease are through personal responsibility and pharmaceuticals. Read more
How much do you know about your Thanksgiving turkey? If you buy your turkey from a typical grocery store–and most Americans do–you might not realize that the approximately 46 million turkeys consumed every year come from a factory farm.
But if Thanksgiving is truly about offering gratitude for what we have, it seems fitting to also be grateful to the turkey that many of us will eat for dinner. We ought to think about how that turkey lived before ending up on our tables. Read more
If you are paying attention to Occupy Wall Street—and by now most people are—the anti-corporate message is coming through loud and clear. Most participants at the events now spreading across the country say they are no longer willing to let powerful corporate interests determine the course of their lives. These Americans realize that a participatory democracy is essential.
As it stands today, 75 percent of the population are obese or overweight and many are chronically ill with diet-related diseases. They are also largely dependent on an increasingly unhealthful and contaminated food supply that is heavily controlled by corporate interests. It’s obvious that this is our moment to drive a very important point home: Upending corporate control of the food supply is a fundamental change that must occur if the “99 percent” are to be healthy participants in a true democracy.
This could be a catalyzing moment for the food movement with a real chance for average Americans to see and hear the connection between corporate control of the food supply and our nation’s health crisis. Indeed, the declaration of Occupy Wall Street (available on its Facebook page), addresses issues the food movement has been working on for years. The declaration states, “They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.” Read more
Food corporations enjoy carte blanche on what they can say about their foods, how and to whom they advertise, and even (to a large degree) the ingredients they choose to put in their foods. But when the Obama administration recently proposed voluntary guidelines [PDF] for the types of food advertised to children, industry giants decided to preempt these guidelines and create their own. Read more
In my recent critique of the new USDA dietary guidelines, I wrote that we’ll never see a real food version of MyPlate as long as the food industry holds sway over the guidelines and USDA continues to promote industrial foods.
While this is true, there’s no reason we can’t create our own “Real Food” version of MyPlate to promote what we think is healthy and what’s not. Read more
The USDA finally did away with the much-maligned Food Pyramid and replaced it with MyPlate. Many in the food world are calling it progress. It’s certainly a clearer and more concise image and deserves some credit for the fact that half of the plate is comprised of fruit and vegetables.
“This is a step in the right direction,” Marion Nestle wrote in an email. “It’s the best they could come up with and some education needs to go with it, as always.”
In my view though, when you look a little deeper, you see that beyond the clearer image not much has really changed. Read more
Chemicals and additives found in the food supply and other consumer products are making headlines regularly as more and more groups raise concern over the safety of these substances. In a statement released yesterday, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) asked for reform to the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976. The group is particularly concerned about the effects these substances have on children and babies.
Last month, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) held hearings on the safety of food dyes but failed to make a definitive ruling—the most recent study on Bisphenol-A (BPA) added to growing doubts about its safety but the FDA’s stance remains ambiguous. Meanwhile, in 2010, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that the FDA is not ensuring the safety of many chemicals.
Yet while the FDA drags its heels and hedges on the safety of these substances, Americans are exposed to untested combinations of food additives, dyes, preservatives, and chemicals on a daily basis. Indeed, for the vast majority of Americans consuming industrial foods, a veritable chemical cocktail enters their bodies every day and according to the GAO report, “FDA is not systematically ensuring the continued safety of current GRAS substances.” Read more
Over five million children ages four to 17 have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the United States and close to 3 million of those children take medication for their symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control. But a new study reported in The Lancet last month found that with a restricted diet alone, many children experienced a significant reduction in symptoms. The study’s lead author, Dr. Lidy Pelsser of the ADHD Research Centre in the Netherlands, said in an interview with NPR, “The teachers thought it was so strange that the diet would change the behavior of the child as thoroughly as they saw it. It was a miracle, the teachers said.” Read more
One in four children goes without breakfast each morning, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a tragedy to be sure—but are Kellogg’s breakfast products the solution?
Last week Kellogg announced its new project called Share Your Breakfast, part of a national advertising campaign. The project asks Americans to upload their breakfast photos to the Web site shareyourbreakfast.com, and for each breakfast photo shared, Kellogg Company will donate up to $200,000—the equivalent of one million school breakfasts to help feed children from food-insecure households. Feeding hungry children sure sounds nice, but filling hungry bellies with highly-processed junk foods is hardly the answer. Read more