In the latest investigation by the Food & Environment Reporting Network (FERN), reporter Bridget Huber examines first lady Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity campaign and the political realities of taking on the multibillion-dollar food industry. The story, “Michelle’s Moves,” appears online at The Nation and FERN.
Huber details how, starting in March 2010, Mrs. Obama—the enormously popular mother in chief, who had surprised and impressed many when she chose to make the contentious issue of childhood obesity a focus of her White House tenure—leveled a challenge at the food industry’s biggest players, asking them to “step up,” a month after she launched the Let’s Move campaign, the Obama administration’s flagship anti-obesity program, aimed at reversing the childhood obesity epidemic by 2030.
“But three and a half years since the ground was broken on the White House garden, many of those who’d had high hopes say the first lady has logged only modest successes,” Huber reports. “Experts credit Mrs. Obama for her instrumental role in reforming school lunches, limiting TV watching and increasing healthy food at childcare centers—and, perhaps most important, using her bully pulpit to bring issues of food and nutrition to national attention. But, they say, reversing the childhood obesity epidemic in a generation requires more of the bold action that Mrs. Obama hinted at.” Read more
The Just Label It (JLI) Campaign announced today that a record-breaking one million Americans of all political persuasions have called on the FDA to label genetically engineered (GE) foods. Today, March 27, is the date that the FDA is required to respond to the petition. It took JLI and its more than 500 partner organizations less than 180 days to accumulate an historic number of public comments—a testament to the power of collective voices to demand our right to know what’s in our food. (I’ve written about the campaign before here, here, and here.) Read more
Today, the Food & Environment Reporting Network–the first and only independent, non-profit, non-partisan news organization that produces investigative reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health in partnership with local and national media outlets–published its third report, “Farming Communities Facing Crisis Over Nitrate Pollution, Study Says,” on msnbc.com. Reporter Stett Holbrook takes a deep dive into a new study by UC Davis that reveals that nitrate contamination is severe and getting worse for hundreds of thousands of people in California’s farming communities.
The most comprehensive assessment so far to date, the report also reveals that agriculture is the main source of 96 percent of nitrate pollution. The five counties in the study area–among the top 10 agricultural producing counties in the United States–include about 40 percent of California’s irrigated cropland and more than half of its dairy herds, representing a $13.7 billion slice of the state’s economy, Holbrook reports. Read more
We know we’ve struck a chord with the Just Label It campaign, as Americans are responding in record-breaking numbers. As of today, more than 900,000 people have submitted comments to the FDA in favor of labeling genetically engineered (GE) foods. (I’ve written about the campaign before here and here.) But this campaign has always been about more than just the numbers. It’s about spreading the word about our right to have GE foods labeled.
We’re excited to now introduce this new infographic, which visually explains why the FDA should Just Label It. Designed to clearly show the need for labeling of GE foods, this educational tool includes a link to the Just Label It website where consumers can submit a comment to the FDA. Convenient for sharing on-line and via social media, the infographic is being distributed nationally by Just Label It’s 500 diverse partner organizations. Read more
The Just Label It campaign today launched a new video by Food, Inc. filmmaker Robert Kenner that empowers consumers to fight for their right to know what is in their food. The video, “Labels Matter,” is the result of collaboration between the Just Label It campaign and Kenner’s new project, FixFood, a social media platform that aims to empower Americans to take immediate action to create a more sustainable and democratic food system. Read more
Today, a broadbased coalition of nearly 400 businesses and organizations dedicated to food safety and consumer rights called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods, to give consumers the right to know what is in our food. The Just Label It – We Have a Right to Know campaign submitted a petition on behalf of millions of consumers to the FDA calling for the mandatory labeling of GE foods, also referred to as genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. These are foods that are altered at the molecular level in ways that could not happen naturally. Read more
Fire Escape Farms, a new pop up shop in the heart of the Mission District in San Francisco, offers everything you need to transform your urban space into a flourishing farm. The brainchild of Naya Peterson, the store, located in Triple Base Gallery from June to August, offers City folks specially curated seeds, locally handcrafted wares made from recycled and sustainable materials, books and tools, as well as local, organic soil, and amendments.
Peterson, who was born in the Mission, and grew up in the City, moved to Napa a few years back to help open Ritual Roasters in the Oxbow market and worked at White Rock Vineyards. She loved getting her hands in the dirt and started gardening in her North Bay backyard, which was filled with fruit trees and wild mustard. She later fell in love with a City boy and moved back to the Mission two years ago, but hankered for a way to remain connected to growing. Read more
Ann Gentry is the creator and founder of Real Food Daily (RFD), a mecca for organic, vegan cuisine in Los Angeles, where she and her staff serve up delicious, plant-based food to celeb devotees including Alicia Silverstone, Ellen DeGeneres, and Conan O’Brien. The executive chef to Vegetarian Times magazine, and star of her own cooking show, Naturally Delicious, Gentry is also the author of The Real Food Daily Cook Book. Her new cookbook, Vegan Family Meals: Real Food For Everyone, just out this week, offers more than 100 tasty recipes. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Gentry about cooking for families, raising children vegetarian, and why she believes in feeding people whole, natural food. Read more
Heidi Swanson, natural foods super star, is a cookbook author, whose writing, projects, and photographs have been featured in dozens of magazines. Her first cookbook, Super Natural Cooking, was nominated for a James Beard Award and is widely lauded as the best introduction to natural foods cooking today. Swanson’s online recipe journal, 101Cookbooks, has been the recipient of many awards, and draws a huge audience every month. Her latest mouthwatering and artful book, Super Natural Every Day, is hot off the presses and is equally inspired by whole foods and natural ingredients. I spoke with Swanson recently about the evolution of her cooking, how living in San Francisco inspires her, and where she eats when she’s not busy in her own kitchen. Read more
Food is the pulse of the millennial generation as thousands of young people are propelling the new good food movement forward by planting the seeds of a more just and sustainable food system. Across the country, students are activating for social change on campuses, while hundreds of new farmers and gardeners are digging into neighborhoods, and innovative food ventures are sprouting up. Come meet some of the best and brightest of these young food activists on Tuesday, May 3, as Kitchen Table Talks, in conjunction with UC Berkeley’s School of Journalism, hosts a lively discussion with some of the leading youth voices whose mandate is food. Read more