What exactly does “processed food” mean? According to a new position paper from the American Society For Nutrition (ASN) processing means “the alteration of foods from the state in which they are harvested or raised to better preserve them and feed consumers.” By this definition, processed foods encompass everything from washed raw spinach and frozen strawberries to Betty Crocker’s Cheesy Scalloped boxed potatoes (a box of the latter is made up of reconstituted ingredients held together with partially hydrogenated oils, artificial dyes, and the sodium equivalent of 60 potato chips per serving). Read more
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If you care about food waste, odds are good that you’ve heard of the Daily Table, a new Boston-based model of grocery store that will take safe food that has been discarded or is close to expiring and sell it at prices that compete with fast food in low-income areas. It’s an important model that comes at a time when U.S. consumers, companies, and businesses throw away 165 billion dollars worth of entirely edible food each year–or 40 percent of the food we produce in this country. Read more
Most of the people working at Spacesaver, a shelving company based in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, hadn’t heard of community supported agriculture (CSA). That was until Anna Calloway, the company’s human resources partner, found a CSA subscription service from nearby High Meadow Farm that would allow them to get fresh local produce delivered to the office every week. Read more
As I report in next month’s National Geographic feature, “The New Face of Hunger,” millions of American families are struggling with a new kind of hunger. Some of the increase can be traced to a change in definition; in the 1960s, America equated hunger with physical starvation. By the 2000s, though, researchers started asking whether people were skipping meals because they couldn’t afford to eat, coining the term “food insecurity” to replace hunger. And with wages stagnating and public support of commodity crops far exceeding that for produce, the number of food insecure Americans now far outstrips the number of those who were ever counted as “hungry.” But don’t take my word for it: The numbers speak for themselves.
How bad is the new American hunger?
Millions of people hungry in the U.S. in 1968 10
In recent years, a consensus has been taking shape among food justice advocates, as well as nutrition and public health experts. While access to fresh, healthy food is important to changing dietary trends, these groups tend to agree, it’s only one piece of the puzzle.
A new project in South Los Angeles has set out to prove that another piece of the puzzle—educating people how to cook whole foods—can work wonders. Read more
Despite its reputation as a Mecca of farmers markets and foodie culture, San Francisco is also home to quite a few people who lack access to good, whole food. In the low-income Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood, for instance, residents have an 8- to 14-year decreased life expectancy compared to their neighbors in other parts of the city. This is due in large part to diet-related illnesses like diabetes, congestive heart failure, hypertension and other types of heart disease. In addition, nearly 42 percent of adults in San Francisco are overweight or obese, and only one-third of those adults eat three or more servings of fruit and vegetables each day. Read more
Dan Barber’s book, The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food, was released this week, graced with blurbs by everyone from Ruth Reichl to Al Gore and Malcolm Gladwell. And if it feels like it was a long time coming, that’s because it was. The chef and writer spent over a decade visiting farmers and other food producers and ruminating about the role their work plays in the wider natural world. Meanwhile Barber was also running a world-renowned restaurant, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, part of a small constellation of other efforts, including Blue Hill restaurant in New York City, the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, and Barber’s nearby family farm. Read more
The year 2015 will bring a new set of Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and there are some changes afoot that could help us recalibrate our food ways. The shift in thinking boils down to this: Sustainability. There seems to be a new recognition that we should protect our food systems so that they serve us for generations to come. In other words, we should eat what’s healthy for now—and later. Read more
Earlier this week, the New York Times ran an opinion piece, “Finally, Some Optimism About Obesity?,” in which bioethicist Ezekiel Emanuel and researcher Andrew Steinmetz tell us we should feel good about the country’s anti-obesity efforts* because we’re responding to this health crisis “much more nimbly” than we did with smoking. Read more