For many years, a number Registered Dietitians have felt frustrated with – and misrepresented by – the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ (AND) partnerships with Big Food mammoths like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Hershey’s. Despite expressing this disappointment to their professional organization, these concerns did not appear to be taken seriously, nor have there appeared to be any attempts from AND to reevaluate who it obtained funding from. While some dietitians within the organization are tackling this issue, RDs still felt a need for a vocal coalition to publicly speak out on this issue. Dietitians for Professional Integrity was formed with the hopes of becoming one more part of the solution towards more appropriate corporate partnerships from the country’s leading nutrition organization. Read more
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President Obama has made the community college system a centerpiece of his education agenda, pushing for more resources and talking up their benefits. A community college grad myself, I checked in with a few of my community college friends to see how the good food movement is playing out on their campuses. Read more
If there is one topic that Americans are generally confused about it’s nutrition. Although the word simply means the materials necessary in the form of food to support life, our cultural understanding of it has shifted dramatically—with various industries co-opting the word and changing its meaning. Michael Pollan calls this “nutritionism” in his book In Defense of Food. “No idea could be more sympathetic to manufacturers of processed foods,” he writes. “Nutritionism supplies the ultimate justification for processing food by implying that with a judicious application of food science, fake foods can be made even more nutritious than the real thing.”
Convincing people of the healthfulness of these new foods—processed foods that have been refined, stripped, and altered, with synthetic vitamins, added whole grains, or antioxidants put back in—requires experts to help convey this message. In addition to the billions of dollars spent on advertising directly for food products, Big Food companies also recruit America’s nutrition professionals to spread their gospel. This is the topic of public health lawyer, Michele Simon’s new report which details “the food industry’s deep infiltration of the nation’s top nutrition organization.” Read more
1.5 years ago, FoodCorps started small, knowing that the best way to be sustainable was to build something that could grow, smartly, over time. Here is some news about our recent growth and new opportunities. Read more
It didn’t take long for the year’s first controversial health study to go viral. A new systematic review and meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) concluded that carrying extra weight decreases the risk of death (those in the “overweight” category were six percent less likely to die than individuals at a “normal weight”). This is a stark contrast to the usual weight-related headlines, which identify excess weight as the root cause of various chronic diseases. Cue confusion and heated debates.
Jane Brody, a long-time health columnist for The New York Times, has undoubtedly written great columns over the years, but her most recent one, published on December 31, 2012, was not one of them. In fact, this column, which claims to debunk health myths, is one of the most misinformed columns on health, nutrition and the environment to be published recently in the Times, filled with factual errors as well as outdated nutrition information. The piece warrants a detailed rebuttal, because so many people turn to the Times and to Brody for health advice and this time she was way off the mark. Read more
Head Start began as an eight-week demonstration project in 1965 to help break the cycle of poverty, providing preschool children of low-income families with a comprehensive program to meet their emotional, social, health, nutritional and psychological needs. Since then it has become the nation’s largest federally funded early child care and education program for children zero to five years old.
Good nutrition has always been a focus of the program, but many of the children in Head Start programs don’t have access to fresh, local foods at home. Discussing this fact a couple of years ago, Dr. Betty Izumi of Portland State University and Dawn Barberis of Mt. Hood Community College’s Head Start program came up with the idea for the Harvest for Healthy Kids project. Read more
I am named after my father’s mother, Delta Zenobia Barlow, who was born in the Delta region of Mississippi. When I was about seven years old, we went to visit my father’s relatives, for the first time in my memory, on a plantation in Barlow, Mississippi. I have a few faint memories of that journey: deep, rich, red dirt, a big white house, scattered housing occupied by sharecroppers, and a ramshackle building with a hand-lettered sign that read “The Barlow Store.” The whole plantation scene was strange and wondrous and I was trying my best to make sense of what I was seeing.
But something happened in that store that made an impression on me: an exchange between the shopkeeper and a sharecropper, as my uncle stood silently nearby, that revealed to me in an instant that the price charged to the sharecropper for the goods in the store, advanced against the value of his crop at the end of harvest, was exorbitant, and that the whole exchange, the whole system if you will, was profoundly unfair and exploitive. I can remember a sense of revulsion, of shame, like a body blow — and I remember flushing all the way to my tingling scalp, as my uncle, supposedly an upstanding, church-going, state senator, credentialed the transaction through his silent presence.
The insight that began in that experience, and has been nurtured and reinforced in myriads ways since, is that every intersection in the food system — from planting, growing, harvesting, transporting, processing, packaging and selling to cooking and serving and how we dispose of or recycle waste — is a critical juncture with opportunities to be more creative, wise, and compassionate. Read more
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
Very big news exploding across the media yesterday. Eating genetically engineered (GE) corn has been strongly linked to serious health effects—including mammary tumors, kidney and liver damage. A team of European scientists today released the first ever long-term animal feeding study of the health effects of eating GE foods in the peer-reviewed journal Food and Chemical Toxicology. Read more