A few weeks ago, the Internet was buzzing over news reports that an elementary school in Richmond, VA—allegedly in accordance with federal law–is requiring parents to obtain a doctor’s note if they want to send a home-packed lunch to school with their child. Then, this week, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff reported on his Weighty Matters blog that a Canadian mother was fined $10 under Manitoba’s Early Learning and Child Care lunch regulations for failing to include a grain product in her child’s home-packed lunch of ”leftover homemade roast beef and potatoes, carrots, an orange and some milk.” (The child was supplied with less-than-nutritious Ritz crackers by the school.) Both of these stories have gone viral, if my own Facebook feed is any measure. Read more
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Last week, a Philadelphia student, about seven years old, cocked her head at a piece of fruit in the cafeteria. There was something strange about this pear — its stem was still attached to a small branch, and there was a leaf dangling to boot. Read more
At an August 2013 press conference, a frustrated President Obama stated, “I don’t know a law that solves a problem 100 percent.” He was referencing the painful fight over immigration reform. But food reformers should take his comment to heart. There’s no such thing as a perfect food policy or solution and those who pursue perfection are not only destined to fail, they may also unintentionally harm the cause in the process. Read more
In 2011, I collaborated with a small, ardent group of Portland State University (PSU) students to found Food Action Collective (FAC), a student-led organization centered on promoting justice within the PSU and community food system. Now, today on Food Day, I find myself ruminating over how the organization came to be and how it has evolved. Read more
First Lady Michelle Obama received a lot of positive press when she unveiled her child health initiative, which included her “Let’s Move!” exercise campaign, the first-ever task force on child obesity and her championing of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The legislation, which required meals in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) to have fewer calories, more fruits and vegetables, fewer processed items and less sodium, was passed by a Congressional majority. And today the school lunches that 31 million kids eat are more likely to include a whole-wheat vegetarian pizza than sloppy joes.
But in the year since the changes took effect, the meals have been under serious scrutiny. The standards have been criticized as too rigid. Read more
A year ago, when I was working as an editor at the magazine Whole Living, I oversaw a special issue on food featuring “Visionaries”—people making a real difference in the way this country thinks about eating. There was “The Motivated Mayor” (Michael Bloomberg); “The Integrator” (Harlem chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson); and, among several others, there was “The Badass.”
That would be Marion Nestle. Read more
During my junior high school years in Baltimore, food education was mandatory for every girl. While the boys hustled off to shop class, the girls entered a fully decked out modern kitchen to cook adult things that gave off heavenly aromas. We even had our own aprons, homemade from sewing class. Read more
Editor’s Note: The USDA responded to Bettina’s post here.
Further Update here.
On August 30, the USDA announced that it will allow four Chinese facilities to process poultry raised and slaughtered in the United States, Chile or Canada, and then export the cooked poultry products back into the United States. The USDA’s move is widely seen as a preliminary step toward eventually allowing China to export its own raw poultry into this country, in exchange for China’s opening up its lucrative beef market to American beef producers. Read more
The USDA earned praise this past June when it released its ground-breaking new rules for “competitive” school food, i.e., the snacks and beverages that compete with the federal school meal and are offered to students through school stores, snack bars, vending machines, and other outlets. These new rules, while not perfect, will go far to eliminate junk food from school campuses in an era of childhood obesity and poor nutrition. But even as the nation as a whole is moving ahead to improve student health, here in Texas, the legislature has just taken a big step in the wrong direction. Read more