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Beyoncé’s Bubbly Branding Falls Flat

Environmental advocate/writer Kerry Trueman checks in with food politics pioneer and NYU nutrition professor Dr. Marion Nestle, whose most recent book is Why Calories Count, with Malden Nesheim. You can read more of Nestle’s insights at food politics.com and follow her on Twitter @marionnestle. Nestle is currently working on her next book, Eat, Drink, Vote: The Illustrated Guide to Food Politics, due out from Rodale in September 2013. Read more

Exclusive Interview with Kathleen Merrigan: Farm to School Movement Comes of Age

It’s a big day for the farm to school movement. At the 2011 School Nutrition Association national convention in Nashville today, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced a comprehensive, groundbreaking report on the current state of farm to school efforts around the country. Download the full report here.

The data in the report was complied by the USDA Farm to School Team (comprised of both Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) staff), which made visits to 15 school districts (over what time frame) in a wide range of states. Merrigan spoke with Civil Eats earlier today about the findings and how it might shape the farm to school landscape of the future. Read more

Tea Partiers Milk Anger Over Breastfeeding

Last week, First Lady Michelle Obama told reporters that she would promote breast-feeding, particularly among African-American women, as part of her campaign to reduce childhood obesity. In response, the Internal Revenue Service announced that breast pumps would be eligible for tax breaks. Strangely enough, this simple notion to encourage breast-feeding—which has been shown in many studies to reduce the incidence of childhood obesity and could actually reduce government spending—is the latest idea to be attacked by conservatives. Read more

Why We Should Question Walmart’s Latest PR Blitz

Walmart made big news yesterday with a press conference alongside the First Lady to announce new company commitments. Most of the mainstream media coverage of the Walmart announcement seemed to buy the company PR that it was taking valiant steps to improve the affordability and health qualities of the food it sells. Among these commitments, Walmart said it will be working with food suppliers to reduce sodium, sugars, and trans fat in certain products by 2015; developing its own seal to help consumers identify healthier products; and addressing hunger by opening Walmart stores in the nation’s “food deserts.”

Do these Walmart promises really hold big upsides for health and food insecurity? The Times seemed to think so, running with this headline: “Wal-Mart Shifts Strategy to Promote Healthy Foods.” (Am I crazy or does that read remarkably like the Walmart press release: “Walmart Launches Major Initiative to Make Food Healthier and Healthier Food More Affordable”?) Had the Times been aiming for accuracy it might better have titled the article: “Walmart Launches PR Campaign Promoting Promises to Win the Hearts and Minds of Urban Consumers.” Read more

Walmart Unveils Healthy Food Initiative

First Lady Michelle Obama joined America’s largest grocery chain, Walmart, Thursday to announce that the Fortune 500 company has a five-year plan to increase healthy food offerings, reduce fresh produce prices, and improve access to affordable food, a move intended to complement Mrs. Obama’s campaign to combat childhood obesity. Read more

School Lunch Victory

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act signals a significant change in how we invest in our children and their health. Thanks to the tireless efforts of thousands of people who are working hard to get America’s schools to serve healthier food, including First Lady Michelle Obama, the $4.5 billion “Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act 2010″ prevailed in the lame-duck session of Congress, and is being signed into law by President Obama today. The new law marks a key step toward potentially transforming the food served in America’s public schools. Read more

Big Food Pledge Placates White House. Who Needs Policy When You’ve Got Promises?

You’ve got to hand it to the food industry. They certainly know how to get the attention of the White House just when they need it most. As announced this week by Michelle Obama herself, the nation’s leading food companies have made yet another pledge, this one in the form of an agreement signed with the Partnership for a Healthier America, an off-shoot of the First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign. Read more

Big Food Pledges to Cut 1.5 Trillion Calories

Sixteen of the top U.S. food and beverage manufacturers announced yesterday they will work toward removing 1.5 trillion calories from the American diet annually by 2015, with a total of 1 trillion to be cut by 2012.

The pledge to cut major calories from food products is an agreement between the Partnership for a Healthier America, an independent, nonpartisan organization, and The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, a coalition of 80 of the nation’s largest retailers, non-profits and food and beverage companies. Read more

Let’s Move Child Nutrition

Can you show the Mom-in-Chief how motivated we are to pass the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act?

Back in April I attended the White House Childhood Obesity Summit on behalf of the National Farm to School Network as reported here. The purpose of the summit was to gather input from experts to create a roadmap leading to children reaching adulthood at a healthy weight.

On Tuesday, the White House Childhood Obesity Report [PDF] was released. One particular challenge of the taskforce was to create benchmarks of success, leading to the focused goal of returning to a childhood obesity rate of 5% by 2030. Read more