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Marion Nestle Speaks Out on the Big Business of School Food

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

Counting Calories? Marion Nestle Says Forget It

Dr. Marion Nestle and Dr. Malden Nesheim’s Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics, is not a diet book selling you on the newest trend nor does it encourage you to count calories. Instead it does the seemingly impossible: It takes calories from the abstract to the concrete. Nestle and Nesheim explain the significance of the calorie not only in understandable scientific terms, but also in social terms with the explicit aim of helping their reader navigate the convoluted world of food labels and diet fads.

Nestle and Nesheim address frequently asked calorie-related questions like: Is there such a thing as negative calories and are some calories good and others bad? Chapters titles like “What is a Calorie?” belie the complex nature of the subject, but despite their respective PhD’s in molecular biology (Nestle) and nutrition (Nesheim) they manage to make the science of the calorie a personal and ultimately relatable subject.

And, not unlike Michael Pollan’s “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” mantra, Nestle and Nesheim leave us with four simple charges when it comes to calories: “Get organized. Eat less. Move more. Get political.”

I spoke with Nestle about her motives behind writing the book, the impossibility of estimating calories by sight, and the reason she got into this field in the first place. Read more

Let’s Ask Marion: How Did Junk Food and Obesity Become a Red State/Blue State Debate?

With a click of her mouse, Kerry Trueman corners Dr. Marion Nestle, NYU professor of nutrition and author of Feed Your Pet Right, Pet Food Politics, What to Eat, Food Politics, and Safe Food

Kerry Trueman: The “agri-culture war” that’s long been simmering is coming to a boil now, as recently noted in The Washington Post, The Daily Dish, and elsewhere in the blogosphere. Read more

Last Mile Access: Let the Hotel Valet Open the Door to a Food Conversation

The valet made me do it. We bared our souls and talked with each other about food. We did it in the middle of the tastefully decorated lobby of a reputable Cannery Row hotel in Monterey, CA. It began as a very unexpected moment, and has become one of my all-time favorite experiences talking about access to good food. Because it was a conversation not with a chef, foodie or expert. It was with a regular person who longs to connect to food and is somehow stuck, marooned on an island alone, full of latent desire.

The valet—let’s call him Paul—asked me the very question I yearn to hear, and with him I had the discussion that I never tire of. Paul had parked my car when I checked into the hotel, had smiled professionally at me and held the door three mornings in a row when I sashayed excitedly out into the sunlight. The cause of my excitement was a food issue conference hosted by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The Cooking for Solutions Sustainable Media Institute is an annual gathering of journalists and experts who cover food system issues ranging from sustainable seafood to GMOs. It is the highlight of my year, second only to the Ecological Farming Association annual meeting. Read more

Re-prioritizing Food Safety: Getting out of Upton Sinclair’s Jungle, Again

In 1906, Upton Sinclair published his classic book The Jungle, awakening America’s consciousness to the horrors of corruption in the U.S. meatpacking industry with the story of Chicago’s stockyards. The Jungle so shook the American people’s confidence in how their meat and food was processed, that President Roosevelt created the Food and Drug Administration to quell public outcry.

Fast-forward a hundred odd years later and all evidence points to the fact that we are living in an era of food crisis that rivals the turn of the last century. Regretfully, America’s modern food system has become – The Jungle 2.0. Read more