“The appropriate measure of farming then is the world’s health and our health, and this is inescapably one measure.”  —Wendell Berry

In July, I argued that the House’s decision to split out the gargantuan Nutrition Title from the Farm Bill might signal a new era for those of us seeking fundamental reform of agriculture and food systems. This is the second in a three-part series where I lay the groundwork for why unification is crucial for the food movement and how public health can tip the balance of power to ensure the good food movement will prevail in the struggle over the future of our food system. Read more

Given all the defeats and set-backs this year due to powerful food industry lobbying, the good food movement should by now be collectively shouting: I am mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.

If you feel that way, I have two words of advice: get political.

I don’t mean to ignore the very real successes: increases in farmers markets, innovative and inspiring programs such as Food Corps, and an increasingly diverse food justice movement, just to name a few. But lately, at least when it comes to kids and junk food, we’ve been getting our butts kicked. Read more

The national non-profit Meatless Monday campaign is proving to be “The Little Engine That Could” in the environmental public health world. In just the last two years national awareness of Meatless Monday more than doubled. According to a commissioned survey by FGI Research more than 30 percent of Americans are aware of the public health campaign, compared to 15 percent awareness in 2008. No doubt the announcement last week that Sodexo, a food service company which serves more than ten million North American customers a day, has adopted the campaign will only help to increase Meatless Monday’s popularity. Read more

Tonight in Washington, DC, a provocative ad tying fast food consumption to heart disease produced by the organization Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) will air during The Daily Show and the local news. The spot features a woman crying over a dead man in a morgue, and in his hand is a hamburger. “I was lovin’ it,” appears on the screen, a play on McDonald’s slogan, and the voice over says, “High cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attacks. Tonight, make it vegetarian.”

According to the PCRM, the city has the second-highest death rate in the nation from heart disease, killing 1,500 annually. In addition, DC has more fast food restaurants per square mile than eight other similarly sized cities. The group hopes to leverage these facts to push for a moratorium on the building of new fast food restaurants in DC.

After tonight’s debut, the group hopes to air the ad in cities like Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and Memphis. Take a look: Read more

This week is National Farmers Market Week. Time for fresh corn, tomatoes and berries at your local farmers market, which now are as American as baseball and apple pie. In the past fifteen years, the number of markets has almost quadrupled to nearly 6,000. Americans annually spend $1.3 billion at farmers markets, according to Farmers Market Coalition estimates.

Business associations adore farmers markets because they revitalize depressed downtowns, bringing shoppers into otherwise ignored areas. Communities love them because they turn a parking lot or empty city street into a colorful and festive weekly commons where friends and neighbors can meet and linger. Farmers frequent them because they can capture 100 percent of the retail value of their products, helping revive a flagging small farm economy.

Yet, there is one group that has been excluded from the benefits of farmers markets: food stamp recipients. Read more

Leadership at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made it abundantly clear last week that the low-dose usage of antibiotics in food animals, simply to promote growth or improve feed efficiency, needlessly contributes to the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria and poses a serious threat to public health. Despite the fact that the FDA is taking a hard-line stance on the issue, I find it frustrating to see that the agency appears to be hamstrung from taking the necessary steps to mandate industry to end the risky practice. Read more

On September 29, 2009, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) gave a prepared floor statement addressing his concerns with Bryan Walsh’s August 21st, 2009 Time Magazine article “Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food”.

We are encouraged that the Senator has entered the dialog of how we can improve our food system and the public’s health. However, many of the criticisms of Walsh’s article presented in the statement are unfounded and serve to misinform consumers.

The Senator covers a wide variety of topics in his statement, we have selected a handful of issues raised in quotes from the Senator’s statement to address what we believe consumers would benefit from having clarified. Specifically, we will comment on the Senator’s claims regarding the Danish ban on antimicrobial growth promoters, the contribution of industrial animal production to water quality, organic production methods and consumer demands. Read more

Hank Cardello knows a great deal about the food industry; for more than three decades, he helped some of the world’s largest companies sell their products to you.  In his book, Stuffed: An Insider’s Look at Who’s {Really} Making America Fat, Cardello shares his vast knowledge about the industry in a readable, organized and highly accessible fashion — and attempts to make up for his past sins with a critique on the system he no longer works for.  Read more