Michele Simon

Michele Simon is a public health lawyer specializing in industry marketing and lobbying tactics. She is the author of Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back. She is grateful to live in Oakland, Calif., within walking distance of a farmers market. You can follow her on Twitter.

Scary Food

Live and let dioxin: Big Ag is worried about scaring us off meat and milk

This month, the EPA is expected to finally release limits for safe exposure to dioxins in food. Industry groups -- like the United Egg Producers, National Meat Association, and National Milk Producers Federation -- are stepping up to say: shhh!

Food

Sorry Mrs. O, but jumping jacks aren’t enough

At a recent summit on childhood obesity, the first lady announced a shift in her well-known Let’s Move campaign — away from food reform and toward an increased focus on exercise. Instead of “forcing [children] to eat their vegetables,” she told her audience, “it’s getting them to go out there and have fun.” Yes, you heard that right. The first lady actually said that eating vegetables is a chore. And that playing is a preferable focus for her campaign because it’s easier. In February 2010, when the first lady announced a campaign to “end childhood obesity within a generation,” I …

Food

Toying with the Happy Meal: Is McDonald’s evading the law?

Photo: kalavinkaWhile most media outlets dubbed it the “Happy Meal toy ban,” the ordinance passed in San Francisco last year didn’t ban anything. The law just placed a few reasonable nutrition guidelines (a maximum of 600 calories per meal and limits on fat and salt, for example) for restaurants using free toy incentives to lure kids into a lifetime of bad eating habits. In a rare victory for children’s health, the bill passed despite heavy lobbying by McDonald’s. The law is scheduled to go into effect today, but the fast food giant — who didn’t want to change the nutritional …

Food

How did pizza become a vegetable? Blame lobbyists

By now, most of us have seen the headlines. They’ve ranged from “Is Pizza Sauce a Vegetable? Congress says Yes” to the more childish, “Congress to USDA: Pizza is So a Vegetable, Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah.” News outlets have had a field day over a recent proposal from Congress that suggests pizza sauce should qualify as a vegetable within the National School Lunch program. And most have oversimplified the story. The typical news story went like so: The nutrition advocates want healthier school meals, but Republicans don’t believe the decision should be up to the feds. Simple, right? …

Food Safety

Pesticides are good for you

What happens when an industry front group tries to tell a room full of food experts that pesticides aren't harmful?

Food

Did Walmart buy urban agriculture group's silence?

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, goes the old adage. Will the mega-retailer's recent donation bring the Milwaukee-based Growing Power $1 million closer?

Scary Food

ConAgra sued over 'natural' GMO cooking oils

The class-action lawsuit could have far-ranging implications for the multitude of GMO products creeping onto supermarket shelves while claiming to be "natural."

Sustainable Food

Safe, organic food too expensive? Eat less meat

Laments over the high cost of sustainably raised meat, poultry, and dairy products miss the bigger picture: Americans eat too much meat, period.

Food Safety

Why the meat industry sells salmonella

Last week, the latest massive food safety recall hit the news -- 36 million pounds of ground turkey possibly tainted with salmonella, courtesy of meat giant Cargill. Some media outlets reported that it's currently legal to sell salmonella-tainted meat. While the meat industry might like it that way, that's not the entire story.

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