Tom Laskawy

A 17-year veteran of both traditional and online media, Tom Laskawy is a founder and executive director of the Food & Environment Reporting Network and a contributing writer at Grist covering food and agricultural policy. Tom's long and winding road to food politics writing passed through New York, Boston, the San Francisco Bay Area, Florence, Italy, and Philadelphia (which has a vibrant progressive food politics and sustainable agriculture scene, thank you very much). In addition to Grist, his writing has appeared online in The American Prospect, Slate, The New York Times, and The New Republic. He is on record as believing that wrecking the planet is a bad idea. Follow him on Twitter.

Ad Nauseum

NYC warns residents: “Don’t Drink Yourself Fat”

While the evidence continues to mount that taxes alone aren’t enough to significantly reduce junk food consumption, the political prospects for passing a federal soda tax appears to be dim. Well, New York City has decided that if they can’t tax your soda, they’ll go after your appetite instead. …New York City’s public health officials opened a new front in their struggle against high-calorie beverages on Monday, unveiling an ad campaign that depicts globs of human fat gushing from a soda bottle. “Are you pouring on the pounds?” asks the ad, which urges viewers to consider water, seltzer or low-fat …

'TIME' for Change

Sustainable ag meets the MSM — and wins!

TIME Magazine‘s current cover story wants you to know that our fossil-fueled, chemically intensive industrial food system is destined to fail. Granted, the second part of that sentence isn’t news to Grist readers. But the first part of that sentence is news. Personally, I wouldn’t have expected to read the following positively Philpottian (if not Pollan-esque) prose in a national newsweekly cover story: With the exhaustion of the soil, the impact of global warming and the inevitably rising price of oil — which will affect everything from fertilizer to supermarket electricity bills — our industrial style of food production will …

Milk Money

[UPDATED] Sen. Bernie Sanders cries “monopoly” in a collapsing milk market

Got milk monopoly? UPDATE: Ask and ye shall receive. In a NYT article last Saturday, describing the considerable  resistance anti-trust chief Christine Varney is already experiencing in her attempt to toughen enforcement, came this nugget: At the request of some lawmakers, notably Senator Bernard Sanders, independent of Vermont, Ms. Varney is examining whether small agricultural operations are being hampered unfairly by large food processors, particularly in the milk industry, congressional aides said. Not much to go on, but at least they’re looking at the problem — and possibly looking beyond dairy, which would be interesting indeed. The article doesn’t provide …

The Peter Principle

USDA may get Dennis Wolff for food safety post because Gov. Ed Rendell doesn’t want him anymore

Wolff at the Dickinson College farm in Pennsylvania.Here’s a little rumor-mongering for fun, if not profit. Yes, as Tom Philpott reported, Dennis Wolff is for sure heading the list of candidates for the top food safety post at the USDA. But that’s not the fun part. The fun part involves the reason Dennis Wolff is heading the list of candidates for the top food safety post at the USDA. It’s long been known that Wolff’s main backer for a USDA post has been his current boss, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell. Many folks in the food policy world have wondered why …

Shooting in the dark

Solving obesity all depends on what you mean by the word “solve”

Ezra Klein, WaPo blogger and now food columnist, has, of late, been particularly dour regarding attempts to address obesity. His “Gut Check” piece today on the limited policy tools available to fight the obesity epidemic confirms it: Over the past 50 years, however, some privileged humans have been faced with a largely novel problem: the consequences of too much food and drink. For a while, the primary impact seemed to be extra lumps of flesh, which had their downsides so far as mating went but, overall, weren’t too bad. But in recent years, the problem has become much worse. In …

The kitchen garden strategy

Plotting Michelle Obama’s next food move

The First Lady and friends get busy in the garden. For anyone still doubting the food-related ambitions of First Lady Michelle Obama, the WaPo’s Jane Black wishes to disabuse you. In an article that charts the internal strategizing over how best to leverage the success of the White House Kitchen Garden, Black indicates that the First Lady and “the White House [are] grappling with the very issues that have challenged the so-called good food movement for decades: How do you simplify and sell a new way of eating?” Firstly, let me say, “Welcome to the club, Mrs. Obama!” And secondly, …

food for thought

Not much convenience in “convenience foods”

Among all the responses to the new data showing we’re getting sicker and fatter, I was most struck by Kerry Trueman’s comment at Civil Eats that what we are really suffering from is “kitchen illiteracy.” Now, that’s the kind of insight which seems easy to dismiss. We all know it’s not about a lack of interest or knowledge — it’s about a lack of time, right? As I once asked, how can you fix the food system when you have to fight convenience? Working parents are forced by circumstances outside their control to buy processed food because cooking real food …

Weight of the world

No healthcare reform without food-system reform

The AP reports on a new state-level study of obesity rates. And the news is, well, terrifying: Obesity rates among adults rose in 23 states over the past year and didn’t decline anywhere, says a new report from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation …[W]hile the nation has long been bracing for a surge in Medicare as the boomers start turning 65, the new report makes clear that fat, not just age, will fuel much of those bills. In every state, the rate of obesity is higher among 55- to 64-year-olds – the oldest boomers …

More sin taxes, please

USDA food-desert report points to need for a soda tax

Obesity machine? The USDA released a new report on food deserts yesterday and the blogosphere lit up like a Christmas tree. Which, honestly, saves me a lot of trouble. Jill Richardson pulls out some excellent data nuggets here. To summarize: Food deserts are areas where residents lack access to supermarkets and other outlets selling a broad, range of healthy food. It turns out that only a small percentage of Americans — 2.2% — live in true food deserts. At the same time, research indicates that there’s little correlation with access to healthy food and low Body Mass Index (BMI, used …

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