Reheat and serve

Obama’s school-lunch chief not much of a reformer

Note: This essay was written with Kate Adamick of Food Systems Solutions LLC and Beth Collins of Lunch Lessons LLC. Supersize me.Photo: bookgrlToday, 30 percent of American children are over-weight or obese. For children born in the year 2000, one out of every three Caucasians and one out of every two African American and Hispanics will contract diabetes in their lifetime, the CDC warns. Recent research has shown that the average age of children with kidney stones is ten, and that food additives and colorings contribute to ADD and ADHD. In short, we’re failing to feed our children well. For …

Lunch money

Vilsack makes an industry-friendly pick to head the school lunch program

Processed junk … again? Photo: dancing chopsticks USDA chief Tom Vilsack has repeatedly said that improving child nutrition will be one of his priorities. One key place to start would be the National School Lunch Program. Because of miserly federal funding for ingredients and kitchen equipment, the cafeteria kitchens in our nation’s public schools have largely becoming reheating centers — and what gets reheated tends to be processed junk from the likes giant food corporations like Conagra and Tyson Foods. Here are a few examples of the kind of stuff that Tyson, the world’s largest meat processor, peddles to school …

Terror in the grass

Locavores are ruining food and free range pork will kill us

Get thee to a CAFO!Photo: pubwvjIn a recent op-ed, in The New York Times gravely informed its readers that free-range pork is deadly stuff. Despite evidence that incidence of trichinosis is very rare in the US–about 40 cases a year, and mostly caused by eating wild game (usually bear)-James E. McWilliams says that pork laced with the deadly parasite is just one example of how locavores are “endangering the future of food.”  Mr. McWilliams, a history professor at Texas State University also wrote in the Times 2 years back that measuring food miles was bunk and that they were not …

lies, damned lies and statistics

Adventures in the FUD-osphere

Don’t FUD it upImage: psdFDR must have been talking about the Internet when he famously said that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. Everywhere you turn there is another study raising some new hazard and questioning some baseline assumption about how our society lives, eats or fuels itself. And then in short order, another study appears questioning the conclusions of the first — leaving us all full of nothing but FUD. FUD, of course, stands for the bedrock principles of a depressingly large segment of corporations (and politicians) — Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt. The concept may go back as …

Sweetness and light

The lowdown on agave nectar and other ‘natural’ sweeteners

Agave: not just for tequila anymoreDear Checkout Line,What’s the skinny on sweeteners? I use agave nectar, but I’m wondering if the same thing that makes tequila can be good for me and my six-year old!  Is sucanat just another word for “sugar”? And what about Stevia? Liquid or powder, fair trade, organic — it’s all making me woozy. Or maybe that’s just my blood sugar. Thanks for checking it out,Sweetie Dear Sweetie,Your point on agave nectar is well-taken: Can the same plant that produces a drink that yields only hazy memories of crazy dancing, Miranda rights, and a Vegas wedding …

Crap and trade

Big Ag: give us carbon credit, but don't cap our emissions

As Congress gears up to consider climate legislation, agribusiness is getting sweaty palms -- and for good reason.

Sour corn

Is ethanol’s Congressional free ride coming to an end?

The Congressional Budget Office just released a paper looking critically at the relationship between ethanol, food prices and carbon emissions. But it gets better. The CBO blogged about it!Bedtime for corn ethanol?Photo: Big Grey Mare Most ethanol in the United States is produced from domestically grown corn, and the rapid rise in the fuel’s production and usage means that roughly one-quarter of all corn grown in the U.S. (nearly 3 billion bushels) is now used to produce ethanol. The demand for corn for ethanol production has exerted upward pressure on corn prices and on food prices in general. CBO estimates …

Food writers and the state of the oceans

Yesterday, I criticized New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman, a writer I admire, for calling for red snapper in a recipe, without noting that red snapper is severely overfished. Today, Bittman responded. Below find Mark’s response, with mine underneath. In short, this was a screw-up, and for that I apologize, and thankful for the wake-up call. I’m (obviously, in general, I hope) committed to sustainability, but these things will happen despite my intentions and efforts – it’s a complicated situation, and I’m human. For those who are interested in more of my thinking on this subject: I do believe …

Big Tobacco, reheated

Researchers: Food industry looks to tobacco for inspiration

Apparently, Big Oil isn’t the only industry that has cast an admiring gaze at Big Tobacco’s track record of avoiding regulation and accountability for decades. Over on Yale Environment 360, there’s an interesting interview with Kelly D. Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, on parralels between the food and tobacco iindustries’ tactics for protecting lucrative markets against mounting evidence that that products destroy lives. In a nutshell: [T]he common strategies include dismissing as “junk science” peer-reviewed studies showing a link between their products and disease; paying scientists to produce pro-industry studies; sowing …