Eating Less In An “Eat More” Environment

The challenge to eat the right amount is part of the human condition. Marion Nestle notes "Dieting to lose weight is as old as recorded history. Hippocrates discussed diets and dieting in the pre-Chtristian era, and today's diet books are perennial bestsellers." (p.42 of Eat Drink Vote).

As the environment has shifted from one of scarcity to "eat more," human physiology and personal responsibility have faced a tough challenge. We'll focus on "eating better" in future posts but for now we note that dieting is as old as we are and it is not getting any easier.
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Worldwide Hunger Goes Up

The simultaneous gains in obesity and hunger share a common root: The competing interests of corporations and people are represented unequally in the food environment. In the post-Citizen's United world, we might say that the interests of people people are secondary to those of corporation people. This is especially true when the people people are international and don't recognize that the decisions made by the US Congress affect the availability and price of food in their countries.

One example of this is the increasing use of grain to for biofuels. As noted in Eat Drink Vote, "... US farmers responded to congressional incentives by planting corn and soybeans for biofuels. Economists consider this use of food crops for fuel to be the single most important reason for the recent sharp rise in worldwide food prices and worldwide hunger. Millions of people suddenly could not afford to buy the food they need."

Vote with your time: If this interest you, here is a group you may want to check-out.

And here is a list of other groups working on this issue and others.
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As Obesity Goes Up

As counter-intuitive as it may seem, one result of how our our food system operates is that while one-half of the world battles obesity, the other half starves.

We'll comment about obesity here. In the next few days we'll add a post about hunger.

As stated in Eat Drink Vote, "The prevalence of obesity in the United States began to rise sharply starting in the early 1980s. Since then, our food environment has changed in ways that encourage eating in more places, with greater frequency, and in much larger portions. In part, these changes happened as a result of the increasingly frantic pace of modern life.' Continuing "But they also occurred as a result of changes in agricultural and investment policies that forced food companies to become more competitive."

So, when one looks at the food environment, one sees that individuals face well-organized and highly motivated interests that benefit when individuals eat larger portions ... more often .... in more places

Vote with your time: If this interest you, here is a group you may want to check-out.

And here is a list of other groups working on this issue and others.
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“Badass Lunch Lady” Discusses School Lunches

Jocelyn Zuckerman of "On Earth Magazine" sat down for lunch with Marion Nestle. The two chatted about the business and political interests that converge in the school lunch program as well as the growth of programs that link farmers and students.

The article ends with "Despite the entrenched interests, she (Nestle) said, changes are happening, in large part because Americans better understand the importance of what they put in their mouths. With Eat, Drink, Vote, the badass lunch lady furthers the cause.

The full article is found here.

One of the groups cited in the article is Food Corps. If you'd like to learn more about Food Corps and other groups working to improve childhood nutrition, visit here. Vote with your time and fork!
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Farm Bill to be Voted on This Week

Of course ... Washington being Washington, this may change. But the size and scope of the legislation is the clearest example of the pervasive influence that politics has on our food. The bill was broken into two parts. The first, which deals primarily with agriculture, was passed in July. Up now: Food assistance, otherwise known as SNAP or food stamps.

Eat Drink Vote reminds us that voting is an important step in the creation of a food system that is healthier for people and the planet. You might want to check out how your rep votes on the legislation. Plus, each time you make a food or beverage purchase, you cast a vote for a food system that perpetuates the status quo or toward one that is healthier for people and planet.

If you'd like to know more about food policy, we invite you to check out these groups:
Food Democracy Now
Food Research and Action Center
Food Tank

Groups working on other food-related issues may be found here.

And see here for news about the so-called Monsanto Protection Act.
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Sugarcoating it

Dave Coverly is the creator so Speed Bump which he describes as "life's outtakes." Coverly has won multiple awards for Speed Bump and he was recognized as the 2008 Cartoonist of the Year by the National Cartoonist Society. Early in his career, Coverly was the editorial cartoonist at the Battle Creek Enquirer. Hmmm .... Isn't Battle Creek also the home of Tony the Tiger?

Coverly provided the following insight into how he came up with this cartoon.

"This cartoon plays on how we sugarcoat some things - such as cereal on one hand and news on the other. Of course, the meanings differ enough so that combining them makes for a little creative mischief.

The set up - or layout - of the cartoon was important for conveying the gag as was the title at the bottom. I thought about reversing the position of the doctor and Tony the Tiger but that would prevent us from seeing Tony's face. I then worked hard to get Tony's body language right; his body language plus his facial expression communicate his concern and interest in what the doctor is saying.

The text at the bottom closes the circle, if you will. The gag would have been okay without the extra text but the juxtaposition of "bad news" and "sugarcoat" in combination with Tony the Tiger makes the gag that much stronger ... but I may be sugarcoating it!"

The cartoon appears on p. 67 of Eat Drink Vote, in chapter 4 "What Are We Supposed to Eat"?

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From a Reader

From Dr. Don Wolochow of La Jolla, CA

Hi Marion:

Sorry this is a bit blurry but you get the gist.

So far (it just hit the mailbox) it is a terrifically entertaining book! I love cartoons----as far back as before WW2----and these are exceptional.

Looking forward to finishing the book and showing the cartoons to our grandchildren (12,11,10,9 and 8) who are sick of Papa's preaching about what and what NOT to eat!

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