Food in the News and on the ‘Net

A great piece by Al Jazeera on America’s food crisis and about some of the people fighting back:

And an interview with one of the mothers of the sustainable food movement: The (not so) New Agtivist.

Advertisements

Food in the News and on the ‘Net

Confused by the “new and improved” food guide pyramid? (I think the old one was much more understandable!) Help may be on the way, as the USDA considers updating the 5-year-old plan.

Women are turning out to be a major force in the sustainable food movement, according to Grist.com. (And cheers for Grist.com, which now has a female food editor.) There are some interesting points raised about whether standards for acknowledgment differ between men and women in the food field.

Speaking of adhering to particular standards, I’ve been waiting to see the documentary Lunch Line and was reading TBD.com’s post about a potential conflict of interest involving the movie and Applegate Farms. Having seen Food, Inc. and knowing about the negative press it received regarding the featuring of Stonyfield Farm, I was intrigued by the conclusion of the post:

Maybe this is what it takes to get certain documentaries made: partnering with a company whose interests intersect with the film’s message. Documentaries aren’t cheap, and yet their goal, oftentimes, is to foment change. And change, as everyone working to improve the National School Lunch Program knows, takes a lot of money. Switching from mystery-meat to organic hot dogs would cost millions of taxpayer dollars, but it might be worth it. Last night I ate one of those dogs, all slathered in spicy mustard, and for the first time, ever, I didn’t get a stomach ache.

Hard to say whether “good food movements” should adhere to higher ethical standards when creating documentaries if “big food” is criticized for funding programs that boil down to advertisements for Monsanto and Cargill. Is it better to make a documentary with the involvement of companies whose products are promoted or take the high road and possibly not have the funds to make the project happen?

Food in the News and on the ‘Net

Depressing news on Americans’ consumption of vegetables: Told to Eat Its Vegetables, America Orders Fries. Are we seriously so twisted that putting baby carrots in junk food machines and creating an app that requires a crunch of a carrot to make it work are the only ways we’ll eat vegetables??? Somehow it reminds me of the change from restaurants claiming to make food “just like mom (or grandma)” to processed food companies claiming to make their frozen offerings taste just like the fast food chain versions….

Here’s a quick summary of the downsides of processed foods, “in just a few quick, convenient bites.”

But good news on the school lunch front: Portland schools ditch nuggets, serve up local food tells about the success Abernethy Elementary has had since 2005 in overcoming some of the obstacles to serving healthful, fresh, and local food to students.

And here’s a great young proponent of SOLE food: 11-year-old Birke Baehr on“What’s Wrong With Our Food System? And How Can We Make A Difference?” (Reminds me of a teacher who used to joke, “Get ’em young, and bring ’em up your own way!”)

Food in the News and on the ‘Net

Disturbing news on the scary food front:

Marion Nestle blogs on the egg recall: “Take home lesson: If you just have a few chickens, waste is not a problem. If you have millions of chickens in one place, you have a disaster in waiting.” One more reason to love your local pastured egg provider!

And here’s a rather unscientific project that should still give you pause: The Happy Meal Project documents in photographs how a Happy Meal looks after 137 days on the kitchen counter. Assuming all pictures are, in truth, documenting this lack of decomposition, I have to wonder how one could be sure that a Happy Meal is indeed “fresh” as is labeled on slide one. One more reason to avoid fast food and cook and eat from scratch at home using whole, close to the source ingredients, I’d say!

And some more positive links:

Change.org provides a good summary of food labeling terms: 8 Misleading Food Label Terms Every Eater Should Know

Food + Society Alliance posted a good intro to food issues: Food and You

Will the real free-range egg (yolk) please stand up?

I’m a firm believer in buying farm fresh local eggs (and other ingredients): true pastured eggs – from chickens who eat what what they can find while out scratching around in a pasture – come from happy hens, are likely to be better for us, for the environment, and for the local food economy, and they just plain taste better. For more details, see my post on eggs at Simply: Home Cooking.

For a quick, fun visual summary of some of the arguments for pastured eggs, visit Big Wheel Provision’s video, Egg Cage Match!

Food Wars

It seems like food and food systems are quickly becoming the battle ground for a new war in America and beyond – even more so when the very language used to describe news in this field comes from the military world!

However, this video is still worth a serious viewing: The Battle for the World Food System: An Interview with Raj Patel

And in the spirit of building yourself an air-raid shelter for the 21st century: 5 tips for surviving a raid on your food buying club. While I don’t buy our dairy products from a buying club, I have found and participated in buying clubs for our seafood, olive oil, and even salt. I highly recommend seeking out buying clubs in your area – they are often an affordable way of purchasing food items that meet your requirements for being sustainable, organic, local, and ethical or those that may not be local but still offer a fair price to the producer and exceptional quality to you. The best way to find these clubs, unfortunately, seems to be a matter of luck – I’ve joined one through work and found others through “foodie” friends. Your local farmers’ market, Slow Food chapter, and food co-op are great places to start asking questions about your options.

Video Recommendations

I’ve been exploring the TED website, the self-styled “clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers”  and have found a lot of thought-provoking talks – here are a few of my favorites on food, where it comes from (and where it should come from), and what it means (or should mean) to us:

Dan Barber: How I fell in love with a fish

Dan Barber’s foie gras parable

Ann Cooper talks school lunches

Michael Pollan gives a plant’s-eye view