Edible Education: Food Politics with Marion Nestle

Sep 24, 2011 by

If you're at all involved with the food movement, one question you have to constantly ask yourself is: How can we create equal access to healthy food, so the Slow Food movement doesn't become something only the elite have access to? I have easy access to lots of great food here in North Berkeley, which played a big part in my choice to move here. But at the same time, I'm very aware that the food I have access to is expensive and exclusive, and that the options I choose--even though I try to be frugal--would not be affordable for many families. Not to mention the fact that some families live miles and miles from grocery stores and don't have cars to get there. So where do you shop? At the corner store down the street. Marion Nestle spoke recently at the Edible Education series, and shed a lot of insight on the politics behind the food situation here in the U.S. She specializes in food security issues here in the U.S. and had some very interesting facts to share from her research:
  • There are over 925 million people in chronic hunger, roughly 1/6th of the world population
  • In a similar proportion, 1.3 million New Yorkers food insecure, roughly 1 in 6--almost a half million of those are children
  • The Department of Commerce published recent information showing that while the cost of fresh food is rising steadily, the cost of processed food is lowering steadily--so which do you think you're likely to choose on a budget?
Another thing she discussed that interested me was how food companies have increased spending on advertising to children, banking on lifetime brand loyalty, the "pester factor" at the store (you know what I'm talking about, I'm sure), and profits from kid foods. In fact, Frosted Flakes alone spent 20.9 million on kids' advertising, and Fruit Loops spent 20.1 million as well. Some good news on the horizon:
  • In 1994-95, there were 1755 farmer's markets nationwide, but in 2010, there were 6.132--a 16% increase
  • The FTC is trying to create guidelines for childhood obesity by requiring calorie labeling on all foods
  • People are trying to ban toys being sold with fast food meals
And here are some things you can do at home:
  • Buy food, not products (an interesting┬ádelineation)
  • Eat smaller portions
  • Buy local and sustainably grown food
  • Grow your own food, if possible
  • Cook at home
You can check out her speech in its entirety here--I highly recommend it!

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