Food & Nutrition

Oxfam: Ten Multinational Corporations Control Most Food Brands

by Dave Johnson – Take a look at Oxfam’s report, “Behind the Brands: Food justice and the ‘Big 10’ food and beverage companies.” A Food System In Crisis The Behind the Brands report explains, “For more than 100 years, the world’s most powerful food and beverage companies have relied on cheap land and labor to produce inexpensive products and huge profits. But these profits have often come at the cost of the environment and local communities around the world, and have contributed to a food system in crisis.” Explaining the campaign, the report says, “Oxfam’s campaign focuses on 10 of the world’s most powerful food and beverage companies – Associated British Foods (ABF), Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelez International (previously Kraft Foods), Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever – and aims to increase the transparency and accountability of the ‘Big 10’ throughout the food supply chain.” “Big Ten” Infographic The report...

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House Republicans Seek Destruction Of School Lunch Program

by Stephen D Foster Jr – The National School Lunch program that provides healthy free or reduced meals for children in need has joined Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare as yet another program Republicans want to gut in 2017. Not only do Republicans want to take Social Security away from the American people and take away healthcare for adults and children alike, they apparently also want to let children starve at school, too. For years, both parties supported the school lunch program, but Republicans have becomes so greedy and heartless that they are breaking that spirit of cooperation in order to ruthlessly take food out of the mouths of the children who need it most. The program currently costs $12.7 billion, which is a drop in the bucket considering Donald Trump just called for expanding America’s nuclear weapons stockpile, which will cost way more than a school lunch. Clearly, Trump nor...

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What’s on Your table? How America’s Diet has Changed Over the Decades

by DREW DESILVER – Americans eat more chicken and less beef than they used to. They drink less milk – especially whole milk – and eat less ice cream, but they consume way more cheese. Their diets include less sugar than in prior decades but a lot more corn-derived sweeteners. And while the average American eats the equivalent of 1.2 gallons of yogurt a year, he or she also consumes 36 pounds of cooking oils – more than three times as much as in the early 1970s. Americans’ eating habits, in short, are all over the place, at least according to our analysis of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data. Which is about what you’d expect, judging from the results of Pew Research Center’s recent survey on food and nutrition attitudes. In that survey, 54% of Americans said people in the U.S. pay more attention to eating healthy foods today compared with 20...

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More Than Half Of New Yorkers Are One Paycheck Away From Homelessness

by Whitney Webb – A new report has found that 60% of New Yorkers could face eviction, foreclosure, or homelessness in the event of a lost job, medical emergency, or similar crisis due to a lack of emergency savings. Since the 2008 economic crisis, most Americans have seen little of Obama’s much-touted economic “recovery” in their personal lives. Considering that the so-called “recovery” involved printing millions of dollars that went directly into the pockets of the same bankers who created the crisis itself, it’s not surprising that many Americans still find themselves struggling. Throughout the nation, many families are struggling just to get by, especially in areas were wages remain stagnant and the cost of living and housing continues to climb. Many American cities are a microcosm of this larger phenomenon, perhaps none more so than New York City. However, a recent report from the Association for Neighborhood & Housing...

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Hateful Letter To Food Bank Proves We Need Food Stamps

by Wendy Gittleson – A few days before Thanksgiving, a food bank in Central Texas received a letter that was so hateful it could only have been written by a Trump supporter. Dear Foodbank: I don’t understand who these poor folks are that need food. I assume they consist primarily of illegals, who come to Texas for “free stuff.” And of course, our unemployed Africans, who find work too much trouble, especially when they can collect the equivalent of $40,000 a year on welfare, and other “benefits” offered to the unfit, the lazy, and the under-educated…and of course, the drug addicts. I expect that most who need food are marching around whining that the congenital liar, Hillary Rodham Clinton, lost the election. Too bad; How sad. I also wonder if your organization is not one of those Phoney-Baloney, so-called “charities,” designed primarily to provide a good living to its organizers. In...

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School Lunch Worker Forced to Throw Away Student’s Hot Meal Decides to Quit

by Casey Quinlan – “As a Christian, I have an issue with this.” Under a new policy introduced earlier this year, the Canon-McMillan school district in Pennsylvania bars cafeteria workers from serving students a hot meal if their families owe the school more than $25. That’s why, when a little boy in one of the district’s elementary school went over his credit limit, lunchroom staffer Stacy Koltiska was forced to toss his meal in the trash. Instead, according to district policy, Koltiska was supposed to offer the boy two slices of white bread and cold slice of cheese. After this incident, Koltiska — who worked for the district for two years — decided to quit. She says she resigned out of “moral obligation.” “There’s enough wealth in this world that no child should go hungry, especially in school. To me this is just wrong.” “As a Christian, I have an issue with this. It’s sinful and shameful...

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The Clinton Foundation Shows Off The Goods—And Wow, Are They Good

 by Mark Sumner – While the Donald J Trump Foundation is daily melting down into a quagmire of political payoffs, illegal transactions, and astonishing acts of greed, the Clinton Foundation has been doing it’s paperwork. … as questions swirl about Trump’s own Foundation, thanks to a series of investigative articles in The Washington Post that reveal Trump uses almost none of his own money to make donations, the Initiative’s annual meeting is an apt time for the Clintons to show off just how much good their Foundation has actually done. And boy, did Bill bring the receipts. … 3,600: That’s how many public commitments the Initiative’s attendees have made on stage over the last 12 years. 435 million: That’s how many people those commitments have helped. 52 million: That’s how many children have received access to education as a result of those commitments. 114 million: That’s how many people can drink clean water because of...

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Decried as Unfair, Taxes on Groceries Persist in Some States

by Elaine S. Povich – Thirteen states and many localities continue to tax the sale of groceries, even though the taxes disproportionately hurt the poor and may affect the quality, variety and even the amount of food they can afford to put on the table. The reason: The taxes provide a steady source of revenue in volatile times, making it difficult for states to get rid of them without finding a way to make up the revenue. Recent efforts in several of the states to eliminate or lower the taxes have failed. “States might be looking at getting rid of sales tax on groceries, but groceries are between a sixth and a seventh of all consumption,” said Scott Drenkard, analyst at the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan tax study group. “If you want to raise the same amount of money you might have to increase the sales tax by a full...

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Fate of Vermont’s Historic GMO-Labeling Law in US Senate’s Hands

by Deirdre Fulton – Victory in Vermont, where GMO label requirements went into effect Friday, may be ‘fleeting’ As the nation’s first GMO labeling law takes effect, food policy experts are warning that its benefits could be “fleeting,” should the U.S. Senate pass a so-called “compromise” bill this week that would nullify Vermont’s historic law as well as other state efforts in the works. Vermont’s law (pdf) requiring food manufacturers to clearly state whether a product is “produced with genetic engineering” went into effect Friday. “Vermont had the courage to say, ‘If it’s the right thing to do, what are we waiting for,'” Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin told a rally of about 150 people on the Statehouse steps. He asked supporters of the law to celebrate on social media under the hashtag#WeLabeledGMOS. “But this victory may be fleeting,” cautioned Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “The Senate will vote next week on a federal...

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Better Labels, Better Food

by Jill Richardson – Here’s an option for food manufacturers who don’t want to disclose all that sugar they use: Use less Food labels are changing. In the past, you could only see how much total sugar was in your food. That included sugars naturally occurring in healthy, whole foods — like lactose in milk — alongside extra sugars like sucrose or high fructose corn syrup, which aren’t so healthy. But the Food and Drug Administration just announced that in the near future, labels will specify the amount of added sugars in packaged products. That makes it easier to spot the sugars you should limit in your diet. Will this change America’s eating habits and health for the better? I hope so. But it might not. The new labels could benefit consumers in two ways. First, and perhaps most obviously, health-conscious eaters may read the labels and select healthier food choices....

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New Mexico Officials Accused Of Forging Applications To Deny Poor People Emergency Food Stamps

by BRYCE COVERT – Kimberly Jones knows just how hard it is to wait for emergency food stamps to come through. New Mexico is supposed to grant people in dire financial situations expedited benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) within seven days, rather than the 30 it takes to process regular applications. But it often doesn’t work out that way. At the end of last year, Jones, who was living in a hotel room because she couldn’t afford an apartment, applied for emergency benefits. But months passed without any word from the state’s Human Services Department (HSD), which oversees SNAP. Forced to decide between spending her meager income from her part-time job caring for a home-bound patient on either food or the hotel room, she spent it on the room, knowing that she needed somewhere to keep her belongings. So while she waited for help buying food, she...

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GMOs Are Complicated, And Our Food System Is Not Designed To Handle Complicated. That’s A Problem

by NATASHA GEILING – This month, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) — an independent group created by Congress — released what is, to date, one of the most extensive reviews of genetically modified crops. The nearly 400-page report looks at everything from genetically modified crops’ potential impact on human health to their impact on the environment. It’s a massive, hulking piece of scientific literature — the panel spent two years pouring over more than 1,000 existing studies on genetically modified crops, interviewing 80 witnesses, and analyzing more than 700 comments submitted by the public. The report comes at an important time in the overall debate about GMOs and their place in the American food system. In a country almost constantly polarized, an overwhelming majority of Americans think that GMOs should be labeled. According to a Pew poll, more than half of Americans believe that GMOs are unsafe. At the same time,...

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The ‘Sell By’ Dates On Our Groceries Are Causing Tons Of Food Waste

by NATASHA GEILING – The food labeling system in the United States is a complete mess. Foods can be labeled “healthy”regardless of how much sugar they contain. Foods can be labeled “Non-GMO” even when they don’t have genes, making the existence of a genetically-modified version impossible. But beyond encouraging misinformation in our food system and potentially leading consumers to make ill-informed nutritional decisions, labels can also be terrible for the environment and food security. Take, for instance, the existence of omnipresent expiration labels. Most consumers assume that these labels are guidelines for the date after which it’s unwise, or potentially unsafe, to eat that particular food product. But expiration labels basically mean nothing. There are no federal standards for expiration dates, except for baby formula, and best-by or sell-by date have no basis in science — instead, they’re a manufacturer’s best guess for when the food is likely to be...

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Costco Is Selling So Much Organic Produce, It’s Helping Farmers Grow More

by Amanda Froelich – Because the retail company can’t keep up with the demand for organics, it has launched a pilot program to help farmers buy land and grow chemical-free crops As TrueActivist has mentioned before, the future is green – that much is clear. Not only have a handful of countries expressed intention to transition completely to renewable energy within the next few decades, the trend of eating wholesome, organic food is on the rise. In fact, so many people are choosing to invest in their health, the popular retail company Costco can’t keep enough organic food stocked to meet customer demand. Believe it or not, the chain has actually surpassed Whole Foods as the top seller of organic produce. As a result, Costco has launched a pilot program to loan organic farmers money to buy land and equipment to increase the supply of the wholesome fruits and veggies. The...

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Diabetes and Prediabetes Rates in California: “A Storm is Coming”

by JULIE FIDLER – 175% increase nationally since 1980 It’s not all rippling muscles and green smoothies in California. A new analysis by University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) researchers shows a shocking number of Californians either have diabetes or are on the verge of developing it.  To be specific 55% of California adults have either diabetes or prediabetes, a condition in which a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered diabetic. The analysis used a predictive model based on national blood testing results and survey data of 40,000 California residents. Dr. Harold Goldstein, the report’s co-author and executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, told The Sacramento Bee: “The numbers are so large that they stop you in your tracks… It’s hard to digest that the situation is as bad as it is.” The team already knew 9% of adults in the...

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Republican Proposal Would Restrict Free Meal Programs At Thousands Of America’s Poorest Schools

by ALAN PYKE – Millions of low-income American students could lose access to free school meals under a proposal circulating among House lawmakers. The measure would reverse years of progress on free meals in U.S. schools by setting a much higher eligibility bar for schools to start making meals free to all students. Thousands of schools have expanded their meal offerings in recent years as researchers expose the extent of child hunger — and the dividends that come from curing it inside schoolhouses. The changes would take away schoolwide free meals programs from more than 7,000 schools that educate almost 3.4 million students in low-income areas, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports. Another 11,600 schools that have not yet taken advantage of the free meals option for all students would lose access to it under the proposal. Instead of using what’s called Community Eligibility, these schools would have to...

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McDonald’s Kale Salad Surpasses Big Mac in Calorie, Fat Count

by JULIE FIDLER – Over the past year or two, McDonald’s made the decision to appear to offer customers healthy menu options, but appearances can be deceiving. If you’re going to go to McDonald’s for lunch or dinner, you might as well indulge a juicy Big Mac, because the fast food chain’s new kale salads have more fat and calories crammed into it than McDonalds’ flagship burger. McDonald’s Canada’s “Keep Calm, Caesar On” crispy chicken salad. Source: McDonald’s                                                                          Canada The company is marketing the salads as healthy alternatives to McDonalds’ traditional menu. The fast-food chain touts “4 Servings of Vegetables Never Tasted So Good” for its Caesar Salad with Crispy Chicken bowl, while urging customers to “get your...

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5 Ways NOT To “Make America Great Again.” And One Way To Do It

by Paul Buchheit – Mahatma Gandhi said, “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” The visions of “greatness” coming from America’s political and business and military leaders are quite the opposite, with an emphasis on the ‘exceptional’ people who would prefer to have nothing to do with the weaker members of society. 1. Let Government and the Media Ignore 90% of Us Based on a study of 1,779 policy issues, Princeton researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page concluded that “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” Government doesn’t listen to us, and the mainstream media fails to inform us about matters that might offend their corporate bosses. As Bernie Sanders explained, “The corporate media does everything they can to keep us entertained without addressing the real issues… don’t even know that we...

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‘This is What Consumers Want’: General Mills to Start Labeling GMOs

by Nadia Prupis – Environmental and consumer advocacy groups hailed decision by food manufacturer and called on Congress to follow suit General Mills will start labeling genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in all its food products, thanks to Vermont‘s impending GMO law and the failure of the ‘voluntary labeling’ law in U.S. Congress this week. “We can’t label our products for only one state without significantly driving up costs for our consumers, and we simply won’t do that,” wrote General Mills U.S. retail chief Jeff Harmening in a post to the company’s website on Friday. “The result: Consumers all over the country will soon begin seeing words legislated by the state of Vermont on the labels of many of their favorite General Mills food products.” The company, which manufactures huge North American brands like Betty Crocker, Yoplait, and Cheerios, among others, now joins Campbell‘s as one of the major food companies in...

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Drug Testing Welfare Recipients Is A Popular New Policy That Cost States Millions. Here Are The Results

by BRYCE COVERT & JOSH ISRAEL – In 10 states, someone who applies for welfare cash assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program doesn’t just have to deal with complicated paperwork at a time when there’s a good chance she’s already in a state of financial crisis. She also has to be screened and possibly tested for substance abuse. And if she tests positive, she won’t receive benefits. Proponents of these programs argue that they’re implemented not just to save money, but to help people who may be struggling with substance abuse. But the data tells a different story. In 2015, despite lack of evidence that programs in other states accomplished their goals, three more states have implemented similar regimes. And a ThinkProgress survey of the 10 states that now have these programs in place found that they continue to be expensive and not especially effective. All...

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