In addition to all the recent news about the decline of childhood obesity in the past decade (all of us who fight for food justice and wellness are making progress!), Michelle Obama reminded us this week that we are not only working towards our own personal health, but the health of future generations. Today we bring you exciting news on school lunches, sobering news about the California drought, plenty of reports on international protests against fast food, a petition to fight the corruption of the organic movement, and a whole lot more.
Words to Live By
“We can give all our children the bright, healthy futures they so richly deserve.”
— Michelle Obama
Great News for Food in Schools
Continuing a trend of starting to get unhealthy food out of schools in the US
, First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Tuesday restrictions on marketing junk food in schools as part of the Let’s Move initiative. If you are unaware that such advertising is allowed in school, just peruse a school scoreboard or cafeteria, and you’ll more than likely see Coke or Pepsi staring back at you. You will be alarmed to read some of the statistics on the money that food and beverage companies spend to advertise in schools. In another exciting shift free breakfast and lunch will soon be available to all students in schools that have 40% or more students who are eligible for free or reduced meals. Though we’ve got plenty more to do before we turn our nation’s schools into better healthy environments, this is a cause for celebration.
What Are We Missing When We Rush Through Life?
Getting outside and exploring, interacting with the natural world, finding a connection away from our “wired” lives, are all increasingly difficult things to do. They are also vital for our health and the health of our planet. Richard Louv has written another wonderful blog post highlighting the importance of developing a nature connection in children (and adults), the growing trend in outdoor education, and the need for us to cultivate the movement more thoroughly.
California’s Water Woes Just Won’t Wain
Although a few storm systems have moved through recently (one today), drought in California rages on, to the dismay of residents, farmers, and consumers across America alike. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced on Friday that farmers in the state will get no water for irrigation in the coming year
due to drought restrictions. This could lead to a much more volatile vegetable market and higher prices
for consumers given that the state produces a shockingly high percentage of domestic produce
in the U.S. The piece in Mother Jones below gives some great infographics about water use in the state, and rates some of our favorite veggies in terms of water use. We may see a lot less broccoli and many more bunches of grapes lining the grocery aisles in the coming months.
Know your Farmers
Data for the 2012 USDA farm census was released this past week. A survey done every five years, it gathers comprehensive data about American farmers. Because the amount of information in a survey like this can be overwhelming for the casually interested citizen, the folks at Modern Farmer have given it a perusal and pulled out some key findings to keep us in the know.
Stop the Sketchy Side of Organics
The organic movement started as a small grassroots initiative and has grown into an ever-growing multi-billion dollar market (projected to be about $36 billion this year
). Though many actors in the organic world are still committed to their roots, some corporate entities out there are looking to cash in on market share. The Cornucopia Institute identified Dean Foods/White Wave as one of these companies and is mounting a petition to remove them from an upcoming organic industry conference. Read more about it, and sign the petition to help fight the corruption of organic food ideals.
The Fast Food Frontline
Fast Food Dissent on the Global Scale
As another example of the global reach of fast food’s destruction, a recent study out of the UK found that kids who live closer to fast food-food restuarants are more likely to be obese
. Luckily, the reach of fast food protesters is global as well. Two months ago, we stumbled across a small community in Australia that is protesting
the establishment of a McDonald’s, and they are still at it. In a similar fashion, protesters in the UK are fighting against a McDonald’s that is attempting to change into a 24-hour business. Lastly, we ran across this great Australian article that scoured social media during the Olympics and found that McDonald’s received almost all negative responses to their advertising (something Mike Jacobson
of CSPI is surely happy to see).
Building Family Food Culture
The folks at Food Day know a thing or two about creating healthy environments. An initiative of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, they, along with a number of other great organizations, have been working to build awareness about healthy, sustainably produced, nutritious food across the U.S. over the past few years. Check out their tips for creating a healthy environment around food for your family. These are fabulous non-nutrition-based guidelines that get to the heart of what meals with your family should be all about.
What We're Watching
A few months ago a group of industrious food loving activists launched a Kickstarter campaign to create well-produced educational videos showing how everyday food is grown. The first installment of “How Does it Grow” was released this week and we think it’s fantastic. If you have ever wondered about how mushrooms are grown (even if you haven’t!) it is definitely worth checking out. Read a little more about the project and the premier of the video at the Food Tank link below.
A Food Champion’s View of the New Farm Bill
Marion Nestle, vocal champion of nutrition and education, was recently interviewed by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and gave her opinion on the new Farm Bill. It is not very positive. She explains some of the farm bill’s history and how it was set up for political fighting from the start, how the John Deere tractor company and many other agribusinesses benefit the most from the bill while vegetable farmers don’t, and how taxpayers are footing 62% of big farm crop insurance premiums. Scroll down to the bottom to listen, or read through the transcript.
Yet Another Delicious Thing to Do with Quinoa
Quinoa continues to show up in the most unexpected places and it is trendier than ever, but we’re not afraid to follow the herd on this one. Secret Squirrel’s simple salad provides a great balance of protein, fat and carbs along with that ever popular cruciferae, broccoli. It would be great with any other veggie, if the projected cost of broccoli scares you away (see the drought item above).
Quinoa Salad with Green Veggies & Walnuts
QUINOA SALAD INGREDIENTS:
- ⅓ cup quinoa
- 1 cup broad beans (pods removed)
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 garlic clove (crushed)
- 2 cm ginger (finely chopped)
- ⅓ cup golden raisins
- ⅓ cup walnuts (halved)
- ¼ cup packed coriander (stalks removed, roughly chopped)
- ¼ cup packed parsley leaves (stalks removed, roughly chopped)
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. Cook quinoa according to packet instructions. Drain and set aside.
2. Heat saucepan with boiling water and add broad beans and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to stop cooking process and set aside.
3. Heat olive oil in a fry pan, and sauté garlic and ginger for a minute.
4. Add broccoli florets and cook for 3-4 minutes.
5. Combine quinoa, broad beans, broccoli and remaining ingredients into a bowl.
6. Mix dressing ingredients and pour over quinoa salad.