“How we produce and consume food has a bigger impact on Americans’ well-being than any other human activity. The food industry is the largest sector of our economy; food touches everything from our health to the environment, climate change, economic inequality and the federal budget. Yet we have no food policy — no plan or agreed-upon principles — for managing American agriculture or the food system as a whole. That must change.”
–Mark Bittman, Michael Pollan, Ricardo Salvador, and Olivier De Schutter in How a National Food Policy Could Save Millions of American Lives.
We couldn’t agree more with what is being said here. In this section of the Nutrition Toolbox, we will introduce you to the leading food policy issues, leaders, and organizations. As always, we appreciate hearing from you if you have any questions or suggestions.
Food Policy Issues
We need a national food policy that guarantees:
- All Americans have access to healthful food;
- Farm policies are designed to support our public health and environmental objectives;
- Our food supply is free of toxic bacteria, chemicals and drugs;
- Production and marketing of our food are done transparently;
- The food industry pays a fair wage to those it employs;
- Food marketing sets children up for healthful lives by instilling in them a habit of eating real food;
- Animals are treated with compassion and attention to their well-being;
- The food system’s carbon footprint is reduced, and the amount of carbon sequestered on farmland is increased;
- The food system is sufficiently resilient to withstand the effects of climate change.
Food Policy Leaders
Frances Moore Lappé
Frances Moore Lappé is “long-haul trucker” in the food movement and is the author or co-author of 18 books about world hunger, living democracy, and the environment. Beginning with Diet for a Small Planet in 1971, her books include Democracy’s Edge, Getting a Grip, EcoMind, and, most recently, World Hunger:10 Myths. Frances was named by Gourmet Magazine as one of 25 people (including Thomas Jefferson, Upton Sinclair, and Julia Child), whose work has changed the way America eats. Her books have been translated into 15 languages and are used widely in university courses. She is the cofounder of three organizations, including Oakland based think tank Food First and, more recently, the Small Planet Institute which she leads with her daughter Anna Lappé. Frances and her daughter have also cofounded the Small Planet Fund, which channels resources to democratic social movements worldwide.
Raj Patel is an award-winning writer, activist and academic. He is a Research Professor in the Lyndon B Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin and a Senior Research Associate at theUnit for the Humanities at the university currently known as Rhodes University (UHURU), South Africa.
He has degrees from the University of Oxford, the London School of Economics and Cornell University, has worked for the World Bank and WTO, and protested against them around the world. He has been a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley’s Center for African Studies, an Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and continues to be a fellow at The Institute for Food and Development Policy, also known as Food First. Raj co-taught the 2014 Edible Educationclass at UC Berkeley with Michael Pollan. He was also an IATP Food and Community Fellow from 2011-2013. He has testified about the causes of the global food crisis to the US House Financial Services Committee and was an Advisor to Olivier De Schutter, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food.
In addition to numerous scholarly publications in economics, philosophy, politics and public health journals, he regularly writes for The Guardian, and has contributed to the Financial Times, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Times of India, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Mail on Sunday, and The Observer. His first book was Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System and his latest, The Value of Nothing, is a New York Times best-seller.
He can be heard co-hosting the fortnightly food politics podcast The Secret Ingredient with Mother Jones’ Tom Philpott, and KUT’s Rebecca McInroy. He is currently working on a ground-breaking documentary project about the global food system with award-winning director Steve James. He’s also completing a book on world ecology with Jason W Moore for the University of California Press entitled “Seven Cheap Things”.
To see Raj’s latest events, visit the Events page.
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Wendell E. Berry (born August 5, 1934) is an American novelist, poet, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer. A prolific author, he has written many novels, short stories, poems, and essays. His thoughts, poems, and writings provide a foundation for many thought leaders in the food movement. He is an elected member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, a recipient of The National Humanities Medal, and the Jefferson Lecturer for 2012. He is also a 2013 Fellow of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Berry was named the recipient of the 2013 Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award. On January 28, 2015, he became the first living writer to be ushered into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame.
“Eating is an Agricultural Act.”
-The Pleasures of Eating – Wendell Berry
The Center for Nutrition and Policy Promotion
The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) is an agency of the USDA whose mission is to improve the health of Americans by developing and promoting dietary guidance that links scientific research to the nutrition needs of consumers.
The CNPP's Food-A-Pedia
Food-A-Pedia is a nutrient analysis tool of the CNPP that displays calories, food groups, and contributions toward daily limits for a food.
The CNPP's SuperTracker
SuperTracker is a health-tracking tool of the CNPP that assists individuals in following the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Dietary Guidelines for Americans
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans is designed for nutrition and health professionals to help all individuals ages 2 years and older and their families consume a healthy, nutritionally adequate diet. The information in the Dietary Guidelines is used by policymakers in developing Federal food, nutrition, and health policies and programs. It also is the basis for Federal nutrition education materials designed for the public and for the nutrition education components of HHS and USDA food programs.
The Agricultural Adjustment Act (Farm Bill) was introduced in the 1930’s and is updated every five years by Congress and the USDA. The Farm Bill impacts American and international consumers by regulating agricultural and food programs. Farm subsidies, nutrition assistance programs, and conservation programs are all encompassed within the Farm Bill. For more information, check out “The Farm Bill Explained, in 2 Minutes” by the Washington Post and the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS)
The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is an agency of the USDA that works to end hunger and obesity through the administration of 15 federal nutrition assistance programs including WIC, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and school meals.
Food Policy Action - Food Policy Scorecard
Food Policy Action provides the National Food Policy Scorecard – your go-to source for information about the most important food legislation considered by the House and Senate and how all members of Congress voted on those issues. The Scorecard reflects the consensus of top food policy experts who select the key food policy votes each year. The scored food policy issues include domestic and international hunger, food safety, food access, farm subsidies, animal welfare, food and farm labor, nutrition, food additives, food transparency, local and regional food production, organic farming and the effects of food production on the environment. The National Food Policy Scorecard lets you identify which legislators are working for sensible food policies.
Food Policy Organizations
The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP)
The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is an agency of the USDA that provides leadership and funding for programs that advance agriculture-related sciences. NIFA invests in and supports initiatives that ensure the long-term viability of agriculture.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the U.S. federal executive department responsible for developing and executing federal laws related to farming, agriculture, forestry, and food. The USDA issues the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which sets standards for American food and nutrition assistance programs.
Take Action Now - Remove Fructose from the GRAS List
Fructose enjoys the protection of being on the GRAS List: Generally Regarded as Safe. However, the truth is that Fructose is one of the most harmful substances being added to our food supply. It has become a leading marker for processed foods, and is added to much of the food supply.
Of the 600,000 items in the American food supply, 74% have added sugar. We now have the evidence that excess sugar consumption is a leading cause of Diabetes, Heart Disease, Fatty Liver Disease, Tooth Decay. Additionally mounting evidence is connecting these excess levels of sugar to Cancer and Dementia.
Join with us in urging our Congress and the FDA to remove Fructose from the GRAS list.