Marion Nestle Remains Optimistic About the Future of Food

Last night, Dr. Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at NYU, held court at New York’s Academy of Sciences. There were over 300 eager pairs of eyes and ears following her every word.As bad as things may seem right now in terms of processed foods being marketed as healthy foods, Marion Nestle remains positive.

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Aggressively addressing issues of food nutrition and child obesity for decades, she can't help but notice that finally, people are paying attention. Nestle is encouraged by the burgeoning sustainable food movement and sees it as the path to "growing a [new] democracy!"

Nestle began her lecture with how we came to live in a "gorge yourself environment." Obesity took a noticeable uptick in the 80's and Nestle quickly dismissed the reason being women going back to work. Rather, she cited increased corn subsidies which in turn caused increased corn supply. Suddenly there were 4000 available calories per capita in the US as compared to 800 during the first half of the twentieth century. At the same time, corporations faced pressure to deliver higher returns. The overabundance of corn and calories made fast food cheaper, portions increased to be more competitive, and in case anyone didn't know this... larger portions caused and continue to cause people to eat more!

Favorite factoid of the night: A Big Gulp, available at most movie theaters is eight times the size of the once common 8oz cup of soda and is 800 calories!

To try to control the influx of processed foods glutting the market, the FDA required more strict labeling of ingredients in the early 90’s. In response, the food industry lobbied hard to be able to place their own health claims on packaging. The images above of cereal and juice are extreme examples of companies fighting back and responding to the growing trend of consumers looking for 'healthy' food. Apparently, eating Cocoa Krispies helps kids ward off swine flu!

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