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Eat Drink Vote: An Illustrated Guide to Food Politics Paperback – September 3, 2013
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Amazon Q&A for Eat Drink Vote. Kerry Trueman, an environmental advocate, interviews public health nutritionist, Marion Nestle, author of Eat Drink Vote
Kerry Trueman: Has politics always had such a huge impact on the way we eat?
Marion Nestle: Of course it has. As long as we have had inequities between rich and poor, politics has made some people fat while others starved. Think, for example, of the sugar trade and slavery, the Boston tea party, or the role of stolen bread in Les Misérables. Bread riots and food fights are about politics. But those events seem simple compared to what we deal with now, when no food issue seems too small to generate arguments about who wins or loses. Congressional insistence that the tomato paste on pizza counts as a vegetable serving is only the most recent case in point.
KT: How do you reconcile the fact that what's good for us as individuals--namely, eating less junk food--is bad for business?
MN: I don’t think these facts are easily reconciled. They can only be observed and commented and acted upon. The job of the food industry is to produce products that will not only sell well, but will sell increasingly well over time, in order to produce growing returns to investors. Reconciliation requires companies either to sell less (impossible from a business standpoint) or make up the difference with sales of healthier products. Unfortunately, the so-called healthier products--and whether they really are is debatable--rarely sell as well. In practice, companies touch all bases at once: they put most marketing efforts into their core products, they proliferate new
better-for-you products, and they seek new customers for their products among the vast populations of the developing world--where, no surprise, the prevalence of obesity is increasing, along with its related diseases.
KT: Why did you want to do a book of food politics cartoons?
MN: If truth be told, I've been wanting to do one for years. Cartoons are such a great way to engage audiences. Politics can be dreary. Cartoons make it fun. I've collected cartoons for years on everything about food and nutrition. I would have loved to do a book on nutrition in cartoons but getting permission to reprint them was too difficult and expensive. For the cartoons in my last book, Why Calories Count, I contacted the copyright holder, Sara Thaves, who represents the work of about 50 cartoonists. During our negotiations about how much they would cost, Sara asked if I might be interested in doing a book using Cartoonist Group cartoons. Would I ever! Sara ended up sending me more than 1,100 cartoons--all on food politics. I put them in categories and started writing. The only hard part was winnowing the drawings to a publishable number. But what a gorgeous book this turned out to be! The cartoons are in full color.
KT: In Eat Drink Vote, you note that,
it ought to be possible to enjoy the pleasures of food and eat healthfully at the same time. Why does that ideal meal elude so many of us?
MN: Because our food choices are so strongly influenced by the food environment. Given a large plate of food, for example, practically everyone will eat more from it than from a smaller portion. And then there’s the cooking problem. For decades, Americans have been told that cooking is too much trouble and takes too much time. As a result, many people would rather order in and wait for it to arrive and get heated up again than to start from scratch. And healthy foods cost more than highly processed junk foods, and not only on the basis of calories. The government supports the production of corn and soybeans, for example, but not that of broccoli or carrots. I should also mention that food companies get to deduct the cost of marketing, even marketing to children, from their taxes as legitimate business expenses.
KT: On the subject of food and pleasure, you enjoy the occasional slice of pizza or scoop of ice cream, just as Michelle Obama loves her french fries. Do you subscribe to the
all things in moderation philosophy, or are there some things you simply won't eat, ever?
MN: The only food I can think of that I won’t ever eat is brains, and that’s rarely a problem. And yes, I do subscribe to
everything in moderation although it’s hard to admit it without irony. The phrase has been so misused by food companies and some of my fellow nutritionists to defend sales of junk foods and drinks. There is no question that some foods are healthier to eat than others and we all would be better off eating more of the healthier ones and fewer of the less healthful foods. But
fewer does not and should not mean
none. And what’s wrong with pizza, pray tell? In my view, life is too short not to leave plenty of room for freshly baked pizza, toffee candy, real vanilla ice cream, and a crusty, yeasty white bread--all in moderation, of course.
About the Author
Marion Nestle is Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She is the author of three prize-winning books: Food Politics, Safe Food, and What to Eat. She writes a monthly Food Matters column for the San Francisco Chronicle and blogs daily at FoodPolitics.com. She lives in New York City.
The Cartoonist Group licenses the work of more 50 leading cartoonists to Web sites, newsletters, magazines, and books, including nine Pulitzer Prize winners.
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Top Customer Reviews
My favorite cartoon pictures the new official American place setting: napkin, fork, knife, plate, and shovel. How elegantly eloquent.
The best quote is attributed to Tommy Thompson, as he resigned as Secretary of Health and Human Services: "I for the life of me cannot understand why terrorists have not attacked our food supply, because it is so easy to do." That was in 2004. Nothing has changed since.
The message that she gives the most play to is that eating less is bad for business. Everything the corporate food complex does is aimed at getting us to eat more, and more often. We now eat all day long, in meetings, in breaks, in front of the tv - anywhere, any time. That is dramatically different than any other period in history, and it is making a difference - in profits, in obesity, and in healthcare.
Marion Nestle hits all the hot button issues in one entertaining package. It's an excellent primer on the state of the nation's approach to food. It's a message that needs to be spread wider.
But while we get a thorough treatment of Eat and Drink, Vote remains unexplored....
Finally, I must chastise Dr. Nestle for her first page diatribe about tomato paste, a topic which flares my nostrils as a scientist father of 4. Scientific argument would say Dr. Nestle should have fought for an amount of tomato paste equal to a single tomato. Their extreme of 4oz. was met and lost to the pizza slice because they were not prepared with the science [1 tomato = 1.5 oz. tomato paste] or the food's [the beloved pizza] importance to the school diet.
I have many positives about this book and I believe this cartoon editorial concept should be used by others whenever a complicated topic, which often attracts national attention is presented.Read more ›
This book was the perfect way of easing myself into the roiling waters of food politics. Nestle is a highly respected writer, and placing her words among cartoons not only made a serious topic easier to digest (um. really, no pun intended), but also visually brought home some of her points with more impact than words alone.
In short, I highly recommend this book. Wish more serious writers would take such a light-hearted approach to such heavy topics!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love this author. This is a very informative book, and the cartoons are highly entertaining.
The book is quite educational, and elucidates much about our food... Read more
Right on target with issues and enjoyable way to read about this, if these topics can be considered "enjoyable." Marion Nestle is a TOP author and a definite expertPublished 12 months ago by Karen Wish
Great, smart, concise and witty guide to the very complex issues of food and the government's role.Published 20 months ago by L. Kasdon
Marion Nestle writes about serious and complex food issues in a way that makes them easier to understand. Read morePublished on January 15, 2014 by D. Hiza
Here is another masterpiece from Marion Nestlé, one of the wisest and most influential food writers. Read morePublished on November 23, 2013 by Irena Chalmers