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Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (California Studies in Food and Culture) Paperback – September 30, 2003
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"Food Politics is a book that deserves to change national and international attitudes, as Carson's Silent Spring did in the 1960s."--American Journal of Clinical Nutrition -- Review
From the Inside Flap
"This remarkable book is essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand how it has come to be that the richest nation in the world is eating itself to death . Straight reporting about the shaping of food policy, as this volume makes clear, is certain to offend some very powerful players."Joan Dye Gussow, author of This Organic Life
"Food politics underlie all politics in the United States. There is no industry more important to Americans, more fundamentally linked to our well-being and the future well-being of our children. Nestle reveals how corporate control of the nation's food system limits our choices and threatens our health. If you eat, you should read this book."Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation
"'Blockbuster' is one of the best ways that I could describe this book . A major contribution to understanding the interaction of politics and science, especially the science of nutrition, it is of extreme value to virtually all policy makers and to everyone concerned with the American diet."Sheldon Margen, editor of the Berkeley Wellness Letter
"A devastating analysis of how the naked self-interest of America's largest industry influences and compromises nutrition policy and government regulation of food safety. . . . A clear translation of often obscure studies and cases, the writing is accessible and lively."Warren Belasco, author of Appetite for Change
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Dr. Nestle, a nutrition scientist, has spent years consulting with the USDA and other government agencies dealing with food. She had a lot to do with creation and publication of the famous "food pyramid."
In this work, she was subject to relentless lobbying by food companies determined to prevent the government from recommending that people eat less of their products. They sent whole armies of lobbyists, not just to Washington, but to state governements, universities, and anywhere else they could influence food science.
They donate money to universities, fund studies of their own, give gifts to legislators and woo regulators. They frequently get their own corporate representatives appointed to regulatory and administrative positions. As a result, they have watered down or changed any attempt to advise eating less fat, less sugar, or less of anything.
I think the great value of this book is revealing how our government works. This is not just about food. Every facet of government is subject to corporate influence and domination. You can really see this in the insurance companies' ability to derail health insurance reform, and the drug companies' blocking drug purchases from foreign countries.
Perhaps we can take our government back, step by step. Food Politics is a good teaching tool for those who want to fight back.
David Spero RN...
In fact, this business success story has resulted in a generation of Americans who are significantly overweight compared with their predecessors. Nestle shows that public relations and government lobbying result in obfuscation and mixed messages about the relative values of certain foods; this generally confuses Americans and makes it difficult to get the "eat less" message. Interestingly, she reveals that the amount of sweets and snack foods consumed are in almost exact proportion to the advertising dollars spent promoting these foods, suggesting that limits on advertising junk food to children might be a reasonable first step in addressing this problem.
But Nestle is particularly critical of the criminally poor quality of the nation's public school lunch program and the "pouring rights" contracts struck with soft drink companies by cash-starved school districts. Our country's apparent unwilingness to provide nutritious meals to our schoolchildren is shameful, and Nestle should be congratulated for bringing the situation to light.
Other noteworthy sections of the book address the deregulation of dietary supplements and the invention of "techno-foods", ie foods that have been fortified with vitamins, minerals or herbal ingredients. The overall picture is one of regulators on the defensive and huckster capitalism run rampant. While it was disturbing but not too surprising to learn about relatively obscure supplement makers making absurd claims for products that have little scientifically proven value, it was somewhat amusing to see a reprint of a short-lived advertisement for Heinz ketchup that promoted its supposed cancer-fighting properties. It appears there are no limits to what kinds of food products might be similarly reinvented by marketers in their quest for higher profits.
In the closing chapter, Nestle proposes a number of useful solutions. Her ideas are reasonable and display a maturity gained through many years spent in government and academia. In an environment where food choices and information surrounding food products are increasingly difficult to understand, let's hope that this book inspires us all to demand greater accountability from the food companies that feed us. Highly recommended!
Please read this. Borrow from the library if necessary, but I purchased it and highlighted so many great thoughts so I could show others.
If you read any book about health or nutrition, make this the one. (Then read the China Study, by T.Colin Campbell)