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"From conception the increase
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45 million voices Abortion stories

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Despite the challenges, we were seeing free and democratic Iraq, we were living the hard laboring moment we believe that every one of us has duty towards our beloved country. By our hands, work, thoughts, sacrifice we will build up the new Iraq.


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TOXIC FOOD AND US POLITIC:BIG MONEY OWNS THIS TOWN

Two must read articles this week - Marion at Food Politics

Let’s Move Campaign gives up on healthy diets for kids?

In what Obama Foodorama calls “a fundamental shift in the Let’s Move campaign,” Michelle Obama announced in a speech last week that she will now focus on getting kids to be more active.
Apparently, she has given up on encouraging food companies to make healthier products and stop marketing junk foods to kids.

This shift is troubling. Here’s why:

HERE MARION GIVES 5 0R 6 POINTS...

Mrs. Obama says:
Major food manufacturers are cutting sugar, salt and fat from their products. Restaurants are revamping kids’ menus and loading them with healthier, fresher options. Companies like Walgreens, SuperValu, Walmart, Calhoun’s Grocery are committing to build new stores and to sell fresh food in underserved communities all across this country.
Congress passed historic legislation to provide more nutritious school meals to millions of American children. Our schools are growing gardens all over the place. Cities and towns are opening farmers markets. Congregations are holding summer nutrition programs for their kids. Parents are reading those food labels, and they’re rethinking the meals and the snacks that they serve their kids.

So while we still have a long way to go, we have seen so much good progress. We’ve begun to have an impact on how, and what, our kids are eating every single day. And that is so important. It’s so important.
Really? I’d say we’ve seen promises from food companies but remarkably little action.
Mrs. Obama’s speech fails to mention what I’m guessing is the real reason for the shift:
 “Move more” is not politically loaded. “Eat less” is.

Everyone loves to promote physical activity. Trying to get the food industry to budge on product formulations and marketing to kids is an uphill battle that confronts intense, highly paid lobbying.
You don’t believe this? Consider recent examples of food industry opposition to anti-obesity efforts:
  • Soda companies successfully defeated efforts to impose taxes on soft drinks.
  • Food companies successfully defeated efforts by four federal agencies to set voluntary standards for marketing foods to children.
  • Food companies successfully lobbied Congress to pass a law forbidding the USDA from setting standards for school meals regarding potatoes, tomato sauce, and whole grains. The result? Pizza tomato sauce now counts as a vegetable serving.
  • McDonald’s and Burger King evaded San Francisco’s new rules restricting toys with kids meals by selling the toys separately for ten cents each.
The political cost of fighting the food industry is surely the reason for the change in Mrs. Obama’s rhetoric. Now, she agrees that kids won’t eat vegetables unless forced to.
But in March 2010 Mrs. Obama warned Grocery Manufacturers Association:
We need you…to entirely rethink the products that you’re offering…, the information that you provide about these products, and how you market those products to our children….This isn’t about finding creative ways to market products as healthy.
The food industry understood those as fighting words. It fought back with weapons at its disposal, one of which is to deflect attention from food by focusing on physical activity. It now has White House endorsement of this deflection.
I’m all for promoting physical activity but the refocusing is a loss, not a win, in the fight against childhood obesity.

THE SECOND EVEN MORE IMPORTANT ARTICLE TO READ IS IN THE NEW YORK TIMES:

How the Food Industry Eats Your Kid’s Lunch.


Each day, 32 million children in the United States get lunch at schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program, which uses agricultural surplus to feed children. About 21 million of these students eat free or reduced-price meals, a number that has surged since the recession. The program, which also provides breakfast, costs $13.3 billion a year.


Sadly, it is being mismanaged and exploited. About a quarter of the school nutrition program has been privatized, much of it outsourced to food service management giants like Aramark, based in Philadelphia; Sodexo, based in France; and the Chartwells division of the Compass Group, based in Britain. They work in tandem with food manufacturers like the chicken producers Tyson and Pilgrim’s, all of which profit when good food is turned to bad.


Here’s one way it works. The Agriculture Department pays about $1 billion a year for commodities like fresh apples and sweet potatoes, chickens and turkeys. Schools get the food free; some cook it on site, but more and more pay processors to turn these healthy ingredients into fried chicken nuggets, fruit pastries, pizza and the like. Some $445 million worth of commodities are sent for processing each year, a nearly 50 percent increase since 2006.


The Agriculture Department doesn’t track spending to process the food, but school authorities do. The Michigan Department of Education, for example, gets free raw chicken worth $11.40 a case and sends it for processing into nuggets at $33.45 a case. The schools in San Bernardino, Calif., spend $14.75 to make French fries out of $5.95 worth of potatoes.


The money is ill spent. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has warned that sending food to be processed often means lower nutritional value and noted that “many schools continue to exceed the standards for fat, saturated fat and sodium.” A 2008 study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that by the time many healthier commodities reach students, “they have about the same nutritional value as junk foods.”


Monica Zimmer, a Sodexo spokeswoman, said that “much has changed” since those studies, pointing to the company’s support for “nutrition education to encourage young students to eat more fruits and vegetables.”


Roland Zullo, a researcher at the University of Michigan, found in 2008 that Michigan schools that hired private food-service management firms spent less on labor and food but more on fees and supplies, yielding “no substantive economic savings.”

Alarmingly, he even found that privatization was associated with lower test scores, hypothesizing that the high-fat and high-sugar foods served by the companies might be the cause. In a later study, in 2010, Dr. Zullo found that Chartwells was able to trim costs by cutting benefits for workers in Ann Arbor schools, but that the schools didn’t end up realizing any savings.


Why is this allowed to happen? Part of it is that school authorities don’t want the trouble of overseeing real kitchens. Part of it is that the management companies are saving money by not having to pay skilled kitchen workers.

In addition, the management companies have a cozy relationship with food processers, which routinely pay the companies rebates (typically around 14 percent) in return for contracts. The rebates have generally been kept secret from schools, which are charged the full price.

Last year, Andrew M. Cuomo, then the New York State attorney general, won a $20 million settlement over Sodexo’s pocketing of such rebates. Other states are following New York and looking into the rebates; the Agriculture Department began its own inquiry in August.


With the crackdown on these rebates, food service companies have turned to another accounting trick. I found evidence that the rebate abuses are continuing, now under the name of “prompt payment discounts,” under an Agriculture Department loophole. These discounts, for payments that are often not prompt at all, are really rebates under another name. New York State requires rebates to be returned to schools, but the Sodexo settlement shows how unevenly the ban has been enforced.


The food service companies I spoke with denied any impropriety. “Our culinary philosophy, as a company, is to promote scratch cooking where possible and encourage variety and nutritionally balanced meals,” said Ayde Lyons, a Chartwells spokeswoman. “We use minimally processed foods whenever possible.”


There are economic and nutritional consequences to privatization. School kitchen workers are generally unionized, with benefits; they are also typically local residents who have children in public schools and care about their well-being. Laid-off school workers become an economic drain instead of a positive force. And the rebate deals with national food manufacturers cut out local farmers and small producers like bakers, who could offer fresh, healthy food and help the local economy.


Children pay the price. Dr. Zullo found that privately managed school cafeterias offered meals that were higher in sugar and fats and made unhealthy snack items — soda, cookies, potato chips — more readily available. The companies were also less likely to use reduced-sugar recipes. Linda Hugle, a retired school principal in Three Rivers, Ore., told me that when her district switched to Sodexo, “the savings were paltry.” She added, “You pay a little less and your kids get strawberry milk, frozen French fries and artificial shortening.”
...


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