Marion Nestle On Food Safety

Marion Nestle, a professor in the department of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University and the author of several books on food safety, writes a column for the San Francisco Chronicle. Her latest column looks at the tasks facing Dr. Margaret Hamburg, who has been nominated by President Obama as the next administrator of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Here’s Nestle’s quick take on why reform is urgently needed:

The safety scandals of the past few years – spinach, pet food, peanut butter, and now pistachios – revealed profound weaknesses in the ability of the FDA to protect public health. Polls say nearly 75 percent of Americans are more afraid of food than they are of terrorists.

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100,000 Americans for a sustainable USDA

food_dem_nowFood Democracy Now!, an advocacy group that includes farmers, writers, chefs, and lovers of good, sustainable food, is trying to raise support for that very thing in the new administration. The group has collected more than 85,000 signatures on a petition to change the factory food ways of the United States Department of Agriculture, but needs 15,000 more to make its goal. What is that goal? To get advocates for sustainability in the USDA as undersecretaries to its new head, Tom Vilsack, and to change the way America produces its food. Here’s part of its mission, in its own words:

We seek to transform today’s system by advancing best practices in food production, animal husbandry, conservation of natural resources, renewable energy and soil preservation. Through these efforts we hope to stimulate local food systems, promote rural economic development, encourage a new generation of farmers and respond to the growing public demand for wholesome, fairly-produced food. We will also support candidates who advance this vision and who embrace common sense policies that respect our nation’s air, water, soil, livestock, food workers, consumers and family farmers.

The group’s declaration has been signed by Michael Pollan, Marion Nestle, Alice Waters, Dan Barber and Rick Bayless, among others. To learn about its picks for undersecretaries–a group Food Democracy calls “The Sustainable Dozen”–and to add your name to the petition, click here. And tell a friend.

Are The USDA’s Organic Standards A Sham?

With a click of her mouse, Kerry Trueman, aka EatingLiberally‘s “Kat”, corners Dr. Marion Nestle, NYU professor of nutrition and author of Pet Food Politics, What to Eat and Food Politics:

Kat: The Sacramento Bee reported on Sunday that a supposedly organic fertilizer used by nearly a third of California’s organic farmers was in fact spiked with the synthetic fertilizer ammonium sulfate. In 2004, a whistleblower told California’s Department of Food and Agriculture that this deception had been going on for five years.

The Department of Food and Agriculture tested the product and determined that the claim was true, but didn’t order the company to take its product off the organic market until January 2007. “As a result,” according to the SacBee, “some of California’s 2006 harvest of organic fruits, nuts and vegetables – including crops from giants like Earthbound Farm – wasn’t really organic.”

via Kerry Trueman: Let’s Ask Marion Nestle: Are The USDA’s Organic Standards A Sham?.

Eternal vigilance is the price of government oversight. There is no better way to ensure that your food is what it is supposed to be than to participate in the process. CSA gives you direct, face to face access to the farm and farmer where your food is grown!