Apr 22, 2008

vol 125 No. 8

Contents are posted gradually over two weeks. Logged-in subscribers can also download the issue PDF via the link above.

A breakfast frequently served at my son’s school—where over half the children receive government-supported meals—consists of commercially produced French toast sticks and syrup. The list of ingredients on the package for this meal is as long as this paragraph. It includes not only partially hydrogenated soybean oil and high fructose corn syrup, but also more mystifying additives like gelatinized wheat starch, calcium caseinate, lecithin, guar gum and cellulose gum. The story of how these items arrive at a school cafeteria and are designated as food is a long and complicated one involving the interaction of farmers, government policy makers and the food industry. The modern story of why we eat what we eat begins in the 1930s, when President Franklin Roosevelt faced the challenges of the Depression. He saw that many farmers were poor and that one in every five people in the country was undernourished. Farmers and other Americans were too vulnerable, he believed, to the cycles of boom and bust.
April 22, 2008

Why would any relief agency reject U.S. food aid? Beginning in 2009, CARE will do just that, forgoing $45 million a year in U.S. food aid because of its disagreement with monetization, the process of selling U.S. food abroad in order to raise needed cash for development projects and administrative costs. CARE maintains that the sale of U.S. food in the fragile markets of recipient countries competes with the sale of food produced by local farmers, causing prices to drop and lowering farmers’ income.
April 22, 2008

Get moving: Americans could cut carbon emissions by 64 million tons if they’d either walk or bicycle for 30 minutes a day instead of driving. They’d also collectively shed 3 billion pounds of excess fat in the process. Even more would be done for the environment if people gave up eating meat, since livestock production produces 18 percent of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions (Sierra, March/April).
April 22, 2008