In Food Policy This Week: 5 News Bites

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  • The USDA released a new tool, the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass, to highlight the agency's local food initiatives. An extensive guide to the KYF program discusses the meaning and importance of local/regional food, and provides statistics on the growth of alternative agricultural programs in the last five to ten years. An accompanying map is full of interesting data points and provides information on USDA grants allocated to local food initiatives around the country.

  • The Food Safety and Inspection Service recently implemented a new rule that requires meat to have a nutrition facts label. Previously, only prepared or marinated meats required nutritional information. The new rule applies to chopped or ground meat, as well as 40 of the most popular cuts of meat and poultry (such as chicken breast and steak). The labels will allow consumers to compare saturated fat, calories, and other nutrients among meat products. Some companies had voluntarily labeled raw meat before this rule, but labeling has never been an industry-wide practice.

  • The Economist takes a look at the rapid worldwide depletion of fisheries, and the difficulties of fairly regulating fishing practices. Warming, acidification, and a highly competitive industry have led to the slow collapse of fish populations, and yet commercial fisheries continue to ignore quotas set by international regulatory agencies. The magazine recommends selling tradable shares of fishing waters to interested parties, a method that has shown some success in the U.S., Iceland, and New Zealand. But developing countries have difficulty enforcing such a system and convincing fisherman that the goal is to catch fewer fish, not more.

  • The Center for Disease Control released a report this week on the amount of added sugar consumed by young children in the U.S. Among other things, the study revealed that children consume more added sugar in food than in beverages; that boys consume more added sugar than girls in every examined age group; and that children consume similar amounts of added sugar across family income levels. The study concludes that over 16% of children and adolescents' total caloric intake comes from added sugars. "Added sugars" is defined as any sugar used as an ingredient in processed or prepared foods.

  • The Beacon Hill neighborhood in Seattle will soon have an "edible forest," a seven-acre plot that will feature apples, pears, blueberries, and other fruits. The food will be available to anyone who wants to pick it, though the forest planners have not yet developed a plan for dealing with overly enthusiastic foragers. The full plan for the plot is available on the Beacon Food Forest website.
  • About the Author: A student in Providence, Rhode Island, Leah Douglas loves learning about, talking about, reading about, and consuming food. Her work has also been featured in Rhode Island Monthly Magazine.

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