In Food Policy This Week: 5 News Bites
- The Atlantic has an interesting piece on the history and politics of Trader Joe's. The popular grocery chain is famously tight-lipped about their food sourcing practices, but has been more open about green-friendly initiatives in recent years. The chain is working on stocking fewer genetically-modified items and has made efforts to reduce the amount of unsustainable seafood it sells. The author argues that TJ's next step is to appeal to a wider customer base beyond its traditionally middle-class followers.
- This week, President Obama announced $30 million in emergency drought assistance measures for struggling farmers. After his first meeting with the White House Rural Council in over a year, Obama focused his weekly address on the drought affecting many of the country's agricultural producers. He urged Congress to pass a Farm Bill that provides more assistance to farmers in times of crisis, and encouraged citizens to call their policymakers and push for a speedy Farm Bill passage in the coming session. Currently, over half of the country's corn crop is in poor or very poor condition.
- The Food and Drug Administration is considering adding an "added sugar" component to the federally-required Nutrition Facts label. The FDA sought public comment on this measure, which they posit will help consumers who are often unaware of how much added sugar is contained in processed foods. Several industry groups, such as the National Dairy Council and the American Bakers Association, have come forward to protest the label. Their position is that added sugar and natural sugar are chemically identical and therefore need not be labeled separately, and that separate labeling could confuse consumers.
- This week is National Farmer's Market Week. Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan unveiled new farmer's markets statistics, which showed almost a 10% growth in the number of markets over the past year. There are more than 7,800 registered markets across the country, and probably many more that are unregistered. California has the highest number of markets (827) and New York comes in second (647). The mid-Atlantic, Northeast and Southeast had the highest percentage growth in market listings this year.
- A new study suggests that students in states with strict laws about in-school junk food sales are less overweight than students in states with no restrictions. Rates of overweight and obesity decreased by several percentage points between fifth and eighth grade among students whose schools restricted junk food sales. But students in schools with lax or no regulation had the same rate of overweight/obesity in both grades. The study could prove important for schools and states currently debating junk food regulation.
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.