In Food Policy This Week: 5 News Bites

A roundup of news clippings we're reading that affect the way we eat.

Cory Booker's Food Stamp Challenge; American Olive Oil; Diet Climate

  • Newark Mayor Cory Booker decided to take on the "food stamp challenge." The challenge entails shopping within the budget of a person who receives SNAP benefits for one week. The average SNAP benefits for an individual in New Jersey is $133 a month, or about $33 per week. Booker has maintained his diet through meetings at swanky restaurants and bakeries. The challenge will end tomorrow.
  • About 98% of olive oil sold in the U.S. is imported, but our domestic olive oil industry is growing. Domestic producers are beginning to push back against imported oils, claiming that the quality of these products is often not high enough to warrant an "extra-virgin" label. Brands such as Filippo Berio and Bertolli were indicated as being particularly iffy. Right now foreign brands maintain dominance, but domestic brands might gain reputation as the purest olive oils if quality continues to be an issue.
  • HumanMedia has produced a series of radio segments discussing the diet-climate connection. These pieces, which will be aired on NPR stations, focus on food purchasing and preparation in schools, the carbon footprint of agriculture, and the impact of eating locally. The stories highlight food activists at all levels of government and community engagement.
  • Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack gave a speech last week in which he discussed the decreasing relevance of rural America. He suggested that Congress' failure to pass a new Farm Bill this year was an indicator of the shrinking importance of rural issues. He called for farming communities to pick stronger and more compelling political issues, and to have a proactive message so as to attract younger and more motivated people to agriculture.
  • In other USDA news, the department announced this week that it will eliminate restrictions on the amount of meat and grains that schools can serve in lunches. This change comes after some legislators complained that kids weren't getting enough to eat at school. The restrictions were part of a larger package of nutritional regulations implemented with the goal of reducing obesity rates among young schoolchildren.

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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