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Salmon Struggles, Pea Powder Power, and More in Food Policy This Week

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Need a hand? Photograph: Google Images

Vermont Requires Labeling of GMO Foods

Last week, Vermont lawmakers passed a bill that would require all food producers in the state to label food products containing genetically-modified organisms, or GMOs. The bill, which will take effect July 1, 2016, is one of only few successful pieces of state legislation addressing GMO labeling. Naturally, many food industry members are up in arms about the bill. Some are (perhaps rightly) concerned that 50 individual pieces of legislation monitoring GMO labeling would make regulation of such bills incredibly difficult. But national efforts at implementing mandatory GMO labeling have failed. Perhaps a state-by-state campaign is the next frontier for anti-GMO activists.

Struggling Salmon Trucked Out to Sea

We've discussed the impact of devastating drought in California on agricultural production. But how is impacting fisheries? Many west coast salmon are having trouble migrating this season, as shallow rivers make it impossible for them to reach the ocean. Consequently, the government is intervening and freighting salmon out to the Pacific by truck and boat. The hope is that these fish will find their way back upstream in a few years, maintaining business for local fishermen. These efforts come at a time when California salmon populations are already depleted and facing extinction in some regions. Few farmers or government agency members hope that freighting will become a long-term solution. Hopefully when rains return, salmon will be able to migrate without human intervention.

Communal Weight Loss is More Effective

With ongoing debates about whether obesity should be labeled a disease and the "obesity crisis" reaching headlines each week, many nutritionists and doctors are prioritizing weight loss among obese patients. But what's the most effective way for overweight folks to see results? Drs. Walter Willett and Malissa Wood in Massachusetts encourage exercising and dieting as part of a community, rather than trying to go it alone. They also emphasize to patients that becoming obese is a combination of factors you can and can't control. Living in a neighborhood with poor food options or unsafe public spaces for exercise is outside of many people's control. But avoiding the candy bowl at a coworker's desk is an easy step towards better eating. Read an in-depth interview with the doctors over at The Atlantic.

Peas Are the New Name in Protein Bars

Many American eaters are seeking high-protein diets while also decreasing their meat consumption. So food manufacturers are looking for novel ways to pack protein into their products. Enter yellow pea powder, the secret ingredient in protein bars, egg replacements, and many other alternative processed foods. General Mills was so enthusiastic about buying up yellow pea powder for its products that they've created a shortage of the stuff. Pulses like peas, lentils, and chickpeas are low in fat and cholesterol and high in fiber and protein, making them appealing to manufacturers seeking the high-margin health foods market. So now when you pick up a Larabar and wonder what makes it so tasty, you know it's chock-full of veggies.

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