Gross School Lunches, Record-Breaking Meat-Eating, and More in Food Policy This Week

In Food Policy This Week: 5 News Bites

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


Eat it or toss it? [Photograph: chidorian on Flickr]

'Fed Up' Campaign Highlights Gross School Lunches

Do Something is an organization all about engaging youth in activism. With Fed Up, they hope to empower kids to organize around school lunch reform. The site gives kids a platform to post pictures of their cafeteria lunches and vote whether they "Eat It" or "Toss It." This system reveals how many school lunches are routinely thrown. The project resulted in the collection of over 7,000 pictures of lunches and engaged over 25,000 students. They will soon be releasing a report on school lunch, with the intention of calling attention to the poor-quality food being served across the country.

Scientists Use Trophic Level to Measure Meat Consumption

Remember learning about trophic levels in high school biology? Yeah, me neither. But now, scientists are using our place in the food chain to figure out how humanity's meat consumption has changed over time. The trophic scale ranges from 1 (plants) to 5.5 (carnivores), and at last measurement we rank around a 2.21. Doesn't seem so meat intensive—unless you consider that our ranking has risen about .06, or 3%, since 2009. China and India continue to eat more and more meat, as the U.S., Australia, and parts of Europe have decreased meat consumption in the last few years.

'Foodopoly' Project Reveals Lack of Consumer Choice at Grocery Store

Food & Water Watch recently launched their 'Foodopoly' website, which teaches users about corporate consolidation in the food system. The quiz (which is hard—I only got 6 out of 10!) reveals that for many food products, one corporation controls 40% or more of the options on grocery store shelves. This lack of consumer choice results in lower prices paid to farmers, greater corporate control (which translates into political power), and often poorer labor conditions for those producing the food, not to mention environmental degradation associated with growing the crops for highly processed products. The site promotes the book Foodopoly, which we reviewed back in March.

New Tool Helps You Check Your Legislators' Records on Food Issues

Food Policy Action keeps track of how all American legislators vote on food-related issues, and ranks their voting records according to their dedication to keeping food "safe, healthy, and affordable." On their interactive map, you can click on your state and see how your senators and representatives voted on issues like the recent Farm Bill proposals, food stamp cuts, food safety amendments, crop insurance reform, and more. FPA has a progressive bias, but regardless of your political leanings, this tool is helpful to see what food issues are coming before Congress these days and how (and whether) your Congresspeople are representing your position.