Calorie Listings of Fast-Food Restaurant Chains Legally Compliant, but too Complex

Calorie listings on fast-food chain restaurant menus might meet federal labeling requirements but do not do a good job of helping consumers try to make healthy meal choices, a new Columbia University School of Nursing (CUSON) study reports.  Calorie listings do not always give enough information to inform healthy selections and serving sizes complicates calorie calculations.

Value-Added Producer Grant Program Awards $40 Million to Boost Local Farm/Food Projects

USDA announces 298 awards in 44 states and Puerto Rico through the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program for agricultural producers, farmers, ranchers and small businesses and cooperatives.  Funds may be used for feasibility studies or business plans, working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy projects.

FDA Supports Facts Up Front Food Label Program, Revives Nationwide Debate on Nutrition Labels and Consumer Education

The FDA supports the Facts Up Front program, a front-of-pack nutrition labelling program led by trade groups, Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI). The program was launched just weeks before the Institute of Medicine (IOM)’s own front-of-pack (FOP) nutrition labelling.  Each program highlights different aspects of nutritional content on its labels and the debate around how to simplify labels so they are not confusing, misleading or too complex for the average consumer to decipher in the grocery aisle.

Hunger in America, New Sundance 2012 Documentary

‘Finding North' examines hunger in the US and the serious economic, social and cultural implications for the nation.  The film argues that 49 million Americas are hungry and profiles three Americans that shed light on food insecurity, diet related diseases, and government spending on food stamps and childhood nutrition programs.

Big Food: Health, Culture, and the Evolution of Eating, an Interactive Exhibit

Peabody, in collaboration with the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement at the Yale School of Public Health and the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, launched an interactive, comprehensive and hands-on exhibit about what we eat.   The exhibit encompasses wide-ranging points from behavioral choices in nutrition and exercise to the sustainability of our food system.


Everybody at the Table for Health (EAT4Health) is a three-year national leadership development initiative to encourage the federal food policy advocacy ecosystem to be more inclusive of low-income and people of color communities, responsive to grassroots needs and ideas and effective in strengthening community well-being.  Visit EAT4Health’s website to learn more about this initiative and how community-based organizing groups and national advocacy organizations can apply for funding.

Fast Food Breakfast Is One of the Swiftest Growing Areas in the Entire Restaurant Industry

Taco Bell announced that it will join its competitors, including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Subway, by adding a breakfast menu at nearly 800 restaurants across 10 Western states. Breakfast accounted for 60 percent of the restaurant industry’s growth over the last five years, according to a 2010 report from NPD Group.

The Essential Urban Farmer

This 500 page manual on urban farming by Novella Carpenter and Willow Rosenthal provides tips on how to create a thriving urban farm. Topics in the book include “Raising City Vegetables and Fruits” and “Raising City Animals.” The book illustrates that it makes economic sense to garden if you have more time than money and how low-income individuals can eat organic healthy food that is cost effective.

New Federal Planting Map Reflects Warming

The U.S. Department of Agriculture updated their colorful Plant Hardiness Zone Map, a useful tool for gardeners and researchers, which shows a warmer 21st century. Using better weather data and more interactive technology, the online map has 26 zones that are searchable by zip code. Entire states, including Ohio, Nebraska and Texas, are now in warmer zones.,8599,2105366,00.html

USDA Announces Greater Flexibility for Beginning and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers

The USDA Farm Service Agency has announced a new rule that expands loan opportunities for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, while also establishing a new Land Contract Guarantee Program. The rule provides additional flexibility allowing FSA loan officers to consider all prior farming experience, including on-the-job training and formal education, when determining eligibility for FSA's farm operating and ownership loans.

Stoneyfield Farm to Show Consumers What’s Really in Their Food in New Campaign

Stonyfield Farm launched a year-long “Know Your Food” campaign to help consumers understand the origins and ingredients of the food they eat. Visit their new website to go on a Know Your Food Journey, learn how food is produced, what’s in the things we eat, and how all of this impacts consumers, communities, and the planet.

House Ag Chairman Says Ag Groups Need to Come Together

House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) says there is still a possibility to finish a farm bill in 2012. He urges farm groups to come to some sort of consensus on how commodity programs should work in the future as a one-size-fits-all bill is not workable. Instead, he argues, the bill needs to contain options for the various commodity programs.;jsessionid=843434403AE369E7D84BD1AB4077B89A.agfreejvm2?symbolicName=/free/agpolicy/news/template1&product=/ag/news/agpolicy/features&vendorReference=0702DA75&paneContentId=70120&paneParentId=70104

Healthy Meals and Healthy Kids

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released a new rule that requires schools that participate in federally funded school lunch programs to increase the availability of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free and low-fat fluid milk in school meals, reduce levels of sodium, saturated fat and trans fats in meals, and meet the nutrition needs of school children within their calorie requirements. The updated lunch regulations are challenging food entrepreneurs to prepare healthier, tasty, and affordable school meals.

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Announces Introduction of Local Food Bill

Senator Brown of Ohio and Representative Pingree of Maine introduced a comprehensive bill Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act for the 2012 Farm Bill. The bill addresses local and regional food system development, supports family farms, invests in communities, and improves access to healthy food by revising and expanding existing federal farm programs.

Is the Food Industry Eating Your Kid’s Lunch?

Advocates who fight for better food at schools across the country are questioning the alliance between companies that manufacture processed food and companies that serve school meals. A fourth of the school nutrition program has been privatized, much of it outsourced to food service management giants that work with food manufactures, which create highly processed food.

Organic Can Feed the World

The debate on organic agriculture’s ability to address global food security continues. Barry Estabrook asserts that the claim that organic agriculture cannot produce enough food is a tired argument. He names several scientific research studies that conclude organic and other sustainable farming methods are necessary to feed the future world.