Report Lots to Lose: How America's Health and Obesity Crisis Threatens Our Economic Future

A bipartisan group of former U.S. cabinet secretaries released a comprehensive and actionable plan to improve America's physical and fiscal crises. Former Secretaries of Agriculture Dan Glickman and Ann M. Veneman and former Secretaries of Health and Human Services Donna E. Shalala and Mike Leavitt released the recommendations, calling needed attention to mounting health care spending, which is expected to reach $4.6 trillion dollars annually by 2020 and consume 19.8 percent of GDP.

Corporate Social Responsibility Newswire Interview with Dr. Oran Hesterman, Food Systems Hero

Dr. Oran Hesterman is the founder of Fair Food Network and a strategic advisor to the HUFED Center. He has worked in the business of sustainable food and food justice for decades and has helped shape food system language and thinking. This interview tells the story of what inspired Dr. Hesterman to pursue this work, how he defines a sustainable food system, and why food justice is an important component of sustainability.

Malnutrition in the U.S.: Signs of Hunger Not Always Obvious

In the U.S. nearly all people consume enough calories daily but they are not necessarily getting the nutrients they need for long-term health. Malnutrition, meaning bad nutrition, is most likely to occur among the poor. Organizations working to help the hungry are trying to address individual nutritional needs and provide healthy alternatives such as fresh fruits and vegetables, often with the help of local farmers.

Organic Industry Continues to Grow, Despite Price Premiums

The organic industry experienced 9.5% growth in 2011, showing that consumers perceive organic food as value-added products worth the premium. At the same time, the price gap is narrowing for some organic products, such as lettuce, making it easier for the budget-minded consumer to choose organic over conventional products.

Forbes Publishes List of Ideas to Conquer U.S. Obesity Problem

Medical researcher Ramzi Omri responds to the questionWhat Are Some Hypothetical, Aggressive Ways To Deal With National Obesity?” Questions were generated by Quora, a question and answer website, and Omri offers some solutions, from banning high fructose corn syrup to consumer education and better food labeling and packaging.

Why Are People Dying to Bring You Dinner? Farmworker Rights Still an Ongoing Battle

How fairly or ethically food is produced is often overlooked in sustainable food system discussions. Yet, farmworkers are dying every year from thirst and heat exposure due to lack of water or shade. Further, toxic pesticide exposure sends up to 20,000 farmworkers to the hospital annually.

Burger King Changes Purchasing Policy to Differentiate “Sustainable” and “Humane” Brand

Burger King Corp. pledged to transition its U.S. supply chain to 100% cage-free eggs by 2017 and to only purchase pork from suppliers who demonstrate documented plans to end their use of gestation crates for breeding pigs. Gestation crates are used in intensive pig farming to confine a female breeding pig during pregnancy; pigs are unable to turn around and the crates can be detrimental to animal welfare.

Video: Students Say Food Deserts Are Much More Complicated Than They Thought

In this video a group of students from the Rhode Island School of Design and Brown University address how to encourage healthier food choices in food deserts using a human-centered design. They discover that the availability of healthy food does not necessarily cause a shift in eating habits; education about how to prepare healthy, inexpensive meals is key, and making it fun is particularly important when trying to engage and educate youth.

Food as Medicine: Promoting Native Foods to Fight Diabetes Among American Indians

Potawot is a clinic in California and one of 17 American Indian organizations nationwide that received a $100,000 grant from the CDC’s Native Diabetes Wellness Program. The clinic is using the money to develop a comprehensive Food as Medicine program trying to re-establish the traditional ways American Indians think about food.

New Resources to Support Small Business

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) released a training curriculum for new and aspiring business owners: Money Smart for Small Business. FDIC and SBA will also form a Training Alliance for organizations that support small businesses through training, technical assistance, and/or mentoring.

Consumers Want to Know Where Their Food Comes From

Consumers are asking more questions about their food and where it comes from. In response, grocery stores are trying to meet consumer demand for more information and have changed the way they present food to their customers. Even McDonald’s is starting a ‘Meet our Suppliers’ campaign. Yet, price still remains a powerful factor in food choice.

Linking Policies that Prevent Hunger and Childhood Obesity

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released a brief “Making the Connection: Linking Policies that Prevent Hunger and Childhood Obesity” that outlines the relationship between food insecurity and obesity. Policies discussed in the brief include establishing healthy food financing initiatives to increase access to nutritious foods, supporting farm to institution and farm to school programs, and increasing free and reduced-price school meals.

The Health Care Costs of Obesity

According to a report by Trust for America’s Health, obesity is one of the biggest drivers of preventable chronic diseases and health care costs in the country. Reducing obesity rates by 5 percent could lead to more than $29 billion in health care savings over five years, $158.1 billion in 10 years, and $611.7 billion in 20 years.

Top 10 Restaurant Food Trends for the Year

The National Restaurant Association’s 2012 Restaurant Industry Forecast ranked the top 10 food trends for the year, with several geared toward children’s meals. The top five are healthful kids’ meals, fruit and vegetable sides in kids’ meals, gluten-free items, low-fat or nonfat milk and 100% orange juice options in kids’ meals, and locally sourced produce.

Regional Food Hub Resource Guide

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced the launch of a food hub guide, a new USDA tool to bolster expansion of market opportunities for small and mid-sized U.S. producers. This resource was developed in partnership with the Wallace Center at Winrock International, the National Good Food Network, the National Association of Produce Market Managers, and the Project for Public Spaces, as part of the National Food Hub Collaboration.

Price Is Leading Factor in Deciding Where to Shop

A study completed by the NPD Group in March found that 85% of U.S. consumers say price is the leading factor in deciding where to shop, trumping sales, special deals, customer service, and convenience. Setting the right pricing strategy, therefore, is a competitive advantage for retailers and manufacturers but it is also more difficult today with changes in shopping habits and the soft U.S. economy.

Red Meat Consumption and Mortality

A long-term study completed by the Harvard School of Public Health and published by Archives of Internal Medicine finds that eating any amount and any type of red meat significantly increases the risk of premature death.  The study examined the eating habits and health of more than 110,000 adults for 20+ years.  Substitution of other healthy protein sources, such as nuts, is associated with a lower mortality risk.