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BALTIMORE, Md. - A "social movement" around food is developing in the United States, as consumers who feel helpless about other issues see they can excess control over what they eat, said nutrition professor and author Marion Nestle during a keynote address last week at the Natural Products Expo East Show here.
"During a time when people feel totally helpless about climate change and the war in Iraq, they see they can do something about food," said Nestle, who spoke to a packed room full of conference attendees.
One of the trends in this growing movement is a "grassroots effort to deal with how animals that are raised for food are treated," Nestle noted. "This is a very large movement."
Nestle also pointed to Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, who's been working to combat childhood obesity, as well as health-focused efforts going on in the Berkeley, Calif. and New York City school systems. "Kids at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley are participating in an Edible Schoolyard, where they get to grow, harvest, prepare, and eat food," she noted.
Meanwhile, at Calhoun School, a private school in New York City's Upper West Side neighborhood, Chef Bobo from the French Culinary Institute has revamped the school's lunch program with the goal of offering students, faculty, and staff a nutritious alternative to the institutional food traditionally offered.
"People have an increasing awareness of how important food is in their lives," explained Nestle, "They can vote with their fork for the kind of food system they want."
Nestle also spoke about consumers' confusion over health and wellness, thanks to an abundance of information being reported in the media. "I tell people it's extremely simple to be healthy. Eat less, move more, eat more fruits and vegetables, don't eat too much junk food, and enjoy," she said.
Nestle is known for her thought-provoking books, "Food Politics," "Safe Food," and her latest, "What to Eat," which aims to guide consumers through the typical supermarket. She's a frequent speaker at food industry events, and has been called a "food cop" for her criticism of some of the industry's practices.
-- Jenny McTaggart