As Michael Pollan mentions in Food Rules: Avoid food products that make health claims. This is great advice because health claims made by processed food manufacturers are rarely what they seem. In reality, what we find is: (1) The claims often have minimal scientific basis or are grossly exaggerated; (2) The claims are often justified not because the actual primary product has the healthy nutrients but instead because nutrients are added during processing, which can mean the nutrients are not absorbed by your body as effectively as if those same nutrients are delivered from fresh fruits/vegetables in their natural state; and (3) The claims fail to mention that while the product may have some sort of healthy vitamins or antioxidants, any benefit is usually outweighed by the fact that the same product is also loaded with unhealthy amounts of sugar, fat and/or salt. The best course for your health is to simply eat an apple or some broccoli rather than relying on some sugary cereal or fat-laden salty snack that claims to deliver the same nutrients. The LA Times recently ran an interesting editorial regarding this situation and two very common products, Frosted Mini Wheats and Pom Wonderful. Check it out here and get the real story.
It is often challenging enough to think about our local food systems. Unfortunately, Globalization has occurred. Our food system is a web of connections that have provided lots of unhealthy food being pushed on everyone from poor children to rich sports fans. While any meaningful analysis of this situation is beyond the scope of our project it is still important that we become aware of food issues on the national and international level. Fortunately we have many great digital storytellers out there. A good place to start is with the BBC documentary on the Future of Food. [Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3]
In the future we’ll provide links to other vaulable resources (films, books, articles, and websites).
Botany of Desire
The Economics of Happiness
Please contribute your favorites which we may share with the community.
UCLA presented their report and an on-line tool at the August 2013 LA Food Policy meeting. The report tacks regulations across the 82 cities in LA County. Their on-line tool allows us to track School and Community Gardens, Farms and Nurseries in town.
The really cool thing about this is that the client is the UC Cooperative Extension, which includes us Master Gardeners, and we can distribute the burden of fleshing out the database and finding ways to plug this tool into the exciting and essential discussion of Urban Ag in Los Angeles County.
It seems like this keeps going on forever. While some City Council members say they support parkway vegetable gardens, an actual ordinance change continues to elude us for two years now. And all the while city workers are going after those who plant edibles in their parkways with cease and desist orders and fines. Check out the July 30 LA Times story by Steve Lopez.
OK, so our amazing insight into distributed neighborhood farms is not exactly unique. It’s good to know we’re all pushing for a solution – hope you enjoy this story…