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Transforming Food Policy Through Science from Coast to Coast

From Let’s Move! to farmers markets, the conversation about how public health science is informing and leading to healthier food policies and food environments is growing. And at every level, good things are happening. Leading up to the May 6 Science and Democracy Forum on “Science, Democracy, and a Healthy Food Policy,” we asked for examples of people using scientific and public health evidence to improve food environments. Here’s a flavor of some of the work highlighted in your responses: Read More

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Cows Are the Real Hogs: The IPCC and the Demand Side of Agriculture

One small but important breakthrough in the new IPCC report on climate mitigation, released Sunday in Berlin, is that the chapter on agriculture, forest, and other land use (AFOLU) looks at the demand side, not just supply. In other words, it not only asks how we can create less global warming pollution in producing food and wood products, but also what kinds of food and wood products we ought to be producing and consuming if we want to avoid catastrophic climate change. Read More

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Death, Taxes, and Food

The taxman cometh. At my house, the 1040 is signed and the check is written, joining millions of others in the mail this week. Recently, the U.S. Treasury Department reported that improvement in the U.S. economy is leading to rising revenues from federal taxes. But just what are our tax dollars buying? Read More

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The Long Road to Healthier Living

In February, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published data in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggesting that obesity rates for pre-school-aged children are declining. On Monday, a different team of scientists published a study in JAMA Pediatrics which found no such decline, and also that rates of severe childhood obesity are climbing. Both studies agreed that overall child obesity rates have stalled for the last decade. Read More

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Science, Democracy and a Healthy Food Environment

There is a clear connection between diet and major diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some cancers, osteoporosis, and dental cavities. So, I keep asking—why doesn’t the science of public health undergird food policy in the U.S.? Read More

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How Many Products with Palm Oil Do I Use in a Day?

I’ve heard it. You’ve heard it. We’ve all heard it. In fact, I’ve even written it, “While most U.S. consumers have never gone to the supermarket and purchased a bottle of palm oil directly, as they would, say, canola or olive oil, chances are good that they use a product containing palm oil every day.” Read More

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What Are We Doing with our Planet’s Land? A Report from Berlin

I’m in Berlin at the Global Land Project conference, a biennial gathering of about 1000 scientists who study how we Earthlings use our world. I gave a talk on beef compared to other meats in the informal “Pecha Kucha” format, which requires you to use only 20 slides, each displayed for only 20 seconds. It was fun, but the big excitement has been hearing new ideas presented by researchers from all over the world.
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A Tipping Point for Palm Oil, Deforestation, and Peat?

History is happening all the time, but usually without us realizing it. Only rarely do we experience a change so dramatic that we know that what’s happening today will be remembered fifty or a hundred years in the future. The kind of thing that you’ll tell your grandchildren about. This is especially the case for so-called “tipping points,” celebrated in both scientific and popular writing. Usually, you only realize that something was a tipping point after you’re well past it. But sometimes…

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Is Palm Oil-Driven Deforestation the Secret Ingredient in Your Favorite Products?

Like most Americans, I’m really devoted to the products I buy. I’ve been using Old Spice since I was 15 and entered my “Frank Sinatra” phase, on a bad day nothing cheers me up quite like a bowl (or six) of Lucky Charms or Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and seeing a Taco Bell sign or McDonald’s golden arches on a long car trip never fails to reinvigorate me. For better or worse, we Americans have developed an attachment to these brands and the companies that make them. Read More

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Beet Still My Heart: A Valentine Message for the USDA

When I was a little kid, I loved those candy “conversation hearts” we exchanged on Valentine’s Day. I always wanted the ones that said “Be Mine” and (most exciting) “Kiss Me”. Those little treats are still fun—though they look a bit different today, emblazoned as they are with previously unknown sentiments including “Text Me” and “LOL”. But this Valentine’s Day, I’m thinking less about heart-shaped candy, and more about my actual heart (and yours), and what they need to beat long into the future. Read More

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