The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Food Policy On The Radio Today

June 17th, 2009 · 2 Comments · Posted in food news, kids, Wellness

Tune into Kojo Nnamdis show at noon

Tune into Kojo Nnamdi's show at noon

Don’t miss Kojo Nnamdi’s show at noon today when the discussion will center on food policy and some of the barriers to getting fresh local foods to people of lesser means, the people who really need it most. The Slow Cook will not be among the guests, but we did play a small role in formulating the show. Participants include Michael F. Curtin of D.C. Central Kitchen, Anne Harvey Yonkers of FreshFarm Markets, Mark Toigo of Toigo Orchards, and our farmer friend Leigh Hauter of Bull Run Mountain Farm.

If you can’t tune in at noon, the show is usually archived and available online within an hour of taping.

Fresh produce continues to make headlines. Yesterday Michelle Obama was exhorting her White House Garden partners from Bancroft Elementary School to spread the word about using fresh fruits and vegetables to build healthier school meals and fight obesity. It’s not exactly clear where the First Lady is headed with this, however, in terms of federal policy. Does she mean to rewrite the federal dietary guidelines or upend the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s infamous food pyramid?

Although there’s plenty of nutrition in fresh produce, it’s not where we look to get most of our calories. For that you have to talk about proteins, fats and carbohydrates, and currently our federal guidelines are grossly tilted toward carbohydrates, which helps explain why we are seeing an epidemic of obesity and related diseases–diabetes, hypertension, atherosclerosis. We could go a long way toward improving child nutrition and adult nutrition as well by reversing the trend toward carbohydrates and incorporating more healthy proteins and fats in the national diet.

Why do I think this isn’t what Michelle Obama means, and who is advising her on the science behind a healthy food policy? While giving the kids a lesson in healthy eating yesterday, for instance, the Obamas’ chef Sam Kass was showing them how to bread chicken and bake it, rather than frying it. What’s the lesson here? You can’t eat chicken without coating it with refined flour? It could have been excellent moment for teaching kids the difference between good fats and bad fats, and why fats are necessary for good nutrition. Instead, they just played into the tired, low-fat dogma and pushed more carbs.

Maureen Dowd picks up on the Obamas’ muddled food messages in her column today. One minute they’re lecturing on fresh vegetables and obesity, the next they’re treating their staff to more burgers and fries. We’re with Maureen on this one. Skip the burger joints and start serving fish and snap peas. (Make that sustainable fish).

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  • Vin - NaturalBias

    It’s at least refreshing to see fruit and vegetables be emphasized, particularly from a garden, but most people already know this is a big part of healthy eating.

    Refined grains are one of the biggest causes of health problems today. As you suggested, baking breaded chicken instead of frying it totally misses the point. It’s similar to the misconception that organic snack food, such as cookies, is healthy just because it’s organic. Not quite!

    The one good thing about Michele Obama promoting breaded chicken is that she’s at least not promoting vegetarianism. (I don’t have anything against vegetarians, I just think many people are hard pressed to maintain their health and well being with such a diet.)

  • Ed Bruske

    Vin, it will be interesting to see where Michelle Obama goes with this since the only real obstacles to serving more unprocessed fruits and vegetables in schools in money. Schools are struggling now to maintian their lunch programs as they are, pushing tons of cheap carbs. Where would the additional money come from?