By Young-Rok Shin, MD, MPH
Tired of reading about Hurricane Irene, check out these stories from the week of 8/22/2011.
In As Farmers’ Markets Go Mainstream, Some Fear a Glut Kate Zezima of the New York Times reported, that although the recent surge in popularity of farmers’ markets has led to greater and easier accessibility to fresh farm produce for many consumers, the number of new markets being created may actually be greater than the demand for their products. Many farmers are reporting substantial decreases in their profit margins and are facing greater transportation and labor costs as they try to supply more markets in order to keep their revenues up.
Another article related to the Food Safety Modernization Act was written by Wired.com’s Maryn McKenna: Food Safety in China, and the Risk to the U.S.. In it, she goes over the long list of food-safety related problems that are occurring in China and the risk that it poses to countries that import Chinese food products. Even without budget cuts, the FDA has stated that it will not be able to keep up with the anticipated number of inspections of imported foods that it has been newly mandated to do.
Time Magazine’s Bryan Walsh wrote, Can FoodCorps Get America to Eat Healthfully?, about a new organization called FoodCorps that is trying to reduce obesity by promoting school gardens and farm-to-school programs. Although they only have funding for 50 fellows to go out and host sites around the country, they are just getting started and hope to improve access to fresh food for some of our most vulnerable populations.
Finally, MSNBC’s Allison Linn reported in Some fast food gets a fresh makeover,that some fast-food chains are trying to change their image to a healthier one. But instead of trying to reduce the calorie count of their products, they are responding to survey data that indicates that customers want “fresh ingredients” more than they want lower calories. That said, chains such as McDonald’s and Burger King have recently added some healthier options to their menus, such as oatmeal for breakfast or children’s meals with apple slices.
This last article brings up what is probably a major issue with regard to healthy diet, which is that many people may simply not understand what healthy food really is. With all the conflicting information out there from various sources, this is hardly surprising, but the prioritization of “fresh ingredients” probably comes from our association of “fresh” with “healthy”. Unfortunately as we can see here, the use of fresh ingredients may be quite desirable, and the fresh vegetables themselves are undoubtedly healthy, but that alone doesn’t make the whole package (or hamburger) a healthy option.