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Food Policy & Politics

See also: Food Assistance, Local Food, Slow Food and Sustainable Agriculture

Selected Books

Berg, Joel
All You Can Eat: How Hungry Is America?
HV696.F6 B453 2008
Berg, director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, serves up a ton of data and statistics to show that one in eight Americans today is "food insecure" and that current programs don't solve the problem.
Bloom, Jonathan
American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (And What We Can Do about It)
HD9005.B654 2010
"Journalist Bloom follows the trajectory of America's food from gathering to garbage bin in this compelling and finely reported study, examining why roughly half of our harvest ends up in landfills or rots in the field." -- Publishers Weekly. Follow Bloom on his blog:
Ettlinger, Steve
Twinkie, Deconstructed: My Journey to Discover How the Ingredients Found in Processed Foods Are Grown, Mined (Yes, Mined), and Manipulated into What America Eats
TX553.A3 E85 2007
For consumers who have wondered about multisyllabic ingredients in processed foods, a New York author who has appeared on the Food Network and worked as a chef demystifies them. Drawing on interviews with industry professionals, Ettlinger reveals that these snack cakes and other popular products are concocted from byproducts of chlorine bleaching, gypsum mining, petroleum processing, and other chemicals also used in non-food products--which explains the Department of Homeland Security's role in food supply protection. -- Book News
Food (Opposing Viewpoints)
Laura K. Egendorf, book editor
HV6432.F64 2006
This Opposing Viewpoints book covers 4 questions: Is America's Food Supply Safe?; How Should Farms Be Operated?; What Causes Obesity?; and How Can Hunger Be Reduced?
Greenberg, Paul
Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food
SH167.S17 G74 2010
Paul Greenberg, a fisherman and a journalist for the New York Times Magazine and National Geographic, fears we've reduced the fish we consume to just four species: sea bass, cod, salmon, and tuna, and as a result we are overfishing them to the point where there will be none in the wild.
Kalafa, Amy
Lunch Wars: How to Start a School Food Revolution and Win the Battle for Our Children's Health
LB3479.U6 K35 2011
Award-winning filmmaker (Two Angry Moms) and nutritionist Amy Kalafa arms parents with the specific information and tools they need to get unhealthy food out of their children's school cafeteria and to hold their schools and local and national governments accountable for ensuring that their growing children are served healthy meals at school.
Lautenschlager, Julie L.
Food Fight!: The Battle Over the American Lunch in Schools and the Workplace
GT2853.U5 L38 2006
This study of the contentious history of the American lunch explains how divergent forces, from food processors and advertisers to social workers, doctors, government representatives and mothers, have influenced America's eating habits. (Book jacket)
Let Them Eat Precaution: How Politics is Undermining the Genetic Revolution in Agriculture
Edited by Jon Entine
SB106.B56 L48 2006
This book focuses on the risk and rewards of genetic modification, the differing paths the dialogue on GM has followed in Europe and the developing world in contrast to the United States, how the debate impacts the commercial realities of companies developing new products, and strategies for a more rational and internationally coordinated public policy.
Levine, Susan
School Lunch Politics: The Surprising History of America's Favorite Welfare Program
LB3479.U6 L48 2008
The School Lunch Program is one of the most popular yet flawed social welfare programs in our nation's history. School Lunch Politics from Princeton University Press traces its history from its origins in early twentieth-century nutrition science, through the establishment of the National School Lunch Program in 1946, to the transformation of school meals into a poverty program during the 1970s and 1980s.
Moss, Michael
Salt, Sugar, Fat : How the Food Giants Hooked Us
Pulitzer-winning New York Times reporter Moss (Palace Coup) reveals how companies use salt, sugar and fat to addict us to their processed foods. The food industry itself would cease to exist without salt, sugar and fat. Read more in The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food.
Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools: Leading the Way Toward Healthier Youth
LB3479.U6 N88 2007
Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools from the National Academies Press, offers both reviews and recommendations about appropriate nutrition standards and guidance for the sale, content, and consumption of foods and beverages at school, with attention given to foods and beverages (such as soft drinks and vending machine snacks) offered in competition with federally reimbursable meals and snacks. This is also available online.
Pollan, Michael
In Defense Of Food: An Eater's Manifesto
RA784.P643 2008a
"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
Pollan, Michael
The Omnivore's Dilemma: a Natural History of Four Meals
GT2850.P65 2006
Pollan holds that US government subsidies to farmers artificially hold down corn and soybean prices and benefit meat and food processors to the detriment of the environment and the American consumer, not to mention the poor cow.
Poppendieck, Janet
Free for All: Fixing School Food in America
LB3479.U6 P55 2010
How did our children end up eating nachos, pizza, and Tater Tots for lunch? How did we get into the absurd situation in which nutritionally regulated meals compete with fast food items and snack foods loaded with sugar, salt, and fat? This is a publication from the University of California's "California Studies in Food and Culture".
Robin, Marie-Monique
The World According to Monsanto: Pollution, Corruption, and the Control of Our Food Supply
HD9482.U64 M6613 2010
French journalist and filmmaker Robin covers dioxin, Roundup, the bovine growth hormone affair that scientists suppressed, the iron law of the patenting of life, Monsanto's lost battle over transgenic wheat in North America, the soybeans of hunger in Argentina, the seeds of suicide in India, and how multinational corporations control the world's food.
Singer, Peter and Jim Mason
The Way We Eat: Why our Food Choices Matter
TX357.S527 2006
Read why the authors feel that: "America's food industry seeks to keep Americans in the dark about the ethical components of their food choices."

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Garcia, Deborah Koons
The Future of Food
(DVD) TP248.65.F66 F8826 2004x
This documentary film examines the growing prevalence of unlabeled genetically-modified foods and the complex web of market and political forces involved and explores organic and sustainable agriculture as alternatives to large-scale industrial agriculture.
King Corn
(DVD) HD9049.C8 U16585 2007x
Fueled by curiosity and a dash of naiveté, college buddies Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis return to their ancestral home of Greene, Iowa, to find out how the modest corn kernel conquered America. With the help of real farmers, powerful fertilizer, government aid, and genetically modified seeds, the friends manage to grow one acre of corn. Along the way, they unlock the hidden truths about America's modern food system.
Real Food: the Cost of Convenience
(DVD) TX370.R433 2008x
Follows the history of the post-World War II flight to convenient, processed foods. Illustratrates how much we pay, in both dollars and nutrition, when we buy processed foods. Shows how buying local products, fresh ingredients, and raw foods will impact health as well as wallets.
Super Size Me
(DVD) RA645.O23 S873 2004x
Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock embarks on a journey to find out if fast food is making Americans fat. For 30 days he can't eat or drink anything that isn't on McDonald's menu; he must eat three square meals a day, he must eat everything on the menu at least once and supersize his meal if asked.

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Pittsburgh & Pennsylvania

  • Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
    Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank distributes over 1 million pounds of food and grocery products each month to 350 agencies in the 12 county region of Southwestern Pennsylvania.
  • Just Harvest
    An Allegheny County-wide membership organization which promotes economic justice and works to influence public policy and to educate, empower, and mobilize the citizens of our community towards the elimination of hunger
  • Pennsylvania Hunger Action Center
    Pennsylvania Hunger Action Center, formerly Pennsylvania Coalition for Food and Nutrition, is a non-profit political advocacy organization working with partners across the Commonwealth to end hunger. Hunger Action's mission focuses on ensuring food security for all Pennsylvanians.
  • Pittsburgh Public Schools: Food Services
    Check out the free/reduced meal programs and the current school menu.

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United States

  • Food Environment Atlas
    This interactive map by the USDA allows you to get statistics for your county for a variety of categories, including availability of various kids of food stores, restaurants (and expenditures there per capita), statistics for food assistance (SNAP and school lunches), food eaten at home (fruits & vegetables, prepared foods, soft drinks, meat and poultry and solid fats), food insecurity, food prices at stores, health rates for diabetes and obesity, "local food" (farm sales) statistics, physical activity and racial/ethnic makeup. There are figures for various years for comparison.
  • Food Desert Locator
    This tool from the USDA presents a spatial overview of where food-desert census tracts are located; provides selected population characteristics of food-desert census tracts; and offers data on food-desert census tracts that can be downloaded for community planning or research purposes.
  • Food Research & Action Center (FRAC)
    A nonprofit, nonpartisan research and public policy center working to improve public policies to eradicate hunger and undernutrition in the United States. Go here for state by state evaluations of government food programs, the latest news, and information on hunger in the US.
  • National Academies Press: School Meals: Building Blocks for Healthy Children
    This is an Institute of Medicine 2009 report that reviews and provides recommendations to update the nutrition standard and the meal requirements for the National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs.
  • Smarter Lunchrooms
    The Smarter Lunchrooms research project by Brian Wansink, a professor at Cornell University who specializes in eating behavior, has developed several strategies that help students make better food choices through psychology and marketing.
  • USDA Food & Nutrition Service: New Nutrition Standards for School Meals
    This final rule, effective March 26, 2012, updates the meal patterns and nutrition standards for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs to align them with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This rule requires most schools to increase the availability of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free and low-fat fluid milk in school meals; reduce the levels of sodium, saturated fat and trans fat in meals; and meet the nutrition needs of school children within their calorie requirements.

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Last updated February 25, 2013