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Food News Wrap: Aug. 19

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Please, summer, don’t end yet. Pretty please? We’re happy to see all sorts of farm-fresh stories in the news this week, which makes us sort of feel like summer is still in full bloom. Top of the news this week: Fifty young people have become the first class of FoodCorps, a national service organization dedicated to addressing childhood obesity and diet-related disease by building school gardens and developing Farm to School programs. FoodCorps service members will work with local food service directors to source more school meal ingredients from local farmers. They will also provide nutrition education to students.

The service members are spending this week training for their year-long placements; then they will report to sites in 10 states around the U.S. Best of luck to them on this worthy project!

Speaking of farms, the L.A. Times has a great look at efforts around California to connect WIC participants with local farm-fresh produce. One example of how this is a win-win on many levels: Farmers in Ojai had been discarding or donating the tiniest of their Pixie tangerines — those too small for markets. But once the produce vouchers, coupons that can be used only for fruits and vegetables, came into use, the farmers started selling Pixies for what it cost to pick them to WIC-only stores — about 40,000 pounds last season. Worth noting: There are 7 million WIC recipients in California, according to the L.A. Times.

Also in the news this week:

Picnic Dinners: Someone else who doesn’t want summer to end is Ceri from Sweet Potato Chronicles. She has a list of 5 Perfect Picnic Dinner Recipes that will make you want to extend summer well into October.

Cooking from Scratch: The New York Times looks at the “back-to-scratch” movement in school cafeterias, particularly those in lower-income districts that have had a harder time keeping up with the trend away from chicken nuggets and greasy pizza. The story profiles the Greeley, Colorado, school district and its work with Cook for America to learn healthier ways to cook school lunch.

$5 Challenge: Slow Food USA has launched a $5 Challenge as part of  its campaign to “take back the value meal.” On Sept. 17, the campaign will launch with a Day of Action where people can attend any one of the hundreds of slow food gatherings nationwide. To participate in The $5 Challenge, all you have to do is pledge to cook a slow food meal for five dollars or less, or attend a local event.

The “Nag Factor”: Why is childhood obesity continuing to be a problem? Could it be that kids “nag” their parents in the store to buy products that appeal to them? A new study published in the Journal of Children and Media found that a bombardment of packaging, characters, and commercials has caused kids to nag their parents unrelentingly to request advertised items. Of course, parents must resist the nag. But this would also be a good time to continue cracking down on marketing junk food to kids.

Bug Repelling-Foods: Last but not least, if you’re still eating your summer meals outside, this might be a good time to learn about what to eat to repel bugs. You’ve probably thought of garlic already, but what about grapefruit. Or…Marmite?

Happy (summer) weekend to all!

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