junk food

Food reformulations and lifestyle change: China's plan to cut meat consumption by 50% , McDonald's swaps margarine to butter, Nestle reduces sodium, sugars, trans-fat, total fat, calories or artificial colourings

25 June 2016: China's plan to cut meat consumption by 50% 

China's plan to cut meat consumption by 50% cheered by climate campaigners - New dietary guidelines could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1bn tonnes by 2030, and could lessen country’s problems with obesity and diabetes by Oliver Milman and Stuart Leavenworth in Beijing Monday 20 June 2016 21.08 BST  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/20/chinas-meat-consumption-climate-change?

Infographic - Less Meat, Less Heat from WildAid https://vimeo.com/170833983

Eat less meat to avoid dangerous global warming, scientists say - Research led by Oxford Martin School finds widespread adoption of vegetarian diet would cut food-related emissions by 63% and make people healthier too. Livestock-rearing is a major cause of greenhouse gases, in part because of the methane produced by the animals. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images. BY Fiona Harvey 21 March 2016 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/21/eat-less-meat-vegetarianism-dangerous-global-warming

23 June 2016: McDonald's swaps margarine to butter, Nestle reduces sodium, sugars, trans-fat, total fat, calories or artificial colourings 

It Took McDonald's 6 Months to Swap From Margarine to Butter—and That Was Fast by   Leslie Patton June 22, 2016 -- The switch back to the original recipe (with butter) for the Egg McMuffin occurred in September, just before the national introduction of all-day breakfast... McDonald’s also recently changed its English muffins, now baked with unbleached flour instead of the bleached version....  “The change to butter was extremely fast. That’s probably the quickest change that we’ve made.”.... In late August, Grassland Dairy Products Inc. found out it needed about 2.4 million pounds of butter for the swap. The family-run operation started working overtime. The company’s three facilities went to seven days a week, up from six. And the dairy also had to push its cardboard-box supplier to make the McDonald’s packaging in just four weeks instead of the usual eight.... 


Big brands are pushing up on reformulations - Nestle reports for 2014 6,973 products with reduced sodium, sugars, trans-fat, total fat, calories or artificial colourings (up from 3,317 and 4,221 number of products changed in 2012 and 2013). Reducing sugar and fat in ready-to-drink products (product example: 54% total sugar reduction, 45% total fat reduction, 25% more protein), substitute partially hydrogenated oil with high oleic soybean oil (product example, 45% SFA reduced, 25,800 tonnes oil substituted and 9,900 tonnes trans fat removed), full fat ice cream case study (new mix recipe: -28% fat, increased protein content, no starch), instant noodle case study (15% sodium reduction whilst improving taste, 50% SFA reduction through pre-drying and oil blend optimization), micronutrients (example, biofortification of maize, cassava, what etc).

source: Nestle presentation, December 2015

Food labelling and tax ideas (update 5): Obesity blamed on food (diet with sugar and carbo excess), public falsely told couch potato lifestyle to blame - report in British Journal of Sports Medicine, Malhotra et al.; US views on palm oil plantations, FDA food labels concerns on health claims; Nestle reformulates Nesquick, Fruit drinks with more sugar than sodas, sugar lobby tactics compared to tobacco denials; Food industry battles against added-sugar label in US; Caps on fat, salt and sugar promised by UK Labour

23 April 2015: Obesity blamed on food (diet with sugar and carbo excess), public falsely told couch potato lifestyle to blame - report in British Journal of Sports Medicine, Malhotra et al.

Sugar is to blame for obesity epidemic - not couch potato habits - You cannot out run a bad diet, experts warn, as they suggest greed, not sloth is causing Britain's expanding waistlines; By  Laura Donnelly, Health Editor 11:30PM BST 22 Apr 2015;  Sugar and carbohydrates are the real culprits in the obesity epidemic - and the public has been falsely told that couch potato lifestyles are to blame, a new report has claimed. Writing in the British Journal Of Sports Medicine, they said poor diet now generates more disease than physical inactivity, alcohol and smoking combined. The editorial, by a group of cardiologists and sports experts, says that while obesity has rocketed in the past 30 years there has been little change in physical activity levels.  "This places the blame for our expanding waistlines directly on the type and amount of calories consumed," they write.....
The authors, who include Prof Aseem Malhotra, a cardiologist and adviser to the campaign group Action on Sugar, said the public had been sold a “false perception” that exercise was more important than eating healthily, when the opposite was true. Prof Malhotra said US data which tracked obesity and activity levels found little change in activity levels over two decades, while obesity levels soared.
In Britain, 25 per cent of adults are now obese, compared with less than 3 per cent in the 1970s.
• Obesity not dementia will be the biggest threat to the NHS.  Activity levels have not been tracked consistently over the same period, but data from the 1990s and 2000s suggests exercise levels could even be increasing...... http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/11556593/Sugar-is-to-blame-for-obesity-epidemic-not-couch-potato-habits.html

22 April 2015: US views on palm oil plantations, FDA food labels concerns on health claims

Palm Oil Plantations Are Blamed For Many Evils. But Change Is Coming April 21, 2015 3:55 AM ET Anthony Kuhn; Palm oil is in everything, from pizza dough and chocolate to laundry detergent and lipstick. Nongovernmental organizations blame it for contributing to assorted evils, from global warming to human rights abuses. But in the past year, this complex global industry has changed, as consumers put pressure on producers to show that they're not destroying forests, killing rare animals, grabbing land or exploiting workers. I was somewhat astonished to discover, on a trip to a palm oil plantation in the province of North Sumatra, Indonesia, that this much-maligned commodity actually begins with an innocuous-looking, beautiful creation of nature. Palm fruit is composed of ovoid kernels, which, when ripe, shine with lustrous hues of crimson toward their tips, orange in the middle and yellow at their stems........Asked whether he knows where all his firm's palm oil is coming from, and that all of it is produced sustainably, Hartmann says that Cargill keeps complete records on the smallholders' production. "All of the crop ... that we get, every ton, we know where it came from," he insists..... http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2015/04/21/396815303/palm-oil-plantations-are-blamed-for-many-evils-but-change-is-coming

Nut So Fast, Kind Bars: FDA Smacks Snacks On Health Claims  April 15, 2015 6:37 PM ET Poncie Rutsch; As William Correll, the director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and author of the letter, writes, "None of your products listed above meet the requirements for use of the nutrient content claim 'healthy,' even though the Kind label reads 'Healthy and tasty, convenient and wholesome.' "
The FDA takes issue with many other aspects of the labels, including Kind's use of the plus sign on some of its products, which it uses to designate bars with extra antioxidants, fiber or protein.
Technically, to bear the symbol or word "plus," the bar has to contain 10 percent more of the nutrients than a bar the FDA has deemed representative of the snack bar category..........As The Salt has reported, the latest research suggests saturated fat may not be the nutritional villain it has been made out to be. High-fat nuts, in particular, may help control our appetites, to keep weight down.
Walter Willett, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard University, says it's not as though Kind's mislabeling is egregious. "You wouldn't want a product that's loaded with mostly palm oil and other sources of saturated fat [to be labeled healthy]," he says. Willett has researched how nuts contribute to human health, and he tells The Salt that they reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and lower rates of heart disease and mortality. "They're probably one of the healthiest choices you can make in a diet," he says........ http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2015/04/15/399851645/nut-so-fast-kind-bars-fda-smacks-snacks-on-health-claims

13 April 2015: Nestle reformulates Nesquick, Fruit drinks with more sugar than sodas, sugar lobby tactics compared to tobacco denials

Nestle cuts added sugar in Nesquik; nutrition concerns remain NEW YORK, April 13  |  By Anjali Athavaley  Markets  |  Mon Apr 13, 2015 12:01am EDT; (Reuters) - Nestle SA said on Monday it is cutting the added sugar in its Nesquik flavored milk products, the latest in a series of moves by the Swiss food company to reduce sugar and salt in its offerings amid growing public health concerns.
The overhauled Nesquik powders, to be launched this month, will contain 10.6 grams of sugar per two tablespoons, marking a 15 percent reduction in the chocolate version and a 27 percent cut in the strawberry flavor. The products will also no longer contain artificial colors or flavors......  Nesquik ready-to-drink beverages will also contain 10.6 grams of added sugar per eight-ounce serving, but 22 grams total due to lactose, a naturally occurring sugar. "Added sugars" are sugars and syrups added to foods when they are processed or prepared, as opposed to naturally occurring sugars.......  Still, Nestle's changes, similar to efforts at big food companies including General Mills Inc, fail to satisfy concerns of many health advocates. "It's a nice step in the right direction, but it's not a huge victory for nutrition," said Michael Jacobson, executive director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy group. He still advises parents against giving their children Nesquik. "I would recommend water or skim milk or low-fat milk as something that is more appropriate to drink."......  http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/13/nestle-health-idUSL2N0X724E20150413

Obesity Policy Coalition warns lunch box fruit drinks have more sugar than Coca-Cola  by Amy Corderoy Health Editor, Sydney Morning Herald   Date April 13, 2015 - 9:23AM
Many popular children's lunch box juices contain more sugar than Coca-Cola and parents should steer clear of them, health groups say.... The Obesity Policy Coalition is warning parents that with the school holidays ending, they should not assume products like juice are healthy just because of claims that they have "less sugar" or are "free from artificial colours and flavours". Th group's analysis of the lunch-box size poppers has found many have the equivalent of five or more teaspoons of sugar in them, with several containing even more sugar than the same size serving of Coca-Cola.

Opinions - The sugar lobby’s sour tactics By Dana Milbank Opinion writer April 10  
Our mothers told us: Sugar is filled with “empty calories,” and it can rot your teeth, make you fat and give you diabetes..... They told us this because, unfortunately, it’s true. But this is Washington, and things ate here much like in Willy Wonka’s world of “Pure Imagination,” where fantasies become real simply by wishing them... In that same can-do spirit of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” the Sugar Association industry lobby has stepped up its campaign to convince Americans and their government that sugar is good for us. Or, at least, not bad for us. ... Consider the 2015 Agriculture Department dietary guidelines now being prepared by the Obama administration. A scientific advisory committee is recommending Americans hold calories from added sugars to 10 percent of their diets, because: “strong and consistent evidence” shows they are “associated with excess body weight”; “strong evidence shows” they increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes; “moderate evidence” shows sugars are “consistently associated with increased risk of hypertension, stroke and CHD [coronary heart disease]”; and “moderate consistent evidence” links cavities to sugar intake.
Enter the sugar lobby’s Andy Briscoe. The head of the Sugar Association wrote to the advisory committee to say there was no “proof of cause and effect” linking “ ‘added sugars’ intake with serious disease,” nor any “significant scientific agreement” to justify telling the American public sugar is “a causal factor in a serious disease outcome.” Added Briscoe: “There is not a preponderance of scientific evidence for conclusion statements that link ‘added sugars’ intake to serious disease or negative health outcomes or for a recommendation to limit ‘added sugars’ intake to less than 10% of energy.”......... The old-school approach of denial has a 1960s tobacco-industry feel, but the Sugar Association has been successful so far in derailing restrictions on sugar consumption in past dietary guidance, the last of which came out in 2010....... http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-sugar-lobbys-sour-tactics/2015/04/10/9fb5b78a-dfa7-11e4-a1b8-2ed88bc190d2_story.html

12 April 2015: Sugar warning label - New York and in California are trying to emblazon sodas with a message that looks very similar to one you see on cigarette packages or alcohol bottles

Is It Time For A Warning Label On Sugar-Loaded Drinks? by Poncie Rutsch  April 09, 2015 3:52 PM ET; We've said it before, and we'll say it again: We consume a lot more sugar than is good for our health. Because of this, the next generation of Americans will struggle with obesity and diabetes more than any other. The most obvious culprit is the added sugar in sodas and other sugary beverages, like sports drinks or teas..... One idea public health advocates have floated to bring sugar consumption down is to tax beverages with more than a certain amount of added sugar. (Berkeley, Calif., and the Navajo Nation have managed to pass such legislation.) Another is to shrink the size of soda cups........ The latest idea is a warning label. Legislators in New York and in California are trying to emblazon sodas with a message that looks very similar to one you see on cigarette packages or alcohol bottles....... http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2015/04/09/398526965/is-it-time-for-a-warning-label-on-sugar-loaded-drinks

19 March 2015: The sweeteners debate and soda chasing sweeteners

Diet soda sweeteners may lead to bigger belly, extra fat: study  By Douglas Ernst  - The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 18, 2015; Participants in a study have given Texas researchers some interesting data on diet soda drinkers — elderly individuals who went for the “healthy” option put on much more weight than those who abstained. University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio found that over the course of nearly a decade, diet soda drinkers added and average of 3.16 inches to their waist while those who drank standard versions of their favorite soda increased by 0.8 inches. The study was published by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The study used 750 adults with an average age of 65 when it began, ABC Radio reported Wednesday.
Ms. Fowler believes that sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose have an effect on the body’s digestive system to properly do its job, which may contribute to weight gain over time. Those extra pounds then make the body more susceptible to health conditions like obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/mar/18/diet-soda-sweeteners-may-lead-to-bigger-belly-stud/#ixzz3UqbOwatF

Scientists Are Racing to Build a Better Diet Soda  'By' Duane Stanford 8:00 PM HKT   March 19, 2015; Major soda makers are desperate for a drink that tastes like the real thing, but doesn’t contain sweeteners that spook consumers ... In a crowded lab on the edge of Copenhagen, food scientists at Swiss biotech company Evolva Holding are scrambling to help reinvent one of the world’s most popular drinks. The location is no accident. The Danish city’s Carlsberg brewery discovered a way to isolate pure yeast cells in 1900, which was crucial to the mass production of beer, and the town has been a hub of fermentation innovation ever since. But instead of designing a new Pilsner or bock, these researchers are harnessing high-tech yeast to craft a far different quaff: the perfect soda.... In biotech labs from California and New Jersey to Denmark, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and their suppliers are racing to find the industry’s holy grail—a soda that tastes as good as the iconic colas, is sweetened naturally, and has zero calories. Falling out of sync with consumers’ taste buds isn’t the issue. A century after first appearing as a drugstore elixir, the sweet, caramel-colored beverage remains the world’s most popular packaged drink. Globally, colas account for more than half of all sodas sold. The challenge for the $187 billion soft drink industry is giving consumers in developed markets the sugary taste they want without giving them the mouthful of calories they don’t. Concerns about obesity and health have led to nine years of falling U.S. soda consumption..... America’s 4 percent-a-year drop in cola sales has wiped out $2.7 billion in annual revenue over the past five years, according to Euromonitor. The decline has pushed Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Dr Pepper Snapple, the three largest U.S. soda makers, to crank out new beverages, including energy drinks and even designer milks. But soda makers have too much at stake to simply resign themselves to cola’s slow decline....Biotech companies including DSM in the Netherlands are working on their own fermentation methods. At a lab in North Brunswick Township, N.J., run by plant-science company Chromocell, Coca-Cola is hedging its bets. Work there is centered on enhancing sugar’s taste, so less is needed to offset the aftertaste of stevia. The goal is to cut the sugar by at least 90 percent without losing any of the clean sugary taste. Chromocell takes taste receptor cells from animals and records how they respond to contact with specific sweet molecules from plants. “We have the technology to make them [react] exactly like they are in your mouth,” says Chromocell CEO Christian Kopfli....All of this science is likely to raise red flags for some consumers, who are increasingly demanding “natural” ingredients in foods and drinks, says Euromonitor’s Telford. Then there’s the cost. As with molecules created by fermentation, sweetness enhancers will have to be price-competitive with sugar and artificial sweeteners to be commercially viable. So while scientists may find cells from, say, a Himalayan orchid that heighten sugar perception, they might also come at twice the cost of sugar, cautions Chromocell’s Kopfli. “Consumers are very demanding,” he says. “They say, ‘Less calories and same taste, but I’m not willing to pay more for whatever it is.’ ” The bottom line: U.S. cola consumption is falling by about 4 percent a year. Soda makers are seeking new sweeteners to reverse the trend.....

18 March 2015: Food industry battles against added-sugar label in US

Food industry waging a bitter battle over proposal on added-sugar labels By Evan Halper  March 17, 2015, 3:00 AM|Reporting from WASHINGTON; Of all the issues the Obama administration is grappling with, a modest redesign of what food labels say about sweeteners might not have seemed among the more controversial. But ever since First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled the plan last year, a lobbying frenzy has ensued... The objections have come not only from candy makers and bottlers of soft drinks. The governor of Massachusetts implored the administration to rethink its proposal. The governor of Wisconsin protested too. So did the government of Australia, which warned the move could violate international trade agreements.... The proposal being considered by the Food and Drug Administration would add a new line to labels on packaged products noting how many teaspoons of sugar had been added.... The furor over the idea reveals the extent to which extra sugar is infused into even the most unlikely foods and the concerns that manufacturers have about consumers finding out. The FDA has received 287,889 public comments on the plan, including many from major food companies and trade associations.....  Nutrition advocates say the strong reaction shows just how much is at stake. "They know this will impact how people choose their products, and that terrifies them," said Renee Sharp, director of research for the Environmental Working Group, one of several advocacy groups campaigning for the label change.....

28 January 2015: Caps on fat, salt and sugar promised by UK Labour

Caps on fat, salt and sugar promised by Labour By Nick Triggle Health correspondent, BBC News  15 January 2015 Last updated at 02:45; Maximum limits would be set on levels of fat, salt and sugar in food marketed to children, under a Labour government, the shadow health secretary will say.
In a speech, Andy Burnham will say it is time for tough action to protect children and tackle obesity.
He will criticise the government's approach to industry, which has been categorised by voluntary agreements.... The levels of fat, salt and sugar in food has been reduced in recent years, but many people still consume above the recommended levels. There are signs that the rise in obesity among children has started levelling off, but 15% of under 15s are still obese.... On food labelling, Mr Burnham wants to see a clearer traffic light-based system. A front-of-pack colour coding and nutritional information system is currently being used. It is not clear how this will be done, as introducing food labelling has proved difficult because of industry opposition and the need for mandatory rules to be agreed at an EU level.... "Children need better protection from the pressures of modern living and the harm caused by alcohol, sugar and smoke. and Labour will not flinch from taking the action needed to provide it." http://www.bbc.com/news/health-30817300

17 September 204: Sugar & food tax ideas news

Experts back a 'sugar tax' to increase the retail price of sugar-rich products  By Lizzie Parry for MailOnline Published: 11:14 GMT, 16 September 2014  | Updated: 14:00 GMT, 16 September 2014; "Just HALF a can of Coke exceeds the new daily sugar guidelines backed by scientists - who recommend just three cubes a day. Study by scientists at University College London has called for recommended daily sugar intake to be slashed to 14g - three cubes a day. World Health Organisation currently advises a maximum of 10% of our total energy intake from free - or added - sugars, with 5% as a 'target'. This equates to 50g of free sugars (10 cubes), with 25g (5 cubes) as the target each day - but 14g would be just 3% of energy from added sugars. One 330ml can of Coca Cola contains 35g of sugars - or 7 cubes. Bar of Dairy Milk has 7 cubes, while McDonald's Strawberry Milkshake has 12. Diet Coke and Coke Zero alternatives are both sugar-free and low-calorie. Calls for sugary food and drinks to be banned from schools and vending machines to be removed from public places..."

22 June 2014: Sugar & food tax ideas news

"..... Coca-Cola Life, a stevia-sweetened version of regular Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola has been quietly test-marketing its new beverage, the first addition to the trademark “Coke” branded sodas in almost eight years. It released the drink in Argentina and Chile last year, and this fall it’s launching in the U.K. Coke Life isn’t exactly a diet drink. According to the Guardian, it contains more than four tablespoons of real sugar and has about 89 calories per can—less than the 140 calories found in a can of regular Coke ....Coke Life is Coca-Cola’s answer to the two health concerns that have been hitting the company’s soda sales with a one-two punch: the anti-sugar movement, which rails against its full-calorie, full-sugar line of beverages, and the perception that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (found in both Diet Coke and Coke Zero) are unhealthy and can even contribute to weight gain....As soda sales have fallen, Coke has also found itself fending off health-policy experts and state governments pushing for increased regulation of sugary drinks and snacks. New York City’s limit on soda container sizes is currently making its way through state courts, and a California law that would add a warning label to cans saying, “Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay” has made it through the state senate..." http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-06-17/cokes-new-low-cal-low-sugar-soda-is-designed-to-quiet-critics;
"...Current UK guidance says sugar should not make up more than 11% of our daily calories. The World Health Organisation has recently recommended 10% but urged countries to have an ambition to bring it down to 5%. A paper published today in the journal Public Health Nutrition says even that is too high. Sugar should not make up more than 3% of our energy intake. We have a very long way to go. Children in England aged 4-10, according to the government's latest National Diet and Nutrition Survey, are on 14.7% and older children, aged 11-18, are on 15.6%...the UK's scientific advisory committee on nutrition (SACN) will publish the results of a long inquiry into carbohydrates, including sugar, in the diet next week....". http://www.theguardian.com/society/the-shape-we-are-in-blog/2014/jun/18/obesity-dentists;

'Sugar tax' needed to curb childhood obesity, say experts. Tax to deter consumption of soft drinks among measures proposed by Action on Sugar, as well as ban on junk food sports sponsorships
Press Association, theguardian.com, Sunday 22 June 2014;
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jun/22/sugar-tax-childhood-obesity-soft-drinks-junk-food; A campaign group has called on the government to introduce a "sugar tax" to discourage consumption of sweetened soft drinks. Action on Sugar said it had developed a seven-point plan to curb childhood obesity following a request for its views from the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt.
The measures include bringing in a sugar tax, limiting the availability of ultra-processed foods and sweetened soft drinks, and banning "junk food sports sponsorships".
The seven measures called for are:
• Reduce added sugars by 40% by 2020 by reformulating food.
• Cease all forms of targeted marketing of ultra-processed, unhealthy foods and drinks to children.
• Dissociate physical activity with obesity via banning junk food sports sponsorships.
• Reduce fat in ultra-processed foods, particularly saturated fat – 15% reduction by 2020.
• Limit the availability of ultra-processed foods and sweetened soft drinks as well as reducing portion size.
• Incentivise healthier food and discourage drinking of soft drinks by introducing a sugar tax.
• Remove responsibility for nutrition from the Department of Health and return it to an independent agency.

The sustainability / health debate matures? (update 6): Negative social impacts of palm oil in view by key NGOs - a call for data on social degradation; Halal standards also shows prevalence of multiple standards and customers paying for the higher costs; healthy food fight - healthier products and purer ingredients; US NBER economists find obesity linked to cheap food retailers - cheap processed and prepared foods is a feature.

Had an interesting chat with a long-time friend this morning over our morning walk. Is there going to be a secular change in trend that has so far seen a meteoric rise of the global consumer brands? In particular, the corporate results of a fast-food chain has done less well in light of health concerns and rise of more healthy competitors. We wondered about other companies - those selling fizzy beverages and junk foods as sugar, salt, oil and additives are increasingly targeted for concern. So, we browsed the Guardian website's sustainability pages to take a gander for themes. It was interesting to find a few countervailing items - notably the 2015 recommendations of The Observer's columnist on green / sustainable living (basically anti-global brands and long supply-chains) alongside several (more abundant?) rather corporate sustainability pieces (how corporates are teaming up on sustainability issues; how corporates can target human emotions in marketing their sustainability credentials, how a certification organization is accused of going too corporate; and about an NGO* stunt for the recent Lima climate talks says "Time for change").
* Some key international NGOs are working more on production changes than consumer changes; and some now work closely with corporates on certification or its like.

Are the voices against consumerism and global supply-chains in the international media getting a bit more prominent nowadays, or are we mistaken? A content analysis of this would help us to appreciate how it's trending (anyone seen anything in the public space on this?)... And we picked up earlier an article in Slate by Ruth DeFries - it is one of the more nuanced we've read on sustainability and equitable issues - it is essentially anti junk food and promotes "real food".

It's hard to imagine how the cheap and big global food supply chains and convenience foods and rise of middle income populations in emerging countries is not going to keep things rolling and growing..... but keep an eye on the maturing debate on sustainability as it talks more of / to consumers.


18 March 2015: Negative social impacts of palm oil in view by key NGOs - a call for data on social degradation

Activists: Indonesia’s Palm Oil Industry Needs a Makeover- Observers say a highly unsustainable business model is wreaking havoc on the environment and indigenous people By Amantha Perera on 02:15 pm Mar 17, 2015; ... But when locals try to take a stand for their rights, such campaigns result in the alienation of whole communities or, worse, the criminalization of their activities.... In July 2014, a protester was shot dead by police in South Kalimantan while taking part in a protest against palm oil expansion. Another such killing was reported on Feb. 28 in Jambi, located on the east coast of the island of Sumatra. “The people who have lived off the land for generations become criminals because they want to preserve their way of life,” Setra laments.... She believes that as long as there is global demand for the oil without an accompanying international campaign to highlight the product’s impact on local people, companies are unlikely to change their mode of operation.... Others say the problem is a lack of data. Scott Poynton, founder of The Forest Trust (TFT), an international environmental NGO, tells IPS that there is inadequate information on the socio-economic impacts of oil operations.... He says the focus on deforestation — in Indonesia and elsewhere — is a result of the tireless work of NGOs dedicated to the issue, combined with “easy-to-use tools like the World Resource Institute’s Global Forest Watch,”  a mapping system that allow people to quickly and cheaply identify deforestation.... He says similar resources must be made available to those like Setra — grassroots leaders on the ground, who are able to monitor and report on social degradation caused by the palm oil sector.... According to the World Wildlife Fund in the last three-and-a-half decades Indonesia and Malaysia lost a combination of 3.5 million hectares of forest to palm oil plantations.
Statistics like these suggest that nothing short of sweeping changes will be required to put indigenous people like Setra at the center of the debate, and build a sustainable future for palm oil production. - Inter Press Service... http://thejakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/news/activists-indonesias-palm-oil-industry-needs-makeover/

14 March 2015: Halal standards also shows prevalence of multiple standards and customers paying for the higher costs

No benefit from single Halal standard, says Brazil poultry body 10-Mar-2015; No cost advantage.. He dismissed the idea that a single standard might allow poultry producers to cut costs, saying that producers simply passed on costs to their customers: "It's not a question of easy or not easy, or more costly or less costly - we just say, if you want us to do this, we will do it. If you want us to improve the Halal controls, have two supervisors instead of one, we will do it, and it will cost you."...

11 February 2015: Healthy food fight - healthier products and purer ingredients

Healthy Food Fight: Kids, Allergies and Big Business  - Food -  Jan 30, 2015  
The Allergy Kids Foundation, and author of “The Unhealthy Truth,” discusses the fight to get food companies to produce healthier products and why overseas fare is made with purer ingredients...

29 January 2015: US NBER economists find obesity linked to cheap food retailers (trigger of self-control problems), rising cigarette prices, more restaurants, fewer blue-collar jobs but fitness centers and higher gas prices (it's actually falling in recent months!) might help. Again, cheap processed and prepared foods is a feature.

The Economy Is Making You Fat - Bloomberg Business; New research has connected food costs and the retail mix to the surge in U.S. obesity rates by Jeanna Smialek 3:32 PM WET January 28, 2015;
The No. 1 reason we've gained weight? Wal-Mart. To be fair, that's a massive oversimplification. People weighed more when the cost of calories decreased” that explained 36.5 percent of total BMI gains. The proliferation of supercenters and warehouse clubs was the biggest contributor to that trend, explaining 17.2 percent of weight gain.... "raising the possibility that cheap food from these retailers triggers self-control problems." Additional economic changes that make Americans pack on the pounds include rising cigarette prices, more restaurants, and fewer blue-collar jobs.
....There is Hope. And it lies in your local treadmill. Fitness-center expansion and increases in gas prices were shown to correlate with lower BMI's..... http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-01-28/the-economy-is-making-you-fat-i5gvfsl7?cmpid=BBD012815&alcmpid=

4 January 2015: Sugar as the new tobacco... what next?

A related issue is the rising prominent talk of sugar and other ingredients in junk foods as the "new tobacco." This has benefited stevia, marketed as a natural high intensity sweetener - we bought our first stevia-sweetened cola in December 2014 (yes, in a KL supermarket - but on sale). Many soda makers have launched these such options.

Jamie Oliver: Sugar can destroy lives and should be taxed like tobacco  By  Ben Farmer 12:04PM GMT 03 Jan 2015; The campaigning television chef says sugar is "the next tobacco" and it should be taxed because of its health risks... Sugary foods risk causing a public health crisis similar to smoking and should be taxed in the same way as tobacco, Jamie Oliver has said.  The television chef said sugar was “definitely the next evil” and should be targeted because of the burden it was placing on the NHS. He said he agreed with France's decision to impose a tax on sugary drinks and believes Britain should follow.... A third of British children and two-thirds of British adults are classed as obese or overweight, while the number with diabetes has doubled in the past two decades. The two conditions are already estimated to cost Britain more than £5bn each year and that could rise tenfold by 2050.... Mr Oliver said: “I’m not passionate about taxing, but when you look at the pot of cash that isn’t getting any bigger, and if you think that 68 per cent of every case that goes through the NHS is diet-related, then yes, you need radical change.’....


3 January 2015: A strong anti-junk / real food piece and a case made for grass fed beef by a farmer

Hold the Cookies, Save the Climate; Everyone knows meat is bad for the environment. But so is an ingredient commonly found in junk food. By Ruth DeFries; This article is part of Future Tense, a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University. On Thursday, Jan. 15, Future Tense will hold an event in Washington, D.C., titled “How Will Human Ingenuity Handle a Warming Planet?” For more information and to RSVP, visit the New America website; Imagine if eating packaged cookies and crackers were as socially unacceptable as smoking a cigarette. People would sneak to the balcony to tear open packages of Oreos. Travelers would slink into designated rooms to scarf down candy bars. “No junk food” signs would adorn the halls of public buildings.... Waistlines, nutrition, and health care costs would all by improved by a junk food–free world. So would the climate, the rain forests, and the dwindling populations of wild orangutans in Southeast Asia.... The benefits of eating less red meat have already permeated the consciousnesses of those seeking a climatically responsible lifestyle. Indeed, in the United States, people on average consume less red meat than they did a few decades ago, though likely more for health than climate concerns. The consumption of processed foods, with their high content of sugar and oils, has skyrocketed in the other direction. The trend has helped fuel the obesity epidemic in the U.S. and throughout the world. But its impact on climate gets far less attention than the energy-sucking effect of hamburgers and steaks.... With land in scarce supply and demand for food climbing, the planet cannot afford to grow food that makes people sick instead of healthy.... The protests against palm oil have raised awareness about the damage that may be wrought by the world’s voracious appetite for cheap fat. They also bring up many thorny questions about the right path to a more equitable world, that has economic opportunities for all, and won’t destroy the planet in the process. Do the environmental costs of palm oil from Southeast Asia outweigh the damage from industrial farming of soybeans in the prairies of the Midwest? Should those countries with remaining stocks of rich, lush rain forests be obliged to forgo the benefits of developing their agriculture? With the push toward certification of sustainably produced palm oil, how can the millions of poor oil palm farmers afford to go through the expensive process to get certified?.... These knotty questions have no obvious answers. But one fact is clear. Whether it’s squeezed from soybeans or from the fruits of palm trees, oil in processed food is a losing proposition. It’s bad for nutrition and it wastes much-needed land that could produce healthier food. The atmosphere accumulates greenhouse gases, and waistlines pile on fat. People in the street have little control over international climate negotiations and discussions between environmental groups and companies in closed rooms. But if reasonably priced options are available, people can control what they put in their grocery baskets and feed their families.... Let’s be practical. It’s unrealistic to expect most people to consider the climate as they rip open packages of crackers made with oil. The climate crisis will not be solved by selfless solutions that benefit faraway places and future generations. It could be alleviated by solutions that align with more immediate interests. Profit and reputation are obviously among those interests, hence the corporate attention to the bottom line in taking on their sustainable palm oil pledges. For the rest of us, benefits for our health can also be a plus for climate. It’s not just saying no to a burger or rib-eye. We have to say no to the processed foods that have negative ramifications for both climate and health. Vegetable oils ubiquitous in junk food can be avoided simply by eating real food. The climate will be a winner, and so will our diets.... uth DeFries is a professor at Columbia University and author of The Big Ratchet: How Humanity Thrives in the Face of Natural Crisis, published by Basic Books. http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2014/12/palm_tree_oil_and_the_environment_skip_the_cookies_to_fight_climate_change.html

Essay: Actually, Raising Beef Is Good for the Planet; Despite environmentalists’ worries, cattle don’t guzzle water or cause hunger—and can help fight climate change Grasslands for cattle safeguard soil, water and land.  By Nicolette Hahn Niman  Dec. 19, 2014 6:12 p.m. ET ; People who advocate eating less beef often argue that producing it hurts the environment. Cattle, we are told, have an outsize ecological footprint: They guzzle water, trample plants and soils, and consume precious grains that should be nourishing hungry humans. Lately, critics have blamed bovine burps, flatulence and even breath for climate change.... As a longtime vegetarian and environmental lawyer, I once bought into these claims. But now, after more than a decade of living and working in the business—my husband, Bill, founded Niman Ranch but left the company in 2007, and we now have a grass-fed beef company—I’ve come to the opposite view. It isn’t just that the alarm over the environmental effects of beef are overstated. It’s that raising beef cattle, especially on grass, is an environmental gain for the planet..... http://www.wsj.com/articles/actually-raising-beef-is-good-for-the-planet-1419030738?mobile=y&mg=reno64-wsj

3 January 2015: Browsing the Guardian website on sustainability - anti-consumerism recommendations and corporate sustainability pieces

How can I go green in 2015? I’m determined to lead a more eco-friendly life in 2015. What can I do at home? If you have an ethical dilemma, email Lucy at lucy.siegle@observer.co.uk by Lucy Siegle
 Sunday 28 December 2014 06.00 GMT; Trends need not be fickle engines of pure consumerism. We have them in ethical living, too you know. 2015 is all about self-reliance. More dynamic than the downshifting trend (work fewer hours, move to the countryside, keep bees), self-reliance is about actively claiming ownership of our lives and wresting supply chains from global corporations. So from food to finance, watch out for local organisations which offer alternative ways of doing things and systems that are not reliant on the whims of big business or local government.... In 2015 there are no extra points for recycling, saving energy or using the bus, not the car – these are settled behaviours that you should be doing automatically. The kitchen and garden (or community garden or allotment), where we carry out transformative processes like composting, are at the heart of self-reliance. Take your lead from foodie trends that aim to localise parts of the food chain, wrestling them back from food corporations and their impactful supply chains.... One way to do this is by processing your own food. Get acquainted with archaic-sounding kitchen verbs: brewing, fermenting, brazing, curing.
Over the last decade I’ve watched – and occasionally tried to intervene – as clothes lovers become captive customers. Super-cheap fast fashion means disposability. Don’t buy for landfill. Fight back. DIY fashion needn’t mean knitting worthy jumpers, as Secrets of Sewing Lingerie (Kyle Books, £15.99) makes clear. The bourgeoning craft handmade movement is important for local economic relationships and capitalises on the ethical benefits of shorter supply chains.... So in 2015 avoid a monocultural existence where you devolve responsibility to a few corporate brands for your food, entertainment and technology. Instead look for the biodiversity of local organisations and alternative ways of living..... http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/dec/28/how-can-i-go-green-in-2015-lucy-siegle

Why rivals like PepsiCo, Coca Cola, Unilever and P&G are joining forces by Oliver Balch Thursday 23 October 2014 12.22 BST; Business competitors have realised that greater impact can be achieved by working in close alliance on big sustainability issues;  http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2014/oct/23/pepsico-coca-cola-unilever-proctor-gamble-partner-business

Why targeting 4 human emotions is key to marketing sustainability by David Hawksworth Monday 21 July 2014 16.59 BST;  By focusing on the correct human emotions, the message of sustainability could have a deeper impact... While brands have been remarkably successful at feeding universal human drives, such as the desire for adventure, power or status, sustainability has not been seeing the same success in its messaging. What sustainability needs to create the same impact is a similar level of insight into the best way to embrace the full range of human emotions. Because it's human emotion that's at the heart of what motivates us.... The latest thinking around behaviour change and sustainability as put forward by Common Cause, a think tank funded by Oxfam, Public Interest Research Centre, and WWF-UK, is that the key to encouraging sustainable living is to align it to core values. Its argument is that a less wasteful lifestyle will only be adopted if it fits closely with the identity and sense of self of the individual involved. However, the rub is that some of those values are painted as positive and conducive to a better life - often called inner-directed values, while others are portrayed as negative and undesirable, leading naturally to selfishness and greed - called outer-directed values.... Effective neuroscience identifies four basic human drives aligned to a handful of neurochemicals in the brain. These four drives each have their own useful role to play in promoting human survival and out of these have emerged the full range of human emotions:
  • Contentment - to minimise harm and probability of bodily destruction
  • Nurturance - to facilitate familial and social bonding
  • Seeking - to reward curiosity, survival abilities, achievement and excitement about achieving the desired goals e.g. food and stimulation
  • Assertiveness - to overcome restrictions on freedom of action
This insight presents a more balanced view of consumerism and how brands meet our basic needs - a new mother is not buying extra baby products because of an outer-directed motivation to demonstrate her status in the world, she is buying them because of her innate drive towards the nurturance of her child. Rather than trying to change us, brands have worked out what makes us tick. They successfully appeal to our full range of drives; our sense of freedom, home, playfulness, power or sensuality.
The Wayfinder tool demonstrates twelve strategies that show how any brand can use sustainability to build on its core story....  David Hawksworth is co-founder and creative director of Given London
The sustainable living hub is funded by Unilever. All content is editorially independent except for pieces labelled advertisement feature. Find out more here.

Soil Association has disowned 'O word', say resigning trustees by Adam Vaughan, Monday 1 December 2014 15.53 GMT ; Organisation accused of losing its focus on organic food and farming and adopting a corporate mindset... The UK’s biggest organic lobbying group has disowned its philosophical roots, is failing to support homeopathy for animals and has developed a dull and insipid image, say four trustees who have resigned over the Soil Association’s future direction.... In a scathing letter the trustees say the 68-year old charity, which certifies four-fifths of organic produce and campaigns for organic farming, has abandoned its focus on organics in an attempt to reach a wider audience.... He said that the charity had been co-opted by the power structures of big farming and the supermarkets. “They [the directorate] do not understand the difference between dialogue and appeasement.” http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/dec/01/soil-association-has-disowned-o-word-say-resigning-trustees

Greenpeace apologises to people of Peru over Nazca lines stunt by Dan Collyns in Lima; Thursday 11 December 2014 00.53 GMT; Culture ministry says it will press charges against activists for damage to world heritage site as UN climate talks began in Lima... Greenpeace has apologised to the people of Peru after the government accused the environmentalists of damaging ancient earth markings in the country’s coastal desert by leaving footprints in the ground during a publicity stunt meant to send a message to the UN climate talks delegates in Lima.... http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/dec/10/peru-press-charges-greenpeace-nazca-lines-stunt