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Expert discusses ‘food revolution’

Emily Schrank | Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Leadership on food issues in the White House has set a national standard for the food revolution, an expert said Tuesday evening. 

Marion Nestle, professor of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University, delivered a lecture titled, “Sustainability: The Key to Today’s Food Revolution,” as a part of Notre Dame’s “Food for Thought” film and lecture series in the Hesburgh Center auditorium Tuesday. 

“I really think that there is a food revolution going on in this country,” Nestle said. 
According to Nestle, rates of obesity have risen dramatically in the past 30 years.
“This trend isn’t just a matter of personal choice, but also a part of the food environment in which we live,” she said.
There is strong evidence that people are eating more, and there hasn’t been a big decline in physical activity, Nestle said.
“We live in a country where we have a great deal of food and people are confused about what to eat,” she said. “There is definitely a gorge-yourself environment with too much food, too many choices and too much eating.”
Nestle said this type of a food environment has arisen for a variety of reasons.
“Farmers were once paid not to grow food, and now they’re being paid to grow as much food as they can,” she said. “The number of women going back into the workforce and the way Wall Street now evaluates corporations are also a big reasons for why people are eating more.”
People not only tend to eat more food, but more of the wrong kinds of food, Nestle said.
“Even thought a lot of companies are coming out with more and more ‘better-for-you’ products, they aren’t necessarily the best choice for you,” she said.  “People don’t realize that the goals of business and the goals of public health are so different.”
Nestle said she believes a national food revolution has been set in motion to counteract these trends.
“The food revolution isn’t a social movement in the classic way,” she said. “It is very grassroots and is fragment along so many different issues, such as the organics movement or the school food movement.”
She said government programs, such as Michelle Obama’s push to end childhood obesity, make an integral contribution to the food revolution.
“We certainly have a new era in personal and social responsibility for sustainable food choices and one that I hope will continue to grow,” Nestle said.