Food Manufacturers Unveil Label Program

Hot on the heels of Wal-Mart’s healthy initiatives announcement last week, the Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA) revealed their new front-of-package Nutrition Keys labeling program. The GMA claims the labels will make it clearer for consumers to know what’s in packaged food–calories, fat, sodium, sugars–and potentially highlight healthful aspects like fiber and potassium. In her Food Politics blog, however, Marion Nestle says the program is little more than the industry’s effort to preempt the front-of-package labeling standards being developed by the Food and Drug Administration. Moreover, she says, it has plenty of potential to confuse consumers even more.

USDA Fires Top Dog for Organics

The USDA has certainly paid lip service to organics, but as we’ve noted, agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack wants to have it both ways: support organics and conventional agriculture. Now the USDA has fired Mark D. Keating, an agricultural marketing specialist with the National Organic Program (NOP). Keating had been with the department for 20 years and was instrumental in developing the USDA’s organic standards. Jeff Desay reports on the implications of this move on AlterNet.

Where’s the Beef?

Skip the fast-food fix and try our homemade burritos instead.

The Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that a California woman has filed a class-action suit against Taco Bell, claiming the ground beef used by the fast-food chain contains too little actual beef. She may not win, because Taco Bell itself calls the stuff “taco meat filling.” If you need a Taco Bell fix, try Cheryl’s Homemade Beef and Bean Burritos instead. They come together in no time, you’ll actually know what’s in them, and they taste a whole lot better!

Organic Milk Overcomes Climate Change

Climate change, well, changes the nature of your food. Researchers in the United Kingdom have found that milk produced during wet, cool summers tends to be much higher in saturated fat and lower in healthy fatty acids than milk produced during normal weather conditions. But Newcastle University scientists have found that’s not the case with organic milk, which has higher levels of beneficial fatty acids than conventionally produce milk regardless of the weather. The researchers also discovered that the nutritional quality of organic milk is far more consistent than conventional.

Eliminate Food Waste to Fight World Hunger

We talked about minimizing food waste as a smart 2011 resolution for the health of the planet (and your wallet!). But there’s another benefit, too: increasing food security. Worldwatch Institute’s new report, State of the World 2011: Innovations That Nourish the Planet, highlights the importance of preventing food waste in battle against world hunger. The report offers real-world examples of innovative programs from around the world, like women in The Gambia who formed a cooperative to ensure the sustainability of local oyster fisheries or Kenyan women who designed “vertical” gardens to grow food for residents of a Nairobi slum.

Failure to Fund the Food Safety Modernization Will Fail the World

We’ve noted that food safety is one of the big issues we’ll be following this year, and already the landmark Food Safety Modernization Act is threatened by lawmakers reluctant to appropriate funds to implement the law’s measures. We love this editorial in the journal Nature, which teases out the byzantine quality of food safety regulations in the United States. But failure to fund the act will have implications far beyond our borders. The British government think tank The Foresight Programme’s new report, The Future of Food and Farming, illustrates the need for a global food supply system to ensure safe, sustainable food for a world population that’s projected to reach 8-10 billion by 2050.