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Nutrition

“Obesity is a symptom of poverty. It’s not a lifestyle choice where people are just eating and not exercising. It’s because kids—and this is the problem with school lunch right now—are getting sugar, fat, empty calories—lots of empty calories—but no nutrition,” says Chef Tom Colicchio. A Board Member of Food Policy Action, a non-profit which holds lawmakers accountable by educating the public on how these legislators are voting, Tom understands that being poor and having little access to nutritious food often go hand-in-hand.

While challenges like access to fresh, healthy food present roadblocks to real change, there are heroes championing solutions. Like Tom, filmmaker Stephanie Soechtig knows that education is key to beating back the rise of obesity and malnutrition. Fed Up, the film she directed, uncovers the truth about sugar in the foods our children eat.

Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign inspires kids of all ages to exercise, and her humorous film with comedian Will Farrell proves that solutions can be fun.

Many still wonder if it matters whether or not they eat organic food. Grace Communications offers advice for finding the healthiest of food for your family. Similarly, the Center for Ecoliteracy’s “Big Ideas” campaign identifies important concepts linking food, culture, health and the environment.

Renegade Lunch Lady, Ann Cooper, returns with a talk highlighting the value of fresh foods in our nation’s schools.

Corn Fed or Grass Fed? Fully nourished or just plain full? We better figure it out, as Professor Tim Lang explains in a talk given for the Sustainable Food Trust. He argues that the public health costs of our “Nutrition Transition” are vast and all too rapidly catching on in the developing world.

Fresh foods are often expensive; not everyone in this country has access to affordable, healthy food. Harriet Oyera is changing those statistics for her North Minneapolis community. As Perennial Plate’s film explores, Harriet works hard to teach the lessons of nutrition and community to the kids living in her neighborhood.

You might be surprised how much soil contributes to healthy food. Master Gardener, Tucker Taylor offers a fun science challenge for you and your family to learn all about it!

SNAP is also trying to level the playing field. Working on a national scale, SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, provides financial assistance to low-or-no income individuals. Even better? It’s now accepted at some farmer’s markets.

Food Tank introduces us to Almaguer Sandoval, another champion of healthy food choices in economically challenged urban areas. He tackles childhood obesity through a nation-wide network of Healthy Corner Stores.

Whatever you eat, it’s always important to read the labels, says Dr. Nadine Burke Harris in a short film by the Nourish Initiative, but reading labels isn’t enough. We close our Food List this week with Civil Eats, who reveals that in Brazil, they may read the labels, but that doesn’t believe they should believe the ads.

This week's terms

Nutrients

Nutrients are the essence of life. They’re essential in our function, growth, and survival. We consume our nutrients; carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are macronutrients that fuel the body, while vitamins and minerals are micronutrients that support our metabolism. Imbalances in our consumption of macro- and micro-nutrients manifest into diseases. Nutrients and their calories are in constant exchange through dynamic food webs.

Nutrient Accounting

"Space age technology, more science fact than science fiction, is used to determine the presence of key nutritional components in foods. This allows for nutrient accounting. Unfortunately, every shortcut taken—using petrochemical inputs instead of building soil fertility, or storing unripe produce for weeks, for example, before sending it to market—translates into a critical loss of nutrients. Consumers, however, when provided with tools and knowledge that make the food industry more transparent, will make choices more closely aligned with their values, and force industries to shift their practices."

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