Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News/Commentary, Blog posts and publications(...)IWF RSShttp://iwf.org/images/email-logo.pnghttp://www.iwf.org33968Salt's Not the Bad Guy<p> I&#39;m glad to see the newer studies on sodium and diet getting coverage in the mainstream news media. <a href="http://time.com/3313332/salt-and-blood-pressure/">Time reports</a> on this stunning new research, which suggests (along with many other new studies) salt isn&#39;t the bad actor it&#39;s been made out to be when it comes to hypertension:</p> <blockquote> <p> Sodium has long been labeled the blood-pressure bogeyman. But are we giving salt a fair shake?</p> <p> A new study published in the American Journal of Hypertension analyzed data from 8,670 French adults and found that salt consumption wasn&rsquo;t associated with systolic blood pressure in either men or women after controlling for factors like age.</p> <p> Why not? One explanation, the authors write, is that the link we all assume between salt and blood pressure is &ldquo;overstated&rdquo; and &ldquo;more complex than once believed.&rdquo; It should be noted, however, that even though the study found no statistically significant association between blood pressure and sodium in the diet, those patients who were hypertensive consumed significantly more salt than those without hypertension&mdash;suggesting, as other research has, that salt affects people differently.</p> </blockquote> <p> The last line is important because it points to a trend we&#39;ve seen in the newer research on sodium&#39;s impact on human health: the science isn&#39;t settled on this topic. More research is warranted. Yet, the FDA is continuing to pursue regulations on the food industry--creating &quot;voluntary&quot; guidelines for the industry to reduce the sodium content in processed foods. <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2014/08/22/the-fdas-new-food-regulations-are-a-recipe-for-high-food-prices/">I wrote about this last month in Forbes</a> and I warned consumers that obedience to these &ldquo;voluntary&rdquo; guidelines will come at a cost &mdash; specifically higher prices at the grocery store and in restaurants as companies are forced to invest more in research, testing and product development. The regulations will hit local and mom-and-pop brands particularly hard, as smaller manufactures simply don&#39;t have the resources to comply.</p> <p> I also noted in my<a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2014/08/22/the-fdas-new-food-regulations-are-a-recipe-for-high-food-prices/"> Forbes piece</a> that one industry executive speculated that food companies would face &ldquo;tens of millions of dollars&rdquo; in added costs.</p> <p> So, who do you think pays these costs? The manufacturer? Sure, up front, but manufactures will simply charge consumers more at the back end. That means, ultimately, you and I pay the price for unnecessary regulations&mdash;which won&rsquo;t lead to healthier Americans. Thanks for nothing FDA.</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795044/Julie GunlockTue, 16 Sep 2014 10:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumTime to Ban Bossy School Lunch Ladies • Cam & Company http://iwf.org/media/2794999/Julie GunlockThu, 11 Sep 2014 07:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Tyranny of the Home-Cooked Family Meal • Cam & Company http://iwf.org/media/2794958/Julie GunlockFri, 5 Sep 2014 08:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIt’s Time to #BanBossy School Lunch Ladies<p> Convenience stores are generally known for two things: large sugary sodas and high-calorie snack foods. These are the very items the Obama administration has worked doggedly to eliminate from kids&rsquo; diets through school lunch mandates that include bans on what types of foods can be sold in schools. Yet these very school lunch reforms&mdash;shepherded through Congress by First Lady Michelle Obama&mdash;are helping sales surge at these snack food founts.</p> <p> Faced with increasingly revolting school cafeteria meals due to government limits on such flavor enhancers as butter and salt, throngs of children (and some entire schools) have elected to drop out of the school lunch program. It&rsquo;s understandable. Oliver Twist wouldn&rsquo;t have asked Mr. Bumble for another bowl of gruel if there had been a convenience store next door.</p> <p> Critics of the school lunch reforms might rejoice in this development, mistakenly assuming it means parents are taking a more active role in feeding their kids by packing simple brown-bag meals at home.</p> <p> That didn&rsquo;t happen. Instead, kids are simply leaving school during the lunch hour (or going hungry until school is dismissed) in search of something that tastes good. As one school&rsquo;s food and nutrition director&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/19/health/national-school-lunch-program/index.html?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rss%2Fcnn_health+(RSS%3A+Health)">explained</a>&nbsp;to a CNN reporter, &ldquo;If they aren&rsquo;t eating with us, they&rsquo;re leaving and eating junk.&rdquo;</p> <h2> Salty Unintended Consequences</h2> <p> This unintended consequence of the 2010 school lunch reforms means booming sales at convenience stores. Like it or not, these small storefronts that specialize in on-the-road snacks now provide millions of hungry kids the very food the Obama administration has fought so hard against. In fact,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nacsonline.com/News/Press_Releases/2014/Pages/PR062614.aspx#.U_N7KsbgWUU">according to the National Association of Convenience Stores</a>, convenience stores in the United States netted record sales in 2013, increasing 2.4 percent to $204 billion.</p> <p> Many of those who supported the school lunch mandates never mention this new trend in how school-aged children are eating. As kids (including kids who previously paid full price for school-prepared meals) reject cafeteria food, schools are finding it difficult to administer the lunch mandates with less revenue. Implementation problems are so pronounced that some schools have decided to opt out of the program entirely.</p> <p> Yet, instead of addressing these problems that many argue the Obama administration created, White House officials lambasted school nutrition directors who have spoken publicly about the struggle to make the mandated changes. The First Lady was also defensive when responding to criticism, saying that&nbsp;<a href="http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/flotus-cut-sodas-schools">90 percent of schools implemented the reforms</a>, glossing over the fact that fewer kids are actually eating her &ldquo;healthier&rdquo; meals and many kids are actually eating less nutritious meals than before the reforms were put in place.</p> <h2> What Real Reform Looks Like</h2> <p> If the real goal is help kids eat and live healthier, then we need to take a fresh look at these school lunch programs and consider some truly innovative and creative changes. For instance, some communities are already privatizing the school lunch program, which has resulted in happier kids and increased participation.</p> <p> Another way to make school lunches healthier is to eliminate the U.S. Department of Agriculture&rsquo;s Depression-era commodity program, which supplies schools with cafeteria classics such as chicken nuggets, French fries, canned cheese, and a variety of branded foods like Tyson Mini Snackers, Pizza Stuffed Meatball Bites, and Smuckers Uncrustables. Replacing these timeworn programs with direct funding to schools is a way to give school nutrition directors more control over what kids eat by allowing them to purchase healthier food on the open market.</p> <p> The administration would also be wise to encourage parents to be more involved in their children&rsquo;s diets. After all,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.iwf.org/blog/2792951/Shocking-Breaking-News:-Parents-Matter">multiple studies demonstrate</a>the greater the parental involvement, the greater chance a child stays at a healthy weight.</p> <p> Unfortunately, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 again pushes in the wrong direction: It actually created mechanisms and incentives for states to increase the numbers of kids enrolled in school feeding programs&mdash;effectively diminishing the role of parents in a child&rsquo;s nutrition. Rather than continuing to drive more kids to get their food from the state, which too often ends up meaning convenience-store meals, the First Lady should encourage parents to take the lead in opting out of federal feeding programs by preparing their kids a healthy meal instead.</p> <p> Parents should also take time to lecture their kids that bags of chips and cans of soda purchased at a convenience store don&rsquo;t make for a good meal.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <em>Julie Gunlock is the Culture of Alarmism project director at the Independent Women&#39;s Forum and a contributing author to Lean Together.&nbsp;</em></p> http://iwf.org/news/2794956/Julie GunlockFri, 5 Sep 2014 07:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumOne Word for Striking Fast Food Workers: AUTOMATION<p> Fast food restaurants are <a href="http://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/business-a-lobbying/216594-fast-food-workers-take-to-the-streets-for-15-minimum">preparing for another set of walk outs</a> as their employees push for an unrealistic $15 an hour.</p> <p> I&#39;ve written about this trend before (<a href="http://www.iwf.org/blog/2792650/Automation:-The-Future-of-Fast-Food">here</a> and <a href="http://www.iwf.org/blog/2792659/What's-Really-At-Stake-in-the-Fast-Food-Debate">here</a>) and it never fails to amaze me that these walk outs are largely organized by big labor unions, the leadership of which are more than aware that technology will soon replace these low-skilled workers. As Alexander C. Kaufman writes <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/11/fast-food-robot_n_5668600.html">in the Huffington Post</a>: it&#39;s going to be a robot Armageddon for fast food workers.</p> <blockquote> <p> Momentum Machines of San Francisco has invented a fully-automated contraption that can grind meat, slice tomatoes, grill patties, wrap fully cooked burgers and do pretty much anything else human fast-food workers can do. The machine is capable of cranking out 360 burgers per hour, according to&nbsp;<a href="http://momentummachines.com/">Momentum Machines&#39; website</a>.</p> <p> The group plans to sell its invention to restaurants and, eventually, open its own chain to sell gourmet burgers at fast-food prices by eliminating the cost of paying line cooks. This, its website claims, will &quot;democratize access to high quality food, making it available to the masses.&quot;</p> <p> &ldquo;Our device isn&rsquo;t meant to make employees more efficient,&rdquo; co-founder Alexandros Vardakostas&nbsp;<a href="http://www.xconomy.com/san-francisco/2012/06/12/hamburgers-coffee-guitars-and-cars-a-report-from-lemnos-labs/">Xconomy</a>&nbsp;in 2012. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s meant to completely obviate them.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p> If big labor actually cared about these fast food workers, they would back off of these stunts. Unfortunately for these workers who are being fooled into believing these walk outs will help, they will soon be spending their days not walking a picket line but waiting in the unemployment line.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2794938/Julie GunlockThu, 4 Sep 2014 11:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAmanda Marcotte Almost Gets It Right<p> Amanda&nbsp;Marcotte&nbsp;gets a few things right in her&nbsp;<em>Slate&nbsp;</em>piece &ldquo;<a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2014/09/03/home_cooked_family_dinners_a_major_burden_for_working_mothers.html">Let&rsquo;s Stop Idealizing the Home-Cooked Family Dinner</a>.&rdquo;</p> <p> Marcotte&nbsp;is right to call out food writers such as&nbsp;Michael&nbsp;Pollan&nbsp;and Mark&nbsp;Bittman, who tell parents that only certain (read: expensive, boutique-shop carrying, organic, local, heirloom, unprocessed) food will do for little Timmy and Susie. This in fact does make moms (and dads) feel increasing pressure to prepare&nbsp;Pinterest-worthy&nbsp;family meals and spend scarce resources on expensive meat and produce.</p> <p> Yet,&nbsp;Marcotte&nbsp;goes off the rails in several important areas. First, she suggests it&rsquo;s only women doing the cooking. Talk about sexism. Second,&nbsp;Marcotte&nbsp;says that the pressure women feel to prepare meals may outweigh the benefits. She bases this on the results of one small study based on interviews with 150 women and observations of twelve families.</p> <p> But before weighing the benefits to mom and child,&nbsp;Marcotte&nbsp;should do a little more research on what the actual benefits are to children who eat family meals. Consider a&nbsp;<a href="http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/homeroutines.htm">large study</a>&nbsp;conducted in 2010 by the University of Ohio and published in the March 2010 issue of the journal&nbsp;<em>Pediatrics</em>&nbsp;that examined the habits of over 8,500 children. It found that children are likely to have a lower risk of obesity if they do three simple things at home: eat dinner with their families more than five times a week, get at least 10.5 hours of sleep per night, and watch two or fewer hours of television on weekdays. Interestingly, children living in households where these routines were practiced were less likely to be obese and this was the case even among children at high risk of obesity (those who had an obese mother, were living in a&nbsp;low-income household, or were living in a single-parent home).</p> <p> Now tell me, is a chance at avoiding childhood obesity less important than mom being burdened by boiling noodles and saut&eacute;ing a chicken breast?</p> <p> About that &ldquo;burden,&rdquo; Marcotte writes that cooking for families is just too much for women (so much for women being tough) and isn&rsquo;t fulfilling: &ldquo;Beyond just the time and money constraints, women find that their very own families present a major obstacle to their desire to provide diverse, home-cooked meals. The women interviewed faced not just children but grown adults who are whiny, picky, and ungrateful for their efforts.&rdquo;</p> <p> I have no idea if&nbsp;Marcotte&nbsp;has kids, but someone might want to tell her that this is all a part of having cranky toddlers. It might come as a shock to her, but it&rsquo;s hardly surprising to the millions of moms who deal each day with the complaints of children who don&rsquo;t want to eat this or that. And as for mom&rsquo;s desire for &ldquo;diverse&rdquo; meals, yeah, sure would be nice if my four-year-old demanded&nbsp;cassoulet&nbsp;instead of a cheesy, carb-loaded casserole,&nbsp;saut&eacute;ed&nbsp;garlic-spiked chard instead of broccoli and cheese and potatoes,&nbsp;dauphinoise&nbsp;instead of mashed potatoes, but you know what, I deal with it because I&rsquo;m a grown up and I know that for a few years when my kids are young and picky about food, I&rsquo;m going to have to make some adjustments.</p> <p> Marcotte&nbsp;also suggests poor families are hardest hit by having to cook for their families. This is typical fare from left-wing writers who often portray low-income Americans as helpless and unable to cope with daily life without the government&rsquo;s help. Yet&nbsp;<a href="http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/mar/14/soft-bigotry-of-low-food-expectations/">research by Share Our Strength</a>&nbsp;&mdash; a well-known anti-hunger organizations &mdash; shatters this assumption. The study showed that eight in ten low-income families make dinner at home and from scratch at least five times a week. Families only eat fast food on average one night a week. The report also shows that while some families do struggle to cook healthy meals every night, 85 percent of those polled said they want to make healthy meals and believe eating healthy is realistic for them.</p> <p> Marcotte&nbsp;concludes her piece by suggesting, &ldquo;These obstacles need to be fixed first.&rdquo; She would do better to reevaluate who actually creates the anxiety women feel in the first place: the food writers who set up unrealistic expectations about how to feed kids simple and nutritious meals.</p> <p> &mdash;&nbsp;<em>Julie Gunlock is a mother of three boys who annoy her every night with their picky eating. She writes for the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum.</em></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/news/2794963/Julie GunlockThu, 4 Sep 2014 09:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhy say "No" to No GMO • KNUS Kelly and Companyhttp://iwf.org/media/2794960/Julie GunlockTue, 2 Sep 2014 08:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumFederalizing Lunch: Billions of dollars of healthy school food is wasted • OAN Rick Amato Showhttp://iwf.org/media/2795011/Julie GunlockTue, 2 Sep 2014 07:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumNo to No GMO<p> Alarmist weren&#39;t satisfied when General Mills and Post Foods announced the introduction of GMO-free Cheerios and Grape Nuts (which I wrote about <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2014/02/12/general-mills-cheerios-genetically-modified-column/5341009/?siteID=je6NUbpObpQ-cl73OaOf1xDa9XwtqY3U3g">here</a>).&nbsp;Instead, anti-GMO activists responded with calls for more GMO-free food. Their message to these giant food companies: if you can take GMOs out of one of your products, why not all of them? It&#39;s a good question: one that many food companies weren&rsquo;t prepared to answer.</p> <p> Soon after the change was made, people noticed the companies stripped more than just genetically modified ingredients from these much-loved breakfast foods. <a href="http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2014/02/24/cereals-reformulated-to-be-non-gmo-less-nutritious-than-gmo-versions/">According to the folks at the Genetic Literacy Project</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p> Post Foods&rsquo; new non-GMO Grape Nuts no longer include vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B12 or vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), while the new non-GMO Original Cheerios no longer have Riboflavin on the ingredients list (the old version has 25% of the daily value in a 28g serving while the new version has 2% of the DV).</p> <p> Dr. Wayne Parrott, professor of crop science at the University of Georgia, <a href="http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/R-D/Goodbye-GMOs-and-vitamin-B12-D-A-and-Riboflavin-New-non-GMO-Grape-Nuts-and-Original-Cheerios-are-certainly-less-nutritious-claims-professor">told Elaine Watson at FoodNavigator</a> that &quot;it was depressing to see that the new products are arguably less healthy given the lower vitamin content&quot; adding &ldquo;Cheerios went from being a major source of vitamin B2 to being almost zip.</p> </blockquote> <p> And now, it turns out profits for these cereal companies are also less healthy post GMO-removal. <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/dalebuss/2014/02/20/americans-still-arent-buying-gmo-gospel-ask-general-mills/">According to Forbes contributor Dale Buss</a>, people aren&rsquo;t interested in non-GMO food.</p> <blockquote> <p> Take an interesting but little-reported fact that has just emerged: The new, non-GMO version of Cheerios isn&rsquo;t moving the sales needle significantly for General Mills GIS -0.34% , and the giant cereal company isn&rsquo;t planning any more non-GMO products after it went to a lot of trouble to source non-GMO Cheerios.</p> <p> But these developments aren&rsquo;t being reported anywhere other than in FoodBusinessNews.net, which broke the story. The silence that has greeted them is quite a contrast to the enthusiastic echo chamber that was created by legions of news media, from the food trades and way beyond, that last month hailed General Mills&rsquo; decision to begin offering its classic Cheerios cereal in mostly-non-GMO form. Soon after, Post Foods said that its Grape-Nuts cereal had been certified GMO-free.</p> </blockquote> <p> Hopefully food industry executives will learn from this experience. Pandering to radical food activists gets you one thing: declining sales. Consumers should also note that backing these nonsensical initiatives (like voting to ban GMO products) gets them higher prices for inferior products.</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2794894/Julie GunlockThu, 28 Aug 2014 10:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe FDA's New Food Regulations Are A Recipe For High Food Prices<p class="p1"> <span class="s1">Food prices continue to go up and consumers are feeling the pinch. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of food has spiked to its highest rate since September 2011. Consumers are now paying more for such staples as ground beef, chicken and turkey, eggs, bacon, citrus fruit, coffee, peanut butter, and margarine. Normally, politicians would try to alleviate this financial strain on American families. Yet, this administration seems to want to make food more expensive.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">Consider the recent announcement from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that it plans to create &ldquo;voluntary&rdquo; guidelines for food manufacturers and restaurants to reduce the amount of sodium in their products and prepared meals. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg explained the move with the classic &ldquo;it&rsquo;s good for you&rdquo; rationale, saying, &ldquo;We believe we can make a big impact working with the industry to bring sodium levels down, because the current level of consumption really is higher than it should be for health.&rdquo;</span></p> <p class="p2"> But is American salt consumption really unhealthy?</p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">According to a new study from researchers at the University of Copenhagen Hospital in Denmark and published in the American Journal of Hypertension, the daily salt intake guidelines offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (currently set at 2,300 mg per day for people under 50 years old, and less than 1,500 mg per day for people over 50 years old) are &ldquo;excessively and unrealistically low.&rdquo; &nbsp;The researchers found that most Americans consume more sodium than the CDC recommendations (at around 2,645-4,945 mg per day) and that when sodium consumption fell outside that range, there was an increase in mortality.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">But this research means little to regulators at the FDA. In the absence of science to bolster the agency&rsquo;s position, the FDA has simply decided to go another route &mdash; forcing food companies, in direct contradiction of the science &mdash; to change their recipes to conform to government, instead of consumer, tastes.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">One might assume based on this government strong-arming that consumers have trouble finding low-sodium options in the supermarket. But as anyone who does the grocery shopping knows, that&rsquo;s a load of (soon to be low-sodium) baloney! Grocery stores are full of reduced and no-sodium options &ndash; from reduced and salt-free chips, crackers, soups, canned vegetables, nuts and seeds, salad dressings and mayonnaise, to butter, canned broth, fish and meats, frozen meals, pasta sauces and many other products.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">Those na&iuml;ve to how Washington works might argue that since these guidelines are &ldquo;voluntary,&rdquo; food companies can simply ignore them. Yet the truth is when a powerful regulatory agency &ldquo;suggests&rdquo; something, even while saying it&rsquo;s totally &ldquo;voluntary,&rdquo; everyone knows the message is: comply or else!</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">Consumers should also know obedience to these &ldquo;voluntary&rdquo; guidelines will come at a cost &mdash; specifically higher prices at the grocery store and in restaurants as companies will be forced to invest more in research, testing and product development. And if you prefer to support your local and mom-and-pop brands, prepare to switch to bigger brands as these types of regulations come at a particularly high price to smaller manufactures that simply do not have the resources to comply.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">One industry insider speculated food companies would face &ldquo;tens of millions of dollars&rdquo; in added costs. And, as NBC reported, &ldquo;it will be easier for behemoths like PepsiCo and Kraft Foods, which have bigger R&amp;D budgets to throw at the problem&rdquo; but for businesses just starting out and small-scale manufacturers, the costs of these new regulations will be devastating.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">Restaurants should also fight these guidelines. Already struggling due to a host of regulations included in Obamacare, restaurants are working hard to attract customers. Traditionally, eateries have succeeded by providing customers with food that tasted good. Now what? Should restaurant owners simply place a big-gulp sized salt shaker on each table with a placard that reads &ldquo;please add more salt, you&rsquo;ll need it!&rdquo;</span></p> <p class="p2"> Americans are extremely fortunate to live in a country with abundant food choices, and they should be free to make their own choices. Business should also be allowed to respond to consumer demand.</p> <p class="p2"> If the government wants people to make better decisions for their health, our Constitution permits government officials only to keep hoping. Forcing people into salt-free compliance tastes a bit like an attack on our basic freedoms and a recipe for higher prices at the grocery store.</p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">J<i>ulie Gunlock is a Senior Fellow at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum and the author of the book From Cupcakes to Chemicals: How the Culture of Alarmism Makes Us Afraid of Everything and How to Fight Back.</i></span></p> http://iwf.org/news/2794882/Julie GunlockTue, 26 Aug 2014 10:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumRIP Pink Cookies<p> Fox News reported late last week that kids in Elyria, Ohio will no longer be taking part of a 40-year tradition&mdash;getting homemade pink cookies at lunch.</p> <blockquote> <p> The fabled cookie, long served in local school cafeterias, was done in by a pound of butter, six cups of powdered sugar and the Obama administration&rsquo;s food police.</p> <p> &ldquo;It no longer meets the national school lunch program guidelines for snacks,&rdquo; said Amy Higgins, the spokesperson for Elyria City Schools. &ldquo;It has too many calories.&rdquo;</p> <p> The USDA &ldquo;Smart Snacks in School&rdquo; standards mandate that all snacks must contain less than 200 calories. It&rsquo;s not exactly clear how many calories are in the pink cookie but the recipe for the frosting calls for a pound of butter.</p> </blockquote> <p> These cookies do indeed seem decadent but it&rsquo;s truly sad to see these sorts of traditions phased out. It&rsquo;s particularly sad given the fact that kids have greater access to processed food and so, seeking a sweet snack, many kids will simply head to the nearest gas station to buy a pack of cookies that have been on a store shelf for months.</p> <p> While these school lunch reforms have clearly failed in their mission to get kids to eat healthier, they&rsquo;ve succeeded in one area&mdash;homogenizing the diets of young Americans and killing feel good traditions like selling homemade cookies in the cafeteria.</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2794859/Julie GunlockMon, 25 Aug 2014 09:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumCity Focuses on Safety not Soda Taxes<p> I support the idea that childhood obesity deserves some public policy attention. I disagree with how politicians usually tackle the issue--with sin taxes and bans and all sorts of rediculous regulations that cost jobs and hurt the poorest Americans. &nbsp;</p> <p> I can support government efforts to make cities safer so that kids can go outside and play or feel more secure walking to school. After all, as IWF visiting fellow Lane Scott <a href="http://www.iwf.org/news/2789517/It's-How-We-Live,-Not-What-We-Buy;-Why-Soft-Drink-Taxes-Won't-Work--">explained last year</a>, according to study released last year by the Archive of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, only half of American preschoolers go outside on a daily basis and according to another report by the National Wildlife Federation, on average, American kids only spend four to seven minutes playing outside every day, compared to more than seven hours in front of a television or video game.</p> <p> That&#39;s pretty grim.</p> <p> Exercise is key to keeping fit and unfortunately fewer kids are doing it.</p> <p> That&#39;s why I was happy to see this <a href="http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2014/08/20/baltimore-officials-have-new-initiative-to-get-kids-to-school-safely/">story from the local CBS station in Baltimore, MD</a> &nbsp;(h/t Lenore Skenazy of <a href="http://www.freerangekids.com">Free Range Kids</a>) about a new program called &ldquo;Safe Routes to School&rdquo; that will place flashing lights on the road to warn drivers and bikers and provide bright, colorful footprints on the sidewalk to help guide kids safely to school.</p> <p> I&#39;m sure some curmudgeons might say &quot;hey, I walked to school and I didn&#39;t need bright flashing lights and a painted path&quot; but I can&#39;t help but applaud city administrators for focusing on these initiatives rather than silly soda bans and sin taxes. These things might just work to get kids to walk to school and get some activity in their daily routines.</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2794835/Julie GunlockThu, 21 Aug 2014 15:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumNew York Times Hosts Panel on Farming, Forgets to Invite Farmers<p> The paper of record seems somewhat confused about what it means to be a farmer.&nbsp;</p> <p> Consider <a href="http://www.nytfoodfortomorrow.com/speakers.aspx">this pane</a>l planned for November hosted by the New York Times. The panel, titled &quot;<a href="http://www.nytfoodfortomorrow.com/speakers.aspx">Food For Tomorrow: Farm Better, Eat Better, Feed the World</a>&quot; includes exactly zero farmers on the panel. That&#39;s right, not one farmer has been asked to speak about...FARMING.</p> <p> The panel is described this way (emphasis mine):</p> <blockquote> <p> The first annual New York Times&nbsp;Food&nbsp;for Tomorrow conference, hosted by renowned Times journalist and&nbsp;food&nbsp;writer Mark Bittman, will explore two of the most important&nbsp;food&nbsp;challenges facing the world in the 21st century: how to feed a growing population of the world&rsquo;s poor and how to reverse poor eating habits in the developed world.&nbsp;</p> <p> The event, to be held at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, will gather over 200 C-suite <em><strong>executives, chefs, researchers, N.G.O. leaders and important thinkers</strong></em> about food issues for a day-and-a-half of networking and discussion.</p> </blockquote> <p> Hmmm...&quot;important thinkers&quot; about food and farming and the future of agriculture and the needs of a world&#39;s increasing population. Gosh, who do I want to hear from? Let&#39;s take a look at just who the New York Times considers an important thinker on these issues:</p> <p> Well, there&#39;s Dan Barber, a celebrity chef who grows organic food to supply his restaurant the with the pretty, dainty vegetables that populate his $50-plus a plate menu items. And then there&#39;s Rep. Chellie Pengree, who reprents Maine, a well known and very powerful agriculture state (wink) and then there&#39;s a handful of &quot;writers&quot; and &quot;activists&quot; and super smart &quot;think tank&quot; &nbsp;brainiacs and of course well known acivist and nutritionist Marion Nestle and then a smattering of environmentalists (natch). But really none of these folks matter because the New York Times managed to snag the two most well known experts on these issues--the city-dwelling, hipster&#39;s authority on food and farming, Mark Bittman and Michael Pollan.</p> <p> The one bright spot is the presence of&nbsp;<span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; line-height: 18px;">Kathleen Merrigan, the executive director of sustainability at George Washington University who previously worked at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. I&#39;m pretty confident Ms. Merrigan worked and talked daily to farmers. So at least she&#39;ll be there.</span></p> <p> <font face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"><span style="line-height: 18px;">This is a good illustration of how agriculture is largely covered by the mainstream media today. Leaving farmers out of discussion on important topics like the future of food is ludicrous and frankly insulting to the entire agriculture community particularly when it&#39;s so easy to find legitimate sources on the subject. Personally, I&#39;m glad I read farmers&#39; personal blogs and follow several on twitter. I find these resources to be particularly useful:</span></font></p> <p> <a href="http://thefoodiefarmer.blogspot.com">The Foodie Farmer</a></p> <p> <a href="http://dairycarrie.com">The Adventures of Dairy Carrie</a></p> <p> <a href="http://www.nurselovesfarmer.com">Nurse Loves Farmer</a></p> <p> The real thinkers at <a href="http://www.biofortified.org">Biofortified</a> and scientist <a href="http://kfolta.blogspot.com">Kevin Folta</a>&nbsp;(for GMO and other agriculture questions)</p> <p> There are many, many others but this is a good start. I hope&nbsp;<span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; line-height: 18px;">you&#39;ll look to these resources for information instead of spending money to attend the New York Times &quot;environmental activism dressed up as a farmer&quot; panel.</span></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p style="line-height: 18px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;"> &nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2794833/Julie GunlockThu, 21 Aug 2014 12:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAre Kids Eating Window Caulk?<p> Well known cover girl Cindy Crawford is <a href="http://Routine soil tests apparently found elevated levels of the chemicals, commonly known as PCBs, in window caulking in the rooms. PCBs were banned by Congress in 1976 after it was revealed they could cause cancer and harm the immune and reproductive systems. Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/cindy-crawford-pulls-children-malibu-high-school-pcbs-found-article-1.1909057#ixzz3B2l05yZC">pulling her kids out of their Malibu school</a> because routine soil tests on the school grounds found elevated levels of a chemicals called PCBs in window caulking in the class rooms. PCBs were banned by Congress in 1976 after it was revealed they could cause cancer and harm the immune and reproductive systems.</p> <p> Over the years, schools have been instructed to remove the caulking around windows if the schools were constructed between 1950 and 1979. But some schools haven&#39;t done it yet and so, during these routine tests, PCBs can sometimes be found.&nbsp;</p> <p> Now, it&#39;s important to understand that kids in that Malibu school are not under imminent threat of death. The EPA advises that &quot;though this is a serious issue, the potential presence of PCBs in schools and buildings should not be a cause for alarm &ndash; there are steps school administrators and building owners can take to protect students, teachers and others.&quot;</p> <p> The Malibu school has announced it plans to remove the caulking which according to the EPA is quite a process. The <a href="http://www.epa.gov/pcbsincaulk/pdf/caulk-fs.pdf">EPA explains</a> that during removal of PCB-containing caulk &quot;it is critically important to ensure that PCBs are not released into the air during renovation or repair of affected buildings.&quot; In other words, it&#39;s a lengthy process not best undertaken weeks before the new school year begins.</p> <p> It&#39;s also important to realize that children aren&#39;t being exposed to massive doses of this chemical. Unless they&#39;re snacking on the calk or snorting the caulk, very little of it is actually entering their bodies.</p> <p> Of course, none of this is good enough for Crawford who responded to the school&#39;s promise to remove the caulk by saying she &quot;I still don&#39;t feel 100 percent safe.&quot; Someone might want to inform this woman living a charmed life that very little in this world comes with a guarantee of 100 percent safety.&nbsp;</p> <p> Crawford then addressed her real motivation: avoiding mommy guilt, explaining her concern that ten years from now her child could develop a caulk-related problem, adding &quot;How could I live with myself, if I knew that it was a possibility, and I still sent them to school there.&quot;</p> <p> Crawford and her husband have offered to pay for further testing in the school and some have defended her (she wants daily testing) saying at least she&#39;s ponying up the cash to pay for these tests. Some have asked why the school doesn&#39;t simply indulge her demands and acquiesce to daily testing? Well, because maybe the school&#39;s administration recognizes how unnecessary this is. Maybe they don&#39;t want the distraction or maybe it&#39;s because the school officials know it&#39;s their job to educate kids (and protect them from real dangers) not entertain the whims of every parent who freaks out about window caulking.</p> <p> Look, every single day parents calculate the risks facing their kids and knowing the facts helps parents stay calm. The facts here are simple: Yes, caulk made with PCBs should be removed. Are her kids exposed to dangerous levels of this chemical? That depends on if they&#39;re somehow managing to eat the caulk.</p> <p> Something tells me Cindy&#39;s kids are well fed and haven&#39;t resorted to snacking on window caulking to make it through the school day.</p> <p> But who knows...this is Hollywood!</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2794831/Julie GunlockThu, 21 Aug 2014 10:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAttack on onions, salt, and correlation b/w big govt & trophies for all • Cam & Co. http://iwf.org/media/2794826/Julie GunlockTue, 19 Aug 2014 08:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum