Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News, Commentary and Blog posts from the Independent Women's Foundation.(...)IWF RSShttp://iwf.org/images/email-logo.pnghttp://www.iwf.org33968#FREAKOUTFRIDAY: THE ZIKA VIRUS!<p> Who isn&rsquo;t a little freaked out about Zika&mdash;the mosquito-transmitted infection common in Africa and Asia and now showing up in South America? The disease is horrifying; preying on the most vulnerable humans&mdash;fetuses still growing in their mother&rsquo;s wombs. Sadly, mothers who become infected with Zika are giving birth to children with deformities and brain damage. Zika is expected to reach certain areas of the United States this spring. To date, there have been 31 reported cases of Zika in the U.S; each case involving tourists who contradicted the illness outside the United States, before returning home.&nbsp;</p> <p> While I&rsquo;m not suggesting you should freak out about Zika, you should take precautions if you&rsquo;re pregnant or plan to get pregnant in the near future (<a href="http://thefederalist.com/2016/01/29/12-tips-to-stave-off-the-zika-apocalypse/#.Vqwi2qEj-_s.facebookhttp://thefederalist.com/2016/01/29/12-tips-to-stave-off-the-zika-apocalypse/">read this excellent essay for tips</a>). Yet, what&rsquo;s most frustrating and worthy of a freak out is that anti-GMO activists are urging governments to dismiss a potentially life-saving solution&mdash;genetically modified mosquitos.</p> <p> <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/zika-virus-conspiracy-theory-2016-1">Business Insider provides a detailed explanation</a> of how a company called Oxitec developed a sterile version of the Aedes aegypti&mdash;the type of mosquito that carries Zika--through genetic modification and introduced it to Brazil, which has been hit hard by Zika. When the Oxitec mosquito mates with female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, it results in no offspring, leading to a diminished mosquito population.</p> <p> Hooray, right?</p> <p> Not to the Debbie Downer, conspiracy theory-loving, anti-GMO Luddites who began spreading rumors that the GMO mosquito is actually contributing to the Zika problem. <a href="http://www.drudgereport.com/">The Drudge Report</a> even carried a headline this week suggesting the GMO technology is somehow responsible for the outbreak. The link on Drudge Report leads to a <a href="http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/zika-outbreak-caused-release-genetically-7281671">Daily Mirror</a> (you know, were one goes to see topless photos of movies stars and check in on the Madonna-Guy Richie custody battle) article that simply reports on the rumor and offers zero evidence that there&rsquo;s actually any sort of connection between the GMO mosquito and the outbreak.</p> <p> So now, instead of seeking a solution and a path forward to eradicate this disease, we have governments in South America whose entire policy strategy for Zika is to tell women &ldquo;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/26/world/americas/el-salvadors-advice-on-zika-dont-have-babies.html?_r=0">don&rsquo;t get pregnant</a>&rdquo; for two years. And let&rsquo;s not forget that in many of these South American countries, birth control isn&rsquo;t exactly easy to come by.</p> <p> Zika will flourish if governments don&rsquo;t work to develop the technologies to destroy this disease. A vaccination is years away and in that time, mothers are frightened and their unborn babies are at risk. We have GMO technology at our disposal that can help reduce the very vectors that carry this disease.</p> <p> So, go ahead and freak out a little this Friday. Just make sure you&rsquo;re freaking out about the right thing&mdash;the lunatic anti-GMO activists responsible for bringing Zika to a neighborhood near you.</p> <p> <em>#FreakoutFriday is a proud collaboration between The American Spectator and the Independent Womens&#39; Forum.&nbsp;</em></p> http://iwf.org/news/2799283/Julie GunlockFri, 5 Feb 2016 11:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumElites’ Latest Mantra: “Let Them Eat Broccoli!”<p> There are an awful lot of excuses out there for why poor people have bad diets and why poor kids tend to be more obese than middle class and affluent kids. What&rsquo;s rarely mentioned is bad parenting.</p> <p> Common excuses range from the dearth of grocery stores in urban areas (a myth&mdash;see <a href="http://iwf.org/news/2787657/The-Jig-Is-Up-on-Food-Deserts">here</a>) and the prevalence of fast food restaurants in poor communities (a myth&mdash;studies show the <a href="http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/mar/14/soft-bigotry-of-low-food-expectations/">poor eat in restaurants infrequently</a>). First lady Michelle Obama likes to promote the idea that unhealthy school lunches are to blame for kids&rsquo; growing girth (another myth&mdash;school food was gross and unhealthy long before childhood obesity reached &ldquo;crisis&rdquo; levels).</p> <p> And now we have a new excuse. <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/01/rich-kids-healthier-foods/431646/">According to</a> Joe Pinsker at <em>The Atlantic</em>, it&rsquo;s the fact that low income parents can&rsquo;t afford to do what academics say is required to get kids to eat their peas and carrots&mdash;repetition, dedication to a cause, and lots and lots of money.</p> <p> Pinsker writes about the accepted narrative in parenting circles that kids need to see &ldquo;unknown foods&rdquo; between eight and 15 times before they&rsquo;ll eat them. He worries: &ldquo;This, of course, doesn&rsquo;t come cheap. Once rejected, a good number of those eight to 15 servings of broccoli (or carrots or whole grains or fish) are going to end up on the floor and then in the garbage. And on top of that, parents need to buy a dependable backup food to have on hand.&rdquo;</p> <p> Pinsker&rsquo;s case relies on the idea that buying healthy food is too expensive for poor families, and that junk food is far more affordable. That might be true for writers at <em>The Atlantic</em> who shop at Whole Foods and buy organic and locally procured produce, meat, fish, dairy and other staples. But for budget shoppers, there&rsquo;s a universe of other options out there that don&rsquo;t break the bank&mdash;like canned and frozen food, pasta, rice, cornmeal, dried beans, canned meat, canned broth, and soups. Even in the produce aisle, a budget shopper can load up on the relatively inexpensive items like bananas, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, and onions.</p> <p> While food snobs might turn their noses up at cheaper items sold in stores, moms will be happy to know that <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/eats/frozen-vegetables-nutritious-fresh-study-article-1.174469">frozen vegetables are actually more nutritious</a> than their fresh counterparts. Produce meant for the fresh aisle at the grocery store is often picked before being fully ripened, whereas produce marked for the freezing process are allowed to fully ripen, which means they have more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. By freezing this produce at its ripest stage, those nutrients are locked in. That&rsquo;s not to say fresh produce is unhealthy. It&rsquo;s not. But people should know that saving money doesn&rsquo;t always come at a cost to their health.</p> <p> Of course, even if food is relatively affordable, it&rsquo;s still a shame to see it end up in the trash. Yet parents don&rsquo;t need to accept Pinsker&rsquo;s presumption that it&rsquo;s all going to end up on the floor. In bygone days, there was another tactic used to get kids to eat their peas and carrots&mdash;yelling at them or threatening them with some sort of punishment for noncompliance. Of course, these days, in parenting circles, yelling is tantamount to child abuse and punishment is an exotic bird rarely seen.</p> <p> Even the foodie-in-chief Michelle Obama agreed that strong parenting is a necessary device to get kids to eat healthy. In a <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-first-lady-naacp-national-convention-kansas-city-missouri">2010 speech before the NAACP</a>, the First Lady reflected on her own mother&rsquo;s strong hand and why parents are critical in helping children form good eating habits. She said:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> [I]n my house, Marian Robinson&rsquo;s house, we ate what we were served. My mother never cared whether me or my brother liked what was on our plates. We either ate what was there or we didn&rsquo;t eat. It was as simple as that. We never ate anything fancy, but the portion sizes were reasonable . . . And there was always a vegetable on the plate . .&nbsp;</p> <p> No one wants to slam parents or accuse parents of being neglectful, but perhaps it&rsquo;s time to start pointing fingers. Parents clearly need to be reminded that feeding a child is the most basic parental responsibility. And making kids sit at the table until they eat healthy meals shouldn&rsquo;t be treated as something reserved for the rich. It&rsquo;s a tradition in dire need of renewal at all economic levels.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2799266/Julie GunlockThu, 4 Feb 2016 12:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumShould The Federal Government Be Using Taxpayer Dollars On Recipe Suggestions? • American Family Radiohttp://iwf.org/media/2799260/Julie GunlockThu, 4 Feb 2016 10:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Chipotle Effect: When Companies Believe Their Own Hype<p> Earlier this week the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finally <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2016/02/01/report-cdc-to-close-chipotle-e-coli-investigation/79636502/">closed the books</a> on the investigation of the <em>E. coli</em> outbreaks at multiple Chipotle locations last December. The news of dozens (at one point thought to be hundreds) of customers getting sick made headlines nationwide and drove the burrito purveyor into a frenzy of apologies and promises of improved safety.</p> <p> Other than telling us that people have stopped getting sick, though, the government investigators <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/2015/O26-11-15/index.html">don&rsquo;t seem to be</a> providing us with much information on what caused the outbreaks. Chipotle CEO Steve Ells <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2016/01/13/chipotle-shares-rally-after-health-scares/78756160/">attempted to reassure</a> customers and investors alike at a recent conference, saying that due to the company&rsquo;s increased emphasis on food safety, the risk of another infectious outbreak was &ldquo;near zero.&rdquo;</p> <p> Whether it was the carnitas or the cilantro-lime rice, though, there&rsquo;s good reason to think that it could happen again. The problem with Chipotle is much bigger than rules about which head of lettuce is washed in which sink. It&rsquo;s about what happens when corporate marketing becomes more important that the product itself, and it can only be fixed by understanding what a company like Chipotle exists to accomplish in the first place.</p> <p> ngIf: initialized &amp;&amp; active end ngIf: initialized &amp;&amp; active</p> <p> Instead of focusing on actual food quality, the company seems to have been distracted by lifestyle trends and politically popular marketing gimmicks. Last April, the company announced that it had fully eliminated from its menu any ingredients that had been improved with genetic engineering. Despite agreement among food safety experts that genetically modified foods face no novel health risks, Chipotle invested a large amount of time and effort attempting to eliminate all GM ingredients from their operations. By September, however, the company&rsquo;s lawyers <a href="http://fortune.com/2015/09/01/chipotle-gmo-lawsuit/">were responding to a lawsuit</a> alleging that they had failed, and had misled customers with their claim.</p> <p> On the flip side, the company has also famously been unable to obtain steady supplies of some of the ingredients that do meet their requirements, like <a href="http://fortune.com/2015/04/21/chipotle-carnitas-crisis/">non-conventionally raised pork</a>. They even warned investors in 2014 that the effects of global climate change might cause them to <a href="http://abclocal.go.com/story?section=news/consumer&amp;id=9455490">stop serving guacamole</a>, although the <a href="http://www.forbes.com/washington/"><em>Washington</em></a><em> Post</em> quickly responded by <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/03/05/dont-panic-chipotles-guacamole-isnt-going-anywhere-for-now/">reassuring readers</a> that &ldquo;Chipotle&rsquo;s guacamole isn&rsquo;t going anywhere (for now).&rdquo;</p> <p> All of this puts additional burdens on the employees who are just trying to make sure that customers get adequately served. First, the more specific a corporate buyer&rsquo;s requirements, the more brittle the supply chain becomes. A lot of suppliers will be able to sell you romaine lettuce and pork shoulder, but if you can only use lettuce that is locally grown and organic and pork that meets a laundry list of sustainability requirements, that can lead to a series of cascading shortages and delays if operations at any of those suppliers slow down.</p> <p> The second concern is one of management focus. If the message filtering through the company grapevine is that &ldquo;sustainable initiatives&rdquo; and PR opportunities with environmental groups are the most important aspects of corporate culture, those are going to be the top priorities for every aspiring senior manager in the company. The more attention that is lavished on non-core tasks, the fewer eyeballs there are going to be watching out for the non-glamorous but far more important goals of food quality and sanitation. Who wants to stay at home filling out reports on soil microbes when the rest of the executive team is expensing <a href="http://www.weforum.org/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&amp;query=Chipotle&amp;cx=005374784487575532108%3Azwr8u4lxoba&amp;cof=FORID%3A11&amp;op.x=0&amp;op.y=0&amp;op=Search">a trip to Switzerland</a> to dazzle a conference of fellow business leaders?</p> <p> The final burden is the problem of a CEO who doesn&rsquo;t seem to be 100% behind his own product. Corporate America is full of leaders who seem to spend more time rehearsing their TED talks than studying quarterly reports, but at least they are generally passionate promoters of their own products. Steve Ells, Chipotle&rsquo;s founder and co-CEO, has often given off the aura of a corporate titan who is vaguely embarrassed to be in business at all.</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Ells, a Culinary Institute of America graduate, originally aspired to a career in fine dining. As food writer Julie Gunlock </span></span><a href="http://capx.co/the-self-hating-burrito-billionaire/"><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">recently mused</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">, Ells comes off &ldquo;like an art school graduate who takes a desk job to pay the bills&rdquo; and regrets &ldquo;scarring America&rsquo;s landscape with yet another massive fast food franchise.&rdquo; Hardly the profile of a confident corporate leader. If it is true, as he told the Huffington Post, that over the years he &ldquo;felt a little guilty&rdquo; every time another Chipotle opened, it is perhaps no surprise that the company has attempted to locate its moral center in everything but the humble practice of selling good food at a reasonable price.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> In fairness, there is nothing necessarily wrong with a marketing strategy that includes fluff or caters to trendy consumer obsessions &ndash; if you deliver what you promise. To the extent that Chipotle&rsquo;s corporate culture has caused it to ignore critical operations, however, it has wandered into dangerous territory indeed.</p> http://iwf.org/media/2799252/Julie GunlockWed, 3 Feb 2016 08:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAnthropologie Hipster Trash Cans: Offensive To The Poor? • Cam & Co http://iwf.org/media/2799254/Julie GunlockTue, 2 Feb 2016 10:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumElites Lament Sale of Hipster Trash Cans and Locally Sourced Food to Average Americans<p> It&rsquo;s always amusing to see how elites react when the products and trends that had been the province of the rich seep into the middle class.</p> <p> Consider a recent <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/01/anthropologie-is-selling-a-west-village-trash-can-for-99/424413/">article</a> in <em>The Atlantic</em> lamenting the production of a faux rusted metal trash can that sells for $99 (on sale; down from $148!) at hipster store Anthropologie. Writer Megan Garber points out that it isn&rsquo;t just <em>any</em> trash can; it&rsquo;s a &ldquo;design-forward trash can. A &lsquo;West Village&rsquo; trash can. . . . composed of matte, corrugated metal&rdquo; that &ldquo;comes complete with either a rope-based handle or two wooden ones&rdquo; and has &ldquo;a rust look.&rdquo;</p> <p> Garber worries that because it is being sold at a store like Anthropologie&mdash;a store that, according to Garber, provides items to (gasp!) &ldquo;mall shoppers&rdquo;&mdash;this item has becomes more than just a refuse holder. It&rsquo;s a symbol of a troubling trend: when rich people &ldquo;co-opt the objects of poverty, and turn it into &lsquo;design.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p> <p> Garber&rsquo;s real concern has little to do with the rich dressing up or decorating as poor people do. After all, that&rsquo;s nothing new (Marie Antoinette often dressed up as a shepherdess and milked cows at her Hameau de la Reine on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles, the ultimate example of co-opting the objects of poverty). Garber&rsquo;s real anxiety stems from the fact that mainstream stores like Anthropologie are providing the common man with items that used to be within reach only for the wealthy, and hence taking away those items cachet.</p> <p> Garber characterizes Anthropologie&rsquo;s design aesthetic as suburban mall-meets-Paris-artist&rsquo;s-loft. The offense lies in the fact that it used to be only the elite who could spend hours perusing the wares at Les Puces de Saint-Ouento to find that unique rusted trash can discarded by a Paris artist. Now, thanks to the philistines at Anthropologie, even a mall shopper can have one without sacrificing the time off work and airfare previously required to obtain it.</p> <p> This sort of lament is common in the food world as well. In a <em>Vanity Fair</em> <a href="http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2015/05/farm-to-table-what-does-it-mean-anymore">article</a> last year, food writer Corby Kummer&rsquo;s wrote about the overused term &ldquo;farm to table,&rdquo; noting:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> Today, chefs can&rsquo;t shut up about where every morsel that went into every dish got its start in life.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> &hellip;</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> Just a decade ago, it would have been enough to emphasize exposed-brick walls, hardwood floors gouged by machinery, and harsh, ugly industrial light fixtures with softly glowing &ldquo;Edison&rdquo; bulbs that Edison would be unlikely to recognize. But now the entrance was an ersatz farmers&rsquo; market with crates of fruits and vegetables, chalkboards listing local farms, and bottles of maple syrup. The restaurant&rsquo;s brick walls were covered by flimsy strips of wood that turned out to be packing crates. The effect didn&rsquo;t really say &ldquo;farm.&rdquo; It said something more like &ldquo;farm drag.&rdquo; And it wasn&rsquo;t near a farm. It was near a lot of old factories and a huge new Google office complex.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> &hellip;</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> All this is the modern version of Pastis carafes and Gauloises ashtrays in an Akron bistro.</p> <p> Akron . . . Oh, the horror!</p> <p> Kummer is correct to take aim at those pretentious, long-form menu items that, as he amusingly puts it, &ldquo;took on the name-clotted length of petitions&rdquo; Yet, when he laments that farmers&rsquo; markets have &ldquo;started giving regular people access to the ingredients that had given chefs their competitive advantage&rdquo; it becomes clear that Kummer&rsquo;s real gripe is that he and his fellow food writers finally got what they&rsquo;ve been demanding for years: food snobbery as ubiquitous as fast food chains dotting Interstate 95.</p> <p> Kummer and his fellow food writers have for years made sport of savaging the modern American restaurant and the hillbilly Americans who enjoy that type of lowbrow food. They have demanded just what Kummer now eviscerates&mdash;farm-to-table style eating in every restaurant&mdash;and have galvanized a movement where consumers demand &ldquo;authenticity&rdquo; in food and a connection to where that food comes from.</p> <p> And now that farm-to-table eating is more common, much like Garber&rsquo;s trash can worries, Kummer&rsquo;s real concern is that the &ldquo;farm to table&rdquo; movement is no longer the provenance of the elite. He&rsquo;s simply annoyed that the great, unwashed masses (like those who live in Akron) and large food companies are doing exactly as he demanded.</p> <p> Of course, these food and style trends can become annoying and overdone, but these cultural critiques should drop the pretense that there is something more to their unease other than what it is: pure snobbery.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2799230/Julie GunlockFri, 29 Jan 2016 16:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBarbie Gets A Makeover…and Thighs<p> Iconic doll Barbie is getting a makeover. According to a cover story in <a href="http://time.com/barbie-new-body-cover-story/">Time</a>, Mattell is set to unveil three new Barbie dolls:</p> <blockquote> <p> Barbie&rsquo;s got a new body.&nbsp;Three new bodies, actually: petite, tall and curvy, in Mattel&rsquo;s exhaustively debated lexicon, and beginning Jan. 28 they will be sold alongside the original busty, thin-waisted form on Barbie.com. They&rsquo;ll all be called Barbie, but it&rsquo;s the curvy one&mdash;with meat on her thighs and a protruding tummy and behind&mdash;that marks the most startling change to the most infamous body in the world.</p> </blockquote> <p> Naturally there are critics and in some ways, I too worry that the message the toy company is sending girls isn&rsquo;t that they should celebrate their own body type; its that body type is all that defines women. After all, these dolls are known by their particular body shape&mdash;petite, tall, curvy. And of course there&rsquo;s &ldquo;regular&rdquo; Barbie&mdash;the one with unrealistic body measurements.&nbsp;</p> <p> Of course this is nothing new for the Barbie line of dolls. As <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/11/barbie-girls-careers/414525/">The Atlantic</a> reported last year, even the Barbie career line of dolls were sexualized:</p> <blockquote> <p> A few studies suggest that Barbie&rsquo;s particular physical appearance&mdash;her sexualized body, her tight jeans (for Doctor Barbie), or her minidress (for Dentist Barbie)&mdash;may have something to do with the dampening of little girls&rsquo; career aspirations. There&rsquo;s a plausible pathway for this: Maybe it&rsquo;s because playing with sexualized and distortedly thin dolls makes girls think more about what they look like and less about their aspirations.</p> </blockquote> <p> On the other hand, there are those that worry that curvy Barbie will somehow tell girls that it&rsquo;s okay to be fat. And many wonder what will happen when regular (translation: bizarrely thin) Barbie&rsquo;s clothes don&rsquo;t fit curvy Barbie? Perhaps Mattell will have to launch a full spandex line of Barbie clothes.</p> <p> Sales will tell us if little girls want these new dolls but something tells me that these social experiments are nothing more than marketing strategies. According to the Time article, Mattell needed to shake things up a bit. Sales for Barbie were way down and company executives needed to make some changes. Changes are good and perhaps this will draw in new customers. But more than anything else, it&rsquo;s getting people talking about the company and that&rsquo;s good for business.&nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2799207/Julie GunlockThu, 28 Jan 2016 12:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumChipotle's Dubious New Year's Resolution<p> January is the month we make promises to ourselves: to eat healthier, drink less, get more exercise, be kinder and generally improve ourselves. Burrito emporium Chipotle is doing the same.</p> <p> After an outbreak of E. coli and norovirus in its restaurants that sickened hundreds over the holiday season, which resulted in a federal grand jury subpoena as part of an FDA Office of Criminal Investigation&rsquo;s inquiry, the restaurant announced a provocative move to clean up (literally) its act and regain Americans&rsquo; confidence.</p> <p> According to a company spokesman, on February 8, Chipotle will close all of its North American stores for a few hours in order &ldquo;to thank our teams for all of their hard work, to discuss some of the changes we are making to enhance food safety, to talk about the restaurants&rsquo; role in all of that and to answer questions from employees.&rdquo; And that&rsquo;s not all, to lure customers back, the company is even bringing back its practice of giving away tacos and burrito bowls.</p> <p> While free food is definitely a way to win back customers, the delay in closing its stores for an all-hands meeting has left some scratching their heads. Shuttering all of its nearly 2,000 locations is certainly meant to make people sit up and notice. But it begs the question why wait until next month? If this is so serious; if this is a matter of food safety (as the company states) and the health of paying customers, why not shut down tomorrow? Surely something as serious as bacterial contamination of the company&rsquo;s burrito and taco ingredients demands swift action.</p> <p> Company CEO Steve Ells has certainly signaled the company will be making changes. In an open letter to customers posted on the company website, Ells explained that the company has conducted a &ldquo;farm-to-fork risk assessment&rdquo; and &ldquo;collaborated with pre-eminent food-safety experts to design a comprehensive food-safety program that dramatically reduces risk on our farms, throughout the supply chain and in our restaurants.&rdquo;</p> <p> Chipotle deserves credit for taking these outbreaks seriously, and for committing to make changes, but regaining consumer trust may require more. First, Chipotle needs to transform its business and marketing model and stop with the smug assertions that it &ldquo;serves food with integrity.&rdquo; Because, to put it bluntly, no one cares about integrity when they spent the holidays throwing up.</p> <p> Chipotle has been a leader in working with food alarmists to spread misinformation about the food supply. The company brags about forgoing genetically modified ingredients (despite thousands of scientific studies demonstrating their safety), and using only locally sourced ingredients (which makes tracking the source of the bacteria more difficult), while making not-so-subtle jabs at American farmers and ranchers (check out the company&rsquo;s wildly insulting &ldquo;Scarecrow&rdquo; short film for a taste).</p> <p> The company implies it is superior from the &ldquo;other guys&rdquo; in the fast-food realm despite the fact that Chipotle&rsquo;s popular menu items are as high in fat and calories as traditional fast-food restaurant offerings.</p> <p> This unfounded snobbery overlooks that it&rsquo;s one of these &ldquo;other guys&rdquo; that helped Chipotle become the billion-dollar company it is today. In 1998, McDonalds &mdash; arguably the most vilified fast-food restaurant on the planet &mdash; invested in Chipotle, which allowed the company to grow from 13 stores to more than 500 stores in seven years. Interestingly, Chipotle&rsquo;s website doesn&rsquo;t mention McDonalds&rsquo; largess (a search of the word &ldquo;McDonalds&rdquo; on the company website resulted in a message that reads: &ldquo;OOOOOPS! No results match your search). Oops indeed.</p> <p> It makes sense that Chipotle doesn&rsquo;t want to brag about its profitable alliance with the very type of restaurant it scorns. But it reveals something about the culture of Chipotle &mdash; a company run by food snobs who willingly enjoy the benefits of the sugar daddy they hate.</p> <p> For too long Chipotle has been distracted from what any restaurant&rsquo;s true mission should be: to provide safe, bacteria-free and delicious food to paying customers. Perhaps these closures will usher in a new era of honesty and responsibility at Chipotle but until the company reconsiders its culture of food snobbery and ends its practice of scaring its customer base with misinformation about food and farming practices, it&rsquo;s likely little will change.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2799181/Julie GunlockTue, 26 Jan 2016 13:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPodcast #29 • Dietary Guidelines: Should You Take Them With A Grain Of Salt?<p> IWF&#39;s Julie Gunlock sits down with Jeff Steir, a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research. Jeff is also a widely published writer, focusing on what IWF likes to call the &quot;Culture of Alarmism&quot;. In this podcast, Julie and Jeff discuss the new federal dietary guidelines and why you should take them with a grain of salt.</p> http://iwf.org/media/2799178/Julie GunlockTue, 26 Jan 2016 11:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumGetting Snowed In + Election 2016 + Dietary Guidelines • Cam & Company http://iwf.org/media/2799195/Julie GunlockTue, 26 Jan 2016 10:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMichelle Obama Faces Changes To School Lunch Program, Trouble For Hillary, and More • Bill Cunninghamhttp://iwf.org/media/2799152/Julie GunlockFri, 22 Jan 2016 14:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum#FREAKOUTFRIDAY: GOVERNMENT DIETARY GUIDELINES AND YOU<p> Last week, the US Dietary Guidelines Committee&mdash;which is a group of really healthy government employees&mdash;issued their latest guidelines on how and what you should eat. I could list a few of the findings but I have better advice: ignore them.</p> <p> Why? Firstly, they&rsquo;re likely to change next week. We&rsquo;ve all seen this in action: one day, Americans are told eggs are good for you only to be told to avoid them the next. At one point pregnant women were told to avoid tuna fish; today, expectant moms are told that fish is an important source of food for a growing baby. Booze was good last month, but bad this month.</p> <p> But there&rsquo;s a second and probably more compelling reason to ignore the dietary guidelines: given the schizophrenic nature of this government-issued diet advice, it&rsquo;s better and probably safer that you decide what&rsquo;s best for you based on your own conversations with your doctor or your nutritionists.</p> <p> You see, humans are, in fact, snowflakes. Conservatives like to make fun of such claims but the truth is, we are all unique and that&rsquo;s why one-size-fits-all nutrition advice rarely serves anyone. It isn&rsquo;t hard to see this play out in our own lives. We all have that friend who can seemingly eat anything without gaining a pound and many of us have that friend who struggles with their weight and health. It may be clich&eacute;, but we all come in different shapes and sizes and as such, we require different diets.</p> <p> Of course, the guidelines offer some good advice&mdash;watch your sugar intake, limit fat and make sure you&rsquo;re consuming lean meats. But does this advice require a taxpayer funded 500-plus-page document and a year of study on behalf of government employees? Peruse through the committee&rsquo;s findings and you&rsquo;ll agree that most of the guidelines belongs in the &ldquo;duh&rdquo; category.</p> <p> If you&rsquo;re interested in your own health, my advice is to ignore these guidelines. But Congress shouldn&rsquo;t ignore this waste of taxpayer dollars.&nbsp;</p> <p> <em>#FreakoutFriday is a proud collaboration between The American Spectator and the Independent Womens&#39; Forum.</em></p> http://iwf.org/news/2799151/Julie GunlockFri, 22 Jan 2016 13:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumChristie Takes a Tougher Tone against Michelle Obama’s School-Lunch Reforms<p> It&rsquo;s been a tough week for First Lady Michelle Obama. Not only did Congress (correctly) roll back many of her school-lunch &ldquo;reforms,&rdquo; but, according to CBS news, she also lost a former supporter.</p> <p> During a campaign stop this week in Council Bluffs, Iowa, New Jersey governor Chris Christie denounced the first lady&rsquo;s reforms, using the school-lunch program to prove his small-government bona fides.</p> <p> The issue of school lunches, he suggested, is a bit too small beans for the president. &ldquo;Doesn&rsquo;t the president of the United States have anything better to do than to worry about what you are having for lunch?&rdquo; he asked. &ldquo;Let me tell you this, I don&rsquo;t care.&rdquo; School-lunch decisions should be up to parents, he told Iowa voters.</p> <p> He&rsquo;s right, of course. Parents are the best arbiters of what&rsquo;s best for their growing child, and multiple studies show that children benefit when their parents take an active interest in their children&rsquo;s nutritional development.</p> <p> Yet, Christie didn&rsquo;t sound so pro-parent a few years ago. During a 2012 appearance on Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer asked Christie, &ldquo;What do you think about this criticism coming from the right of Michelle Obama because she&rsquo;s trying to get people to eat better?&rdquo; Republican criticisms of the reforms were &ldquo;unnecessary,&rdquo; Christie answered, adding:&nbsp;</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> I think it&rsquo;s a really good goal to encourage kids to eat better. I don&rsquo;t want the government deciding what you can eat and what you can&rsquo;t eat. I still think that&rsquo;s your choice. But Mrs. Obama being out there and encouraging people in a positive way to eat well and to exercise and to be healthy? I don&rsquo;t have a problem with that.</p> <p> The overhaul that Christie chided Republicans for criticizing funneled $4.5 billion into a bloated, mismanaged, and downright wasteful federal feeding program. It left kids more hungry and unsatisfied with school food than ever before (just check out the Twitter hashtag #thanksmichelleobama to see proof), and it resulted in record levels of food waste nationwide.</p> <p> Everyone would support the goal of helping people &mdash; both kids and adults &mdash; eat better. The question is: Who gets to decide? With help from the first lady, the Obama administration set out early in its tenure to increase the role of government in every aspect of our lives, including the one that&rsquo;s the most basic and closest to home: feeding one&rsquo;s own children.</p> <p> Christie is clearly doing his best to win the support of the conservative base. And to do that, he needs to back away from his habit of making nice with those who push big-government programs. His support for Michelle Obama was hardly the hug seen &rsquo;round the world. But it is nonetheless a reminder of his habit of flirting with those on the left.</p> <p> <em>&mdash; Julie Gunlock is a senior fellow at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum.</em></p> http://iwf.org/news/2799140/Julie GunlockThu, 21 Jan 2016 12:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMichelle Obama's $4.5B School Lunch Nightmare & Chipotle Pandering With Free Food • Garrisonhttp://iwf.org/media/2799138/Julie GunlockThu, 21 Jan 2016 11:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumChipotle's Dubious New Year's Resolution<p> January is the month we make promises to ourselves: to eat healthier, drink less, get more exercise, be kinder, and generally improve ourselves. Burrito emporium Chipotle is doing the same.</p> <p> Following an outbreak of E. coli and norovirus in its restaurants that sickened hundreds over the holiday season (including 140 at Boston College) which resulted in a federal grand jury subpoena&nbsp;as part of an FDA Office of Criminal Investigation&rsquo;s inquiry, the restaurant announced a provocative move to clean up (literally) its act and regain Americans&rsquo; confidence.</p> <p> According to a company spokesman, on Feb. 8, Chipotle will close all of its North American stores for a few hours in order &ldquo;&hellip; to thank our teams for all of their hard work, to discuss some of the changes we are making to enhance food safety, to talk about the restaurants role in all of that and to answer questions from employees.&rdquo;</p> <p> Yet this gesture has left some scratching their heads. Closing all of its nearly 2,000 locations is certainly meant to make people sit up and notice. But it begs the question why wait until next month? If this is so serious; if this is a matter of food safety (as the company states) and the health of paying customers, why not shut down tomorrow? Surely something as serious as bacterial contamination of the company&rsquo;s burrito and taco ingredients demands swift action.</p> <p> Company CEO Steve Ells has certainly signaled the company will be making changes. In an open letter to customers posted on the company website, Ells explained that the company has conducted a &ldquo;farm-to-fork risk assessment&rdquo; and &ldquo;collaborated with preeminent food safety experts to design a comprehensive food safety program that dramatically reduces risk on our farms, throughout the supply chain, and in our restaurants.&rdquo;</p> <p> Chipotle deserves credit for taking these outbreaks seriously and for committing to make changes, but regaining consumer trust may require more.</p> <p> First, Chipotle needs to transform its business and marketing model and stop with the smug assertions that it &ldquo;serves food with integrity.&rdquo; Because, to put it bluntly, no one cares about integrity when they spent the holidays throwing up.</p> <p> Chipotle has been a leader in working with food alarmists to spread misinformation about the food supply. The company brags about forgoing genetically modified ingredients (despite thousands of scientific studies demonstrating their safety), and using only locally sourced ingredients (which makes tracking the source of the bacteria more difficult), while making not-so-subtle jabs at American farmers and ranchers (check out the company&rsquo;s wildly insulting &ldquo;Scarecrow&rdquo; short film for a taste). The company implies it is superior from the &ldquo;other guys&rdquo; in the fast food realm despite the fact that Chipotle&rsquo;s popular menu items are as high in fat and calories as traditional fast food restaurant offerings.</p> <p> This unfounded snobbery overlooks the fact that it&rsquo;s one of these &ldquo;other guys&rdquo; that helped Chipotle become the billion-dollar company it is today. In 1998, McDonalds &mdash; arguably the most vilified fast food restaurant on the planet &mdash; invested in Chipotle, which allowed the company to grow from 13 stores to over 500 stores in seven years. Interestingly, Chipotle&rsquo;s website doesn&rsquo;t mention McDonalds&rsquo; largess (a search of the word &ldquo;McDonalds&rdquo; on the company website resulted in a message that reads: &ldquo;OOOOOPS! No results match your search.&rdquo; Oops indeed.)</p> <p> It makes sense that Chipotle doesn&rsquo;t want to brag about its profitable alliance with the very type of restaurant it scorns. But it reveals something about the culture of Chipotle &mdash; a company run by food snobs who willingly enjoy the benefits of the sugar daddy they hate.</p> <p> For too long Chipotle has been distracted from what any restaurant&rsquo;s true mission should be:&nbsp;to provide safe, bacteria-free, and delicious food to paying customers. Perhaps these closures will usher in a new era of honesty and responsibility at Chipotle but until the company reconsiders its culture of food snobbery and ends its practice of scaring its customer base with misinformation about food and farming practices, it&rsquo;s likely little will change.</p> <p> <em>Julie Gunlock writes about food for the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum.</em></p> http://iwf.org/news/2799135/Julie GunlockThu, 21 Jan 2016 09:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum