February 20, 2015

CLF Week in Links: Dietary Guidelines, Dark Cola, CSA

Robert Lawrence, MD

Robert Lawrence, MD

Director Emeritus

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

RS4835_Soda Pop-10-scrThe new Dietary Guidelines are out. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) submitted the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee this week to the Secretaries of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. You can access the 571-page report here. The DGAC is composed of clinicians and scientists who’ve made a sound set of recommendations based on the science regarding public health and information about healthy dietary patterns. Overall, the DGAC recommends the U.S. population should consume a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish/seafood, legumes and nuts; moderate in dairy products and alcohol; and lower in red and processed meat, sugar-sweetened foods and beverages and refined grains. And for the first time, the Guidelines consider sustainability. You may submit public comments in support of the Guidelines here. You have until April 8, 2015, to do so.

Cola’s dark side. CLF and Consumer Reports teamed up to update last year’s research on a possible carcinogen found in dark colas known as 4-methylimidazole, or 4-MEI, which is associated with the caramel coloring used in the drinks. Our report is here. The study was also reported on by Consumer Reports, Fox News, the International Business Times and other outlets. This study used NHANES data to look at popular soda consumption data and determine cancer risks from consuming dark colas containing 4-MEI. The take-home message is that caramel coloring is added for no nutritional purposes but simply to make the appearance of the drink more attractive—all the while exposing consumers to a carcinogen! This is yet another compelling reason to eliminate sodas from the diet.

Benefits of a CSA. If you’re part of the Hopkins community, join us for our eighth year of partnering with One Straw Farm to offer CSA shares. This blogpost by Kate McCleary, who manages the CSA, explains not only how to join, but how participation translates into donations of fresh fruits and vegetables to the Franciscan Center in Baltimore, where the food is put to good use serving up to 600 people a day. Whether you’re part of the Hopkins community or not, you can always volunteer at the Franciscan Center to help fight hunger.

Fast-tracking free trade? This Reuters article explains what’s going on with the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement that’s being negotiated, and why giving President Obama the authority to fast-track it is problematic. We recently partnered with Karen Hansen-Kuhn of IATP, who wrote this blogpost about another free-trade agreement being negotiated in secret, this one known as TAFTA or TTIP. In the blogpost she does an excellent job explaining how an agreement like TAFTA could undermine so much of the progress we’ve made in the food system, and hope to make in the future.

Protecting pollinators in Maryland. Some Maryland lawmakers are supporting the Pollinator Protection Act, the intent of which is to diminish the widespread use of a class of pesticides known as “neonics” in order to stop the decline of honeybees. There is scientific evidence that these neonicotinoid pesticides are contributing to colony collapse disorder; opponents of the bill say there’s no definitive proof and the bill would deal a blow to industry. WRAL in Annapolis has coverage.

Defending neonics? And of course the pesticide manufacturers are not going down without a fight. Bloomberg reports on a closed-door meeting last month between the EPA’s pesticide regulators and researchers funded by the pesticide industry. The researchers touted a study funded by Bayer CropScience, Syngenta, Valent and Mitsui Agrochemicals, all of which manufacture pesticides. According to the article, the EPA has an open-door policy, and “Environmental groups advocating for tighter restrictions on neonicotinoids said they weren’t surprised that the agency held a private meeting with the pesticide industry on this topic.”

Beard Foundation semifinalists. Congratulations to our friends Spike Gjerde of Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore and Fred Kirschenmann of Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York. Spike is a semifinalist for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic, and Blue Hill is a semifinalist for Outstanding Restaurant.

Comments are closed.