December 04, 2009

Iowa County providing incentives for organic production -- goal is all organic

Using tax breaks and other incentives, Woodbury County, Iowa is encouraging organic farming.  From the New York Times (the original source is Greenwire):

SIOUX CITY, Iowa -- In the midst of sprawling corn and soybean fields, industrial animal-processing plants and ethanol refineries, Woodbury County is . . . trying to go whole-hog into organic agriculture.

"This is a totally new direction for us," said Debi Durham, president and CEO of the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce. . . . "Within the next 10 years, we will be known as the organic capital -- of the world."

Such a prediction is almost mind-boggling, considering that the county had not one registered acre of organic farmland in the 2007 U.S. Department of Agriculture census -- and this in a county with a total 450,000 acres of farmland.


December 4, 2009 in Farming, Food culture, Organics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 18, 2009

Wrestling Promoter, Wine School Butt Heads in Trademark Smackdown

This is a little off the wall, but I've been saying for a while that Food Law encompasses just about every area of law taught in law school.  Here's trademarks in a context I might not have thought of.  This is from The National Law Journal via (thank you to Steve Sholk for forwarding it!)

World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. is attempting a legal smackdown against a wine school that it says is violating its trademark.

WWE is opposing the Philadelphia Wine School's attempt to register the name Sommelier Smackdown for the food and wine pairing competitions it has held since 2007. The WWE's "SmackDown" program has aired on television since 1999.

"The WWE has been the registered owner of the trademark SmackDown for entertainment purposes for many, many years," said K&L Gates partner Jerry McDevitt, who represents the WWE. "We sent a letter saying, 'Guess what, you can't use that.'"

Philadelphia Wine School owner Keith Wallace said that he received the WWE's cease-and-desist letter in September. He has no intention of backing off the Sommelier Smackdown name, however.


October 18, 2009 in Food culture, Issues and thoughts, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 20, 2009

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Proclaims August 23-29 as National Community Gardening Week

From a USDA news release:

August 6, 2009 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today encouraged Americans to connect with the land, the food it grows and their local communities by proclaiming August 23-29, National Community Gardening Week. A community garden is an opportunity to educate everyone about from where food comes, whether that is a Farmers Market or a garden, and is important to increasing generations of healthy eaters. Community gardens can be anywhere whether it is in the country, a city or a suburb. It can be one community plot or can be many individual plots...'The People's Garden,' a USDA domestic and international initiative, will help illustrate the many ways USDA works to provide a sustainable, safe and nutritious food supply as well as protect and preserve the landscape where that food is produced. It is the Nation's demonstration plot designed to provide a sampling of USDA's efforts throughout the world as well as teach others how to nurture, maintain and protect a healthy landscape."

August 20, 2009 in Food culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 12, 2009

Race/ethnicity, family income and education associated with sugar consumption

From (Elsevier Health Sciences):

St. Louis, MO, August 1, 2009 – The intake of added sugars in the United States is excessive, estimated by the US Department of Agriculture in 1999-2002 as 17% of calories a day. Consuming foods with added sugars displaces nutrient-dense foods in the diet. Reducing or limiting intake of added sugars is an important objective in providing overall dietary guidance. In a study of nearly 30,000 Americans published in the August 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, researchers report that race/ethnicity, family income and educational status are independently associated with intake of added sugars. Groups with low income and education are particularly vulnerable to eating diets with high added sugars.

There are differences within race/ethnicity groups that suggest that interventions aimed at reducing the intake of added sugars should be tailored to each group. Using data from adults (≥18 years) participating in the 2005 US National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) Cancer Control Supplement, investigators from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), Bethesda, MD, and Information Management Services, Inc., Silver Spring, MD, analyzed responses to questions about added sugars. Both NCI and NHLBI are part of the National Institutes of Health.

Read the Eurekalert article

Go to the Abstract: Frances E. Thompson, Timothy S. McNeel, Emily C. Dowling, Douglas Midthune,  Meredith Morrissette,  Christopher A. Zeruto, Interrelationships of Added Sugars Intake, Socioeconomic Status, and Race/Ethnicity in Adults in the United States: National Health Interview Survey, 2005, J. Amer. Dietetic Assoc., Vol.109, Issue 8, Pages 1376-1383 (August 2009)

Thank you to William Mitchell College of Law student Laura Bantle for this and many other tips!

August 12, 2009 in articles, Food culture, nutrition policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 11, 2009

Ice cream shop gets licked

OK, so this isn't about food, per se; it's about the chairs people sit in to eat the food.  From the Chicago Tribune:

This is a tale of frozen custard and the City of Chicago Municipal Code 10-28-805.

. . .[F]or the last six years Dennis and Mardi Johnson Moore have operated Scooter's Frozen Custard.

. . .

Until recently, the Moores have put out a few resin chairs so people could sit while eating their custard. The little sitting area became a meeting spot. 

read more of the tale

August 11, 2009 in Food culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 18, 2009

Study: Dating and eating.

What are you favorite date foods?  Why? A Cornell University study on Dating and Food surveyed college students.  The study will appear in the journal, Appetite.

Dating and eating. Beliefs about dating foods among university students
Appetite, In Press, Uncorrected Proof, Available online 3 July 2009,
by Dana E. Amiraian and Jeffery Sobal


Dating is an important courtship activity in the U.S., and food consumption is part of dating events. Students use dating scripts to guide decisions and behaviors on dates, and perform scripts on dates to construct positive impression management. This study examined how students conceptualized dating foods. A questionnaire was administered in one large university class, and data from 301 students were analyzed. Students were asked to name three dating foods, three foods that are not dating foods, what makes foods dating foods, and what makes foods not dating foods. Findings revealed that both common and uncommon foods were named as dating and not dating foods. Alcoholic beverages were sometimes named as dating foods. Women often named feminine foods (considered appropriate for females) as dating foods, but men were not more likely to name masculine foods (considered appropriate for males) as dating foods. Neat and easy-to-eat foods were often named as dating foods, while pungent foods and foods causing bad breath were named as not dating foods. These findings support the conception that dating scripts guide thinking about food choices to enhance impression management. Dating food choices are important for current health and as potential precursors for long-term eating relationships like marriage.

Click here for a description of the study from Science

July 18, 2009 in Food culture | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 08, 2009

With Salmonella Scare, Shoppers turn to “Sacred Foods”

An article on, reports that the Salmonella scare associated with pistachios has caused many shoppers to turn toward so-called “sacred foods.” Sacred Foods include kosher and Halal foods and foods that are gluten-free and dairy-free.

According to an article in Specialty Food Magazine, the boom of the “sacred food market is second only to the organic market in increased sales in recent years.

The increase in this market can be partially attributed to “perceived quality and hygiene involved in the preparation of these foods which are regulated by religious standards more rigorous than government standards,” and seem less likely to be contaminated than processed foods.

The article noting the increase in the Sacred Food market can be found here.

Some examples of popular Sacred Food online distributors include and

Thank you to William Mitchell College of Law student John McVoy for preparing this post.

April 8, 2009 in Food culture, food safety, Issues and thoughts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 30, 2009

Yogurt Standards

Two wees ago, the FDA proposed a change to the standards of identity for yogurt. FDA Law Blog has a nice post on the proposed rules: FDA Law Blog
The proposal itself is in the Federal Register (here).

From FDA Law Blog:

FDA has issued a proposed rule that would amend the standard of identity for yogurt and revoke the regulations on standards of identity for lowfat and nonfat yogurt. Under § 401 of the FDC Act, FDA has the authority to establish a reasonable definition and standard of identity for any food to “promote honesty and fair dealing in the interest of consumers.” Currently, there are separate standards of identity for yogurt, lowfat yogurt, and nonfat yogurt. Under FDA’s proposal, there would be a single standard of identity for yogurt. This standard of identity could be modified to produce lower-fat versions under 21 C.F.R. 130.10, which sets out requirements for foods named by use of a nutrient content claim (e.g., “low fat”) and a standardized term (e.g., “yogurt”).

January 30, 2009 in Food culture, Ingredients, Labeling | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 15, 2008

Ethical Brands -- Turn on, Tune in, Sell out

The American Enterprise Institute has posted a short article by Jon Entine, Ethical Brands--Turn On, Tune In, Sell Out.  Here's the blurb:

During the past decade, multinationals have been gobbling up small, ethical brands. Are ethical firms and their founders turning their backs on “capitalism with a conscience”—the very principles they claim motivated them to start their businesses in the first place—by selling out to larger corporations? The challenge for ethical brands that choose to scale up and sell out, risking the alienation of the customers who carried them to success, is to preserve their reputations as socially responsible businesses.

Read the article

October 15, 2008 in Food culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 08, 2008

World's Largest Cheeseburger

Bob's BBQ and Grill of Pattaya, Thailand, has created the world's largest cheeseburger.  Weighing in at over 70 pounds, it beat the previous record by over 20 pounds. (The cheeseburger was created in July 2007, but I just found out about it and the photos are great.)

If you're curious about how one would create a huge burger, there are all sorts of photos on Bob's BBQ website's Burger Museum.

Thank you to Budong-Kablogs for bringing this to my attention. 

September 8, 2008 in Food culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 12, 2008

Dog meat on the menu in Korea (illegally)

From The Wall Street Journal online: Seoul Hounds Meat Vendors For Cleaner Chow

Dog meat is illegal in Seoul, but not in the rest of South Korea, according to the Wall Street Journal.  Nevertheless, many Seoul restaurants serve it anyway.  Lately though, dog meat has been linked to salmonella and staph infections, leading to calls to classify dogs as livestock in order to bring dog meat under food safety regulations.  Here's a brief excerpt.  The article is worth reading.

No official estimates exist on the size of South Korea's dog-meat industry. A 2006 survey by KBS-TV, one of the three main national networks, found that one in three respondents had eaten dog meat. It also found that consumption patterns were no different between people who had dogs as pets and those who didn't. Only 9% of respondents thought it should be banned.

"It's very high in protein and it doesn't leave you with a sense of fullness," says Kim Moon-suk, a 60-year-old who eats dog meat several times a year and says he likes it better than beef but not as much as chicken. One recent night, he sat down for a bowl at a casual restaurant called Kwang-kyo Grandmother's House, tucked way in a small alley in downtown Seoul. He said he came after a doctor's check-up earlier in the day revealed high blood pressure. "The doctor said I should eat some tonight," Mr. Kim said.

I suppose this bothers me a bit because I share my home with two dogs.  Here's an interesting post on eating dog meat on WeirdMeat blog, including photos and a link to recipes.

May 12, 2008 in Food culture, food safety | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 07, 2008

Michael Pollan interview on YouTube

From Michael Pollan talks about his recent book, In Defense of Food, in Portland, Oregon.  Here's the blurb:

Michael Pollan's new book, In Defense of Food, provides the backdrop for his talk at the Bagdad Theater in Portland, Oregon, and this prior interview with Deborah Kane of the environmental nonprofit organization, Ecotrust. Remarkably, Mr. Pollan is talking about a defense of food in a literal sense: it's increasingly difficult to escape from eating foods that are food-like substances (processed foods), but are not whole (real) foods. We have come to look upon "nutritionism" as a valid means of determining (healthy) value in our diet; food has been reduced to its composition of good and bad nutrients, but are we really eating healthier? In part one, we see how simple changes in food labeling requirements can influence consumer behavior, and how food manufacturer's apply overwhelming pressure to effect laws that ultimately protect their own interests.

And the first part of the video:

Michael Pollan part 2

Michael Pollan part  3

Michael Pollan part 4

May 7, 2008 in Food culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 03, 2008

Food Stamp Use Approaches a Record High

Grocery_bag The New York Times reported that the number of Americans receiving food stamps is projected to reach a record high of 28 million this year (the U.S. population is estimated at over 303 million; therefore nearly 10% of the U.S. population is receiving food stamps).

According to the article, although food stamp use has fluctuated since the program was implemented in the 1960’s, the recent upward trend is attributed to economic slowdown and inflation.  In Michigan, one in 8 residents now receives food stamps, and the caseload has more than doubled since 2000. 
Food stamp eligibility is determined by a complex formula, but generally recipients must have incomes below 130% of the poverty line.

Congress is considering bills that would alter the food stamp eligibility formula to more closely track the cost of living, but the bills may be stalled as part of partisan farm policy disagreements.   The Wall Street Journal recently reviewed the current status of the farm bill in Congress. 

A short history of the food stamp program is available from at the USDA website.

Thank you to William Mitchell College of Law student Ellen Laine for preparing this post.

April 3, 2008 in Food culture, Food security, Issues and thoughts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 31, 2008

KFC wins "Teadog set meal" lawsuit

This story is being reported all over the internet.  It relies on translations from a Chinese news article, but the issue is more or less clear, even if the translations are not:

Tongzhou District court ruled on Tuesday that the two plaintiffs surnamed Jin would not get compensation from the KFC fast-food chain as they couldn't provide substantive evidence to prove the set meal had led to a "lower social evaluation" and reputation damage to them, as they claimed.

The meal was advertised under the name “Teadog Set Meal,” which the patron took to mean “man and dog sharing meal.”

He then sued KFC for insulting consumers, because "according to the advertisement, my grandson has eaten dog food and we two have become 'dog friends'", -- a term that means "a dissolute company" in Chinese.

Note: Substantive Evidence is defined as “Evidence offered to help establish a fact in issue” Black’s Law Dictionary  (7th ed. 1999). 

Thank you to William Mitchell College of Law student Emily Brooks-Lipor for finding this story and preparing this post.

March 31, 2008 in Food culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 26, 2008

Mom was right! Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day

On March 25, 2008, The New York Times reported that researchers have found adolescents that eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight.  According to The Times, the authors of the study “found a direct relationship between eating breakfast and body mass index.”  Essentially, the more often a child eats breakfast, the lower the B.M.I.

The five-year longitudinal study was completed by researchers and professors at the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health at the University of Minnesota.  The study examined a racially and economically diverse sample from various public schools in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

The study, Breakfast Eating and Weight Change in a 5-Year Prospective Analysis of Adolescents: Project EAT (Eating Among Teens) was published in the March issue of Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.   

The study’s objective was to examine the association between breakfast frequency and 5-year body weight change in adolescents.  The study primarily relied on self-reports of weight and eating habits of 2,216 adolescents.  Although the study concluded there is an association between breakfast frequency and change in BMI, the study was unable to determine whether the association is in fact causal in nature.  The study itself recognizes this in noting “long-term studies…will be needed to evaluate the possibility of an important causal link between breakfast consumption and risk for obesity and chronic diseases.”  The study hopes that interventions, especially in a school setting, could be aimed at promoting a healthy breakfast.  Such a breakfast might include whole grain cereals, low-fat milk, and fresh fruit.

Thank you to William Mitchell College of Law student Maureen Ventura for preparing this post.

March 26, 2008 in Children, Food culture, Obesity | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 23, 2008

Is it Food? Cornflake sells for $1350

Cornflake A single cornflake shaped like the state of Illinois has reportedly been sold on eBay for $1350.

Here's the fun part for me. According to CNN:

McIntire and her sister Emily, 15, listed the cornflake on eBay last week, but eBay canceled the auction, saying it violated the Web site's policy against selling food.

Under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 USC sec. 321(f), "food" means:

(1) articles used for food or drink for man or other animals,
(2) chewing gum, and
(3) articles used for components of any such article.
So my Sunday morning time-waster question is, when a single cornflake becomes a thousand-dollar collector's item, is still "food"?
eBay has evidently decided that small quantities of cornflakes are not food; a quick search for "corflake" on eBay came up with 37 offerings.  It looks like a motivated collector could start building a 50-states collection.

March 23, 2008 in Food culture | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 12, 2008

CROI: Pre-Chewed Food Passes HIV to Children

When HIV-positive mothers or caregivers pre-chew an infant's food, they may transmit the virus to the child, investigators reported at CROI 2008, the 15th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections last week. 

From a MedPage Today Article (Including news video featuring Dr. Kenneth Dominguez):

The cases came to light when local doctors were unable to find other modes of HIV transmission.  Together with local authorities in Memphis and Miami, CDC researchers conducted an intensive investigation before concluding that food, pre-chewed by a caregiver, had been the way the three children contracted the virus.

In two cases, the mother was HIV-positive and transmitted the virus to her child, while in the third case -- with an HIV-negative mother -- the virus was passed from an infected great aunt who had been caring for the infant..

Gaur AH, et al "Practice of offering a child pre-masticated (pre-chewed) food: an unrecognized possible risk factor for HIV transmission" CROI 2008; Abstract 613b. Abstract:

Link to Aidsmap a worldwide AIDS news and information source

Thank you to William Mitchell College of Law student Emily Brooks-Lipor for preparing this post.

February 12, 2008 in Food culture, food safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 30, 2008

Pollinating Our Future: Urban Agriculture Conference Feb 28 in Milwaukee

Urban_ag_confFrom The Milwaukee Urban Agriculture Network announces its first annual Pollinating Our Future: Urban Agriculture Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin February 28 March 1, 2008 at the Hilton Milwaukee City Center. Keynote speaker, Michael Ableman, award-winning urban farmer, author and educator heads a line-up of leading sustainability experts in presenting the revolutionary power of urban agriculture.

Conference speakers and attendees will address important and controversial issues facing cities today focused on Food Justice, Garden as Community, Policy and Planning and Enterprise Development with workshops, forums, film, exhibits, and Town Hall meeting.

From the Urban Agriculture Conference website:

January 30, 2008 in Farming, Food culture, Food security, Organics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 19, 2007

Heksher Tzedek -- kosher food with a conscience

From Fair Trade News:

Rabbi Morris Allen, of Beth Jacob Congregation in Mendota Heights, MN, has been promoting kashrut, Jewish dietary laws, to his congregation for twenty years. He says that kashrut provides “a way in which we as Jews understand a daily opportunity to sanctify our lives, to create a sense of holiness and a sense of awareness of God in our lives.” This consciousness means that Allen takes his food and its production seriously.

More than a year ago, Allen learned of labor abuses at an Iowa kosher meat processing plant that supplied the Twin Cities Jewish community. He was faced with a contradiction: The worker may slaughter an animal according to the laws of kashrut, but he or she may be underpaid and mistreated. What if the ritual is observed, but the ethics are undermined?

Allen distinguishes between “ritual,” the letter of the law that describes specific procedures for kosher slaughter and food handling, and the ethics of how kosher food is actually produced. While he does not privilege one over the other, he thinks current certification practices do. According to Allen, “kashrut has become more...  more

Link to the Heksher Tzedek website

November 19, 2007 in Food culture, Issues and thoughts, Labeling | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 14, 2007

Theatre: Milk-n-Honey -- food politics and fair trade snacks at New York's Lightbox Theatre

If you're in New York, this show runs through this weekend at the Lightbox Theatre:

Part fiction, part documentary, and based in part on interviews conducted with people whose backgrounds are as diverse as farmers, food scholars, hunters, waiters, ad men, immigrant workers, diabetics, and dumpster divers (known as "freegans"), MILK 'N' HONEY is a large-scale multi-media play that looks at food and appetite in the 21st century:  the play's interweaving storylines follow a couple whose marriage is at stake as they differ about what food to put on the table, a grocery store clerk who forages through dumpsters, immigrant farm workers, a family that struggles with diabetes, a flavor chemist who attempts to capture the flavor of light,

The themes of food and consumption will be underscored in MILK 'N' HONEY as an actor consumes an entire meal -- from soup to nuts, from "curtain up" to "lights out" -- on stage as part of every performance of the play.

MILK 'N' HONEY was developed in part through LightBox's participation in several recent food conferences including Princeton University's Food, Ethics & the Environment Conference; The Foundry's Food 101 Conference on food policy in New York City; and W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Food and Society Conference.

Following each performance of MILK 'N' HONEY, the 3LD space transforms into the After-Show Cafe, where audience members can eat free locally made food and participate in discussions, cooking demos, book signings and other activities led by LightBox partners, including Slow Food, Just Food, FoodChange, the Small Planet Institute, World Hunger Year, Good Food (arts engine) and the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The After-Show Cafe will be run by the Lower East Side Girls Club, with coffee donated by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters.

November 14, 2007 in Food culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack