Hello! The UC Food Observer hopes you are having a great day! On the menu, some interesting pieces to tempt you. In no particular order:


March is National Nutrition Month. (And there’s a lot going on!) The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports this is “an annual observance that encourages Americans to adopt a healthy eating pattern that includes nutritious and flavorful foods. What started as a week-long event in 1973 by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics became a month-long celebration in 1980, thanks to growing public interest in nutrition.“ While we think every month ought to be nutrition month, we’re happy to see this topic trending.

Credit: USDA, St. Ann's Soup Kitchen.
Credit: USDA, St. Ann’s Soup Kitchen.

This year’s theme, “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right,” encourages food traditions and an appreciation of eating delicious foods. Here are some free resources that may come in handy:

  • Academy of Nutrition Dietetics-National Nutrition Month site;
  • USDA’s Nutrition Site with Dietary Guidelines and more; and the
  • USDA National Nutrient Database on nearly 9,000 foods


We’re particularly excited by some of these free USDA tools, which mimic apps you’d pay for in other places.


To dig in deeper on the topic of nutrition, don’t miss our interviews with:

Pat Crawford, UC Nutrition Policy Institute, who tells us that not changing our nation’s diet is risky. Pat says:

“The United States – along with Mexico – has the highest obesity rates in the industrialized world. With these extraordinarily high obesity rates, we are on a path toward ever-rising chronic disease rates including not just diabetes, but also heart disease and some cancers, increasing health care costs and reducing productivity.”

Caroline Cahill, Feeding America, who talks about how this non-profit organization provides weekly backpacks with three days of food to carry kids in need through the weekend. Caroline, an early career professional, told us this:

“Many, many food banks and food assistance organizations across the country offer this kind of backpack program. And while it is a fair band-aid for hunger relief, the children who are receiving these backpacks or weekend snack packs are chronically hungry and there needs to be more programming support for reaching the root of hunger and that starts with feeding the entire family.”

Anupama Joshi, National Farm to School Network, who tells us:

“In the bigger picture, school meals need to be seen as an opportunity and core element of what the student experience in schools is about. The connections between nutrition and educational outcomes are often lost, and need to be highlighted.”

Chef Ann Cooper, celebrated author, educator and advocate for children’s nutrition agrees with Joshi. She currently serves as director of nutrition services for Boulder Valley School District, and says:

“If I truly could only have one wish that would come true, it would be to see food literacy as part of the academic curriculum in every school in the country. 

Follow along on Twitter at #NationalNutritionMonth for more resources.

An awesome piece from The Republic of Awesome

We value Don Carr’s work and loved his interview with Wholesome Wave’s Michel Nischan on The Republic of Awesome. Nischan says:

“There’s an interesting sociology in underserved communities. You have a single parent rubbing two pennies together to keep their child alive and they know they need to be feeding their children better food. So we are interested in more deeply engaging these consumers with the notion that you have purchasing power. … And if you start showing up at the polls … you can actually be heroes in changing our food system.”

Food Lessons from Black Panthers

When considering our nation’s childhood nutrition and school meal programs, it’s vital to look at our history. The Black Panthers’ program of feeding poor children in the late 1960s for instance, was a serious political concern for former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.

In this fascinating piece/interview by Nathanael Johnson for Grist, we learn that Hoover worried about these community outreach efforts and wrote that the Panthers “create an image of civility, assume community control of Negroes, and … fill adolescent children with their insidious poison.”

Johnson writes:

“The fact that many children can get breakfast at public school may well be thanks to a revolutionary act that brought down the fury of Hoover’s FBI.”

Johnson provides a #MustRead interview with Donna Murch, the author of Living for the City: Migration, Education and the Rise of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California.


Millennials Faking the Food Movement?

What do 20 and 30-somethings think? After all, these Millennials have a spending power of $2.45 trillion and nearly 50 percent of them consider themselves “foodies,” according to Eve Turow in this thought-provoking article for Medium.

“It’s clear we have the power to influence change,” she says, “Yet as we’re clamoring for organic, local and natural goods, I’m not sold that there really is a food movement.”

After spending four years studying the Millennial culture and food policy, Turow said she came to the realization that a love of clean food doesn’t necessarily translate to a concern for other valuable issues like ending hunger, supporting farm workers or preventing overfishing.

“If foodies go one step further,” she writes, “they’ll realize that the flavor, price, nutrition and accessibility of every meal are directly tied to key economic, healthcare and agricultural issues.”

Food Stamps at Every LA Farmers’ Market

“Los Angeles does love its farmers markets — but not all Angelenos can use them. Of the approximately 60 certified markets in Los Angeles, only about half accept the modern version of food stamps, explains this Los Angeles Times editorial.

This situation is something the Los Angeles City Council is trying to change. It has asked the public works staff and city attorney to come up with ideas to “make that happen” by the end of the month.

Seems like an excellent way to salute #NationalNutritionMonth to us!

Have a great day!