Happy Wednesday! Today’s Daily Wrap has a lot on the menu.

New Assistant Editor: First off, The UC Food Observer is delighted to introduce our new assistant editor, Teresa O’Connor.

If Teresa’s name seems familiar, it may because she has previously appeared in this space as a guest blogger. She has written about edible garden trends, sustainability and why we don’t eat vegetables. You may also know her social brand, “Seasonal Wisdom” or have read her award-winning blog: SeasonalWisdom.com.

Teresa OConnor Assistant Editor UC Food Observer
Photo credit: Isabel Gomes.

Teresa’s writing has been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, Gardening How-To, and Coastal Living, among others. She also co-authored the book Grocery Gardening: Planting, Preparing and Preserving Fresh Foods.

A certified Master Gardener (in both Idaho and California), Teresa also is a well-known speaker on the garden show circuit.

She has worked as a professional communicator for numerous companies and non-profits around the globe, including Walt Disney, Welch’s Foods and others. We’re absolutely delighted that Teresa’s going to be working on the UC Food Observer. Welcome, Teresa!!! Here’s her first Daily Wrap.


ICYMI, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines  were recently released by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).  Updated every five years, these new dietary guidelines weren’t without controversy.

As Civil Eats explains, “After much public debate and anticipation—including Congressional hearings, nearly 30,000 public comments, and letters to cabinet secretaries from health professionals and elected officials—the new U.S. Dietary Guidelines were finally released yesterday. And, as it turns out, they look a lot like the 2010 guidelines.”

In this article by Elizabeth Grossman, Civil Eats gives a timeline of the complex process.

What’s the Beef?

Health experts are pleased the new dietary guidelines include, for the first time, a clear limit on added sugar that should not exceed 10 percent of daily calories. (That means less than one can of soda, by the way.)

In March 2015, the new World Health Organization’s sugar guidelines recommended adults and children reduce their daily intake of free sugars to less than 10% of their total energy intake. These guidelines do not include the sugars contained in fresh fruits and vegetables, or sugars naturally present in milk. Much of the sugar consumed today is “hidden” in processed foods, including ketchup and salad dressing.

“We have solid evidence that keeping intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake reduces the risk of overweight, obesity and tooth decay,” says Dr Francesco Branca, Director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development. “Making policy changes to support this will be key if countries are to live up to their commitments to reduce the burden of noncommunicable diseases.”

Despite the good news on sugar with the new dietary guidelines, many say that meat got a free pass and that more specific recommendations should have been provided.

Laura Schmidt, health policy professor at UC San Francisco (UCSF), says: “Public health got a win on sugar, but it lost on red meat. It’s unfortunate that the advisory panel’s recommendations (to cut back) on red meat didn’t make it in the guidelines.”

Schmidt is lead investigator on SugarScience, a website collaboratively managed by faculty and researchers from UC San Francisco, UC Davis and Emory University. SugarScience is a definitive source of evidence-based, scientific information about sugar and its impact on health.

In this interesting article by the University of California’s Alec Rosenberg, Schmidt is one of four UC professors and researchers who share their expert opinions and key takeaways from the new guidelines. #GoodRead

Marion Nestle offers a good take on the politics of the announcement in her Food Politics blog (from March 2015).

And to compare, here’s the way Brazil handles dietary guidelines.


The Visual Challenge

Vintage USDA guidelinesBy the way, it hasn’t been easy to illustrate these dietary guidelines since the USDA first started doing this back in 1894. The USDA used an assortment of colorful wheels, pyramids and plates to show us how Americans should eat over the decades, points out NPR’s The Salt.

In her report, Maria Godoy does a fascinating job of bringing this history alive with vintage illustration and descriptions of how these guidelines have evolved.  Did you know we once had seven basic food groups? Definitely worth a read!

Illustration courtesy of USDAgov

Fixing Food!

How are U.S. cities ensuring that healthy and affordable foods are available to even the most vulnerable in our communities?

After examining hundreds of food initiatives in hundreds of U.S. cities – the Union of Concerned Scientists selected five cities to highlight – Oakland, Memphis, Louisville, Baltimore and Minneapolis.

The report shows how the five case studies are addressing “multiple points in the food system—by facilitating local production, creating new distribution channels, or making it easier for consumers to overcome time and transportation hurdles.”

Thanks to Oakland Food Policy Council for bringing this to our attention and congratulations for making the list.


End Food Waste!

Did you know 33% of our food is wasted while 1 in 7 people are food insecure? That’s why we’re so impressed by the work of Jordan Figueiredo of the @UglyFruitAndVeg Campaign at EndFoodWaste.org.

“There are now more than 20 official farm to food bank programs in the United States saving more than 300 million pounds of “ugly” and surplus produce and getting it to those in need,” he explains.

In this comprehensive U.S. Farm to Food Bank Interviews report, he details these 20 successful programs and provides excellent background on more that can be done.


Farming outside LA

Phil McGrath in farm field
Phil McGrath. Credit: McGrath Family Farm.

His farm is an hour north of Los Angeles and a major freeway runs through his property. But that hasn’t stopped Phil McGrath, a fourth generation farmer, from becoming a leader in Ventura County with organic produce and local foods.

“Farmland should be as integral to a community as a fire station or a school. Farms should be included in city planning,” says McGrath.

He offers good advice about staying economically viable in some of the nation’s most expensive real estate. Hint! Don’t miss the short video at the end, especially if recent news headlines have been troubling you.


Have a good day!