Stretched Thin

The increasing popularity of organic foods is causing the USDA fits, says Caelainn Barr:

“The $35 billion organic-food industry has nearly tripled in size in the past decade, challenging the Agriculture Department’s ability to monitor the more than 25,000 farms and other organizations that sell organic crops and livestock.

“There are currently 81 accredited “certifying agents,” or groups that stamp food as organic in the U.S. But of the 37 that had a complete review this year, 23 were cited for failing to correctly enforce certification requirements on farms in audits, according to an internal Agriculture Department report.”

“The Year That the Food Movement Came into Its Own”

Food advocacy reached a tipping point in 2014, says Dana Woldow:

“Progress was made in food politics in 2014, with new legislation on GMO labeling and soda taxes; food superstars like Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman calling for a national food policy; and growing demand for fast food workers’ rights. Add to that improvements like Smart Snacks in Schools (part of 2010 federal legislation that took effect this July) and the recent issue of the FDA’s final rule on calorie counts on menus, and it feels like 2014 might be viewed, in retrospect, as the watershed year for food politics.”

Kass Departs

The Obamas’ personal chef and “de facto food policy czar” Sam Kass is stepping down, reports Politico:

“Kass, a longtime close friend of President Barack Obama and the first family, is best known as a public face of Let’s Move!, the first lady’s campaign to battle childhood obesity, and for his role as a chef at the White House. Having served as a personal chef for the Obamas since 2007, he continued to cook for the first family five nights a week until recently.

“But in policy circles, Kass is considered the administration’s quarterback for a wide range of food and agriculture reforms, shepherding policies through agencies and charting the political course, whether on Capitol Hill or within the White House.”

Willy Blackmore laments the loss:

“If he’s replaced with someone whose interests don’t extend beyond the kitchen, it will be a loss for the effort he has played such an important role in.”

FDA to Require Calorie Counts

From the New York Times:

“The Food and Drug Administration announced sweeping rules on Tuesday that will require chain restaurants, movie theaters and pizza parlors across the country to post calorie counts on their menus. Health experts said the new requirements would help combat the country’s obesity epidemic by showing Americans just how many calories lurk in their favorite foods.”

Food Rules

Andrew Lawler considers the national food policy proposed by Mark Bittman, Michael Pollan, Ricardo Salvador and Olivier De Schutter:

“The manifesto has something for everyone: It demands a fair wage for food industry workers, well-treated animals, limits on marketing junk food to kids, and access to healthy food free of toxins for all Americans, as well as support for food policies that jibe with public health and environmental goals….

“There’s one main problem with that plan, though, and it became abundantly clear at the Stone Barns conference: The White House hasn’t yet shown any support for Pollan and Bittman’s food policy proposal.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists has posted a petition here.