Food Politics: Book summary and reviews of Food Politics by Marion Nestle

Food Politics

How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (California Studies in Food and Culture)

By Marion Nestle

Food Politics
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2002,
    469 pages.

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Book Summary

We all witness, in advertising and on supermarket shelves, the fierce competition for our food dollars. In this engrossing exposé, Marion Nestle goes behind the scenes to reveal how the competition really works and how it affects our health. The abundance of food in the United States--enough calories to meet the needs of every man, woman, and child twice over--has a downside. Our overefficient food industry must do everything possible to persuade people to eat more--more food, more often, and in larger portions--no matter what it does to waistlines or well-being.

Like manufacturing cigarettes or building weapons, making food is very big business. Food companies in 2000 generated nearly $900 billion in sales. They have stakeholders to please, shareholders to satisfy, and government regulations to deal with. It is nevertheless shocking to learn precisely how food companies lobby officials, co-opt experts, and expand sales by marketing to children, members of minority groups, and people in developing countries. We learn that the food industry plays politics as well as or better than other industries, not least because so much of its activity takes place outside the public view.

Nestle, the editor of the 1988 Surgeon General's Report on Nutrition and Health, is uniquely qualified to lead us through the maze of food industry interests and influences. She vividly illustrates food politics in action: watered-down government dietary advice, schools pushing soft drinks, diet supplements promoted as if they were First Amendment rights. When it comes to the mass production and consumption of food, strategic decisions are driven by economics--not science, not common sense, and certainly not health.

No wonder most of us are thoroughly confused about what to eat to stay healthy. An accessible and balanced account, Food Politics will forever change the way we respond to food industry marketing practices. By explaining how much the food industry influences government nutrition policies and how cleverly it links its interests to those of nutrition experts, this pathbreaking book helps us understand more clearly than ever before what we eat and why.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"She urges readers to inform themselves, choose foods wisely, demand ethical behavior and scientific honesty, and promote better cooperation among industry and government. This provocative work will cause quite a stir in food industry circles. Highly recommended." - Library Journal.

"This book is thought-provoking, and I recommend it. I do not see all the issues in the same way as Nestle does but would welcome an open discussion of the important issues she raises among my colleagues." - New England Journal of Medicine.

"Nestle has thoroughly and carefully documented the food industry's unholy influence over public- health policy. Many people's lives and livelihoods are at stake in the conflict Nestle illuminates, and it will take scientific knowledge, political wisdom and leadership, enlightened and ethical corporate management, and consumer education to produce a positive outcome." - Booklist.

"Hard-hitting. A remarkable insider's view of the horse-trading and arm-twisting that goes on." - The Times (UK).

"[E]xamines . . . the industry's manipulation of America's eating habits [and] many conflicts of interest among nutritional authorities." - The New York Times.

"A provocative and highly readable book arguing that America's agribusiness lobby has stifled the government's regulatory power . . . ." - The Economist.

"Nestle explains why the wealthiest nation in the world is eating itself to death." - The San Francisco Chronicle.

"Food politics underlie all politics in the United States. There is no industry more important to Americans, more fundamentally linked to our well-being and the future well-being of our children. Nestle reveals how corporate control of the nation's food system limits our choices and threatens our health. If you eat, you should read this book." -Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation.

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Author Information

Marion Nestle Author Biography

Marion Nestle is Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University, which she chaired from 1988-2003.  She is also Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell.  She earned a Ph.D. in molecular biology and an M.P.H. in public health nutrition from University of California, Berkeley.  Previous faculty positions were at Brandeis University and the UCSF School of Medicine. 

From 1986-88, she was senior nutrition policy advisor in the Department of Health and Human Services and editor of The Surgeon General's Report on Nutrition and Health.  Her research examines scientific and socioeconomic influences on food choice, obesity, and food safety, ...

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Name Pronunciation
Marion Nestle: Last name is pronounced like the verb to nestle, not like the Swiss food company

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