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Food Politics with Marion Nestle

Podcast 154


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Food Politics with Marion Nestle. The food we choose to eat every day can either positively or negatively impact our health. Cathy talks with Marion Nestle about what health coaches need to know about food systems and why food politics matter more than you might realize.  

In this episode, Cathy and Marion discuss: 

  • What we need to know about the politics of food, nutrition and health
  • When the government will look to food as medicine instead of relying on pharmaceuticals 
  • How everyday individuals can impact policy change by forming organizations 
  • What food systems are, why they matter and what health coaches need to understand about them 
  • What the average person should focus on to have the greatest impact on their family’s wellness 
  • The difference between unprocessed, minimally processed and highly-processed foods 
  • 3 Pieces of advice to eat more healthfully:

1- Eat more fruits and vegetables, more plant foods 

2- Reduce, to some extent, the meat you’re eating

3- Understand what ultra-processed foods are and minimize your intake

  • How advertising affects what food we buy 
  • Why Marion believes the soda industry is similar to the tobacco industry 
  • What Michael Pollan means when he says “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” 
  • Details about Marion’s personal food choices 
  • Marion’s observations about obesity and the impact of Covid on weight gain
  • The role of schools in children’s health 
Marion Nestle is Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, Emerita, at New York University, in the department she chaired from 1988-2003 and from which she retired in September 2017. She is also Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She holds honorary degrees from Transylvania University in Kentucky and the Macaulay Honors College of the City University of New York.

She earned a Ph.D. in molecular biology and an M.P.H. in public health nutrition from the 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 1988 Surgeon General’s Report on Nutrition and Health. Her research and writing examine scientific and socioeconomic influences on food choice and its consequences, emphasizing the role of food industry marketing.

She is the author of six prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health, Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety, What to Eat, Why Calories Count: from Science to Politics, Eat, Drink, Vote: An Illustrated Guide to Food Politics, Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (and Winning)

She has also written two books about pet food: Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine, Feed Your Pet Right in 2010. She published Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew The Science of What We Eat in 2018. Her most recent book, written with Kerry Trueman, is Let’s Ask Marion: What You Need to Know about the Politics of Food, Nutrition, and Health published in September 2020.

From 2008 to 2013, she wrote a monthly Food Matters column for the San Francisco Chronicle food section, and she blogs at www.foodpolitics.com. Her Twitter account, @marionnestle, has been named among the top 10 in health and science by Time Magazine, Science Magazine, and The Guardian, and has nearly 145,000 followers. Nestle has received many awards and honors such as the John Dewey Award for Distinguished Public Service from Bard College in 2010. In 2011, the University of California School of Public Health at Berkeley named her as Public Health Hero. Also in 2011, Michael Pollan ranked her as the #2 most powerful foodie in America (after Michelle Obama), and Mark Bittman ranked her #1 in his list of foodies to be thankful for. She received the James Beard Leadership Award in 2013, and in 2014 the U.S. Healthful Food Council’s Innovator of the Year Award and the Public Health Association of New York City’s Media Award, among others. In 2016, Soda Politics won literary awards from the James Beard Foundation and the International Association of Culinary Professionals. In 2018, she was named one of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health’s 75 most distinguished graduates in 75 years, won a Trailblazer Award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and was selected Grande Dame of the year by Les Dames d’Escoffier International. In 2019, the Hunter College Food Policy Center gave her its first Changemaker Award and Heritage Radio named her to its Tenth Anniversary Hall of Fame.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “The biggest problem in the American diet is how much people eat.”
  • “What you want is a food system set up to promote health and promote environmental health—human health and environmental health at the same time.”
Mentioned In This Episode:

Health Coach Group University

Mary Blackburn: My Time at Health Coach University 

Links to resources:

Health Coach Group Website

 Get the book(s) 


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