Does Chipotle Really Care About Our Access to “Real Food”?

Chipotle Mexican Grill has created a new game application and video that they are hoping will lure consumers into eating more “real” food. Their goal is to steer consumers away from factory-made, highly processed junk food.

The company’s chief marketing officer was quoted by saying:

“We created ‘The Scarecrow’ game and film as an entertaining and engaging way to help people better understand the difference between processed food and the real thing. In many ways, ‘The Scarecrow’ represents what we aspire to accomplish through our vision of Food With Integrity.”

 The company’s latest animated short film made its way around the Internet, earning praises from advertising critics and consumers, while angering those within the agricultural industry. According to Chipotle, the film and its coordinating game are “designed to help educate people about the world of industrial food production that supplies much of what they eat.”

To the agriculture community, however, the film does nothing but further mislead consumers.

But, keep in mind that Chipotle was formerly owned and operated by the fast food powerhouse McDonald’s. The company separated from McDonald’s in 2006. Read these articles below and see how you feel about Chipotle capitalizing on the “real food” movement.

With Food Day approaching on October 24th, I think it’s coincidental that these restaurants are coming out with advertisements like these. Did I fail to mention that Food Day’s theme this year is “Eat Real”?

The Chipotle Scarecrow

The Scarecrow App

The Harm in the Chipotle Scarecrow

The Washington Post- Problem with Chipotle

Farmers Response to Chipotle

11 Things McDonalds Doesn’t Want You to Know

Chipotle-Scarecrow-a-moving-impressive-ad

chipotle-scarecrow

chipotle-the-scarecrow_1920.0_cinema_640.0

Advertisements

The West Virginia Road Map for the Food Economy

The “buying local” trend has emerged within the last few years. In the United States, especially in West Virginia, food agriculture businesses are finding themselves at critical and electrifying times of opportunity. From 2006 to 2008, West Virginia small restaurants and hotels showed a 360% increase in purchases of local products. In the 2012-2013 school year, the WV Department of Education committed $250,000 in school food funds for local purchases. More than a dozen of county school systems reported buying directly from West Virginia farms in 2012, while four of these began buying locally since September 2011. Even the Martinsburg VAMC sees fresh, healthy meals as an ingredient of recovery for their patients and has spent over $23,000 on local food.

From 2002 to 2007, 39% more local West Virginia farmers began selling directly to consumers. And the dollar amount of direct-to-consumer sales increased by 55%. This means that farmers are capturing a greater portion of the consumer food dollar by marketing products as directly as possible from farm to table as demand grows, new business models are also emerging to provide the kinds of processing, aggregation and distribution required to meet the needs of sophisticated buyers.

This growth creates jobs for farmers and also for other parts of the state’s economy. A recent study by Downstream Strategies, LLC and WVU showed that if West Virginia farmers grew enough produce to meet the in-season fresh produce needs of all state residents, the shift would generate 1,723 new jobs and would result in about $190 million being retained in the state instead of flowing beyond its borders. Increased local sales of West Virginia products also creates the need for businesses that collect, process and distribute local food, which creates more local jobs. For example, one Iowa study found that every 1,000 cattle sent to small meat processing facilities supported 7.4 processing jobs.

So a common question that you might find asking yourself is… What exactly does “buying local” mean? There is no universally agreed-upon definition for the geographic component of what “local” or “regional” means, consumers are left to decide what local and regional food means to them. A 2008 survey found that half of consumers surveyed described “local” as “made or produced within a hundred miles” (of their homes), while another 37% described “local” as “made or produced in my state.”  The ability to eat “locally” also varies depending on the production capacity of the region in question: people living in areas that are agriculturally productive year-round may have an easier time sourcing food that is grown or raised 100 miles (or even 50 miles) from their homes than those in arid or colder regions, whose residents may define “local food” in a more regional context.

The Morgantown Farmers’ Market, for example, sells products that are grown or made within 50 miles of Morgantown city limits. So all of their products are supporting small family farms.

So, West Virginia has developed a “food charter” that’s designed to help us all focus, measure and celebrate our collective progress towards stronger local food systems. This Road Map for the Food Economy offers a vision for WV’s local food economy and provides ways of measuring how statewide and local policies, programs, and community efforts are contributing to the strength of this food economy. The Road Map is broken down into 2 parts: an action plan for building a food and farm economy over the next 5 years; and a “Food Economy Score Card” which allows us to measure the cooperative progress towards the goals of the action plan. The Food Economy Score Card will be updated annually and then the positive changes and progression will be distinguished in an annual report.

This Road Map is for everyone!It’s offered more as a tool to help people (and consumers) in West Virginia understand the key opportunities of the food policies and economy. Local government, citizens groups, policy makers, farmer groups, foundations, agencies, economic developers and other concerned groups are invited to adopt or adapt the Road Map as a guide to form an action plan for their own efforts.

So, how can you get involved?

          Adopt the Road Map for the Food Economy charter: encourage your local government, citizens group, legislators, farmer organization, community foundation, economic developers or other concerned agencies to sign on at

          Stay connected to statewide organizing efforts through the West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition by signing up for our newsletter, and by attending statewide events hosted by other groups — such as the West Virginia Small Farm Conference, hosted by WVU Extension Service and its West Virginia Small Farm Center.

          Buy Local: set a goal for how much your family, business or agency will spend on local food. At home, consider buying at least $10 worth of locally produced food per week. At work, consider sourcing at least $500 worth of local food for events and meetings each year.

          Find simple ways to work on the Road Map’s action items within your own community. Tell your school superintendent about the importance of Agriculture Education; let a farmer know about farm to school opportunities, or help start a nutrition education class at your local farmers market. If you are part of a civic organization, help that organization choose an action item to work on this year.

Why should the Road Map matter to you?

The problem that I’m really trying to shine light on is the fact that food access has a HUGE effect on food insecurity in the U.S. right now. The State Indicator on Fruits and Vegetables 2013 reports that the percentage of census tracts with at least one healthier food retailer within a ½ mile of tract boundary in West Virginia is at 59.3%. Currently, West Virginia does not have a healthier food retail policy. West Virginia also does not currently have a state-level farm-to-school/preschool policy. The entire state only has 1 food hub. Yes, only one! And West Virginia has no local food policy councils. That’s right… zero!

As a community why can’t get try to enclose this gap in food access with the products that are right in front of us? Well, only time will tell how this community attempts to resolve this problem.

Sustainable Table

HOD Backgrounder

2015 Dietary Guidelines

road map

Logo Concepts revised

fv intake median

Is SNAP-Ed Under Attack?

Is the Farm Bill’s Nutrition Education Program under Attack?

farm bill_

Since the Farm Bill is up for re-authorization, Congress is currently threatening to cut one of its components. This component is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs’ nutrition education (SNAP-Ed).

SNAP-Ed empowers recipients to purchase healthy foods within a very tight food budget. The program employs hundreds of RDs in all 50 states. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ (AND) Farm Bill Work Group is making slight revisions to the 2012 Farm Bill Recommendation document to highlight the SNAP-Ed program among other aspects of the bill.

The recommendations include talking points related to:

          Empowering consumers

o   Maintain current funding for SNAP Nutrition Education (SNAP Ed), an effective program that empowers participants to change behaviors for healthy eating using knowledge tailored to their lifestyle.

          Provide access to healthy and safe foods

o   Protect and strengthen the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), key programs in our nation’s nutrition safety net.

          Assure a healthy and safe food system

o   Ensure funding for a variety of community-based and regional agriculture initiatives that expand the availability of regionally-grown food, create jobs, and promote economic development.

o   Support farm practices and policies that conserve soil, water, air, habitat and biodiversity, as these are essential to our survival, and help to assure that a next generation of farmers has access to land and the skills and incentives to grow healthy foods.

          Assure sound science for future evidenced-based decision making

o   Maintain funding for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Agricultural Research Service that includes Human Nutrition Research Centers for vital research to drive better nutrition, eliminate hunger, increase food security and healthy food systems and eliminate diet-related health disparities, including obesity and assure the availability of nutrition monitoring, food composition and related data.

o   Maintain funding for the Specialty Crop Block Grants in order to support food safety and nutrition research and a diversity of fruits, vegetables and nuts available to help people achieve the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Farm Bill overview:

The Farm Bill is a critical piece of legislation that determines not only what farmers grow, but what is available in the United States food supply. Farm policies have existed in the U.S. since the establishment of our country. The 1920’s brought about the first big shift in agriculture policies, focusing on direct government intervention to provide income support by increasing crop prices and controlling supplies. Legislation continued to support farmers through direct income payments and crop supply management until 1996. At that time fixed income support payments were removed, making a shift to the modern commodity payments currently in place, and focused on issues surrounding food safety, food assistance and the environment.

The most recent Farm Bill, 2008 Food Conservation and Energy Act, included several key provisions that impacted nutrition.

          – Renamed the “food stamp program” to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), to reflect a modern program, putting healthy foods within reach for people.

          – Authorized a small pilot program, the Healthy Incentives Pilot, to research the effect of incentives in encouraging SNAP participants to purchase healthful foods such as fruits and vegetables.

        –   Created the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to coordinate agricultural research and Extension programs.

          – Established funding for new programs to support producers transitioning to organic agriculture and to increase research in organic agriculture.

So, now the real question is- what will happen next? Only time will tell….

AND Farm Bill

2012 Farm Bill recommendations

farm_bill_icon1

220px-Supplemental_Nutrition_Assistance_Program_logo_svg

Connecting Undergrads with Grad Students

Undergraduates are Important too

Last Monday, midway through my mini kitchen audit, I attended the WVU Student Dietetic Association meeting.  This on-campus organization consists mainly of WVU undergraduate students in the “Human Nutrition & Foods” or “Bachelor’s in Agriculture with an Emphasis in Nutrition” degrees. I attend these meetings to offer service learning opportunities to the undergraduate students and to keep a “connection” between undergraduates and graduate students. The SDA members usually ask me questions and advice on events, policies, and projects that they are currently working on.

Last week’s meeting entailed:

  • National Nutrition Month ideas and projects
  • Relay For Life
  • Snack boxes to be made by SDA for troops in Afghanistan
  • Valentine’s Day gift bags for the Rosenbaum House
  • School of Pharmacy Dinner at the WV Family Grief Center
  • Happy School programming at the Shack Neighborhood House

 

My Mini Kitchen Audit

A Mountaineer Mini Kitchen Audit

So, this past week was quite an eventful one at that for this WVU ISPP Dietetic Intern. I had the pleasure of administering a mini kitchen audit to ensure the WVU Agricultural Sciences Annex Test Kitchen had the tools, equipment, and utensils for an upcoming event that week. Initially, this kitchen audit was intended to be administered by our program’s graduate student, who is a professional chef. But, when the audit was abandoned, I stepped in to do just a brief audit. Our kitchen holds roughly 25 students and has 4 kitchen units. Within each unit, there are 2 sinks, 1 microwave, 1 stove, and holds 4-6 people. Each unit is really broken into 2 stations and has a set amount of kitchen tools within it. In my mini audit, I was just ensuring that we would have enough knives, cutting boards, and utensils to complete a program for that week (which you will read about soon).

The number one concern that I was aware of, when running the mini audit, is that the knives in our kitchen are really dull, which could cause potential serious injury to beginner cooks. I also noticed that there really wasn’t a standard list of equipment in the kitchen, as a whole or at each unit. This could potentially be the reason why kitchens become unorganized at times. Another red flag I observed was the poor quality of a first aid kit that the kitchen had. They kept the kit in a drawer, unorganized, nothing in one container, and I think the components of this “kit” were outdated towards up to 7 years ago. These things are really important when teaching nutrition education in a kitchen setting, especially with students who have never stepped foot in WVU’s Test Kitchen. Hopefully, these problems will be addressed before we run our next programming in the kitchen.

I definitely think that our program should require students to have training of some extent in “how to run a kitchen audit”. I think it would be beneficial for future use and educate students the importance of knowing what’s in your kitchen so, you can identify any gaps or holes for future programming.

http://www.greeneducationfoundation.org/institute/lesson-clearinghouse/396-Kitchen-Audit.html