September 22-26, 2014


Chef Tom Colicchio understands that “obesity is a symptom of poverty. It’s not a lifestyle choice where people are just eating and not exercising. It’s because kids—and this is the problem with school lunch right now—are getting sugar, fat, empty calories—lots of empty calories—but no nutrition.” A Board Member of Food Policy Action, a non-profit which holds lawmakers accountable by educating the public on how these legislators are voting, Tom understands that being poor and having little access to nutritious food often go hand-in-hand.

While challenges like access to fresh, healthy food present roadblocks to real change, there are heroes championing solutions. Like Tom, filmmaker Stephanie Soechtig knows that education is key to beating back the rise of obesity and malnutrition. Fed Up, the film she directed, uncovers the truth about sugar in the foods our children eat. 

Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign inspires kids of all ages to exercise, and her humorous film with comedian Will Farrell proves that solutions can be fun. 

Many still wonder if it matters whether or not they eat organic food. Grace Communications offers advice for finding the healthiest of food for your family. Similarly, the Center for Ecoliteracy’s “Big Ideas” campaign identifies important concepts linking food, culture, health and the environment. 

Renegade Lunch Lady, Ann Cooper, returns with a talk highlighting the value of fresh foods in our nation’s schools. 

Corn Fed or Grass Fed? Fully nourished or just plain full? We better figure it out, as Professor Tim Lang explains in a talk given for the Sustainable Food Trust. He argues that the public health costs of our “Nutrition Transition” are vast and all too rapidly catching on in the developing world.

Fresh foods are often expensive; not everyone in this country has access to affordable, healthy food. Harriet Oyera is changing those statistics for her North Minneapolis community. As Perennial Plate’s film explores, Harriet works hard to teach the lessons of nutrition and community to the kids living in her neighborhood.

You might be surprised how much soil contributes to healthy food. Master Gardener, Tucker Taylor offers a fun science challenge for you and your family to learn all about it!

SNAP is also trying to level the playing field. Working on a national scale, SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, provides financial assistance to low-or-no income individuals. Even better? It’s now accepted at some farmer’s markets. 

Food Tank introduces us to Almaguer Sandoval, another champion of healthy food choices in economically challenged urban areas. He tackles childhood obesity through a nation-wide network of Healthy Corner Stores. 

Whatever you eat, it’s always important to read the labels, says Dr. Nadine Burke Harris in a short film by the Nourish Initiative, but reading labels isn’t enough. We close our Food List this week with Civil Eats, who reveals that in Brazil, they may read the labels, but that doesn’t believe they should believe the ads.

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Nutrient Accounting

If consumers have the technology—or simply the information—to help choose a food item based solely on its nutritional value, or compare the benefits between different foods, the marketplace will respond, just as we’ve seen with items like rBST milk or cage-free eggs. Consumers, when provided with tools and knowledge that make the food industry more transparent, will make choices more closely aligned with their values, and force industries to shift their practices. David Aylward, senior advisor of Global Health and Technology at Ashoka, explains: “We asked the food industry to meet two standards: more and cheaper. They responded extremely well. They produced lots more food and costs [have gone] way down. The problem is that this food is not very good for us. It’s not nearly as nourishing as it used to be, so we have widespread malnourishment and obesity—or what some might call ‘over-nourishment.’ While we have intervened in the marketplace to produce more at lower costs, we have not intervened in the marketplace to encourage full nourishment. The same technology [used by the Mars Rover to analyze the planet’s surface] is now used to determine the presence of iron, retinol or vitamin A, zinc, folic acid, and iodine, the five leading nutrients that public health people look for in blood. For food you want to measure an even fuller spectrum of nutrients, but the beauty of mini mass spectrometers is that they can do that.”

Nutrition Transition

“The world has been going through in the 20th century a nutrition transition: how we get our nutrients, how much, what sort of configurations, and that pattern is changing, generally, all across the world.” Professor Tim Lang referencing research done by Barry Popkin, Professor of Nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health

A Film by Stephanie Soechtig

Everything we’ve been told about food and exercise for the past 30 years is dead wrong. FED UP is the film the food industry doesn’t want you to see, uncovering the truth about food & sugar. From Katie Couric, Laurie David and director Stephanie Soechtig, FED UP will change the way you eat forever.

Join the Fed Up National House Party Day! Purchase your copy of Fed Up then invite your friends and family over for a viewing party! Fed Up will provide you with a screening host guide that will help you generate an impactful post-screening discussion. Together we will win the fight for healthier food! RSVP for house parties is on the Fed Up site.

Let's MoveFrom the site: “Let’s Move! is a comprehensive initiative, launched by the First Lady, dedicated to solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation, so that children born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams. Combining comprehensive strategies with common sense, Let’s Move! is about putting children on the path to a healthy future during their earliest months and years. Giving parents helpful information and fostering environments that support healthy choices. Providing healthier foods in our schools. Ensuring that every family has access to healthy, affordable food. And, helping kids become more physically active.

Everyone has a role to play in reducing childhood obesity, including parents, elected officials from all levels of government, schools, health care professionals, faith-based and community-based organizations, and private sector companies. Your involvement is key to ensuring a healthy future for our children.”

Big Ideas
New Alignment in Academic Standards

New Dietary Guidelines: Cook and Eat Whole Foods, Be Wary of Ads – See more at:

Big Ideas  identifies key concepts that link food, culture, health and the environment.
This addition to the Center for Ecoliteracy’s Big Ideas suite of resources was created for publication on the National Geographic Education website in conjunction with National Geographic magazine. Learn how you can put these big ideas into action.


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Local Book CoverTitle: Organic Vs. Non-Organic
Featuring: Judith Redmond, Co-owner of Full Belly Farm
Location: Full Belly Farm, Capay Valley, California

Found on Page 84 in Local: The New Face of Food and Farming in America

In 1985, California’s Farm Bureau said organic farming was a fool’s errand, a certain path to poverty. But Judith Redmond and her partners had a different idea.

Universities had conducted experiments that “proved” organic farming had zero yields compared to conventional; unfortunately, the scientists didn’t consider soil fertility or what it would take to mitigate insects and weeds. They had no idea what organic farmers were doing. They just wanted to show that their major research and investment in chemical agriculture was justified. “Basically when we started,” she says, “There was practically NO organic market out there.”

Because the concentration of nitrogen is lower in soils on organic farms, crops grown without chemical fertilizers have greater root mass.  Their roots probe deeper, working harder to extract needed micronutrients and moisture from throughout the soil, resulting in organic food richer in phytochemicals and essential nutrients.

Judith says, “We believe in [organic farming]. We are just trying to find balance between economic viability and the kind of farming that we want to do.”

F3 Logo copy
Chef Ann Cooper is the Renegade Lunch Lady. She is an internationally recognized author, chef, educator, public speaker, and advocate of healthy food for all children. She is also the founder of Food Family Farming Foundation, a nonprofit organization created to empower schools to serve nutritious whole food to all students. F3 supports positive change through educational training programs, direct services, a web portal and collateral resources. Chef Cooper envisions a time soon when being a chef working to feed children fresh, delicious, and nourishing food will no longer be considered “renegade.”

In order to be healthy,
Do You Have to Eat 100% Local, Sustainable and Organic?

New Dietary Guidelines: Cook and Eat Whole Foods, Be Wary of Ads – See more at:

When you think about making a switch to a local, sustainable, organic diet, does it seem overwhelming? Do you have a regular routine for shopping, cooking and eating that feels difficult to change? Do you worry about your kids’ meals, your finances, and what it will taste like? Read on to find the answers that work for your family and lifestyle.

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Local Book CoverTitle: Grass Fed Vs. Corn Fed
Featuring: George Eiko
Location: Skagit River Ranch, Sedro Woolley, Washington
Found on Page 161 in Local: The New Face of Food and Farming in America

For George and Eiko, when profit is the only motive, food is mass-produced without concern for food nutritional values, animal welfare or the environment.

To them, a sustainable farm is one that produces quality livestock or crops year after year without chemical fertilizer or pesticide inputs of any kind. Such a process financially sustains both a farm’s operations and the family whose lives depend upon it. The biggest threats they face are the shortage of unadulterated agricultural land which they can lease in order to grow their business and the increasingly restrictive government regulations directed at small farmers.

The heritage breed seen here dates back to the 50’s, a time when animals were much more efficient at grass conversion, before their genetics were re-engineered for feed lot production. It takes cattle 6 to 8 months to grow on grass, but this means the animals lead longer, healthier lives.


Full Nourishment or Just Plain Full

At the heart of healthy food rests a solid source of nutrition. We sat down to talk with David Aylward, Senior Advisor, Global Health and Technology at Ashoka, about attaining nutritious food and what it means for future generations.

Q: Can you explain what full nourishment means?

If you think about the food going into your mouth, what do you want from it? You don’t want to be full; you want to be fully nourished. This means getting all of the macronutrients and micronutrients our bodies need from the food we eat. If you only eat French fries, for example, you’re not going to get that. If you eat potatoes that are lacking in nourishment, you won’t get the full nourishment from them. Even if you eat a diverse diet, if that food is not fully nourished itself, you won’t get fully nourished.

The only way that the food will be nourishing is if it was grown in fully nourished soil. It doesn’t matter how you grow a tomato if it’s coming out of soil without nourishment. If you have stripped the soil of nourishment by monocropping it, for example, over a period of time and only putting phosphorous and nitrogen in the soil, which is very, very common in terms of mass agriculture now, the nourishment in the tomato will continue to fall. If you only grow tomatoes for lasting a long time and being able to be shipped long distances, you will tend to lose out in the strains that have nutrition but won’t last as long. We’ve made these choices through the entire nutrient value chain, from soil to seeds, to crops, to growing, to shipping, to storage, to marketing, to processing and the cooking that worked against our own self-interest in terms of nourishment.

Q: People often use transparency to create clearer sense of responsibility. For example, we’ve done a lot of work in the fishing industry regarding traceability, the ability to track something from the moment it comes out of the water until it ends up in a consumer’s shopping cart. What is the hope for creating similar mechanisms to track the lifecycle of a product?

One of the wonders of the information revolution is that it is empowering consumers to be in charge. This will happen in two ways. For one, we’ll be able to gauge the exact nutrient content of the food that’s in the store or in the garden using smartphones and sensors. Secondly, within the next five or six years, I think we’ll be able to measure when a vegetable was picked. This is important because foods picked more recently are far more nourishing.

As you pointed out, we’re already starting to see information tags on some foods which inform the buyer about the chain through which that item was produced. Being able to track food back to its source will allow people to regulate how their food is produced and, from that, how nutritious it is.

Q. So, technology is an important part of nutrient accounting?

Right now, we don’t have a number for full nourishment, we only have recommended daily allowances, which, in reality, are guesses. We could, however, find a number for full nourishment if we start using modern measurement technology and apply it to the full spectrum of your tissue. If we look at enough people and we measure not just their vitamin levels or their mineral levels, but the full spectrum of nourishment, we can start coming up with these real numbers.

Of course, we can take it one step further, taking the full nutrient accounting all the way back through the food chain. If we do, we’ll find that not all foods are created equal. If we keep going back through the chain, we’ll get to seeds and we’ll get to soils and we’ll realize that a tomato grown in nutrient-rich soil is different than one that is not. Then, we’ll realize we also need to look at the supply chain. When we do, we’ll see that the practice of storing tomatoes for one week before sending them to market means they lose nourishment. Since nutrients are important, we’ll consider not doing that anymore.

Only then can we begin to regulate, to get people to certify what real nourishment looks like on the farm, in the market, and, most importantly, on our plates.

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alywardDavid Aylward is the Senior Advisor, Global Health and Technology, at Ashoka. He leads two related efforts: a team seeking to solve malnutrition as part of the Nutrients for All Initiative, and Ashoka’s Health for All program. Both seek to transform the lives of people at the base of the pyramid through new combinations of citizen, public and private organizations, enabled by modern information and communications technologies. David has forty years of experience in public policy, information technology, communications, and finance in both the public and private sectors.

Tim Lang, Professor of Food and Policy at City University, sounds a startling warning bell on the public health costs of our current dietary habits. Armed with alarming figures on diet related diseases, he argues that the problems of the “Nutrition Transition” are vast and all too rapidly catching-up in the developing world. Our health care system is already under extreme pressure, with diet related diseases causing global economic losses in the region of 30 trillion dollars. How do we avoid these devastating costs? Dietary change will have to mean culture change, says Lang. The future depends on a battle over minds not just mouths.

Nutrition Starts in the Soil

By Tucker Taylor

It’s all about soil. A healthy, microbe-rich, nutrient balanced soil that is high in organic matter grows healthy, nutrient dense produce which delivers a broad nutritional package. The cooperation between microbes in rich soil and a plant’s roots is responsible for the transfer of carbon and nutrients from the soil to the plant and, finally, to our bodies.

Dr. Daphne Miller, the author of Farmacology, reveals that studies have shown that ecological farming consistently produces great microbial biomass and diversity by protecting the soil with cover crops and minimal plowing, rotating crops, conserving water, limiting the use of off-farm inputs, and recycling all animal and vegetable waste back into the land. So, the more ecologically we farm, the more nutrients we harvest.

It is not enough to just be organic. Deep-organic farming practices, such as those used by one of my mentors, Eliot Coleman, are what lead to healthy soils, healthy plants, healthy people and healthy communities.

Tucker TaylorTucker Taylor is an expert in certified organic farming, specialty produce, and sustainability. Taylor strongly believes in soil cultivation—with a healthy dose of compost—as the key to a good harvest. He is now the first Director of Culinary Gardens for Jackson Family Wines, where he spearheads the cultivation of all the company’s gardens globally. Prior to joining the Kendall Jackson family, Tucker oversaw landscaping at every property of the world-renowned chef Thomas Keller’s restaurants (French Laundry, Per Se, Bouchon, Ad Hoc), setting the standard for today’s farm-to-table fine dining. Follow him on Instagram @farmert.


Perennial Plate

A Very Community Garden

Meet master gardener and Ugandan refugee, Harriet Oyera. Harriet lives in North Minneapolis where she leads the charge in the vegetable garden at the Redeemer Center. Harriet knows that “smiling seeds produce healthy food”, and she works hard to teach the lessons of nutrition and community to the kids living in her neighborhood.

The Perennial Plate is an online weekly documentary series dedicated to socially responsible and adventurous eating. Chef and Activist, Daniel Klein and Filmmaker Mirra Fine are traveling the world exploring the wonders, complexities and stories behind the ever more connected global food system.

Food Hero Series: Brianna Almaguer Sandoval
NRDC Growing Green Urban Nutrition Visionary

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), rates of childhood obesity have increased by more than 200 percent in children, and 300 percent in adolescents, since 1980. As the CDC notes, being overweight at a young age can lead to major problems later in life, including a higher risk for cancer and heart disease. Brianna Almaguer Sandoval, this week’s Food Hero, is trying to do something about this problem.

Learn how Almaguer Sandoval, NRDC Growing Green award winner, hopes to tackle childhood obesity through a nation-wide network of Healthy Corner Stores.

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Local Book CoverTitle: SNAP
Location: Crescent City Farmer’s Market, New Orleans, Louisianna
Found on Page 51 in Local: The New Face of Food and Farming in America

The Crescent City Farmer’s Market accepts SNAP benefits to give low income shoppers access to locally grown, raised and produced foods and put more money into local food producers’ pockets. Accepting SNAP requires Market Umbrella, operator of the Crescent City Farmer’s Market, to dedicate a good deal of back office capacity—specifically staff time—to count tokens, cut checks and troubleshoot problems that come with using wireless processing devices in rain, heat, cold and high humidity. While devices that allow markets to accept SNAP benefits can be procured free of charge, the amount of staff time it takes to manage the process comes at a considerable cost.

SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, provides financial assistance to low or no-income individuals. SNAP shoppers swipe their benefit card at the front, receiving wooden tokens which they spend on SNAP eligible products from farmers market vendors.

Accepting SNAP boosts the regional economy. It also helps the farmers market grow through diversifying its customer base by bringing in other sectors of the community and putting more money in local farmers’ pockets.

portrait_nadineFood labels contain a lot of information, but they don’t tell the whole story. In this short film from the Nourish Initiative, Doctor Nadine Burke Harris provides some convenient shopping tips to help us read between the lines. Dr. Nadine Burke is the Medical Director of the Bayview Child Health Center. She oversees the operations of the health center and provides care to children and youth living in the Bayview-Hunters Point community of San Francisco. Dr. Burke is also the Medical Director of Pediatric Health Parity Programs at California Pacific Medical Center. She has conducted research on food access in vulnerable communities and speaks passionately about issues such as food, health, and the environment.

brazil_-gabriel_prehn_britto-Brazil’s New Dietary Guidelines:
Cook and Eat Whole Foods, but Be Wary of Ads

New Dietary Guidelines: Cook and Eat Whole Foods, Be Wary of Ads – See more at:

What if your national dietary guidelines advised you to cook and enjoy fresh, whole foods, and serve them with friends and family while thinking critically about advertising? Hard to imagine, isn’t it?

Well, that’s exactly what Brazil’s Ministry of Health is recommending with the “food based” dietary guidelines it issued recently. Brazil’s guidelines keep it simple by encouraging people there to eat more fresh, unprocessed foods.

Learn about Brazil’s approach to the nutritional health of its citizens.

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Local Book CoverTitle: Raw Milk Goat Cheese
Featuring: Check Hellmer, President and General Manager, Jackie Chang, Cheesemaker
Location: Haystack Dairy, Longmont, Colorado

Photographed by Douglas Gayeton, Author of Local: The New Face of Food and Farming in America

Haystack Dairy has been making goat cheese for 22 years. Cheese made from unpasteurized milk is packed with live enzymes and full of flavor.

Jackie, the cheese maker, starts by transferring milk from the bulk tank to the cheese vat. Then, she stirs and gradually heats the milk for one hour. After checking the milk’s temperature, she adds the cultures and waits for it to reach the proper PH level. That done, she adds rennet mixed with H2O. This coagulates the milk in a matter for minutes. The flocculation time, the time it takes to develop curd, is closely monitored. Once it develops, the curd is cut with a cheese harp. In this final stage all excess moisture is removed, including the whey.

Recipe of the Week By Chef Ann Cooper

Chef-Ann-Cooper-thumbnailChef Ann Cooper is the Renegade Lunch Lady. She is an internationally recognized author, chef, educator, public speaker, and advocate of healthy food for all children. She is also the founder of Food Family Farming Foundation.

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