Local Activism Can Help Fight Big Food PR

While federal law provides only minimum guidelines for healthy school meals (and snack foods and branded beverages proliferate in school vending machines), state-based activism has the potential to push standards higher. That's the cautionary message delivered by food marketing critic Michele Simon at last week's 29th Annual National Food Policy Conference. Simon's new book, Appetite for Profit, skewers food marketers for putting PR before public health and fighting state regulatory efforts. Simon had to note some odd juxtapositions in the annual corporate social responsibility-food activist crossroads: for example, Coca Cola sponsored the break before her own talk. The conference also featured New York University nutrition professor Marion Nestle, who Simon says "pulled no punches" in criticizing Big Food for giving lip service to nutrition while focusing most marketing on traditional products of low nutritional value.