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Talk in New York City – Friday, April 8

If you’re in the NYC area, please come see me speak. Here are the details.

The Politics of Your Plate

Author and food lawyer, Michele Simon, will discuss the latest hot topics in food politics. From school lunch to deceptive food labels to dietary guidelines and GMO labeling — every week brings another food fight. Learn about the power of Big Food and get inspired to join the food movement. If you eat, you won’t want to miss this interactive and stimulating discussion with a leading food policy expert.

Friday, April 8, 8:15 pm, East End Temple, 245 E. 17th St., NYC (near 2nd Ave.)

Services at 6:15 pm; light dinner at 7:30 pm; program follows.

Seeking Outreach Volunteer or Intern for Exciting New Project

I am working with a group of plant-based food companies to expand upon my previous effort to give this growing, mission-based industry a collective voice in policy and promotion. To further the cause, I am seeking an eager and passionate advocate for healthy and sustainable food to help me launch a new venture. Responsibilities include: creating target lists for collaborating organizations and media outlets, developing a social media strategy, and assisting with various administrative tasks. We are planning many exciting activities and you can help us succeed while learning in the process. If you have 10-20 hours a week available and are extremely reliable and well-organized, please email me your resume and tell me why you’re interested. Virtual OK but prefer pacific time zone. (Michele@eatdrinkpolitics.com)

The only “dietary guideline” you need

Last week, the federal government released its Dietary Guidelines for Americans. (See Marion Nestle’s excellent summary of the politics.) The entire affair is an insult to the advisory committee that worked hard to do the right thing. So in the spirit of keeping their original recommendations alive, here is their single most important message. DGApic

Media coverage of legal basis for sustainability in dietary guidelines

As I posted last week, I conducted a legal analysis to counter the claim that considerations of environmental sustainability do not belong in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The same week, the USDA and HHS announced they would exclude sustainability from the final document not yet out, despite the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s recommendations that eating less meat and more plants is best, both for our own health and that of the planet. Below is a media round-up of coverage of my analysis.

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The natural food industry should get political

The popular organic and natural foods sector has been mostly MIA in Washington. That needs to change.

The organic and natural food industry is booming. Last year, sales of organic products topped $39 billion. That’s the good news. The bad news is that most natural food companies steer clear of political battles that can have a significant effect on their business model. Read rest at Al Jazeera America …

Interview with Natural Foods Merchandiser

Below is an interview I gave to Natural Food Merchandiser:
Plant politics: Michele Simon sees a promising future for animal food alternatives

Michele Simon is a food lawyer and president of the consulting firm Eat Drink Politics. Recently, she organized a coalition of plant-based food companies in support of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s recommendations to eat less red meat and more plant foods. As a keynote speaker at Natural Products Expo East, she’ll offer practical tips on how manufacturers and retailers can become more politically active.

NFM: What are the biggest issues facing the plant-based food industry today?

Michele Simon: Gaining more mainstream acceptance of plant-based versions of animal foods is top of mind. While we are seeing an increase in consumer interest, companies face ongoing regulatory barriers such as outdated labeling rules, as well as marketplace obstacles such as placement in stores. Also, political forces have historically created an uneven playing field. For example, most plant food companies don’t benefit from the economic subsidies the animal food industry currently enjoys. True competition requires breaking down those barriers.

NFM: How can retailers help on the front lines in their stores?

MS: First, retailers should sell plant-based versions of meat in the meat section, and plant-based versions of butter and cheese in the dairy section. It’s not fair for consumers to have to hunt down these foods in the niche sections of grocery stores. We’ve already seen an explosion of soy and almond milks because they are commonly sold in the dairy section. Retailers should also encourage tastings of these plant-based foods to increase familiarity.

NFM: How can companies have their voices heard on these issues?

MS: This spring, I organized 22 plant food companies to have their collective voice heard on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This campaign was the first step in getting plant food companies engaged in policymaking. Now we are talking about formalizing the coalition into a bona fide trade group. This sector can be a powerful voice, and taking collective action is key to the continued success of these mission-based companies.

If folks want to get involved, they can either sign up on the mailing list at LessMeatMorePlants.com or contact me.

5 ways to be a better advocate: what I learned from Susan Linn’s leadership

Last night I had the honor of celebrating Susan Linn, who is stepping down as executive director of the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, an amazing organization that she co-founded. I wanted to share a few of the ways that Susan has inspired me; maybe she will inspire you too.

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Meat Lobby Peddles Doubt to Undermine Dietary Guidelines

By Michele Simon and Andy Bellatti

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, updated every five years, never fails to cause a stir. For the current revision, released in February, a federally appointed scientific committee — after a two-year review of the latest research and numerous public hearings — has recommended (PDF) lowering consumption of red meat and processed meat. Read rest at Al Jazeera America …

 

Event – February 24 – Women in Leadership: Dynamic Career Paths in the Food Movement

nofruitJoin four women warriors who have fought Big Food with policy initiatives, defying gender and racial stereotypes in both the public and private sectors. Their work has strengthened the good food movement, and all have established successful careers despite the odds stacked against them. This interactive panel will share experiences and encourage food movement job seekers to tackle the challenges of pushing for a more progressive food systems agenda.

Panelists

Marion Nestle is Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. A pioneer in food politics and the author of numerous books, she will discuss her experience and knowledge in the academic and government sectors, the vast changes she has witnessed over the years, and share advice for students about opportunities in the food movement.

Michele Simon is a public health lawyer and president of Eat Drink Politics, a corporate watchdog consulting firm. She has been writing about the politics of food since 1996 and her book, Appetite for Profit, was published in 2006. She also offers legal guidance to small food companies with Foscolo and Handel, the Food Law Firm. She will discuss the role of lawyers and policy experts in the food movement and the need for advocates to get more political.

Nina F. Ichikawa is a writer, social justice advocate, and food policy expert who will discuss the “whitewashed history” of the food movement, her policy work with the USDA, and her vision for the Berkeley Food Institute where she has just been appointed policy director. Her writings on food policy and Asian American food, farmers, and retailers have been published in Amerasia Journal, Civil Eats, Al-Jazeera America and NBC News, as well as in “Eating Asian America”.

Moderator: Haven Bourque founded HavenBMedia to bring communications expertise to food system change. Her group develops communications strategies, trains spokespersons, and teaches social media skills for diverse organizations ranging from prestigious non-profits to small businesses, national corporations and community activists working to reform food systems around health and wellness, social justice and environmental conservation.

When: Tuesday February 24, 6:30-8:30pm
Where: Impact Hub Oakland (Omi Gallery) 2323 Broadway, Oakland (donations at door welcome)
RSVPs: 2/19 update: sorry but this event is over capacity!

Big Mayo Files Frivolous Lawsuit Against Eggless Competitor

Food Giant Unilever suing Hampton Creek for daring to offer a cruelty-free and sustainable alternative, whining that: “Just Mayo already is stealing market share from Hellmann’s”

Just Mayo

Business school pop quiz: What’s a $60 billion global behemoth to do when a San Francisco start-up cuts into their profits? If answers like “innovate your products” or “hire a better marketing team” come to mind, you must not work at Unilever. That company’s response to competition is to take them to court. Unilever owns many top food brands such as Best Foods (and is also the largest deodorant maker in the world). The company is suing Hampton Creek for unfair business practices and false advertising, claiming their plant-based product called Just Mayo is deceptive to consumers because it doesn’t contain eggs. Actually that’s the whole point: to not use eggs.

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Contact Michele Simon: michele@eatdrinkpolitics.com

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