Food, Politics and the Health of the Nation

September 22, 2022
Food Politics

The 2022 White House Conference on Hunger, Food and Health is around the corner, and I think it’s going to be an exciting opportunity to address food system problems of hunger, chronic disease and climate change. In 1969 a similar conference aimed to “put an end to hunger in America for all time.” President Nixon kicked it off with an amazing speech urging not only adequate diets for all, but also income support to afford healthy diets. That conference led to programs offering food stamps, aid to Women, Infants and Children, and free lunches in school. Thus, there are high hopes for what’s to come next week.

This year, Congress authorized $2.5 million for the event as part of the omnibus spending package. The White House appointed a Task Force and Strategy Group who planned and defined the scope of the conference, announcing “five pillars”: Improve food access; Integrate nutrition and health; Improve the food environment; Support physical activity; and Enhance research. These will identify actions that can be taken by many parts of society including the federal government; local, state, territory and Tribal governments; nonprofit and community groups; and private companies. I’m hoping it will lead to expanded food assistance programs, but I’m less optimistic about obesity and chronic disease, which would require confronting food industry marketing (and I don’t see this happening in an election year). Like many of my colleagues, I’m waiting to see what happens, but will continue to advocate for improved nutrition.


Marion Nestle
Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition and Food Studies;
GPH Professor Emeritus


Read more from Marion Nestle in her new book, Slow Cooked.
Marion Nestle reflects on her late-in-life career as a world-renowned food politics expert, public health advocate, and a founder of the field of food studies after facing decades of low expectations.

In this engrossing memoir, Marion Nestle reflects on how she achieved late-in-life success as a leading advocate for healthier and more sustainable diets. Slow Cooked recounts how she built an unparalleled career at a time when few women worked in the sciences, and how she came to recognize and reveal the enormous influence of the food industry on our dietary choices.

By the time Nestle obtained her doctorate in molecular biology, she had been married since the age of nineteen, dropped out of college, worked as a lab technician, divorced, and became a stay-at-home mom with two children. That's when she got started. Slow Cooked charts her astonishing rise from bench scientist to the pinnacles of academia, as she overcame the barriers and biases facing women of her generation and found her life's purpose after age fifty. Slow Cooked tells her personal story—one that is deeply relevant to everyone who eats, and anyone who thinks it's too late to follow a passion.