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Counting on Dinner: Discourses of Science and the Refiguration of Food in USDA Nutrition Guides

  • Nutritionism- most important part of the food are the hidden numbers and scientific characteristics (340)
  • “Early food guides, written in times of food scarcity, used themes of ‘need’ and attempted to identify precisely how much one needed to eat (and no more) so that there was no wasted food, or money.” (341)
  • “Food guides published in the latter part of the twentieth century use a language of ‘moderation’ and ‘control’ and legislate proper serving size to address the proliferation of processed fattening foods” (342)
  • 1917- first USDA food buying guide, detailing what nutrients were needed, “A sample meal for a family of five, according to the guide, should include 2 pounds of fruit, two pints of cooked cereal, five cups of milk, eight slices of bread, 1.5 ounces (or 3 cubic inches) of butter, and two eggs.” (342)
  • 1933- Stiebeling’s guide,  “guide also provided amounts of calories, protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and vitamin A, B, and C per pound of each food. This allowed Stiebeling to determine the economic and fuel value differences between different foods” (343)
  • 1943- National wartime food guide, seven food groups separated by which vitamins they provided (344)
  • 1956- “simplify[ed] the quantified process of eating by reducing the number of food groups in a nutritious diet and adding recommendations for how much of each kind of food group needed to be consumed on a daily basis”, 4 food groups (345)
  • “invention and widespread use of the ‘‘body-mass-index’’ or BMI as a mechanism for determining levels of obesity” “[BMI] became popular in the latter half of the twentieth century” (346)
  • “1970s and 1980s as the era of ‘eat less,’” (346)
  • 1992- food pyramid with 5 food groups and serving sizes (347)
  • “Concepts like the ‘calorie,’ the ‘Recommended Daily Allowance,’ ‘vitamins,’ and ‘food groups’ create meaning by changing what we understand food to be” (351)
  • “The history of food guidance is a history of numbers being deployed as tropes designed to consistently turn a public’s attention from one aspect of food to another.” (352)

Food security, food safety & healthy nutrition: are they compatible?

  • “decision-makers prioritize short-term or acute issues over longer-term issues that may go beyond electoral cycles” food safety tends to receive higher priority in food policies (2)
  • “few equivalent regulatory measures have been implemented to address unhealthy nutrition” (2)
  • “food security is often prioritized politically over food safety, and food safety over healthy nutrition.” (2)

Nutrition security is an integral component of food security

  • “four key dimensions of food security can be identified: availability, access, utilization, and stability” (167)
  • “The relationship between food security and nutrition security is complex, as illustrated by the malnutrition outcomes of overweight and obesity.” (168)
  • “Low-income families may seek to maximize their limited incomes by consuming low-cost, energy-dense foods, instead of more expensive, nutrient-dense foods” (168)
  • “food insecure households sacrifice food quality or variety in favor of food quantity,” (168)

Disparities and access to healthy food in the United States: A review of food deserts literature

  • racial/ethnic minority neighborhoods have “fewer supermarkets which offer a larger variety of affordable and healthy foods compared to smaller convenience stores” “emergence of ‘‘food deserts’’ in many low-income and minority neighborhoods that result from the absence of a supermarket.” (876)
  • “establishment of businesses in inner-cities less desirable are inaccurate perceptions of these areas, declining demand for low-skilled workers, low-wage competition from international markets and zoning laws” (877)
  • “It is believed that the lowest income neighborhoods had nearly 30% less supermarkets than the highest income neighborhoods” (878)
  • “[Transportation and] unsafe neighborhoods for walking, and the lack of time due to work schedules, being a single parent, or the lack of time required to prepare meals, can result in difficulty accessing supermarket” (878)
  • “the poor residing in urban areas paid more for groceries, and received poorer quality foods” (880)
  • “issues surrounding poor access to healthy and nutritious foods characteristic of food deserts.” (881)

Food Deserts: Demand, Supply, and Economic Theory

  • “defines food deserts as areas with limited access to affordable and nutritious food,” (1)
  • “supermarket access is asso-ciated with increased daily consumption of fruits and vegetables  among  food  stamp  recipients” (1)
  • “ according  to  this  economic  model,  variable  retailing  costs  no  longer  plays  a  role  in  observing  areas  with  limited  food” (3)
  • “stores  of  different  types—and  therefore the different quality of foods they carry on their shelves—will not to be available in all markets. Consequently,  some  areas  will  not  have  large,  or  “better”,  stores  providing  food  products  which  could  be  healthier.” (3)

MAPP2HealthVirginia Planning District 10 | Thomas Jefferson Health District

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  • “For example, low-income neighborhoods, as well as neighborhoods with racial and ethnic minorities, may have more access to fast-food outlets and convenience stores that offer relatively limited healthy food options than to grocery stores that offer a full range of food options.Or, for more rural populations, eating out frequently, especially at buffets, cafeterias, and fast-food restaurants is associated with higher rates of obesity.” (98)

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