An Eater’s Guide to Food Labels

Food packaging isn’t just the shell that protects or contains a product. It’s a powerful miniature billboard—a tool that food producers use to reel in customers.

It’s also a document, of sorts, that conveys how a food was produced and whether the government has overseen that process.

The problem for consumers? Knowing the difference.

This week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will begin to consider input from the public and the food industry on how best to define “natural,” one of the most misused and misunderstood terms in food—and one that has immense marketing power. (See "So What do 'Natural' and 'Healthy' Really Mean?")

But the agency’s effort is only ...

Entrepreneurs Hook Up Home Cooks With Customers

What if you could pick up a homemade pulled-pork sandwich on a brioche bun, or Vietnamese “broken rice” with braised honey chicken, or Baja-style fish tacos made by a home cook in your neighborhood instead of a faceless corporate chef or a strip-mall restaurant?

If you live in certain pockets of Oakland, Berkeley, or San Francisco, you can.

Here’s the idea behind a website operated by a start-up called Josephine:  You place an order for a reasonably-priced home-cooked meal nearby, then a few days later, you walk into your neighbor's house and pick up your dinner. The deal? You get home-cooked food, made by a real human with a family and a name, and ...

Animal Welfare Rule Exposes Cracks in Organic Egg Industry

When you go to grocery store and shell out a little extra cash for food with the Department of Agriculture’s green-and-white ‘organic’ logo on it, you’re paying a premium in exchange for a promise.

The label guarantees, for the most part, that what you’re buying was grown or raised without synthetic pesticides or was fed organically-grown grain. But, despite what many people think, the organic label doesn’t promise that livestock was treated humanely. In fact, the current organic standards say very little about how to raise animals, and what they do say is so vague, critics contend, that they’re exploited by producers who want to cash in on the ...

Another Nation Trims Meat From Diet Advice

Nutrition advisers in the Netherlands took a progressive step this week, one that will likely further stoke conversations about the relationship between a healthy diet and a healthy planet. And their sights are set squarely on meat.

The Netherlands Nutrition Centre says  it is recommending people eat just two servings of meat a week, setting an explicit limit on meat consumption for the first time. The recommendations come five years after a government panel weighed the ecological impact of the average Dutch person’s diet, concluding last year that eating less meat is better for human and environmental health.

The Nutrition Centre, a government-funded program responsible for making food-based dietary guidelines, took those conclusions and presented them ...

Latest Soda Tax Puts Pressure on Waistlines and the World

When George Osborne, the UK’s finance minister, made his annual budget speech on Wednesday, he surprised many people by announcing that the country would join several other nations attempting to tackle obesity by taxing soda.

“I am not prepared to look back at my time here in this Parliament, doing this job, and say to my children’s generation: 'I’m sorry. We knew there was a problem with sugary drinks. We knew it caused disease. But we ducked the difficult decisions and we did nothing,'” Osborne said. “So today I can announce that we will introduce a new sugar levy on the soft drinks industry.”

The announcement ...

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