Digest: Mackey chat, bye-bye bread basket, sweetener lowdown

Post-Gazette: A reprint of yesterday’s Wall Street Journal interview with Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, in which he explains why he cut his own salary to $1, why sales are slowing, and how Whole Foods is lowering prices to compete with Wal-Mart and other entrants into the organic foods marketplace.

BBC News: This fascinating report (trust us) on what the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research will be discussing at its annual meeting covers how current varieties of staple crops will be unable to deal with temperature increases from global warming (forecasts say South Asia’s wheat area will shrink by half and America’s “bread basket” will migrate north to Canada); the ways scientists are madly trying to bioengineer ones that can; and approaches to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from farming, including a handhled gadget that uses infrared to tell farmers when crops need more fertilizer.

New York Times*: New Jersey’s Taco Bells are reopening, having been cleaned and restocked. No word yet on which ingredient was carrying the E. coli.

Wall Street Journal (subscribers only): Although niche drink companies like Jones Co. are turning to sugar over high-fructose corn syrup in a bid to appeal to health-conscious consumers, there’s no evidence that the body knows the difference between the two sweeteners. The WSJ cites a forthcoming study by UC Davis — noting it was funded by PepsiCo — that found no difference in the way HFCS and sucrose regulate the hormones that control body weight; both increase triglyceride levels, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Yesterday a Journal article reported that most major soda makers were not considering switching to sugar in the face of rising HFCS prices, and mentions that in 2005, the nation’s refined-sugar consumption was 63.4 pounds per capita and HFCS use was 59.2 pounds. That’s almost 5 ounces of sweetener for every man, woman, and child a day!

New York Times (AP): An aside in this story about how New York’s city health board just unanimously banned trans fats (effective July 2008, in a compromise with the industry complaints) says that the panel also passed a measure saying that restaurants that “chose to inform customers about calorie content will have to list the information right on the menu.” We’re not sure what that means — McDonald’s will have to post its burgers’ calorie content visibly, and Fanelli’s won’t? — but we’re intrigued. [Via the NYT's Lede blog]

Forbes.com: Advrtising is making our kids fat, according to the December issue of Pediatrics, which calls for some toothless self-monitoring more media education to counter advertising’s negative effects. Of more value is this Rudd Sound Bites (a food-policy blog) link to the World Health Organization’s post-meeting report on the global effects of children’s food marketing. [Thx Jack]

Farm Futures: The USDA’s Women, Infants and Children nutrition program, known as WIC and aimed at helping low-income families, may replace much of its dairy purchases with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. (The amounts of the latter groups currently supported under the program are negligible.) Unsurprisingly, dairy producers are protesting.

BBC News: Scottish politicians are calling for tougher measures to protect salmon from a devastating parasite, often carried by escapees from fish farms.

ThisIsLondon.co.uk: Tory leader David Cameron is coming out swinging for the Slow Food movement. Apparently he even grows his own zucchinis, onions, and garlic.

ABC30.com: Even California dairy farmers are feeling the effects of having to compete with ethanol for feed corn.

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