Monday, October 17, 2005

Undersecretary Eric Bost to speak at 2007 Farm Bill forum in Boston, October 28

USDA's Under Secretary for Food and Consumer Services, Eric Bost, will participate in one of the 2007 Farm Bill forums, on October 28 at the Boston Public Library, from 10 am to 1 pm. This event has received almost no publicity from USDA (for example, it was only recently added to this press release). Under Secretary Bost oversees the U.S. Food Stamp Program, other federal nutrition programs, and the USDA agency that produced the Dietary Guidelines and the new MyPyramid.

Sample questions to ask:
-- Will you, Mr. Bost, formally ask that all USDA-sponsored advertising messages be reviewed by USDA/CNPP for consistency with the Dietary Guidelines?
-- Do you, Mr. Bost, approve of high-calorie soda sales to school children, while in school, in direct competition with the healthier offerings of the National School Lunch Program? If not, then why did USDA recently refuse to enforce existing regulations against selling foods of minimal nutritional value during lunch time in schools?

Transcripts of Farm Bill forums are being posted to the USDA website. Here is the president of the Produce for Better Health Foundation in a forum with Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns recently in Florida:
MS. ELIZABETH PIVONKA: Good afternoon. My name is Elizabeth Pivonka, and I'm president of the Produce for Better Health Foundation. We're a national organization who works in partnership with the federal government to try to increase fruit and vegetable consumption nationwide for better health. I hope you're familiar with it, because USDA is one of our partners, and we really appreciate that.

I'm also speaking as a dietician, and I'm speaking as a mother, and I'm speaking as a taxpayer, and I will submit formal comments at a later point in time. But my point today really is the fact that we have now, thanks to USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services, the strongest dietary guidelines that we've ever had. I'm very excited about that as a dietician. What's terribly frustrating to me, however, is that so little funding is actually spent on the promotion and consumption of fruits and vegetables. And you probably will hear a little bit more about that as you go over the next few months about the fact that in our country today the one big gap between what people eat and what they should eat -- the biggest gap is with fruit and vegetable consumption. It is the one food group that you can eat almost as much as you want and not gain weight. So given the obesity epidemic that we have in the country, given the rising health care costs we have in the country, it's really in your best interests and the country's best interests to increase fruit and vegetable consumption. In fact, we know that people who eat more fruits and vegetables spontaneously eat fewer other foods. So it's a really positive message and one that is important for our country.

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