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Should any food be labeled “Natural”?

Guest:  Stephen Gardner, Director of Litigation Center for Science in the Public Interest

It is a food selling $40 billion a year, but there is really nothing to it but a suggestion that really doesn’t mean anything.

Many of the foods once labeled “Natural,” like Goldfish crackers, Naked juice, and Silk soy drink, are now shedding the label to become, well, whatever is next!

Consider, for example, Silk, a milk-like drink made from soy.  Silk was introduced as an “organic” food in 1996 by the White Wave Company at the Natural Foods Expo in Anaheim.   In 2002, White Wave was purchased by Dean Foods, and by 2005 the organic drink was generating sales in of $350 million a year.  In 2009, Dean switched from organic soybeans to conventional beans, and Organic Silk became Natural Silk.  Today, Silk is just Silk. 

One of the reasons food and drink companies, like Dean, PepsiCo, and Campbell Soup are shedding the natural label is to avoid an avalanche of lawsuits alleging false advertising.  According to a recent post in the Wall Street Journal, at least 100 lawsuits have been filed in the past two years “challenging the natural claims of Unilever PLC’s Ben & Jerry’s, Kellog Co.’s Kashi, Beam Inc.’s Skinnygirl alcohol drinks and dozens of other brands.

These lawsuits lead us to ask…

Why do consumers spend $40 billion a year on the suggestion of natural? 

Why are some trying to litigate foods labeled natural off the shelf?

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Food Chain Radio News
            Food Chain Radio Host Michael Olson
            Urban Farming Agriculturalist

Can we learn to cook, eat and live with abandon?
Guest:  Karen Karbo, Author Julia Child’s Rules: Lessons on Savoring Life

At six foot three inches, she was taller than most men, not particularly pretty, and had a voice like a cartoon character.

Some say she was a Che Guevera armed with a pound of butter and a sauce pan.  Maybe so, but she was not born the revolutionary of cooking, eating, and living.

In fact, she was born into a straight-laced family, a formica kitchen, tv dinners, and oh yes, golf at the country club.  Then war came and everything changed for Julia.  She found herself working intelligence in Asia, where she met a man named Paul Childs.  After the war, she became Julia Childs, and the Childs ran off to Paris, where Paul took her to dine at a favorite restaurant. That meal marked the birth of Julia Childs, revolutionary.

Julia Childs’ kitchen revolution leads us to ask…

Can we, too, learn how to cook, eat, and live with abandon?

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Food Chain Radio News
            Food Chain Radio Host Michael Olson
            Urban Farming Agriculturalist

Why did Stalin’s government starve millions to death?
Guest:  Professor Walter Zaryckyj Center for U.S. – Ukrainian Relations

In 1932 and 1933, approximately seven million Ukranians and Cossacks were starved to death in the breadbasket of the Soviet Union by the central government of Joseph Stalin.

Some scholars suggest the Holodomor (“extermination by hunger”) was caused by bad weather and poor planning – an accident of policy­.  It was, after all, the time in which Stalin’s central government was going about the countryside eliminating private property.  The resulting economic chaos, the argument goes, was enough to cause the killings.

Other scholars suggest the Holodomor was an act of willful intent. This argument points to the recalcitrance of the Ukranian people toward Stalin’s central government.  The Holodomor, their argument goes, was a deliberate act of genocide.

Stalin’s starving to death of tens of millions of Ukrainians and Cossacks leads us to ask…

How did Stalin’s government take control of the Ukraine’s food?

How did that government manage to withhold the food from the people who grew the food?

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