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News for March 29, 2010

Blanche Lincoln’s dismal school-lunch bill

Remember when Obama rolled out his proposal for increasing the school-lunch budget, and lots of folks, including me, groaned that it wasn't nearly enough?

In his budget proposal earlier this year, Obama called for an additional $10 billion for school lunches over ten years, or $1 billion per year. Currently, we spend about $11 billion annually on school lunches -- less than a month's worth of military spending. At that level, school administrators typically have less than a dollar a day to spend on ingredients for each lunch they serve. To see what such a miserly outlay means for the nation's public-school kids, see Ed Bruske's great recent series of posts; or check in on the Fed Up blog, which features snapshots of the daily offerings at a school in Illinois. Or revisit the infamous "pink slime" scandal.

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Jamie Oliver's healthy eating crusade for America gets a ratings boost after he appears on Oprah

He's made frustratingly little progress so far in his efforts to get obese America to adopt healthier diets.

But last night, Jamie Oliver, who was reduced to tears on his new TV show, was given a boost after more than seven million Americans tuned in to the first episode.

The celebrity chef - who this weekend recruited Oprah Winfrey to help fight his battle -  has been working across the States to promote Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.

In the series, he tries to persuade families in Huntingdon, Virginia, to ditch the pizza and fried food for healthier options.

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Chicken rings? Parents may be shocked at what kids are eating at school

SACRAMENTO, CA - Angelina Cortez is a 6th grader who says she loves pizza day at her school. In fact, she says, it's one of the few things she'll eat.

"It's my favorite," Angelina said.

Unfortunately, pizza day may not even be one of the unhealthiest items on the menu at many schools across the nation. Now, local school lunch menus are getting the once-over from local nutrition experts, who say they don't like what they see.

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, a new ABC television series, which examines what kids across the country are eating at school, argue most of it isn't good. The show contends processed, fatty foods high in calories are staples of many school menus.

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Push to Eat Local Food Is Hampered by Shortage

EAST MONTPELIER, Vt. — Erica Zimmerman and her husband spent months pasture-raising pigs on their farm here, but when the time came to take them to slaughter, an overbooked facility canceled their appointment.

With the herd in prime condition, and the couple lacking food and space to keep them, they frantically called slaughterhouses throughout the state. After several days they found an opening, but their experience highlights a growing problem for small farmers here and across the nation: too few slaughterhouses to meet the growing demand for locally raised meat.

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Obama on factory farming: Something to crow about

When asked to write about President's Obama's leadership qualities on the hot-button issue of animal factory reform, I frankly expected to file a somewhat negative piece.

After all, back in 2008, Obama won Iowa partly due to his aggressive stance against confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), or factory farms. But he hasn't always lived up to the lofty ideals of those heady days.

"When I'm president, I'll have a Department of Agriculture, not simply a department of agribusiness!" Obama vowed to roaring crowds in small-town Iowa. The candidate's white paper on Iowa factory farms said, "CAFOs pose significant threats to air and water quality," and added: "Rather than letting CAFOs off the hook, Obama believes they should be subject to the requirements of the Clean Air Act and Superfund just as any other polluter."

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Vote Coming Tuesday on Bill Allowing Sale of Raw Milk

MADISON, Wis. (WTAQ) - A state Assembly committee is scheduled to vote Tuesday on the bill that would let farmers sell raw milk. A Senate panel passed a watered-down version of the measure earlier this month, allowing limited consumer sales only through 2011 on a trial basis. The Assembly bill would not expire – but there are proposals to amend the bill so it coincides with the Senate’s language. Raw milk supporters say it tastes better than pasteurized milk, and it has its own health benefits. But health officials say raw milk also has the potential to expose people to more bacteria, including e-coli. Wisconsin has required for the last 53 years that milk sold to consumers be pasteurized.

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