Meet 6 US moms out to curb the marketing of junk food to kids

In latest action, moms crash McDonald’s shareholder meeting

No 1063 Posted by fw, May 29, 2014

“There’s a growing movement of people—especially parents—who are concerned with fast food’s impact on public health. Kaufman said CAI recruited these six moms to lead the #MomsNotLovinIt campaign because they’ve already established themselves as influential changemakers in their own communities when it comes to protecting children’s health. ‘We’re just a group of moms against this huge corporation,’ Hinds said. ‘It feels like David taking on Goliath, but because it’s for our kids we’ll do it.’“—Yes! Magazine

Yes Magazine profiles 6 ordinary moms with extraordinary determination to protect their kids from junk food outlets, pitching marketing strategies aimed at youngsters – junk food that increases the risk of diet-related diseases. Find out how McDonald’s tried to silence the moms attending the shareholder meeting. And get the scoop on McDonald’s newest “creepy” cartoon mascot, Happy,  featured on the Happy Meal Box — designed to appeal to little kids. McDonald’s promotions are ubiquitous, showing up wherever kids — but not always parents — are sure to be found.

Meet 6 nutrition blogger moms who crashed the McDonald’s shareholder meeting by Yes! Editors, Yes! Magazine, May 25, 2014

Current trends suggest one in three kids will develop Type 2 diabetes as adults. These moms told McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson what they think about the fast food industry targeting their kids.

Casey Hinds showed up at her first McDonald’s annual shareholder meeting in Illinois Thursday—to crash it. For months, she and five other nutrition-blogger moms prepared to confront McDonald’s executives about marketing strategies aimed at children, like the use of cartoons and celebrities.

They’re part of a nationwide network called #MomsNotLovinIt, organized by the nonprofit Corporate Accountability International (CAI) to curb the marketing of junk food to kids and the rise of diet-related disease.

Hinds had never done anything like this, she told YES!, and she was nervous. Outside the meeting, hundreds of protesters had gathered for the second day in a row to demand better pay for low-wage McDonald’s workers (138 people were arrested Wednesday for trespassing—and 101 of them were McDonald’s workers).

When Hinds and the other moms arrived inside the meeting, they found that, rather than being invited to approach the microphone with their concerns, this year they had to submit questions ahead of time to be screened by CEO Don Thompson. Only one of the six moms who prepared statements were invited to speak.

“It took away my nervousness when I felt like they were trying to shut us down,” Hinds said. “It fired me up.”

Last year, Hannah Robertson—a 9-year-old—took Thompson to task in front of shareholders for trying to “trick” kids into eating unhealthy food. “Something that I don’t think is fair is when big companies try to trick kids into eating food that isn’t good for them by using toys and cartoon characters,” she said during the Q&A session of the meeting (Click here for a video clip of her statement).

This year, things were different: “They essentially shut out the members of civil society who need to bring up important issues like labor and health,” said Kara Kaufman, a representative of CAI. “Instead we heard concerns about McDonald’s gravy and biscuits … and Bingo. One woman wanted to know why a Bingo program near her house had been discontinued.”

Three of the moms shared their stories anyway, two of them piping up during a special session when they weren’t supposed to.

Hinds, a former Air Force pilot and founder of the website KY Healthy Kids, started dabbling in public health advocacy when she became a mother. “We have a family history of Type 2 diabetes so it was important to teach the kids healthy habits,” she said.

Hinds is from Lexington, Kentucky—a state with one of the nation’s highest obesity rates and high rates of other diet-related diseases as well.

The CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] reports that according to current trends, nationwide one in three children could develop type 2 diabetes as adults (many as a result of diets high in McDonald’s-style junk food) and will likely live shorter lives than their parents.  Many activists link these alarming figures to the intentional targeting of children when it comes to marketing.

Earlier this week, McDonald’s rolled out a sort of creepy new cartoon mascot, “Happy”—a Happy Meal box with teeth. (Seriously. Check out the best tweets about it here). In April, the company announced that Ronald McDonald “will take an active role” in McDonald’s social media when the kid-friendly spokesclown unveiled his new cargo-pants look. (“Selfies …here I come! It’s a big world and now, wherever I go and whatever I do…I’m ready to show how fun can make great things happen,” said Ronald McDonald in a statement.)

While such efforts might seem a bit contrived to most of us, including older kids, parents fear that for little kids, they work.

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Hinds said she doesn’t keep the TV on at home and she doesn’t take her kids to McDonald’s herself, “but it’s still not enough.” On a trip to the library with her daughters, for example, Hinds saw a poster for a Ronald McDonald event.  “I thought, ‘Now there’s one more place being used to market to my kids.'”

Parents like Hinds report feeling undermined when fast food companies reach their kids where parents have less influence—like schools and libraries. “It creates a desire in them,” Hinds said. “And it puts us in a tight spot between saying no, creating deprivation feelings, and saying yes and creating diet-related diseases.”

There’s a growing movement of people—especially parents—who are concerned with fast food’s impact on public health. Kaufman said CAI recruited these six moms to lead the #MomsNotLovinIt campaign because they’ve already established themselves as influential changemakers in their own communities when it comes to protecting children’s health.

“We’re just a group of moms against this huge corporation,” Hinds said. “It feels like David taking on Goliath, but because it’s for our kids we’ll do it.”

Now meet the rest.

Migdalia Rivera is an associate campaign director at MomsRising.org, where she works with hundreds of bloggers and coordinates the powerhouse organization’s weekly  #FoodFri  tweetchats. Based in New York City, she is also the founder of the award-winning blog Latina on a Mission, the owner of Stiletto Media, and the mother of two boys (she writes that her most important title “will always be Mom”).

Rivera cares deeply about improving children’s health—particularly that of Latino youth, who suffer disproportionate rates of diet-related disease. Rivera says children of color are given a “double-dose” of marketing by fast food corporations—and that makes her angry. McDonald’s child-targeted website, HappyMeal.com, was visited 30 percent more often by Hispanic youth than by other youth according to a 2012-2013 study by Yale University.

It’s not fair that McDonald’s has aggressively put locations in black and Latino communities, including near schools, she says.

Rosa Perea’s 9-year-old son is an avid basketball player—his role model is LeBron James. He tries to emulate LeBron’s moves and talks about him non-stop. So it makes Perea incredibly upset to see McDonald’s use the basketball star to appeal to millions of children like her son.

Perea is assistant director of the Centro Comunitario Juan Diego in Chicago’s South Side. As a health educator and a mother, Perea sees every day how fast food chains flood her community with marketing that targets children.

As diet-related diseases such as Type 2 diabetes are the number one health concern in her community, Perea often feels outraged by the aggressive tactics like putting toys in Happy Meals, sponsoring athletes and celebrities, sending Ronald McDonald to schools, and even targeting Latino communities through “culture” websites like MeEncanta.com.

Bettina Siegel enjoyed a career as a high-powered lawyer, representing renowned clients and handling litigation and corporate transactions.

After welcoming her first child into the world, she decided to try on another career: that of a stay-at-home mom in Houston, Texas. She began writing for regional and national outlets, and eventually created the The Lunch Tray, a critically acclaimed blog (with recognition from the likes of Jamie Oliver and The Huffington Post) covering anything related to “kids and food, in school and out.”

Siegel’s writing has propelled her into the national spotlight as a champion school food reform activist, and she was recently named one of the 15 most important moms in the food industry (along with Katie Couric and Michelle Obama).

In 2012, she launched a Change.org petition which quickly garnered more than a quarter of a million signatures and led the USDA to change its policy with respect to the use of “lean, finely textured beef” (aka “pink slime”) in school food ground beef.

Sally Kuzemchak thought she knew everything about nutrition. Then she had kids.

“Motherhood rocked my world, for better and for worse,” Kuzemchak, who has a Master’s degree in dietetics and extensive experience writing about nutrition for magazines, reflects on her parenting blog, Real Mom Nutrition. “My free time vanished, as did my gym workouts. When my kids were both babies, healthy meals devolved into grabbing random food from the fridge (and from my kids’ plates).”

On the sidelines of her children’s soccer field in Columbus, Ohio, Kuzemchak watched as the elementary school staff fed all of the young players hundreds of calories of desserts and sugary drinks. Questioning this practice, Sally launched the Snactivism campaign, a grassroots network helping parents improve the food kids eat at school events and sports team practices.

Sally joined the team of moms at this year’s McDonald’s shareholders’ meeting to expose the hypocrisies rampant in the corporation’s “healthwashing” rhetoric. For instance, she says, the corporation claims to care about moms, and yet undermines parental authority.

Leah Segedie had what she describes as “a love affair with McDonald’s” since she was a young girl. Her meal of choice was a cheeseburger Happy Meal; she associated Happy Meals with happiness and she says that association helped her balloon to a size 22. A mother of three kids, she decided to swear off McDonald’s and soda so her children could have a better future. That decision was the first step toward losing 100 pounds and regaining her health.

Today Segedie is founder of the Mamavation community, where she teaches “digital moms” healthy living practices to combat disease in their homes and coordinates a network of more than 9,500 bloggers. Segedie has been named “Mom of the Year” by Shape Magazine, 9th most Influential Mommy Blogger by Cision Media, and one of the Top 10 Women Changing School Nutrition.

Even though she doesn’t feed her children McDonald’s, she feels they’re still being reached everywhere: Her son’s elementary school academic achievement award even came with a coupon for a free McDonald’s meal.

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Canadian AgCan expert, Dr. Thierry Vrain on the gene revolution and future of agriculture — TEDxVIDEO

No 781 Posted by fw, June 18, 2013

Following up on a May 7, 2013 post — Former Ag-Can research scientist warns against genetically engineered food — authored by Dr. Thierry Vrain,  on May 23, 2013, in Courtenay, B.C., Dr. Vrain delivered a TEDxComoxValley talk en titled The Gene Revolution, The Future of Agriculture.

To watch a 17:39-minute video of Dr. Vrain’s address at this event, click on the following linked title.

The Gene Revolution, The Future of Agriculture, video address by Dr. Thierry Vrain, TEDxCommoxValley, May 23, 2013

Alternatively, watch this embedded version of Dr. Vrain’s talk published June 7, 2013 by TEDxTalks, on You Tube –

Thierry Vrain retired 10 years ago after a long career as a soil biologist and ended head of a department of molecular biology running his own research program to engineer nematode resistance genes in crops. In his retirement career as a gardener he learned five or six years ago how the soil ecosystem really functions and have been preaching ever since. He finds himself with a good knowledge of genetic engineering technologies surrounded by people in fear of being hurt by the food they eat. He found that he cannot ignore them anymore and has joined the campaign to educate consumers about the potential health problems reported in the recent scientific literature.

Worldwide, people are deciding that the well-being of their local community and its economy lies with them

That’s Rob Hopkins’ central message in new book The Power of Just Doing Stuff

No 778 Posted by fw, June 14, 2013

“Something is stirring. People around the world are deciding that the well-being of their local community and its economy lies with them. They’re people like you. They’ve had enough, and, rather than waiting for permission, they’re rolling up their sleeves, getting together with friends and neighbours, and doing something about it. Whether they start small or big, they’re finding that just doing stuff can transform their neighbourhoods and their lives.”Rob Hopkins

To coincide with the publication of Rob Hopkins’ new book The Power of Just Doing Stuff, Emma Goude, producer of ‘In Transition 1.0′ and ‘In Transition 2.0′, made this 2-minute film that captures the spirit of the new book.

About the book

The book is available for under $10 in North America here — Amazon.ca and Amazon.com

the-power-of-just-doing-stuff“Something is stirring. People around the world are deciding that the well-being of their local community and its economy lies with them. They’re people like you. They’ve had enough, and, rather than waiting for permission, they’re rolling up their sleeves, getting together with friends and neighbours, and doing something about it. Whether they start small or big, they’re finding that just doing stuff can transform their neighbourhoods and their lives.

The Power of Just Doing Stuff argues that this shift represents the seeds of a new economy – the answer to our desperate search for a new way forward – and at its heart are people deciding that change starts with them. Communities worldwide are already modelling a more local economy rooted in place, in well-being, in entrepreneurship and in creativity. And it works”.

The aim of The Power of Just Doing Stuff  is to take Transition mainstream, to reach out to more people, and to make it famous.  Now is very much the time to be doing that.  It aims to share the ideas that the Transition movement has defined over the last 8 years in a way that connects with people both within it and outside, and to share the experience and thrill of working as a community and taking power back into our own hands.  We feel this really represents a landmark publication for Transition, a real push to scale up these ideas and their impacts.    It is also much more international than previous Transition books, with stories from around the world.

The Power of Just Doing Stuff: How local action can change the world, published June 4, 2013

Contents

Introduction

Chapter 1 Why we need to do something

Chapter 2 Opening the door to new possibilities

Chapter 3 The power of just getting on with it

Chapter 4 Daring to dream: where we could end up

Resources

Notes

Rob Hopkins is the co-founder of Transition Town Totnes and of Transition Network. He publishes the blog transitionculture.org and tweets as robintransition. In February 2012 Rob and the Transition Network were among NESTA and The Observer’s list of Britain’s 50 New Radicals, and in 2012 won the European Economic and Social Committee Civil Society Prize.

ENDORSEMENTS

Tony Juniper, authorWhat has Nature ever done for us?

“There is good reason to believe that the old order is coming to an end. A new normal is emerging, and if societies are to thrive then we will need to do things differently. While the transition must be assisted with technology and policy, this book describes the awesome power of just doing stuff. Rob Hopkins reminds us how actions speak louder than words, and he does it with practical examples and the passion of someone who has successfully practiced what he writes about”.

Sheila Dillon, Presenter of BBC Radio 4′s The Food Programme

Once upon a time it was tempting to mock the idea of a ‘Transition town’ or even transition itself. Rob Hopkins is a truly original thinker who has not only given that concept meaning but has put it into practice in a way that now influences individuals and communities in many parts of the world. The essential proposition is not only that we have to adapt our way of life to meet the enormous environmental challenges that we face but that it is quite possible – and no less practically to the point – a stimulating and enjoyable process as well. If ever there was an idea whose time has come, this is it. Rob Hopkins’ book is a truly unique piece of work that anyone who cares about our future in this densely populated and threatened world should read. It offers original thought and clear analysis. It also combines realism and hope”.

Jonathan Dimbleby, writer and broadcaster.

Rob’s book is a manual of practical wisdom; it is hopeful and realistic, it shows what can be achieved, it encourages us to think beyond the self, beyond the rules.  There is a wealth of thriving examples in this book that show how quickly positive change can happen, how social enterprise does actually make a very sound investment, how sharing skills and time enriches a community.  I believe that in the future Rob Hopkins will be seen as influential as EF Schumacher, the original Permaconomist.  The Power of Just Doing Stuff will sit alongside my copy of Small is Beautiful and in time, will be just as well-thumbed”.

SEE ALSO

  • It’s our worldview, stupid. It’s time to change it posted June 11, 2013 – CrossroadsLabor Pains of a New Worldview is a 64-minute documentary film exploring the depths of the current human condition and the emergence of a new worldview that is recreating our world from the inside out. Without exaggeration, this may be the most important documentary film you will see this year, if not in your lifetime. Just by watching it and sharing it with your family, friends and acquaintances, you can participate in a global transition to a new worldview. “One little change in one little community can affect a much larger human community ….Changes can come very fast.” Help be that change.
FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog, Citizen Action Monitor, may contain copyrighted material that may not have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I claim no ownership of such materials. Such material, published without profit, is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues. It is published in accordance with the provisions of the 2004 Supreme Court of Canada ruling and its six principle criteria for evaluating fair dealing.