• In a compromise between the House and Senate, a $18.2b appropriations bill seeks to revise many of the changes to the national school lunch program that were proposed by the USDA earlier this year. The original bill’s proposed changes to school lunch regulations, which attempt to meet the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, have been met with strong opposition from various interest groups (e.g. the potato industry). Among one of the revisions that has been squashed is the rule that would have stopped tomato paste used on pizza from being counted as a vegetable serving. [Obama Foodorama, NPR/Salt, Food Politics]
  • Mark Bittman’s most recent column describes “The Secret Farm Bill,” rewriting of the 2012 Farm Bill that is happening behind closed doors. Four members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees (all from Midwestern states with a large amount of farming) are working to slash $23 billion in appropriations from the current version of the bill. Many of the cuts are expected to come from commodity subsidies (direct payments to farmers producing crops like corn and soy), but some of the cuts may be to public food assistance programs like SNAP (food stamps). Bittman calls for an open policy debate on the Farm Bill’s provisions, which is unlikely to happen. [NYT Opinionator]
  • The world’s fattest nation is, surprisingly, not the United States but Qatar. With an obesity rate of nearly 50% and a diabetes rate of 17%, the nation is getting unhealthier rapidly. (For comparison, the current obesity rate in the U.S. is 33%.) Fast economic growth and affluence of the population are likely the root causes of the spike in these so-called lifestyle diseases.  [The Atlantic]
  • Good news for beer drinkers: a research study in Italy indicates that drinking 1-2 pints of beer per day lowers one’s risk of cardiovascular disease, as much as drinking a daily glass of wine. [All Headline News via The Food Section]