The Ration

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A News21 food and health reporting project by UC Berkeley School of Journalism

Pastoral farm setting
Illustration of old pill bottles with veggies on them

Eat a Carrot and Call Me in the Morning

Doctors prescribe vegetables to overweight patients

If the doctor ordered you to eat one additional serving of fruits and vegetables each day as a way to improve your health, would you do it? Recently a group of pediatricians, trying to get young children to swap unhealthy … Continue reading

The Science of Food Addiction

Can a doughnut act like a drug?

Jan, the vice president of a public relations firm, tried everything she could think of to lose weight. The 58-year-old, who declined to share her full name, tried the traditional route with various diets, including Weight Watchers. She also tried more extreme techniques, such as demanding that her husband threaten her with divorce if she did not lose weight. None of it worked. Continue reading

A photo of a girl with degrading strawberries over her head

INFOGRAPHIC: Grandma Had Better Tomatoes

Your fruits and veggies are less nutritious than they used to be.

In 1950, your parent, grandparent, or a perhaps a smaller version of you could eat a handful of string beans — about three and a half ounces — and get about 9 percent of the calcium you needed for the … Continue reading

Graphic by Andrea Jezovit

INFOGRAPHIC: Calories vs. Price

Which would you choose?

Are foods high in calories, sodium and sugar really cheaper than fresh, natural foods? We put 30 common supermarket items on a scatterplot to see how their calories, sodium and sugar per serving match up to their price per serving. Continue reading

INFOGRAPHIC: Where Do Americans Get Their Calories?

The changing American diet

In the past 20 years, obesity rates rose dramatically in the U.S. In many states nearly a third of adults are now obese. Where exactly are Americans getting the calories to grow their girths? How many more calories are being consumed than in previous decades? Continue reading

A dummy mock oup of what a new food label might look like

Food Labels: EU Sets New Mark, Help Rethink Ours

In the U.S., a comparable debate is about to take place. The Department of Agriculture recently released the “MyPlate” image as a replacement of the decades old food pyramid and the Food and Drug Administration is currently considering a redesign of the Nutritional Facts label, which lists values for calories, fats, sugars and other nutrients. While Americans negotiate which label might most effectively communicate nutritional values to consumers, it is worth looking to the experience of the EU. Continue reading

Pictory Theme: Eat at Your Own Risk

EAT AT YOUR OWN RISK

A Collaboration with Pictory, Foodspotting and Letterform

Wherever I go, I’m usually the one at the table to point out the most unusual dish to order. Kangaroo, cuy (commonly known as guinea pig), chicken hearts, beef tongue, fish roe; I pride myself on food exploration. But the photo stories below challenge even my open-mind-open-stomach mantra, and cause me to ask myself, “Would I actually eat that …?” Continue reading

Illustration by Lily Mihalik

The Food Industry Tries to Redesign the Nutrition Label: Fails

In January, food industry giants launched a new food label for the front of packaged foods—Nutrition Keys (above)—which was widely seen as an attempt to influence or divert the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s ongoing efforts to create better labeling. Continue reading

An Illustration by Lily Mihalik showing a man dancing with a peanut

Allergy Minstral: Inside the Allergic-Kid Economy

As a kid, Kyle Dine was introduced to a long menu of foods he wasn’t allowed to eat: tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, turmeric, mustard, shellfish, salmon. But Dine was determined not to let his food allergies get in his way. That didn’t always turn out so well: He took risks and didn’t read labels. When he was 21, a relative handed him a dessert square and told him it was egg-free. Within two minutes, Dine felt his throat closing up—the dessert contained cashews. He alerted his mother, who injected him with his EpiPen and called 911. He spent the night swollen in the hospital, hooked up to an IV that pumped his body full of antihistamines. Continue reading

Illustration of a nutritional facts label and confusion by Lily Mihalik

A Nutritional Facts Label for the People, By the People

One project asks, "Can design change the way we eat?"

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is in the process of revising the nutritional facts label, that rectangular box of information outlining the calories, serving size, and percent daily values on packaged food products.

The black and white nutritional facts label was first standardized in 1994, after the passage of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, which mandated food product packaging to clearly state fat, saturated fat, sugar, and sodium content. Since then, little has changed. Continue reading

Those Seeking Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Modified Foods Look to Milk

In July, the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the international body that sets food safety standards, ruled that governments are free to label foods derived from modern biotechnology. The decision means that any country can now require mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, without facing the threat of legal challenges by other nations. Continue reading