Marion Nestle’s Unexpected yet Impactful Life in Food Politics

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Marion Nestlé belongs to the list of women who have changed the way we live. Her latest work and her first memoir provide an exciting look at her life and career.

Photo credit: Marion Nestlé

Throughout history there have been influential women who have profoundly changed the way we live and the way we think about the world around us.Marion Nestle (pronounced like the verb “nestle”) is included in this list Because for decades she has worked tirelessly to save us from diet-related illnesses.

If only we, the public, had listened to her when she became famous for her publications Food Politics: The Impact of the Food Industry on Nutrition and Health In 2002, the obesity epidemic alone might have killed 300,000 people a year. Not to mention, half of adults in America have diabetes or pre-diabetes, a disease that is often preventable and caused by lifestyle. Rescue records can be anything but miraculous.

As she points out, Nestlé had predecessors like Francis Moore Lappe, whose 1971 bestseller was Meal for a small planet We identified the intersection of environmental degradation, hunger, poverty, and diet, particularly in relation to meat consumption. Yet Nestlé’s public presence new york times Her dozen or so books have given her a forum for 30 years. Michael Pollan named her the second most powerful foodie in the United States (after Michelle Obama). So as not to lose, Mark Bittman ranked her number one on his list of foodies to appreciate. James Her Beard Foundation has honored her twice for her Leadership Award in 2013 and for her writing in 2016. soda politics. He has won countless other awards.

During the pandemic, she used her time in quarantine to write her memoirs away from her usual role as a commentator and educator. Slow Cook: The Unexpected Life in Food Politics.

Beginning with her infancy as a red diaper baby (the child of a member of the Communist Party of the United States), she was photographed in 1939 holding a petition to the US government to lift the Spanish embargo. It is clear that her upbringing in this environment shaped her worldview. .

Nestlé had an unhappy childhood. Not only did his parents divorce when he was young, but he also moved around a lot, and from an early age he experienced real instability. She married the first man she had ever seriously dated, eight years her senior, and had two children with him. Both her professional life had to be restructured. Fortunately, she wasn’t without options. With her degree in bacteriology and extensive lab experience, she was ready to tackle the next chapter. A few years later, she followed a new partner, Zach Hall, to Boston, where she took up a postdoc-turned-biology lecturer position at Brandeis. Through her fateful fluke, she decided to use human nutrition as an educational tool and she found herself enamored with the subject.

Eight years later, she and Zach returned to San Francisco and were “spousally employed” at the University of California, San Francisco.

Nestlé talks candidly about what the glass ceiling of the 1970s was like. Fifty years ago, employers didn’t even pretend to pay women equally. They told her she had a husband who could provide for her because her male colleagues had wives and children to provide for her.

After her relationship with Zach ended, Nestlé went back to school to pursue a master’s degree in public health. Armed with this addition to her lineage, she has had a series of high-profile roles across the country, including a job at the U.S. Agency for Disease Control and Prevention, where she was project officer for the first Surgeon General’s Report on Nutrition and Health. I got to work.. It was there that she ran into the power of corporate special interests and lobbyists. In her report she was not allowed to recommend reducing her meat, sugar or salt intake. Rigorous studies have shown that overdosing is unhealthy.

Nestlé’s next move put her on a path to recognition. For decades she had struggled to find an intellectual home where her insistence on rigor and integrity would be valued. In 1988, I was hired as Chair of the Department of Home Economics and Nutrition.

At 52, Nestlé is finally in the right place. Soon, she led her NYU to create her one of the first food research programs in the country. At that time, a food degree meant a degree in nutrition and food science. Nestle and others recognized that food is much more than the nutrients we eat. It’s also the cultural, social, economic, gender, and political dimension. It’s sociology, business, psychology, and anthropology all rolled into one. Many universities now offer this popular master’s degree.

Then in 2002, at the age of 66, her blockbuster book, food politics, put Nestle on the map. Suddenly everyone asked for interviews and quotes. Fortune published her full-page article about her. She made a guest appearance on a Peter Jennings special. Lecture offers and awards followed. In her sixty years, the train left the station and never came back.

Not surprisingly, along the way, she befriended some of the boldest names in the food industry, including Alice Waters and Ruth Reichl. He also talks about his encounter with Julia Child.

At 86, she continues to fight and offer herself to journalists who write about the subjects she’s passionate a recent book party slow cookobserved that few weeks go by without a perfectly brief, clipping quote from her in a major publication.

slow cook Nestlé’s career dessert, an honest and satisfying course in the good life. It’s also a lesson for all of us to follow our passions and commit to making other people’s lives better wherever possible.

For your information, she loves to cook.

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