01, November 2017 8:54 AM

In September, our Silicon Valley Dietetic Book Club reviewed Meathooked: The History and Science of the 2.5-Million-Years Obsession with Meat by science journalist Marta Zaraska.

The author delves into evolution, culture, taste, marketing, biochemistry and anthropology of eating meat. She begins when single cell organisms started to consume one another, and then to the cut marks that began to appear in prehistoric bones, suggesting that humans began hunting meat about 2.5 million years ago.

Scientists speculate the reason why diets of humans shifted from a plant based eating pattern to animals was related to climate change where plants became less plentiful. Once humans started hunting for meat, a chain of evolutionary events were set in motion. Eating meat, which is more nutrient dense than plants, is thought to be at least partially responsible for the reduction in human gut size. The additional nutrients and increased social interaction that resulted from hunting and sharing meals is linked with increased brain volume. 

While protein has been overhyped in some scientific and lay press over the years, the need for protein and the specific yearning for animal protein is a worldwide phenomenon. When people have enough money to buy meat, they buy it. Eating meat is desirable for status, taste and the protein that it provides. Zaraska recounts her personal story growing up in Poland in the early 1980s standing in line at the butchers shop for at least two hours with the hopes of buying a few sausages. This was despite the fact that in the 1980s, Poles were far from malnourished and typically consumed more than 3,000 calories and 100 grams of protein per person per day. Perhaps this experience, combined with being a vegetarian inspired Zaraska to write this book.

Just like our early ancestors probably started eating meat because the planet was changing, our meat eating habits will likely need to change again as our population grows and the climate changes. The portions recommended from the protein group in the USDA ChooseMyPlate are actually quite small. For reference, the amount recommended for an adult on a 2,000 calorie diet is only 5-1/2 ounces of protein per day. 

As you can see from the graph, 60 percent of Americans overconsume from the protein food group, the only food group that is consistently overconsumed. Americans also tend to not consume protein in ways that optimize utilization – eating a large portion at night and not enough protein throughout the day.

Areas of Agreement

Sustainability and nutrition are interdependent. As a global community, we need to both provide for the nutritional needs of all people while sustaining the environment. Agriculture policies need to consider the needs of the planet, the consumers and the financial health of the farmer. We are all interdependent on one another. 

Banning meat to “save the planet” will only increase the demand for meat. Small changes made by many people– like eating plant-based diet that includes some animal proteins, and minimizing food waste– are small changes that can make a big difference over time.

Where We Differed

Though the author claimed to not be biased, a plant-based, vegetarian agenda became increasingly apparent after the first few chapters. While the book is heavily cited, a high percentage of the references were sympathetic to a vegetarian eating pattern, including Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and Vegetarian American. While a vegetarian diet is one of the three recommended eating patterns recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the other two recommended dietary patterns include meat and are supported by scientific evidence.

The Bottom-line

This book may be too dense and academic for the average reader, so overall we do not recommend it. Although the book is biased toward a vegetarian eating pattern and perspective, some of the information about culture, anthropology, taste and evolution is quite interesting. 

Maureen Bligh, MA, RDN and Kristal Shelden, MPH, RDN

Tags: animal protein climate change consensus science Dietary Guidelines for Americans food waste Healthy eating healthy eating patterns Kristal Shelden Maureen Bligh meat plant-based protein registered dietitian book club scientific research sustainability vegetarian

16, October 2017 9:48 AM

Tammy Anderson-Wise addresses attendees at Farm to Foodbank DayTo close out Hunger Action Month in September, Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County hosted Farm to Food Bank Day to recognize the many partners who helped achieve the goal of doubling the amount of fresh produce and protein, including milk, donated to food insecure Californians.

Dairy Council of California CEO Tammy Anderson-Wise joined California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, California Association of Food Banks Executive Director Sue Sigler, Second Harvest Food Bank CEO Nicole Suydam and other special guests to celebrate this milestone.

One in eight Californians, including two million children, struggle with food insecurity1. This year the Farm to Family Program provided 214 million pounds of fresh produce to people in need. Dairy Council of CA is a proud Farm to Food Bank partner, providing fresh milk and dairy products through programs like the Great American Milk Drive and Milk2MyPlate

Along with eight grams of protein, milk and dairy foods provide important nutrients that are often missing in the American diet, including calcium, vitamin D and potassium. Yet milk is one of the most requested, but least donated food bank items2. By partnering with dairy processors and producers, Dairy Council of CA is committed to bringing more milk and dairy foods to food banks, helping Californians elevate their health and access the nutrition they need.


Sara Floor
Project Manager II, Communication and Food Access



1. Hunger Fact Sheet, California Association of Food Banks. Accessed online 10/13/2017
2. Great American Milk Drive. Accessed online 10/13/2017


Tags: balanced eating families food access Food banks GAMD Health Healthy eating milk nutrition Sara Floor Tammy Anderson-Wise

29, August 2017 9:00 AM

SNA exhibit floorWhere do school nutrition professionals from across the country come together to network, learn about relevant topics in school nutrition and stay up to date on trends affecting the school nutrition environment? The School Nutrition Association National Conference!  

Being part of this year's event in Atlanta, GA was a fantastic experience. Not only is the conference a gigantic school nutrition classroom, but the exhibit hall is full of innovative products and resources and the best opportunity to learn from school nutrition experts. (Special thanks to South Panola School District for this excellent photo of the exhibit floor. Follow them on Instagram at southpanola_foodservice)

As Dairy Council of California advances our cause of elevating the health of children and parents in California through the pursuit of lifelong healthy eating habits, working with school nutrition professionals is an important strategy for success.

Over the past 4 years we have been supporting school nutrition professionals by helping schools across the state implement the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement (SLM) principles and practices. Through the SLM, schools can increase meal participation, decrease food waste and help develop a positive image for school meals.  

This year, I had the opportunity to showcase our involvement with the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement of CA by presenting an educational session in partnership with Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), titled “Smarter Lunchrooms = A Positive Image.”

Dawn Soto, my co presenter, highlighted the many positive results they have accomplished through the environmental changes they implemented following SLM strategies. These results include a decrease in food waste, an increase in fruit (75 percent for oranges and apples) and milk consumption, plus an overall increase in school meals participation (11 percent at one school). The efforts underway at LAUSD mean healthier students, with the goal of supporting gains in student test scores and academic achievement.

While the conference as a whole offered a unique chance to network with school nutrition professionals, one of the best places for networking was in the exhibit hall. Learning from each other and sharing ideas to support school cafeterias is the essence of ANC, and seeing this in person was nothing short of inspiring. 

CSNA Conference logoIf you work in or with school nutrition, I highly recommend attending this national conference. If you can't bear to wait a whole year to attend the national conference, the California School Nutrition Association conference is November 9-12 in Sacramento, California. Register today and I'll see you there!

Phoebe Copp
Community Nutrition Adviser Supervisor 

Tags: healthy eating for kids school foodservice school nutrition smarter lunchrooms movement of CA

01, June 2017 9:00 AM

June is Dairy Month, our favorite time of the year. It's also time to celebrate dads and grads. No matter what is on your agenda in June, there are plenty of ways to stay healthy and enjoy nutritious family meals at home.

Please note that June will be the last month of monthly meal ideas, as the Family Meals Matter column comes to an end on July 1. Rest assured that you and your family can continue to enjoy nutritious family meals with foods from all five food groups with more recipes on

June Family Meal Recipes

Dairy Month

Grilled Mahi Mahi + Asparagus with Lemon Butter with Apple Cheddar Quinoa Muffins and Honey Poached Pears; plus Shrimp and Cheddar Grits, Real California Curried Carrot Soup, Skillet Tuna Noodle Casserole and Yankee Grits.


Family Favorites

Cornmeal Crusted Chicken Nuggets with Blackberry MustardBroccoli with Creamy Parmesan sauce and Raspberry Mango Sundae; plus Simple Roast Chicken, Baked Spinach and Artichoke Dip, Rhubarb Fool and Old Fashioned Spaghetti + Meatballs.

Thank you again, dear family meals fans. It's been a blast bringing these meal ideas to you every month.

Tags: balanced meals dairy month Healthy eating meal planning
Categories: categoryHealthy Eating

24, May 2017 8:00 AM

Free Summer Meals for Children

As many as 85 percent of children in California who rely on free or reduced lunch at school miss out on free healthy meals available from USDA during summer months. That means nearly 2 million California children are at risk of hunger because by some estimates, having kids at home over the summer without access to school meals can add as much as $300 to a family's monthly food bill.

The free summer meals program is invaluable since nutrition and academic achievement are linked. Helping kids stay healthy over the summer months means children will more likely be healthy and ready to learn when school starts up again in the fall. Find a location near you by visiting, texting "FOOD" or "COMIDA" to 877-877 or dialing 2-1-1.

Dairy Council of California is sharing resources that help sites, sponsors, volunteers and advocates fight the summer hunger gap by promoting the free, healthy meals that include milk for all kids and youth 18 and under across California. Please share these promotional resources with other community partners like schools, child care resource centers, WIC clinics, pediatrician's offices, CalFresh offices, YMCA sites, community centers, libraries and more.

Promotional Graphics

Nothing beats an all-purpose flyer that provides the essential information needed to find a local summer meal anywhere. Available in both Spanish and English, these promotional, print-ready graphics can be used as school menu backs, in newsletters or even on websites or in social media. 

Right-click on each of these images to download the files to a computer for external use. 

Sacramento Summer Lunchbox

Summer meal locations that offer enrichment activities like crafts, literacy sessions or nutrition lessons have higher rates of participation throughout the summer. The Sacramento Summer Lunchbox is filled with hundreds of low and no-cost activities that summer meals staff and volunteers can lead with youth participants. While the website mentions Sacramento, none of the resources or materials are Sacramento-specific. 

Also included in the lunchbox are customizable and static flyers that can be used to promote summer meals. Promotional materials are available in Spanish, Hmong and Russian, as pictured at left. 

In addition to flyers, the lunchbox also contains pre-scripted newsletter articles, PSA scripts that can be used for robocalls, and even social media messages and images for Twitter and Facebook. The Sacramento Summer Lunchbox is chock full of promotional , marketing and enrichment resources to make serving summer meals easier.

Special thanks to United Way, California Capital Region and the Sierra Health Foundation for leading the development and hosting of this resource.

Milk-Specific Nutrition Activities

In honor of June being National Dairy Month, Dairy Council of California developed two milk-specific activity sheets that include information on all five food groups. These resources are great for use at summer meals or local health fairs, dairy tours or as part of a nutrition education lesson.

Click on each image to be directed to downloadable activity sheets than can be saved to the desktop for printing.

Thanks to free healthy meals from USDA, administered by the California Department of Education, no child needs to go hungry when school is out of session this summer. 

To find the nearest summer meal, text "FOOD" or "COMIDA" for Spanish to 877-877, dial 2-1-1 or visit

Tags: balanced meals food access healthy eating for kids nutrition education summer meals
Categories: categoryHealthy Eating for Kids categoryNutrition Education

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ... 49