Change the Food System


“In a time of destruction, create something.”
-Maxine Hong Kingston
You may be feeling overwhelmed or helpless; we understand that feeling. But without your support, this movement will not keep moving.
Here are some ways to get involved and make changes in the food system... every action counts. 

Dr. Robert Lustig's Opinion Article in the Los Angeles Times (click to read article)

​The FDA has proposed labeling "added sugars" on food. Above, the Nutrition Facts label on the side of a cereal box. (J. David Ake / Associated Press)

Sugar in food is poorly labeled, and the industry likes it that way

A wild animal is never more dangerous than when it is cornered. And Big Sugar is lashing out with all the sweet venom it can muster in response to the latest attacks on the iniquities of the American diet. These attacks are now seemingly coming from all directions.

The FDA's problematic push for an added-sugar label on food

Scientists have now demonstrated not just correlation, but causation for sugar and diabetes,fatty liver disease, heart disease and tooth decay. Investment banks Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley have weighed in on the effects of the detriments of excess sugar consumption on healthcare costs, economic productivity and the global economy.

Click here to volunteer with the IRN

Share your opinion with HHS and USDA

USDA and HHS will be accepting comments on the report until April 8th at midnight EDT, though that deadline might be extended by a month or so.  

Link to the Dietary Guidelines website where you can find information on submitting comments:   

(Click on section D.6 or Part A)

The government’s staff will consider those comments as they write the official 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  The Guidelines are important for informing the general public, health professionals, and journalists.  And some of the key information in the Guidelines strongly influences school meals and other federal food programs.

The DGAC’s review of the evidence on the harm associated with Americans’ current levels of consumption of added sugars was thorough and produced several strong recommendations:

  • Limiting added sugars to 10 percent of calories
  • Having a line for “added sugars” on the Nutrition Facts Panel, expressed in teaspoons as well as grams
  • Having a Daily Value for added sugars on the Nutrition Facts Panel

We urge you to submit written comments to encourage USDA and HHS to include those recommendations in the final, official version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  The views of researchers, scientists, and health professionals who are versed in the science and research will be especially critical to informing the thinking and writing of federal officials.  

Change our food environment

The UN Special Rapporteur, Olivier De Schutter, has called for a new global agreement to regulate unhealthy diets. “Unhealthy diets are now a greater threat to global health than tobacco. Just as the world came together to regulate the risks of tobacco, a bold framework convention on adequate diets must now be agreed,” he said. Read the full article.
In his 2012 report* to the UN Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur identified five priority actions to address the issues of obesity and unhealthy diets:

1) Taxing unhealthy products;
2) Regulating foods high in saturated fats, salt and sugar;
3) Cracking down on junk food advertising;
4) Overhauling misguided agricultural subsidies that make certain ingredients cheaper than others; and
5) Supporting local food production so that consumers have access to healthy, fresh and nutritious foods

Educate yourself

Using the tools and information on our website, plus our external resources, it is important to educate yourself about the current state of our food system. 

Know your sugar!  Here are the 56 names for sugar.

Currently, the U.S. government does not require food manufacturers to quantify added sugar on food and beverage labels - only total sugar.

The current USDA recommendations on sugar are basically useless and are lumped together with fat.
Over the next ten years, a primary goal  of the IRN is to create the public groundswell necessary to understand that high levels of added sugar in our diet is dangerous and to have fructose removed from the GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe) list and have sugar labeled as a food additive, not as a food.

Currently, the USDA Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is recommending new guidelines which would recommend limiting added sugar consumption to no more than 10% of total calories for adults, in alignment with the American Heart Association recommendation. 

  1. Here is a good summary of these new recommendations. 
  2. The World Health Organization also recommends limiting added sugar to 10% of total calories and encourages more conservative 5% of total calories for additional health benefits.

Share your knowledge

Do you believe in our mission? Do you hope to see a healthy, happy world free of metabolic disease? We do too. That's why it is so important to share your knowledge. Tell your friends, family, coworkers, acquaintances... even the person standing next to you in the produce section of the grocery store! We need to keep this movement expanding in order to be successful. 

A great way to inform others is by sharing quick facts or advertisements. Our friends at SugarScience have plenty of usable information that is concise and easy to share! 

Only eat dessert as dessert

Pro Dessert

By Dr. Robert H. Lustig

I like dessert; most of us do. The problem is we are eating dessert for breakfast, lunch and dinner – and we drink dessert all day long.

Sugar used to be a condiment; but now it’s a diet staple. Soda, juice, sweetened coconut water, sweetened teas, Frappuccinos —these are all desserts. Foods with added sugar are dessert if any form of sugar is one of the first three ingredients. Granola is dessert. Fruit-flavored yogurt is dessert. Chinese chicken salad is dessert. We, and especially our kids, are eating and drinking dessert all day long. While dessert captivates our brain’s “reward center”, it is creating a tidal wave of chronic diseases – diseases so nefarious and insidious that our healthcare system is not prepared for the flood of children with Type 2 diabetes and liver disease, who will be sick for decades and are already clogging up our healthcare system. And we know that the added sugar in food stimulates the “reward center” of the brain, similar to drugs of abuse; which of course is why the food industry puts it there, to get you to buy more. Tell a cocaine addict to lay off their drug of choice — see how far that gets you. About as far as telling a kid to cut the cookies.

Read the full article.

Learn to recognize the 56 different names for sugar

Unfortunately, sugar is not always conveniently labeled as "sugar" in the ingredients list. The food industry has discovered new ways to hide the amount of added sugar in their products by disguising them as different names that don't seem so bad. Brown rice is healthy so that means brown rice syrup is too, right? 

Dr. Lustig's book Sugar Has 56 Names: A Shopper's Guide is enlightening for those who may not realize the extent that sugar is added to our food products. 

Fifty-six names for sugar: 
  1. Agave nectar* 
  2. Barbados sugar* 
  3. Barley malt 
  4. Beet sugar* 
  5. Blackstrap molasses* 
  6. Brown rice syrup* 
  7. Brown sugar* 
  8. Buttered syrup* 
  9. Cane juice crystals* 
  10. Cane sugar* 
  11. Caramel* 
  12. Carob syrup* 
  13. Castor sugar* 
  14. Confectioner’s sugar* 
  15. Corn syrup 
  16. Corn syrup solids 
  17. Crystalline fructose* 
  18. Date sugar* 
  19. Demerara sugar* 
  20. Dextran
  21. Dextrose 
  22. Diastatic malt 
  23. Diatase 
  24. Ethyl maltol 
  25. Evaporated cane juice* 
  26. Florida crystals* 
  27. Fructose* 
  28. Fruit juice* 
  29. Fruit juice concentrate* 
  30. Galactose 
  31. Glucose 
  32. Glucose solids 
  33. Golden sugar* 
  34. Golden syrup* 
  35. Grape sugar* 
  36. High-fructose corn syrup* 
  37. Honey* 
  38. Icing sugar* 
  39. Invert sugar* 
  40. Lactose 
  41. Malt syrup 
  42. Maltose
  43. Maple syrup* 
  44. Molasses* 
  45. Muscovado sugar* 
  46. Organic raw sugar* 
  47. Panocha* 
  48. Raw sugar* 
  49. Refiner’s syrup* 
  50. Rice syrup 
  51. Sorghum syrup* 
  52. Sucrose* 
  53. Sugar* 
  54. Treacle* 
  55. Turbinado sugar* 
  56. Yellow sugar* 
*Contains fructose
The FDA considers sugar to be any one of the following six compounds: glucose, galactose, fructose, maltose (glucose-glucose), lactose (glucose-galactose), and sucrose (glucose-fructose).


If you haven't heard, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' "Kids Eat Right" foundation logo has landed on a Kraft product that most of us do not consider healthy. Here at the IRN we are tired of Big Food tricking consumers into thinking their products are healthy. Although signing this petition is far from changing the food system, it is an important step in publicizing the conflict of interests that exist between the food industry and the health organizations that we should be able to trust. Let's #RepealTheSeal! 

Become an advocate

Mayor and Vice Mayor of Concord Support Mount Diablo High School Student Delegation to Washington D.C. 
It Takes A Community To Change A Food System: Click here to learn more about the students' visit to Washington, D.C. 

Department of Food

Why All Cities Should Have a Department of Food

"More than 38,000 local governments — counties, cities, villages, towns and townships — exist in the United States, and their operations impact the lives of more than 319m Americans on a daily basis. These entities are entrusted with a broad set of responsibilities: They ensure public safety; they regulate economic activity; they have departments that deliver water, education, transportation, green space (parks) and social services.

Yet local governments pay little systemic attention to the one resource most essential for all Americans’ well-being: food."

Stop corporate abuse

Join the movement to end processed food marketing aimed at children #MomsNotLovinIt


Writing is On the Wall

Examples of Food Industry and Consumer Change

“A Seismic Shift in How People Eat" Hans Taparia; Pamela Koch. New York Times 06 Nov 2015

 “Market Pulse: The Better-For-You Transaction Landscape” Janica Lane. Piper Jaffray & Co. 06 Mar 2015

“Big Food’s natural brand acquisitions prosper vest when left alone” Anjali Athavaley. Reuters 21 Aug 2015

“Special Report: The War on Big Food” Beth Kowitt. Fortune 21 May 2015

“Is the era of Big Food coming to an end?”  Sarah Sheiks. The Guardian 12 March 2015

“22 Organic Brands Ruined by U.S. Food Companies” JR Crooks. Sovereign Investor Daily 13 Oct 2014

“US Millennials Twice as Likely as Non-Millennials to Distrust Large Food Manufacturers” Amanda Topper. 

The Millennial Impact: Food Shopping Decisions US 2015, 29 Oct 2015

“Why are Millennials So Obsessed with Food?” Joe Pinsker. The Atlantic 14 Aug 2015

Showing 3 reactions

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  • commented 2015-08-25 13:21:48 -0700
    The change is done on the local levels. We can change what our kids are eating in public and private schools. We can change what we place in our kitchens. We can change our restaurants. After I preached for 5 years to him about the risk of diabetes, my nephew who once was over 300 pounds in high school and college, changed the foods he ate. He eliminated sweets and snack foods, and lost 150 pounds. Young adults want to be healthy and they will change if we continue to push health education on them. I want us to adopt the stop light labeling used in the United Kingdom, so the front of the box will indicate the amount of sugar highlighted in red.
  • commented 2015-08-11 22:17:36 -0700
    Yes! We need to change the nutrition label. Especially for the ‘added sugar’. Then us consumers will have a better idea of WHAT we’re feeding our families. I’m all for this change, even though the timeline to tell them has passed.
  • followed this page 2015-08-11 22:17:33 -0700
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