The Doctor's Farmacy with Mark Hyman, M.D.

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Why Pizza And Fries Can Be Claimed As Vegetables Through School Lunch Programs with Sam Kass

Food is political, whether we like it or not.  


From the subsidies used to grow the crops that produce our massive amounts of ultra-processed foods, to school lunches, to the meals being served on our own dinner tables and even in the White House, the state of our food system is impacted by policy on an incredible scale. My guest on today’s episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy has played a very positive role in trying to impact those policies for the better to make America healthier as a whole. Sam Kass is the former Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition in the Obama administration.


After cooking for the Obamas in Chicago for two years, Sam joined the White House kitchen staff in 2009. During his White House tenure, he took on several additional roles including Executive Director of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign and Senior White House Policy Advisor for Nutrition. As one of the First Lady’s longest-serving advisors, he helped the First Lady create the first major vegetable garden at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden. Currently, Sam is a Partner at Acre Venture Partners. Acre is a venture capital fund investing in the future of food with a mission to improve human and environmental health in the food system. The fund focuses on early-stage, highly disruptive impactful companies in the food system focused on agriculture, supply chain, and consumer. Sam is also the author of Eat a Little Better: Great Flavor, Good Health, Better World.


*For context, this episode was recorded in March 2020.


This episode is sponsored by Athletic Greens, Thrive Market, Theragun and Farmacy.


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Here are more of the details from our interview : 


  • Sam’s experience training as a chef in Vienna and how it led him to think about agriculture and food policy (8:34)


  • How Sam began cooking for the Obama family and his experience working in the White House (12:24)


  • The passage of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act and the challenges around school lunch reform (16:05)


  • How tomato sauce, French fries, and pizza came to be considered vegetables in schools (19:39)


  • The impactfulness of the “Community Eligibility Program” provision in the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act which allows schools to serve free breakfast to students (25:24)


  • The current administration’s attempts to roll back standards put into place through the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (31:26)


  • The reason why junk food is more affordable than healthy food (41:07)


  • Why government is not well positioned to change our food system (43:00)


  • Innovation in the food industry (45:00)


  • The negative feedback loop between food production and climate change (48:36)


Check out Sam’s cookbook, “Eat a Little Better: Great Flavor, Good Health, Better World: A Cookbook” here.


Follow Sam on Twitter @chefsamkass and on Instagram @samkassdc

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