Monica Potts

Monica Potts is a senior writer for The American Prospect and a fellow with the New America Foundation Asset Building Program. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, the Connecticut Post and the Stamford Advocate. She also blogs at PostBourgie.

Recent Articles

Q&A: Food Prices and Revolution

TAP talks to someone from the United Nations World Food Programme about how food-price instability affects what's happening in Egypt.

While many factors are contributing to the growing unrest in Egypt -- and the crumbling of longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak's regime -- it's important to note that one of the causes is the global rise in food prices. Price shocks for staples like wheat and grain led to rioting in many poor countries in 2007 and 2008, and price volatility in the global food market is likely here to stay. For a poor country like Egypt, changes in food prices have drastic consequences. TAP spoke with Rene McGuffin, a senior public-information officer for the World Food Programme in Washington, D.C., about the role food prices play in Egypt, political unrest elsewhere, and what we can expect in the future. What role are higher food prices playing in Egypt? The rising price of food is a contributing factor. But so far, it has not been the central issue. The political turmoil that we're seeing in Egypt has been over a lot of issues, a lot of concerns ... whether they're poverty, inequality, and other issues...

The USDA's Thintervention

Former Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns with students at Tucker Elementary School during the unveiling of the MyPyramid for Kids (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
On Monday, the United States Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services -- the guys responsible for the ever-evolving "food pyramid" -- released their national nutrition guidelines, which they update every five years. The basic message of the report: Eat less, make more of what you eat vegetables and fruits, and eat much less salt. It's not advice we haven't heard before -- nor, however many times it's heard, does it seem to be making Americans any thinner -- but it does represent a government effort to provide food guidelines that are easier for consumers to understand and a frank acknowledgment of our growing obesity epidemic. Typically, the national nutrition guidelines lump foods into broad, technical categories like "carbohydrates" or "proteins" and focus almost exclusively on individual consumers' eating choices. This report not only makes individual recommendations easier to understand; it critiques the broader food environment that influences how and...

Obama, UnMoved.

If you haven't read Paul Waldman's piece on how President Obama hasn't really moved to the not-really-there-center so much as remained the same person he's always been, I urge you to do so. What's true about Obama is that progressives have always been inclined to see him as more progressive than he probably is in practice, despite what he may believe, and the right is always going to be opposed to him whatever he does. (The fact that Obama hasn't changed much since he hit the national stage with his 2004 Democratic Convention address is something his aides want to hammer home, too.) What's interesting to me is how ready the press was to see Obama do what they expected him to do: triangulate, the way Bill Clinton did after 1994. If anything, the headlines Waldman points to from major newspapers after the State of the Union address show how often news analysis hides as straight news reporting, and how often narratives are influenced by those who want stories to have a narrative. (Maybe...

Down Syndrome and Abortion.

In the above BloggingHeads video, Amanda Marcott e and Mollie Ziegler Hemingway discuss the scandal of Dr. Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia, the doctor who is charged with running an unclean clinic in which one woman died and seven babies were delivered live and then killed, rather than aborted, as Gosnell purported to do. For abortion foes like Ziegler Hemingway, all abortions are murder no matter what, so the technical fact that Gosnell delivered the babies before murdering them doesn't hold water. But the distinction is important, as Marcotte explains: Not only does what he did fall outside of the law because it was infanticide, but abortions after 24 weeks are illegal in Pennsylvania as well. Even many ardent pro-choice advocates start to make distinctions when fetuses hit viability unless the mother's health is at risk, (though as Pema Levy and Scott Lemieux have both explained , that's not as clear cut a distinction as we would like to have in a fair world). But the bigger problem...

Eat a Goddamn Vegetable.

FDA Official: "Just Eat A Goddamn Vegetable" The USDA released its updated food guidelines today, and Martion Nestle at Food Politics is actually impressed. I’m in shock. I never would have believed they could pull this off. The new guidelines recognize that obesity is the number one public health nutrition problem in America and actually give good advice about what to do about it: eat less and eat better. For the first time, the guidelines make it clear that eating less is as priority. But Nestle revived a criticism she's had for a long time: that the guidelines only name specific foods when they're telling you to eat more of them -- like fruits and vegetables -- and then, when they warn about eating less, they switch to nutrients -- like salt. That's hard for people to understand and doesn't keep the message parallel. Nestle also says they're still more about personal responsibility and less about the food system that promotes American agricultural products and the companies that...

Pages