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This week, processed food companies evolve once again, this time setting their sights on Americans who embrace cooking, shun the microwave and are wooed by the term “natural.” Plus, the House debates the farm bill; Democrats target Nickelodeon for airing junk food ads; and Dunkin’ Donuts goes gluten-free. And if you weren’t a fan of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “soda ban,” chances are you’re not going to get behind his newest campaign — composting.

Wendy’s iconic square hamburger patties and McDonald’s perfectly circular egg whites are getting a “natural” makeover, as processed food companies try to please customers who want food that looks like its been touched by human hands (a.k.a. not processed). 

And just as assembling IKEA furniture can give customers a sense of accomplishment, food companies figured out that multi-step packaged meals made for the oven, not the microwave, make consumers feel like they’re preparing a home-cooked meal even when they’re not. The companies specifically target weekday meals, when people are least likely to spend time in the kitchen, but have qualms about serving their families microwave dinners.

On Capitol Hill earlier this week, the farm bill debate moved to the House and, as always, produces affiliations amongst the unlikeliest of organizations (think Koch brothers and the Environmental Working Group) over issue-specific amendments like crop subsidies. Yesterday, the House rejected the bill; deep cuts in food stamps caused its downfall. Meanwhile, a group of Democrats sent a letter to child-programming leader Nickelodeon, urging the company to ban junk food ads from its network to help combat childhood obesity.

In other news this week: