At Farm’s Length — Last Week’s Reflections on Food and Agriculture



In her new book, We the Eaters, Ellen Gustafson encourages us to “change our plates, and shake the system.” The system she’s talking about, our food system, is fraught with problems, and while we hope for a National Food Policy, there are plenty of focused issues to keep in mind, as highlighted in some of this week’s news.

Perhaps the best quick guide to what Congress and President Obama should be concerned about in the next two years comes from Scott Faber of Environmental Working Group:

1) supporting GMO labeling

2) fighting repeals of the federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010

3) banning indiscriminate use of antibiotics

4) keeping adequate funding for SNAP

5) holding the FDA to task on regulating food additives

6) creating more informative nutrition fact labels

7) encouraging conservation stewardship for farmers

8) reforming farm subsidies

9) getting rid of misleading “natural” label claims, and

10) reforming tax codes that allow food marketers to write off their advertising.

What’s the rush? Where else but on the climate front, and Maryn McKenna of National Geographic’s, The Plate is quick to remind us that …

Climate change is a political hot-button, and given the results of the U.S. election this week, it’s difficult to imagine that the report and the forthcoming treaty negotiations will be welcome in Washington, D.C. But the tone of the officials releasing the report was not just determined, it was almost fatalistic. Ban Ki-moon, the U.N.’s Secretary General, said as the report was released: “Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in their message… Leaders must act. Time is not on our side.”

We can change our own plates, and vote with our forks, but its up to Congress to tackle the “Big 10” above.

PHOTO: "Our Good Earth" by John Steuart Curry, 1942, Ephemera Stidies 


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