Dishing It Up Now: There’s A Bright Future for Food Policy

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You need to know about these positive developments in our food system--there are some great thinkers out there working on solutions!

Environmental Defense Fund’s new blog Growing Returns is dedicated to exploring ways in which the environment can be included in our world’s growing demand for food. In a particularly interesting piece in the blog’s inaugural week, David Festa challenges the notion that we need to sacrifice the environment to feed the projected 2 billion more people on our planet in the next 30 years. Festa suggests that by allowing farmers to lead the way and redesigning the business of farming, we have a real shot at making positive change. He also warns that farming practices are only part of the puzzle:

When it comes to meeting the great food challenge of this century, there is no silver bullet. In addition to using agricultural resources more efficiently, we’ll need to think about food waste, genetics, distribution, diets and more. That looks to us like silver buckshot.”

Mary Beth Albright of National Geographic posits that legislators and local governments may be the key to designing Festa’s “silver buckshot.” Albright writes this week on the growing trend of Food Policy Councils (FPC) in local governments. In reference to a D.C. bill which would establish an FPC for the nation’s capital, she explains how these government bodies may be necessary to integrate the myriad issues surrounding food for municipalities:

Whether established at the city level (as proposed in D.C. and New York) or on the state level, FPCs are locally based and can address their citizenry’s particular commerce and cultural needs. This sensitivity is particularly important around the highly personal subject of food—people tend to see food regulations as mandates about what they can’t eat handed down from on high. Indeed well intentioned federal food programs, the carrots most frequently misinterpreted as sticks, can be translated through FPCs."

In the non-profit world, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) had its annual meeting earlier this month and recently reported it in their blog. An amazing assortment of progressively minded and politically savvy organizations, the NSAC lays out some key issues they will be addressing in the near future:

This fall will bring about several significant campaigns including comments periods for revised Food Safety Modernization Act regulations; renewals and sign-ups for the Conservation Stewardship Program; and the start of the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act campaign.  These efforts will occur in addition to our coalition’s ongoing work with USDA and Congress on implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill and annual agricultural appropriations process."

And lastly, to note an observable trend in food, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has just announced that it will be compiling and reporting on local and regional food data. This is particularly great news, because we all know that what gets measured can be changed. Information included in the reports will include data on farmers markets, farmers auctions, farm-to-school, food hubs, direct to consumer sales, and retail sales. More data and reports will be posted, but check out the existing information, here. NSAC comments that this publicly available data will be a boon to local farmers:

In addition to prices, Market News provides reports on quality, condition, volume, and other market data for farm products in specific markets and marketing areas.  The data are released within hours of collection, allowing producers and marketers to immediately see which commodities are in greatest demand and at which markets."

We’ll see what the future of food policy really holds, but we are excited for these progressive ideas and fighting for them to be actualized!

Sources:

Read all articles by Damon Cory-Watson

 

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