National Food Policy Questions and Answers


Discussions continue about what a national Food Policy should include. Our growing national food system consciousness is finally warranting federal attention, prompted to a degree by the actions of other countries. For example, if Scotland can become a “Good Food Nation”, why can’t we?

Ricardo Salvador, Director of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) Food and Environment Program and co-author of the recent Washington Post piece calling for a national food policy, gives an answer to a similarly important question posed to UCS this week: “How Would a National Food Policy Be Different Than the Set of Policies We Have Now?”

Salvador responds, addressing the extreme inefficiency, legislatively and economically, embedded in our federal system when it comes to managing all of the currently disparate policies that pertain to food:

As things now stand, the federal government addresses a range of interconnected agricultural issues—diet-related disease, environmental degradation, farm subsidies, food safety, pesticides, immigration and farm labor, and workplace safety and health—with a patchwork of regulations and standards across at least eight agencies. Not only is this approach uncoordinated, all too often agencies work at cross-purposes."

A national food policy would seek to coordinate our government agencies, and the use of our tax dollars, in a much more efficient way. The idea of a national food policy, and even a local food policy can be an overwhelming one due to the multivariate influences and outcomes of food. It touches almost every aspect of our existence. There are so many resources and experts from which to learn out there. Last month, UCS convened a great group of such people, asked them a bunch of questions and recorded the results.

Pallavi Phartiyal, Program Manager and Senior Scientist at UCS’s Center for Science and Democracy moderates, while Katherine Bishop from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Paula Daniels from the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, Dwayne Wharton from The Food Trust, and Parke Wilde from the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition and Food Policy, share their knowledge about local, state, and national food-policy creation and enactment.

Let’s keep educating ourselves and continue the conversation about how we can move our country towards a more unified and sustainable approach to our food system.


Read all articles by Damon Cory-Watson


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