Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Food Policy

How's that for being one day ahead of the zeitgeist? Both the Christian Science Monitor and the New York Times ran strong articles this morning on the hopes for a new Food Policy in the US under Obama.

I'm not too optimistic. So far he's been pretty traditional in his pick of advisers - there hasn't been anything remotely progressive about most of his agenda so far. Still, at least he is rational, so there is some hope after the ideological madness of the past eight years. Christopher Cook of the CS Monitor offered these steps as a start:

  1. New public investments targeting sustainable agriculture, defined as organic, small- to mid-sized, diversified farming.
  2. New investments in local/regional food networks and foodsheds – to help build up the connections between farmers and consumers, to open up and expand new markets for organic farmers and those considering the transition; for more farmer's markets and food stores that feature local produce.
  3. A moratorium on agribusiness mergers, and strenuous antitrust provisions and enforcement to protect what little is left of diversity in the food economy.
  4. A moratorium on all new genetically modified (GMO) products, and an expansion of existing ones, and appointment of a blue-ribbon panel/commission to assess the impact of GMO foods on our environment and our health.
  5. A moratorium on – and gradual phasing out of – concentrated animal feeding operations, aka factory farms, which are among the nation's top polluters of water and air, and breeders of widespread and virulent bacterial strains.
  6. Dramatically expanded regulatory enforcement and staffing in the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration to protect food safety and meat industry labor and environmental practices.
  7. Slowing the hazardously fast meatpacking (and poultry) assembly line, to protect workers and consumers.
  8. Incentives for small-scale urban, suburban, and rural farming ventures oriented toward diversified local food systems.
  9. Bold public investment in a raft of public awareness campaigns that build support, and expand markets and demand, for sustainable alternatives such as urban agriculture and gardening, and reducing fast-food consumption.

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