Friday Round-Up: Policy Level Changes vs. Grassroots Initiatives to Transform Food Economies
Leaders of the sustainable food movement (often shortened these days to the “food movement”) know that we’re not going to solve the myriad problems of our food system with small, local initiatives alone. However, if we wait for our President and other elected officials to make sweeping, radical changes, we’ll be waiting a long time. I’ve read/seen a few stories this week that have got me thinking about how critical it is that we have a two-pronged approach to mending our broken food system.
• Yesterday, President Obama answered Americans’ questions on YouTube. One of the 140,000 questions that was randomly chosen was submitted by Slow Food USA President Josh Viertel. “Right now, we live in a country where it’s cheaper to feed our kids Froot Loops than it is to feed them fruit. I wanna know, what are you going to do to reverse that?” he asked, chomping on an apple as he flings a box of Froot Loops to the floor. The President chuckles before ticking off his wife’s efforts on this front (Let’s Move!, luring Wal-Mart to emphasize healthier choices etc.) as well as what the White House is doing to encourage “linkages between local supermarkets, local farmers, local producers to figure out how can we get fresh produce into communities that don’t have access to fresh produce,” and the Child Nutrition Bill (working with schools to make sure fresh fruits and veggies are part of the school lunch offerings).
• At least one sustainable food activist/writer is nonplussed with such efforts. “I think we have seen the scope of the Obama administration’s commitment to food-policy reform: things that don’t cost real money or challenge the structure of the food industry,” writes Tom Philpott on Grist. Asking Wal-Mart to the table, a “soft power” gesture by the First Lady, he says, is (to say the least) limited. “A handful of large companies own a huge share of the nation’s food system from seed to plate, and, utilizing their lobbying power, essentially dictate that federal ag policy will be geared to the maximum production of corn and soybeans.” Philpott ends on a hopeful note, however, highlighting a story from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about residents who are using Woody Tasche’s Slow Money principles to raise money for a network of local, organic farms. This in the hometown of Monsanto, no less. Read the full post here.
I’m convinced that such grassroots efforts are essential to transforming our food system(s). Social movements have never come from the top down: they’re begun by the masses demanding that things change—and a combination of personal choices (gardening, shopping at the farmers’ market, cooking at home when possible), boycotts (Froot Loops!), and, yes, rabble-rousing, can all force companies—not to mention our elected officials—to change. That’s why in the coming weeks, I plan to interview leaders of food justice nonprofits, urban gardens that serve low-income communities, and education initiatives—all of which are working to solve the injustices in our food system right now.
Follow us on twitter@thefastertimes
- 1 Amanda Bynes’s Behavior Revealed to Be Elaborate PSA
- 2 Obama Horrified by the Grammar in Our Emails
- 3 Monster Fart Prompting Management to Rethink “Open Office”
- 4 NSA Demanded Access To Un-Filtered Instagram Photos
- 5 Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Ambushed By Alan ‘The Paper’ Rubinstein
- 6 ‘Licensed to Kim Jong Il’ Records 27th Straight Year Atop N. Korean Charts
- 7 ‘A/S/L’ Most Asked Question At Kaplan Online University Reunion
- 8 Vice Magazine Now Only Hiring Writers Who Fail Drug Test
- 9 Stanley Cup Final One Blowout Away From “Boston Massacre” Headline Outrage
- 10 Henry Cavill to be Replaced by Stack of Pancakes in “Man of Steel” Sequel