Just as I was writing about the Obamas’ garden as a first step towards promoting local, organic foods, something bigger was brewing in D.C. and across the country among advocates of sustainable food. The NYT ran an article on Sunday about the boost that sustainable food movement has gotten recently by the Obama administration. To sum up the points and goals of the movement:
AT the heart of the sustainable-food movement is a belief that America has become efficient at producing cheap, abundant food that profits corporations and agribusiness, but is unhealthy and bad for the environment.
The federal government is culpable, the activists say, because it pays farmers billions in subsidies each year for growing grains and soybeans. A result is an abundance of corn and soybeans that provide cheap feed for livestock and inexpensive food ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup.
They argue that farm policy — and federal dollars — should instead encourage farmers to grow more diverse crops, reward conservation practices and promote local food networks that rely less on fossil fuels for such things as fertilizer and transportation.
Tom Vilsack, the new secretary of agriculture, has raised hopes among advocates of the movement because he has been a vocal supporter of sustainable food and advocate for small farmers. Advocates of health care reform should also be happy to back Vilsack, who believes “agriculture and food policy should fit into the Obama administration’s planned overhaul of health care, by encouraging nutrition to prevent disease.”
However, Vilsack has already faced strong opposition in Congress since taking office. It looks like we might have to wait for a full-fledged revolution but, with Obama in the White House, the building blocks are finally there.
More: “Is a Food Revolution Now in Season?” [NYT]