I want to thank Barbara over at Tigers and Strawberries for posting this alert to an editorial by my favorite food writer, Michael Pollan, in the New York Times. This time, Pollan is taking on the Farm Bill. In the editorial, “Weed It and Reap” (horrible title, by the way), he presents a cogent, thoughtful argument for why those of us who are interested in food and eating — which should really be all of us — should pay attention to this bill.
I was quite shocked when I read The Omnivore’s Dilemma and learned how farm subsidies promote such a monoculture that it leads to products like corn infiltrating all aspects of our food supply. Not only is high fructose corn syrup an ingredient in so many processed foods, but the corn monoculture leads directly to cows being fed corn on factory-style feedlots, which contibutes to environmental pollution and outbreaks of e coli, as well as fattier, less nutritious, less delicious beef. My father-in-law, just back from Argentina, was raving about the quality of the steaks there and how wonderful Coca-Cola tasted. Leaving destruction of the rain forest and corporate conglomerates aside for the moment, he was simply responding to the better taste of grass-fed beef and soda made with real sugar rather than corn syrup (which is, ironically, usually less sweet because less sweetener is used).
The Farm Bill is a sticky subject, to be sure. We are all aware of the plights of American farmers, and usually this bill is sold as a way to protect old-fashioned values and the family farm. But if you look closer, the Farm Bill more often subsidies gigantic corporate-owned farms that overuse pesticides, promote monocultures that wear out the land and contribute to environmental pollution, and produce ingredients like corn syrup that make heavily processed foods cheaper than “real” food, thus contributing to our obesity epidemic. Wouldn’t you rather your tax dollars going to programs that support public health, caretaking of the environment and food security?
Read Pollan’s editorial — it’s eye-opening.
- The Ruminant, a daily update on farm and food policy debates shaping the 2007 Farm Bill
- Mulch, a blog on agriculture, farm policy and food safety
- Public Health Action on the Farm Bill
- Oxfam America – Reform the 2007 Farm Bill
- More resources from Michael Pollan