Saturday, April 28, 2007

Michael Pollan on the Farm Bill

Last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine published Michael Pollan’s latest piece focusing on a labyrinthine piece of legislation commonly known as the Farm Bill. Pollan explains that this bill, whose passage comes around in cycles every five year or so, is in large part responsible for our hegemonic processed foodscape. The most insidious consequence of the bill is that the cheapest calories at the supermarkets are the most unhealthful. This perversity is accomplished largely by directing subsidies enabling large corporate entities, such as ADM and Cargill, to overproduce corn and soy. The largest portions of these commodified crops end up as high fructose corn syrup and soy derived fat additives. If all of this is making you sick in the stomach (I won’t even mention your arteries, heart and liver) you should know more. Read Pollan’s article.
Then write a note to your congress people. In recent incarnations, the Farm Bill has been authored behind closed doors by representative from farm dominated states, Iowa, Texas, Nebraska, and such, with the help of ADM and Cargill. Our senators and representatives are all too impassive because of voter’s misperception of the bill’s scope as a “farm” bill. You need only look to our national waistband to realize that there is no such thing as a Farm Bill state. We are all being silently assaulted in our local supermarket.

Therefore ask your representatives and senators to clue in this time. Ask them to be involved in eliminating incentives that result in overproduction of commodity crops. Ask them to make sure that provisions in the bill do not earmark federal funding of school lunches to the dumping of excess crop production (one of the more perverse aspects of the bill in its current form is that it treats our children as omnivorous pigs at a trough – as a way to dump surplus crop production and pad corporate profits). Lawmakers should write into the bill incentives to increase organic production (and fund research in this area) and promote the expansion of local food systems.

If you live in San Francisco, email these folks: Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, and Dianne Feinstein.

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