Where's Food on the Next Presidential Agenda?
Unless there are chads hanging in the balance a la Campaign 2000, we’ll know before going to bed tonight who will be the next president.
Both candidates have talked extensively about the ailing economy, the health care crisis and the war in Iraq, and their respective platforms on these issues may well have informed your decision today at the polls. But when it comes to food, farming and agriculture, do you know where your candidate stands? Probably not.
Although too late to press the candidates, food is hardly a moot point for the next administration and is no longer going to sit quietly on the back burner, argue those close to the issue. As one Texas farmer told a reporter for Scripps Howard News Service, “As long as you put food in your mouth, have clothes on your back and you get in an automobile and turn the key and drive, you're involved in agriculture because we provide food, fiber and fuel for everyone.”
Writes Grist food editor Tom Philpott in a column last month: "Food has indeed been largely forgotten in the 2008 presidential campaign, but it may well be a major issue in its aftermath.”
In his New York Times Magazine essay, “Farmer in Chief,” an open letter to the president-elect, Michael Pollan argues why food must be on the front burner of the next president’s agenda: “Which brings me to the deeper reason you will need not simply to address food prices but to make the reform of the entire food system one of the highest priorities of your administration: unless you do, you will not be able to make significant progress on the health care crisis, energy independence or climate change.”
As you take stock of your own kitchen budget, shopping habits and knowledge, what would you like the president-elect to do about food, agriculture and farming in America? If you could break bread with the next commander in chief, what would you ask or convey as it relates to your diet and grocery tab? Spinach scares, hunger or disappearing farmland? Corn for ethanol, migrant labor conditions and the future of farming? Soil conservation? (I could keep going...)
Yes, indeed, food is everyone and everything, as the farmer from Texas said. So how do we get it on the new guy's agenda?
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