I need to share.

I’m in San Francisco for a work-related conference. Food has been a nice diversion from the sometimes-dry subject of legislative redistricting.

I’ve been eating some great food—more on that later. And I got to see Food, Inc. in its limited release. Amazing. It covered a lot of ground— mainly reinforcing things I already new a bit about. I was most shocked by the footage on Monsanto’s investigative, intimidation, and legal activities. They are destroying our agrarian heritage, rural communities, relationships, livelihoods, etc. I was so disgusted. But the documentary did a good job of inspiring. I felt so pumped by the end of the movie. It helped that the theater was packed and people were just as moved as I was, judging by the sniffles I heard around me. And then… Eric Schlosser came out for a Q&A! He likened the sustainable food movement to the anti-tobacco movement: “The law changes once you reach a critical mass of public opinion,” he said. After the movie the cool guy hung out in front of the theater talking with a small crowd (including me). It was awesome!

I can’t wait for Food, Inc. to come to Oklahoma.

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11 thoughts on “I need to share.

  1. Just curious, are you in favor of food legislation that mirrors tobacco legislation, ala bans and prohibitions?

    Schlosser is a good read, and Fast Food Nation was very interesting. My issues with him is that he sees government as the only solution, even after documenting that intervention is what led food’s current state. Pollan learned a lot from Salatin on how legislation usually hurts the alternative farmers they seek to protect. It’s much easier to grow a field of Monsanto beans and ship em off than it is to try to wrangle the myriad hurdles required to get a specialty crop to market.

    Don’t meant to rain on your parade, San Fran is beautiful and you’re only an hour from Napa/Sonoma, have fun. 🙂

    • I’m back in Oklahoma sans luggage. =(

      I wonder if Salatin would take subsidies if he were eligible. He’s such a charismatic guy; I really admire his spunk and ability to rattle off humorous, lucid descriptive alliteration. I’ve only read Holy Cows, Hog Heaven. I’d like to read more on his take on public policy. Is Everything I Want to Do is Illegal my best bet?

      I’m all for increased governmental involvement, especially policy increasing the viability and profitability of people who already value clean food. This would include banning junk food in schools and limiting advertisements of junk to kids a la Big Tobacco, but it would also incentivize sustainable, organic, local, and ethical practices and decentralize power.

  2. Yeah, you need to read more Salatin. The man abhors subsidies, rightly says that certified organic was the worst thing to happen to the alternative farm movement, and is all about local, self inspected food.

    That’s really all I can say, you really should read ETIWTDII. Ya wanna borrow my copy? The wife is heading to OKC tomorrow morning, I know she’d love nothing more than to run an errand and meet a stranger for me. 😀

    I’ve got a Food Inc. related post coming up, I’ll probably post it tonight.

  3. Oh and one more thing, the biggest problem with ordinary agricultural policy is how it has created dependence on federal incentives and subsidies. I can’t count the times that I’ve sat through some presentation on an alternative crop, and the first question asked by some old timer is “Will there be a gub’mt payment for this?”

    ARGGHHHH!!!! Is this what alternative ag people want for their preferred farmers, to be locked into the Pavlovian groupthink of bureaucrats? That is centralization of power, it will lead to exactly the same type of unintended consequences that is currently plaguing agriculture, and the economy as a whole.

    • No, I don’t want farmers to be locked into anything. But, I do want to stop hearing the (sometimes legitimate) argument about clean food being too expensive, when it’s the “conventional” food that isn’t expensive enough.

      How do we address the hidden costs of cheap food? Let’s pretend those costs of immigrant slave labor, pollution, obesity, subsidies, etc. were miraculously included in industrial food prices. Who would be helped? It would just prove a point: cheap food is an illusion. Then there are the statistics about Americans spending less on food than anyone else on the planet. And the inverse relationship between health care spending and food budgets. I am hesitant to say we could all stand to spend more on food. So how do we form policy and shape public sentiment to address these factors and incorporate them in daily decisions? Mainstream media coverage will help, but I think easing the transition to normalizing clean food is essential. By easing the transition, I mean temporary subsidies for sustainable agriculture.

      Check out this quote from Salatin from Food, Inc.:

      Imagine what it would be if as a national policy, the idea would be to have such nutritionally dense food that people actually felt better, had more energy, and weren’t sick as much. Now, see, that’s a noble goal.

      I wonder what comprises this national policy he speaks of? It’s much easier to be against programs, such as subsidies and certified organic. What is he for? What can he endorse as a way to work toward this noble goal?

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