A Letter to the President-Elect: Food Democracy Now
In a New York Times Op-Ed yesterday, Nicholas D. Kristof suggested a change in nomenclature and thinking about food in the next administration: Obama’s ‘Secretary of Food’? "A Department of Agriculture made sense 100 years ago when 35 percent of Americans engaged in farming. But today, fewer than 2 percent are farmers. In contrast, 100 percent of Americans eat," he points out. Farming practices--and our understanding of their environmental impacts--have changed so much in that century, as have our import-export relationshps with other countries, that it makes sense to re-evaluated how well that department serves the needs of today's Americans.
Kristof's beef is not with farmers "It’s the farm lobby — hijacked by industrial operators — and a bipartisan tradition of kowtowing to it." He points out the indisputable trend of small farmers losing out to the larger conglomerate operations. While there may be a growing market among increasingly eco-conscious consumers for such items as heirloom vegetables, locally-grown foods, and free-range chickens and assorted organics, large-scale monoculture as we know it cannot remain the same and meet these demands. There is something standing in the way, whether terminology or special-interest groups, that is not supporting the small-scale farmers who are in a good position to--with some support--hop on to the sustainable farming trend that could nurture our country on so many levels.
Mr. Kristof links to a letter from Food Democracy Now to President-elect Obama, suggesting 6 "sutstainable candidates" for the next US Secretary of Agriculture (as the office is now called). Read the letter and send your support for sustainable food solutions.