Secretary of Agriculture: Less likely to use us-vs-them thinking?

How will our food policy change now that our New Secretary of Agriculture is someone with weight issues? Said Tom Vilsack about dealing with a weight problem since childhood:

Food is a fairly significant aspect of my life. I have struggled mightily with food. With my weight. And I'm conscious of it. So I have a sensitivity to people who struggle with their weight. That's one aspect people don't fully appreciate. I don't want youngsters to go through what I went through.

By 2010, almost 50 percent of children in North America and 38 percent of children in the European Union will be overweight...will it help that Vilsack can emphasize with the experience? Maybe, maybe not. The new Secretary of Agriculture said to a group of dieticians that he didn't believe removing soda machines from schools would be an effective way to help childhood obesity.

I'm still hopeful that someone who was taunted for his body size as a child, and has gone on to become a regular jogger might possess the right kind of experience to help solve this growing problem.

“The stigmatization directed at obese children by their peers, parents, educators and others is pervasive and often unrelenting,” said researchers quoted in an MSNBC article.  Besides being hurtful, this lack of understanding often leads to the "why don't they" kind of advice--not very useful in solving a problem as complex as obesity.

For anyone with extra dietary challenges, it's not only a matter of eating healthier or greener. Food is an emotional subject, all the more so when early imprinting has given one shame about eating and body image. Nevertheless, since the individual and the planet stand to gain from each person who trims down their carbon impact, it pays to confront the complicated, sensitive subject of diet. Maybe American food policy is in for a more empathetic turn.

Tags: Agriculture, Diet, Food, Obesity, Overweight, Policy

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