Agri-Health / Agriculture / Consumption / Environment / Human Health / North America / Opinion piece / Policy / USA

Food and food systems thinkers advocate a national ‘food policy’ for the US–and maybe the rest of us?


‘Woman Eating’ (‘Mangeuse’), by Jean Dubuffet, 1944, Museum of Modern Art.

Did you miss this call for a US national food policy by Mark Bittman, New York Times columnist and lead food writer; Michael Pollan, leading food, food systems and food science author; Ricardo Salvador, director of food and environment at the Union of Concerned Scientists; and Olivier de Schutter, former UN special rapporteur on the right to food.

Seems there is much in these ultra-sane approaches that is relevant to countries other than the United States.

Here is their summary
‘The U.S. government has never before had a national food policy, let alone one that seeks at the highest level to align federal agricultural policies with our public health and environmental objectives. Were the next president to inaugurate such a policy, and by executive action establish the mechanisms for its implementation, the potential would dramatically increase to drive long-term change in three critical issues of our times: health care, climate change, and economic equality. Sustained progress on all three of these issues will be limited unless progress is made in addressing a fourth, seemingly less salient issue: the health, sustainability, and fairness of the food system.’

Some of their remarks, edited for brevity

We must commit not just to feeding but to nourishing our citizens, especially our children.

We can do this by honoring our great tradition of small family farms and by building a food system that works with nature while continuing to be productive and profitable.

Various issues are currently addressed through piecemeal and often contradictory approaches, whereas they are interlocking problems that can best be addressed through policy based on our food system.

Failure to appreciate the links between farming, diet, public health and environment means the food system has never been overseen, administered or regulated.

By attending to the food system, it is possible to connect all these dots and begin to address them in a coordinated and effective way.

Government agricultural policies and incentives cost our natural resources and public health domestically and developing markets & agricultural systems internationally.

Some of their recommendations, edited for brevity

  • Develop a roadmap to ‘re-solarize’ food production systems.
  • Develop, promote and support regionally appropriate, regenerative, diversified farming systems.
  • Reorient the US Land Grant University system to serve local and regional constituencies.
  • Launch a ‘Farmer Corps to educate a new generation of ‘sun farmers’ and help put them on the land.
  • Encourage and promote the reintegration of animals on farms.
  • Eliminate the routine non-medicinal use of antibiotics in animal agriculture.
  • Support sustainable cellulosic biofuels, particularly those made from perennial grasses that reduce fossil fuel dependence while playing a complementary role in diverse, modern multifunctional agricultural systems.
  • Promote greater production of actual food, especially seasonal fruits and vegetables for regional markets, by providing equitable access to farm credit and loan guarantees for all farmers.
  • Reform agricultural subsidies and support beginning farmers and those who produce actual food using sustainable practices.
  • Fully fund and implement programs that encourage diversified food production, ecological services (including carbon sequestration), and quality production.
  • Make municipal and institutional composting of food and yard waste mandatory, and give the compost to farmers and ranchers.
  • Ensure that wages for farm labor are fair and sufficient to permit workers who harvest, process, prepare, and serve our food to have access to the food they have helped to produce and deliver.
  • Enhance the social safety net, so that fairer wages and benefits for workers in all economic sectors increase wealth and economic stability among the most vulnerable.

Read the whole article on Medium: A National Food Policy for the 21st Century: A memo to the next president, by Mark Bittman, Michael Pollan, Ricardo Salvador, Olivier De Schutter, Oct 2015.



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