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On Obama’s Food Agenda

Susan directed me to "A food agenda for Obama" by Christopher D. Cook of the Christian Science Monitor. Cook suggests nine elements for Obama's food policy:

1. New public investments targeting sustainable agriculture, defined as organic, small- to mid-sized, diversified farming.

2. New investments in local/regional food networks and foodsheds – to help build up the connections between farmers and consumers, to open up and expand new markets for organic farmers and those considering the transition; for more farmer's markets and food stores that feature local produce.

3. A moratorium on agribusiness mergers, and strenuous antitrust provisions and enforcement to protect what little is left of diversity in the food economy.

4. A moratorium on all new genetically modified (GMO) products, and an expansion of existing ones, and appointment of a blue-ribbon panel/commission to assess the impact of GMO foods on our environment and our health.

5. A moratorium on – and gradual phasing out of – concentrated animal feeding operations, aka factory farms, which are among the nation's top polluters of water and air, and breeders of widespread and virulent bacterial strains.

6. Dramatically expanded regulatory enforcement and staffing in the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration to protect food safety and meat industry labor and environmental practices.

7. Slowing the hazardously fast meatpacking (and poultry) assembly line, to protect workers and consumers.

8. Incentives for small-scale urban, suburban, and rural farming ventures oriented toward diversified local food systems.

9. Bold public investment in a raft of public awareness campaigns that build support, and expand markets and demand, for sustainable alternatives such as urban agriculture and gardening, and reducing fast-food consumption.

Number ten is: "Fill in the blank, and send me your thoughts at"

Of course, this all has a premise of unnecessary use and slaughter of sentient nonhumans. My question is: What would you add that is not a welfare measure (I'm assuming you'd want to avoid that), and has a chance of being included? Maybe something about vegan selections in every school cafeteria and a rethinking of the food pyramid that is used by schools? How about some kind of financial/health insurance incentive/advantage for people vegans? (Though that's not really under agriculture, I guess.)


6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nick #

    The food pyramid would be redesigned if we could kick special interests out of the FDA. It's currently run by the meat/dairy/egg industries.

    December 28, 2008
  2. "Maybe something about vegan selections in every school cafeteria and a rethinking of the food pyramid that is used by schools?"

    Don't forget prisons and other government institutions!

    December 28, 2008
  3. Mary Martin #

    Yes Kelly! Thanks for reminding me!

    December 28, 2008
  4. Hi, Mary (et al.). I'm going to be e-mailing you about this today or tomorrow too, but this was too fitting an opportunity not to mention it here too.

    Over at's Ideas for Change in America project, Alex Hershaft has an idea up about requiring vegan school lunch options, and it has a real chance of moving to the second round (and then hopefully to the top 10 and therefore to Obama's team) if we can keep the voting up. The text of the idea is as follows: "Require USDA to mandate vegan school lunch options, in addition to the standard fare, in those schools where at least 5% of parents request them." The comments conversation following the idea has been interesting. There have been no shortage of comments in opposition, but there have also been some encouraging comments from non-vegans saying they support the idea.

    (And anyone who meanders from there over to the animal rights category in general and sees the Animal Welfare Act idea posted under my name, please hold off on berating me for it, much as I may deserve it; I'm going to be posting self-criticism regarding it soon.)

    December 28, 2008
  5. 1) I'd like to see commonly used words clearly defined in law: vegan, cruelty-free, food
    I'd like to see that fast food, junk food, and soda and the like are not included in the definition of "food."

    2) More vegan options in public schools, prisons, and hospitals.

    December 28, 2008
  6. Mary – "How about some kind of financial/health insurance incentive/advantage for people vegans?" – OR a meat consumption tax?

    December 29, 2008

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