New Leaf New York: From Pharma to Farm

Voice your support for a sustainable USDA

How?  You can sign on to this letter, for starters.  And do it quick, ’cause bloggers, journos and pundits seem to think Obama is gonna announce this puppy any day now.

Food Democracy Now, a grassroots movement of farmers, writers, chefs, and other food-and-community types who advocate a sustainable food system, drafted the letter to President-Elect Obama urging him to appoint a Secretary of Agriculture who is well versed in sustainability and will have a “broad vision for our collective future” in a way that past appointees have not.

Food Democracy Now incorporates energy, environment, public health, and the economy into the reasoning behind supporting an appointee who believes the following are of utmost importance:

recreating regional food systems, supporting the growth of humane, natural and organic farms, and protecting the environment, biodiversity and the health of our children while implementing policies that place conservation, soil health, animal welfare and worker’s rights as well as sustainable renewable energy near the top of their agenda.

So delightfully ambitious, and what a refreshing (and at times so unbelievable, I’m still pinching myself) change from the food and farm policies of the 20th century!  I think this is an amazing time for America — we’re perched cautiously, teetering on the edge of total ruin, but we really have a chance to start turning things around.  And I think that appointing one of the following, as proposed in their letter, is an integral step:

I’ll admit I’m not yet knowledgeable enough to make the case for the best pick, but frankly, I know that I would be beyond excited to have any of these accomplished, intelligent people in the top spot.  It’s quite telling that the Obama transition team has already begun working diligently on briefing documents for the appointee.  We have a lot of work ahead of us, especially if we want to make the next Farm Bill into a true Food Bill, as Michael Pollan has suggested.

Image courtesy On Bradstreet


1 Comment so far
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I’m all for being greener, reducing fuel costs, and promoting balanced diets, but I think our food and agricultural policies need to be science and fact based. Just because we’re plenty overfed, doesn’t mean there isn’t a world out there that needs access to food. Just as our prosperity only made large gains as we had access to more calories and technology that enabled more of us to leave the farm(reducing the need for large families) and work in the city, developing economies around the world deserve the same chance. We have an enormous opportunity and responsibility to help provide food and technology to fuel that progress. This time, we can do it smarter, with targeted nutrition, bio-fuels, and progressive agricultural techniques like variable rate fertilizer spreaders and crop varieties that are resistant to pests so some of the pesticide/herbicides aren’t needed.

What we can’t do is base policy on misinformation and assumptions about our food that are based not on science, but on unfounded hysteria.

I think that our appointments should come from academia in the areas of agricultural or food science.

Comment by Sam Vance

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