Thursday, December 25, 2008

Democrats: silence the food police

The Federal Goverenment shouldn't have a big role in "food". We the people through our government should either produce or make sure accurate information is available to the public on all the relevant topics. Yet, as a free society we should allow people to make decisions we might not make for ourselves. We don't know all that goes on in their life, and we shouldn't try to involve ourselves either in mandates or subsidies that essentially picks winners and losers in the market place.

Democrats should make sure the government doesn't become the biggest concern for people in the food insustry. Whether we are talking about school lunches or ingredients that are used at restaurants, the government should ensure that those who want information to make informed choices can have it.

The Food police are excited about Obama

FROM the moment it was clear that Barack Obama was going to be president, people who have dedicated their lives to changing how America eats thought they had found their St. Nicholas.

It wasn’t long before the letters to Santa began piling up.
Ruth Reichl, the editor of Gourmet magazine, wants a new high-profile White House chef who cooks delicious local food. Wayne Pacelle, head of the Humane Society of the United States, wants policies requiring better treatment for farm animals.
Parents want better public-school lunches. Consumer groups are dreaming of a new, stronger food safety system. Nutrition reformers want prisoners to be fed less soy. And a farmer in Maine is asking the president-elect to plow under an acre of White House lawn for an organic vegetable garden.
Although Mr. Obama has proposed changes in the nation’s farm and rural policies and emphasizes the connection between diet and health, there is nothing to indicate he has a special interest in a radical makeover of the way food is grown and sold.
Still, the dream endures. To advocates who have watched scattered calls for changes in food policy gather political and popular momentum, Mr. Obama looks like their kind of president.
Not only does he seem to possess a more-sophisticated palate than some of his recent predecessors, but he will also take office in an age when
organic food is mainstream, cooking competitions are among the top-rated TV shows and books calling for an overhaul in the American food system are best sellers.
“People are so interested in a massive change in food and agriculture that they are dining out on hope now. That is like the main ingredient,” said Eddie Gehman Kohan, a blogger from Los Angeles who started to document just about any conceivable link between Mr. Obama and food, whether it is a debate on agriculture policy or an image of Mr. Obama rendered in tiny cupcakes.
“He is the first president who might actually have eaten organic food, or at least eats out at great restaurants,” Ms. Gehman Kohan said.
Still, no one is sure just how serious Mr. Obama really is about the politics of food. So like mystery buffs studying the book jacket of “The Da Vinci Code,” interested eaters dissect every aspect of his life as it relates to the plate.
They look for clues in the lunch menus at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, where his two daughters will be eating items like herbes de Provence pita, local pears and organic chopped salad, served with unbleached napkins in a cafeteria with a serious recycling program. They point out that when Mr. Obama was a child, his family used food stamps and that in interviews he has referred to his appreciation of the philosophy put forth by
Michael Pollan, the reform-minded food writer.
They note with approval that
Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Obama’s chief of staff, belongs to a synagogue that runs a community supported agriculture program and that his social secretary, DesirĂ©e Rogers, is from the food-obsessed city of New Orleans. They also see promising signs in Mr. Obama’s fondness for some of Chicago’s better restaurants, like Spiaggia and Topolobampo.
As for
Michelle Obama, she has said in interviews that she tries to buy organic food and watches the amount of high-fructose corn syrup in her family’s diet. And, as she confided on “The View” on ABC, “We’re bacon people.”
Add it all up and Mr. Obama looks like the first foodie president since
Thomas Jefferson. For more recent comparisons, one could look at President Bush, who is a fitness buff but who aligned himself with large agricultural companies like Cargill and Monsanto that some advocates for sustainable agriculture and organic food fight against.
Bill Clinton certainly seemed to love food, but in his White House years his tastes ran more toward Big Macs than grass-fed beef. Only after his presidency, and serious health problems, did he turn his attention to issues of obesity and diet.
The Obamas are a different kind of first family, said David Kamp, who traced the history of the modern gourmet-food movement in his book, “The United States of Arugula” (Broadway, 2006). “This time we have a Democrat in office that seems to live the dream and speak the language of both food progressivism and personal fitness,” Mr. Kamp said.
For many food activists, a shiny new secretary of agriculture was high on the Christmas wish list.
One of the first names to come up was Mr. Pollan, who in October wrote an open letter to the future president in The New York Times Magazine, explaining the ways in which he believes the food system needs fixing.
Even after Mr. Pollan repeatedly pointed out that he was unqualified and uninterested in the job of overseeing a $97-billion budget and more than 100,000 employees, his supporters kept pushing with more fanaticism than Clay Aiken’s Claymates.
A couple of longtime Iowans, the celebrity pig farmer Paul Willis and his neighbor Dave Murphy, started a more serious drive. They compiled a list of six candidates who they thought would have the best interests of farm-based rural America and sustainable agriculture at heart. More than 50,000 people signed their petition, the restaurateur
Alice Waters and the writer Wendell Berry among them.
But Santa had other plans. Last week, Mr. Obama appointed
Tom Vilsack, the former governor of Iowa, which grows much of the nation’s corn and soybeans. Mr. Vilsack has talked about reducing subsidies to some megafarms, supports better treatment of farm animals and wants healthier food in schools. But his selection drew criticism because he is a big fan of alternative fuels like corn-based ethanol and is a supporter of biotechnology, both anathema to people who want to shift government support from large-scale agricultural interests to smaller farms growing food that takes a more direct path to the table.

No comments: