When I called for Michael Pollan to the be the next food czar in an earlier post, it was a bit of a pipe dream. Although there’s a larger grassroots movement afoot to nominate him for Secretary of Agriculture, the reality is that it won’t be him. However, there is another petition going around now (drafted in part by Pollan and other REAL FOOD advocates) asking President-Elect Obama to consider several progressive choices for Ag Sec. And in today’s NY Times, Nicholas Kristof takes up the drumbeat as well.
What’s so interesting– and infuriating at times– are the arguments in the comments section to Kristof’s piece from those who dont’ want a government ‘food police’ telling us what we can and can not eat. Here’s the thing: those of us who want a Secretary of Food (and maybe agriculture) don’t want to be told what to eat either. We just want people to have greater freedom to eat REAL FOOD.
Right now, we are essentially being “told” what to eat by Agribusiness. This powerful lobby has helped make heavily processed food made from corn, soy and rice as well as factory farmed meat and poultry exceptionally cheap. By comparison, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and humanely raised meat and poultry are expensive, which makes choosing REAL FOOD difficult for the budget concious and impossible for the poorest of Americans.
Sure, there are probably people who signed this petition who would like to moralize and tell us all what to eat, but I would suspect that most people (like me) just want someone to come in and level the playing field for farmers who are trying–or would like to try– to grow real food. Real progress will be made when, calorie-for-calorie, broccoli and a box of Rice Krispie Treats cost the same.