Chipping Away at Big Food

This article declaring that red meat leads to a greater risk of death provides a glimpse of the problems the nation faces regarding its approach to food.  As an initial matter, the risk of death for each and every one of us is 100%.  The author obviously meant that meat consumption can lead to an earlier death than one might otherwise expect.  But is that news?  Not for most people.

No, the real question involves how to extricate the nation from the stranglehold of industrial agriculture, which has thrived under a regulatory system that subsidizes its ongoing environmental destruction and brutalization of billions of animals.  Towards that end, there is an interesting piece in the WaPo profiling Dave Murphy, founder of Food Democracy Now!, a grass roots organization working to restore sanity to agriculture.  Perhaps the best thing about Food Democracy Now! is its Iowa base.  When folks in the nation’s midsection speak about the havoc Big Food has wrought on the nation, it is harder to smear them with the taint of elitism.

In addition to fighting CAFOs, FDN also has lobbied hard for a slate of progressive candidates for appointment to the USDA.  One of them, Kathleen Merrigan, was just named to the Department’s #2 spot.  Merrigan, a former professor at Tufts and staffer for Senator Leahy, helped draft the law that recognized organics.  As one blogger put it: While [Michael] Pollan helped put these issues onto the national agenda, people like Merrigan have long been doing the wonky policy work.”  Merrigan’s appointment counts as a significant win (related story here).  Perhaps, Obama’s appointing Tom Vilsack really didn’t constitute a capitulation to Big Food.  Maybe, just maybe, there’s reason to hope.

David Cassuto

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