NYT: new farm bill "more whole grain than white bread"
Interesting read in the New York Times over the weekend. The article provides analysis of the new farm bill, making the case that things like new programs for fruit and vegetable farmers and increased funding for organic certification are tilting U.S. farm policy is a new, more "local farm" friendly direction:
An emphasis on locally grown, healthful foods appeals to a broad base of their constituents, members of both major parties said.
“There is nothing hotter than farm to table,” said Representative Bill Huizenga, a Michigan Republican from a district of vast cherry orchards.
While traditional commodities subsidies were cut by more than 30 percent to $23 billion over 10 years, funding for fruits and vegetables and organic programs increased by more than 50 percent over the same period, to about $3 billion.
You can definitely see the trend.
But look at those overall numbers.
The produce aisle in a Manhattan bodega is more diverse, green, and organic than ever. Photo: David Sommerstein.
About a half dozen commodity crops – like corn, soybeans, rice, wheat, etc. – get almost eight times the amount of money that every other kind of crop gets total.
And food thinker and author Marion Nestle argues on her blog, Food Politics, that NYT's accounting is off.
The point of the article, of course, is that it's a baby step toward right-sizing an imbalanced agricultural system, as well as its mirror, the food system. Times columnist Mark Bittman half-praises First Lady Michelle Obama's healthy eating and anti-obesity projects. And he points to the FDA's proposed new nutrition labels for packaged foods as signs that, slowly, change is happening:
The label change is huge. Yes: It could be huge-er. Yes: It’s long overdue. Yes: It may be fought by industry and won’t be in place for a long time. And yes: The real key is to be eating whole foods that don’t need to be labeled.
But by including “added sugars” on the label, the F.D.A. is siding with those who recognize that science shows that added sugars are dangerous.
Do you think we are making substantial changes in the way we grow, produce, and eat food? Does it matter to you? How much change do you think we actually need?
Tags: agriculture, farming, local, nutrition, obesity, sustainability, usda