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Food news from the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Produce at the market
by Brad Wilson
on January 10, 2013 at 2:23 PM
This is all well and good. In fact, I think it's great as far as it goes. What's missing is anything resembling even a modest understanding of the history of US farm policy, and the history of the fight against agribusiness exploitation of farmers and the food system over the past 60 years. What has happened, in short, is that no significant food movement showed up over the first 40-50 years, and now, when we have tons of newcomers trying to help out, they end up in a false policy paradigm, like Bittman's, and don't know what to do. Yes, there should be some better policies for achieving these goals, and yes, the food movement wonders what they might be. But in fact, enormously powerful tools have been around for decades, based upon a different paradigm of the farm bill, a different body of knowledge, leading to a different understanding of justice, and categorically different kinds of farm bill strategy. Here's a Bittman, for example, pleading for a bold way forward, but in the real world, he has shown no respect for the main ones who have gone before, (or knowledge of them,) who have walked the walk for decades (albeit pre-internet and offline), and who are fighting a losing battle of trying to get the Food Movement to even understand how farm bills have worked throughout their history. See "The Hidden Farm Bill: Secret Trillions for Agribusiness," "Farm Bill Economics: Think Ecology," "Primer: Farm Justice Proposals for the 2012 Farm Bill," "The Hidden Conservation Title: Price Floors for Small Grains" (forthcoming). The Food Movement isn't yet on board, and is too defensive toward constructive criticism. Sadly, #FoodLeaders, starting with Bittman, Pollan, the Lappe´s, EWG, etc. offer little help. The research, the education, that's all great, (except when it misinforms people about the Farm Bill). Bottom line: it's about paradigms. All too often well meaning leaders have gotten lost, reactively, in the frying pan (your brain on agribusiness). Who will break out, proactively. Frogs in the soup, you're in peril! Leap out of your box! You heard it here first?
by Craig
on January 11, 2013 at 2:02 PM
There will be no real change in food systems while folks like Bacon talk about social food non-issues like diversity and equality instead of real food social issues like consumer preferences. The only real changes in food have been driven by consumer demand, and future changes will only happen when consumers change their preferences.
by Christopher Bacon
on January 23, 2013 at 10:35 AM
No question that the economics need to work to enable food system change, but I don't see it as an either or choice. Consumers and citizens can demand great tasting food, farmed in more sustainable ways that also address issues of ethics and environmental justice.
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