Hobby Farms Editors
November 3, 2015

The Plate of the Union is campaigning for presidential candidates to prioritize fixing the broken food system.

I have no desire whatsoever to become a politician. Despite all of the writing that I do about food and ag politics, I don’t actually enjoy politics of any kind. I don’t like that one person or one small percentage of the population gets to decide things for everyone else. I don’t like that these people get to control the topics of conversation for our communities, states and nation. Alas, politics are what they are, and if we have to have a political discussion, let’s make it one in favor of good food.

This is where I appreciate organizations like Food Policy Action, the Food Policy Action Education Fund, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the HEAL Food Alliance, who are launching the Plate of the Union campaign. They’ve started a petition to “take bold action to reform our nation’s food system” and get the next president to start talking about food.

FPA co-founder Tom Colicchio writes:

“Millions of Americans agree that it’s time for our leaders to start talking about food. Our next president has a huge opportunity to ensure that the current broken system, where the government rewards unsustainable, corporate agribusiness, is replaced by one that promotes workers’ rights, sustainable farming practices and increased access to fresh, healthy foods.”

Why Now?

In case you haven’t been reading “The News Hog” and have pretty much not eaten, farmed or tuned into any other news source, I hate to tell you that our food system is fairly broken: The upcoming Dietary Guidelines for Americans are questionable, unsustainable farming practices are damaging our environment and likely our health, the government is trying to hide what’s in our food, and I could go on for hours with more issues.

But the Plate of the Union campaign ascertains it doesn’t have to be this way, and they’re asking presidential candidates to make fixing the food system a priority. “The next president can and should lead with a plan to make sure every American has access to healthy, affordable food that is fair to food workers, good for the environment and improves farmers’ livelihoods,” it says.

Michael Pollan Says

In a recent piece for Medium, food activists and authors Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman, UCS director and senior scientist Ricardo Salvador, and UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights member Olivier De Schutter write a memo to the next president that outlines their wish for a National Food Policy. “Such a policy, if properly conceived and implemented, will result in a healthier population, a reduction in hunger, mitigation of (and adaptation to) climate change, decreases in energy consumption, improved environmental conservation, rural and inner city economic development, a reduction in socioeconomic inequality, a safer and more secure food system, and savings to the federal budget, especially in spending on health care,” they say.

A National Food Policy is like the DGA that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, but it can actually be useful, going beyond caloric intake and instead developing a sustainable framework for food production, commerce, education and more. This memo also calls for a restructuring of the USDA, which, incidentally, was recommended in a report by the National Academy of Public Administration earlier this month.

Your Vote

We have the pleasure of dealing with the politics-a-go-go of a presidential election for the next year. This is long time to hear about someone’s improperly conducted emails, who said something offensive while their mic was accidentally left on and what’s up with that one guy’s hair.

I’m asking you to help break up the absurdity of it all by signing the Plate of the Union petition—and I’m not normally a fan of petitions. Then do your research into candidates’ positions on the food and ag issues that are important to you. You can help get this conversation started, easy as that.

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