Today’s NYTimes Dining & Wine section is all about Green.
An article about Prince Charles, and his organic farm, product line, and star status in the organic community.
An article about green wine, quite apropos right after my visit to the Nissen vineyard in Hartington.
And then an article about locavores, those people committed to eat only food grown or raised within 100 miles from where they live.
This all comes on the heels of another excellent editorial by Michael Pollan, the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, a multifaceted analysis of issues facing us all as consumers of food in today’s world, with concerns about health, carbon footprints, local economies, and sustainability.
The current article — and truly important yet shamefully overlooked issue at hand — entitled You Are What You Grow, links our current problems with obesity, immigration, and the farm economy with the architecture of the sorely out of date and misguided farm bill. It’s up for renewal again this year, and, as Pollan points out, is yet to be seen as a food bill, not just some abstraction that only affects the people “out there.” Read it.
As one of the residents of this so-called “out there,” I see, feel, breathe, and unfortunately eat the effects of agricultural policy daily. The pesticides put on subsidized corn that has drained our water supplies and, through the false prophet/profit of ethanol, has raised world corn prices to destroy the tortilla economy in Mexico and therefore forced Mexican farmers off their land and northward to seek out employment in the factories (and often the meat processing plants whose “products” consume some of the same subsidized corn) and thereby infuriate the local farmers who don’t realize that they, in fact, are simply a link in the perverse system of global agribusiness. The “culture”, I believe, in agriculture, is simply not linguistically acceptable anymore.
And on the nutrition side of things, it is simply unacceptable that we grow fields of high-fructose corn syrup, then sell it more cheaply than sweet corn, more cheaply than real vegetables and fruits. This, perhaps, is the most perversely regressive policy of our country, that we drive those in poverty to the least nutritious calories by government policy.
I agree with Pollan: it is time for the farm bill to come under scrutiny — to shed its image as something affecting “those distant farmers” and be rebranded as a food bill that affects us all.
Goddamn, I wish I knew how to make people care.