The Politics of Eating

Last week I enjoyed reading an opinion piece in The Huffington Post that eloquently debates some hot issues in food politics.  The article was titled, Who will fix food? Obama? Walmart? You?  I felt called to share some of its rhetoric.   
  • "We've got to choose food that reflects our values. [...]  We've got to stand together to push for federal policy that serves eaters and farmers before it serves corporations." --Josh Viertel, Slow Food USA President via The Atlantic 
  • "Eaters must become more political.  We can't just vote with our forks."  -Wenonah Hauter from Food & Water Watch, spurns USDA regulations such as genetically modified salmon and alfalfa.
  • The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy is addressing problems with the current food system in their new Charter for a Healthy Farm Bill .  "As fewer and fewer of us are tied to the land, average citizens don't always see a connection between themselves and policies ostensibly geared toward those who still do raise crops and animals. But we all eat, so the Farm Bill affects all of us. And those of us who still have jobs pay taxes, so we should care about how our tax dollars influence our food systems, too."
Farmers' Market, Union Square, NYC
The fact that I'm even blogging about food politics indicates a change in my own thinking.  In June 2009, I arrived at the dietetic internship and graduate program with a basic toolkit of clinical nutrition.  Yes, I knew the connection between food biochemistry, human health, and disease.  But no, I was clueless to the larger connections between nutrition, food, agriculture, economics, and public policy.

I am thankful for my classmates who expand my mind with their animated opinions and interests.  I am learning that food politics is a turnpike of merging and diverging paths, each topic associated with many implications.  The conversation could start with aquaculture and sustainable fishing, but end up in urban farming, food desserts, economics of fair trade, genetically modified ____ (fill in the blank), the "head to tail" culinary movement, front of package food labeling, international food security, or who knows where else.
Farmers' Market, Point Reyes, CA
I'm a slow learner, but one thing is certain.  If nutrition and food is a business, it sure is political.
What about you? Does this stir up any noble thoughts about ethics, food policy, nutrition, farming, or eating?
As always, thanks for reading.
Happy Presidents' Day!
-Rachel

5 comments:

MelindaRD said...

At times I think that is the price we pay for our other freedoms. Sometimes I think business went in the wrong direction at some point. Business is political. This is in all aspects and not just with food. great post and thanks for sharing.

Rachel said...

you're right, freedom of business comes with politics. as always, thanks Melinda!

Utchima said...

Food is totally politics for me. I think they are all connected--food, politics, economics, technology. There is also a politic in eating food--people debating whether they eat "healthy" or not...but what really is healthy? Is it another way to classify people based on their eating habit. All these stuff is totally subjective--just like politics!
I dont know if I even made sense cuz it's almost midnight now and my brain started to freeze:) But thanks for another awesome post sista I always learn soemthing from Coconut Crumbs:)

Bryan.Lian said...

Nutrition is such a political force. As future RDs, we are positioned at the crossroads of business partnerships and political allies. So then we find ourselves questioning whether or not we should collaborate. But this is why collaboration is essential to clarifying our goals and moving forward. Maybe not collaboration on decision making, cause we might not get anywhere with that. Collaboration in the sense of putting out ideas and opinions, letting the strongest argument stand. We all need to participate in discussion like the ones you described. Awesome post, as always :).

Rachel said...

Utchi, Bryan-thank you both for sharing! Love hearing from both of you, and am exciting to be future RDs together : )

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Disclaimer. I am not a Registered Dietitian yet. I provide nutrition information intended for the general public, not for the treatment of a specific medical condition. I try to use scientific research and reliable sources when forming my opinions and messages.
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