September 20, 2011

What Has the 'Food Movement' Accomplished?

Michael Pollan considers the gap between image (Michele Obama's organic garden—do the Obamas ever eat from it? No one says.) and actual agricultural policy.

His article, "How Change is Going to Come in the Food Industry," is part of a special issue in The Nation.
To date, however, the food movement can claim more success in changing popular consciousness than in shifting, in any fundamental way, the political and economic forces shaping the food system or, for that matter, in changing the “standard American diet”—which has only gotten worse since the 1970s. Recently there have been some political accomplishments: food movement activists played a role in shaping the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act and the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act, both passed in the last Congress, and the last couple of farm bills have thrown some significant crumbs in the direction of sustainable agriculture and healthy food. But the food movement cannot yet point to legislative achievements on the order of the Clean Air Act or the Clean Water Act or the establishment of the Environmental Protection Administration. Its greatest victories have come in the media, which could scarcely be friendlier to it, and in the food marketplace, rather than in the halls of Congress, where the power of agribusiness has scarcely been disturbed.
True enough, but you don't suppose that the marketplace might actually lead Congress, do you? 
Here is the table of contents for the entire food-related issue.

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