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Friday, January 23, 2015

Let's Address the State of Food

In this past week's opinion section of the New York Times, Mark Bittman gave a brilliant overview of "the state of our food" which was discussed (or rather not discussed) in the recent State of the Union 2015 speech. Amazing that the points made of a much improved economy were made, yet our food stamp recipient numbers still are about the same -- if not worse -- since 2013. As Mr. Bittman stated: "the state of the union, food wise is not good". I agree.

Another point made -- SNAP (or food stamps) error rates were at an all-time low and there has been a steady improvement in payment accuracy which shows that the program has been successful around extensive quality control. 
There has been no fraud reported from abuse perhaps because people's pride and stigma might get in the way.

Another unfortunate thing is that there was no mention of food at all in this speech. It seems perhaps that food may not be all that important to everyone -- but, when you look at the big picture -- it does, everyone eats! Imagine if everyone ate sustainable, good, delicious food that was as natural and as unprocessed as possible. That would make tremendous strides in minimizing the current healthcare crisis that exists from escalating chronic diseases that are largely preventable! 

Those issues that truly affect most Americans are income, food (I'll say it again, everyone eats), health and climate change. Again, many of the above mentioned issues are interconnected and as Mr. Bittman points out, "You can’t address climate change without fixing agriculture, you can’t fix health without improving diet, you can’t improve diet without addressing income, and so on. The production, marketing and consumption of food is key to nearly everything. (It’s one of the keys to war, too, because large-scale agriculture is dependent on control of global land, oil, minerals and water.")

Lastly, there are several key points that should be tended to properly such as taking antibiotics out of the food system, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and defending the menu-labeling program in a better way. Mr. Bittman did significant research upon submitting this article and he certainly backed it up with the help of many of his reputable friends and colleagues such as Marion Nestle, Michael Pollan, and Raj Patel.

Mr. Bittman's final comment on the state of our food ended with a quote from Michael Pollan, well-known author, activist and journalist. This quote is what Mr. Pollan would like to hear the president say:

"I am expanding the portfolio of my new senior policy adviser for nutrition policy, Deb Eschmeyer, to encompass all the policy areas that food touches: agriculture, nutritional health and environmental health. She will be charged with harmonizing our policies across these three areas, so that, for example, our agriculture policies contribute not just to the prosperity of American farmers but to the health of our people and the land."

Imagine how much credibility he would gain from Americans if he made that comment in his speech....good food for thought.

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