Why reform the American food system?Posted: September 27, 2011
The following article is from The Nation at http://www.thenation.com/article/163399/how-change-going-come-food-system
With all the issues in the world and within this country, sometimes people just want to sit down, relax and enjoy some simple fast food. That American urge to eat such cheap food is itself a major issue that is slowly gaining national attention.
The American food system revolves around the production of cheap food. Fast food and mass produced goods are serious environmental and health dangers. Because making inexpensive food is quick and economically appealing, big companies are overpowering organic farms and healthy alternatives.
The food factories, at the rate at which they are producing, are damaging the environment and ruining soil. Additionally, the products they are selling are causing terrible health related problems, such as obesity and type two diabetes.
Despite the problems associated with the American Food System, Congress has yet to pass any monumental pieces of legislation to reform the system. Tom Harkin, Jon Tester and Kirsten Gillibrand in the Senate; Earl Blumenauer and Jim McGovern in the House are among the few people in Congress taking any sort of commendable action.
The congressional committees that handle agricultural policies are, for the most part, made up of farm-state legislators that do not want reform. This is because the food reforms the country needs, such as cleaner agriculture and meat packing factories, would make food more expensive.
With Congress at a relative standstill, and the President using the First Lady to spread awareness, grassroots organizations are the country’s main hope in attaining the needed reforms. Leaders will emerge from the organizations, get elected and hopefully change the American food system.
Reforming the cheap and dangerous American food system is comparable to the campaign against the tobacco industry. It took years for lobbyists and organizations to loosen the hold that the tobacco industry had on politics. It was the fact that the campaign shed a light on the costs that states were attaining because of smoking related illnesses that truly marked the beginning of tobacco reforms.
The economic stresses caused by smoking led to the many needed reforms. A similar argument can be made for the American food system. The insurance industry is paying for the American diet with covering costs of diabetes and complications associated with obesity. If the American food industry continues to be as dangerous as it is, these illnesses will only increase in numbers. Therefore, the costs will increase as well.
Luckily, the grassroots organizations are powering through the political games in Washington and making some headway. America cannot keep eating cheaply made and mass produced food. It is an incredible health and environmental hazard that is certainly prevalent. Additionally, the insurance industry cannot afford to pay for the increasing illnesses associated with the American diet.
It takes bold people and bold legislation to reform a food system so widely followed and so deeply protected. The costs of such a flawed system are catching up to all Americans and causing a proud nation to become unhealthy. But, will recognizable reforms happen when grassroots organizations are leading with seemingly previously used arguments? Will the lobbyists be strong enough to break the industry that encompasses a large part of every American’s life?