Much has been written about the ugly sausage-making of the just-ended farm bill process: the abandoned opportunity to truly reform the nation’s farm subsidy system, the cynical refusal to deny subsidies to millionaire farmers, and the 4 percent of food stamp beneficiaries who ultimately took it on the chin. But now that President Obama has signed the thing into law, it’s worth reviewing a number of real and meaningful wins that UCS and its allies and supporters achieved in this bill. And also noting that our work isn’t done. Read More
February 10th, 2014
October 24th, 2013
Okay, yes, sometimes corn is a vegetable. But most of the time, it’s something else entirely—highly processed corn syrup in a can of soda, for example, or a fast food burger made from a corn-fed cow. Sadly, today the average American is eating too much of those junk foods, and not enough fruits and vegetables. But while the impacts on public health are dramatic (see this recent report on the costs of diet-related heart disease, for example), that’s not the whole story. Read More
August 20th, 2013
In a recent post, I wrote about the health benefits—and attendant reductions in health care spending—that could be achieved if public policies helped all Americans to eat healthy foods instead of subsidizing ingredients for junk food. While data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) consistently show that people in every state and at every income level are falling short of dietary recommendations for fruits and vegetables, low-income Americans have the steepest hill to climb.
They also have the most to gain. That’s why I was excited to learn recently about an innovative organization in New York City that is putting public and private funds to work to increase access to fresh, local fruits and vegetables for residents of some of the city’s most economically ailing neighborhoods. Read More
December 17th, 2012
In my last post I discussed the wonderful Danish restaurant Noma, which is out there on the cutting edge of international place-based food.
I will long savor that experience, but my excursion into the world of high-end cuisine was a rare treat. Of course, I didn’t have to go to Copenhagen for action on the place-based food front. There is a lot going on right here near my home in Washington, D.C. Read More
November 30th, 2012
August 15th, 2012
As an analyst and communicator at UCS, I know how difficult it can be to tell a complicated, nuanced story in our sound-bite-oriented media culture. So even though it was not totally surprising, it was still frustrating to find UCS’s position on the benefits of local foods mischaracterized last week in a USA Today article that called local food “trendy,” but asked whether it is “really more eco-friendly.” Read More
August 7th, 2012
This week is National Farmers Market Week, and—no surprise to anyone who knows me—I marked the occasion over the weekend by visiting two farmers markets in and around my neighborhood in Washington, DC. The 14th and U Farmers Market and the Dupont Circle FRESHFARM market are among the nearly 8,000 markets now operating in communities across the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which released the results of its annual farmers market census on Friday. Read More
April 26th, 2012
Today I’m thinking about insurance. The point of having it is to protect the things we value most—like our health and our homes. But in U.S. farm policy, that logic has been turned on its head, and many of the crops we should value most are actually ineligible for insurance. Read More
March 7th, 2012
I just returned from another weekend in New York—as on the last trip, I did a lot of walking and eating.
One of my favorite discoveries this time was the Chelsea Market. One hundred years ago, this sprawling warehouse complex was home to the National Biscuit Company’s bakeries, and birthplace of the Oreo cookie. Today, it houses a wide variety of food purveyors, many of them focused on bringing locally produced ingredients to New Yorkers’ tables. Read More
November 21st, 2011
Much has been made of last week’s Congressional action blocking new school lunch nutrition rules proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But while Congress may call pizza a vegetable, schools across the country are finding innovative ways to provide the real thing. Read More