The 2015 Food Revolution—Policy Change & Personal Choice

Food-related reading is a must in my everyday. So when this article—2015, the year the GOP strikes back at Obama food policies—arrived in my in box last week from one of my more politically-minded confidantes, scrutinizing was a must.

Now let me preface this slight pontification by stating food policy change is a necessary ingredient in a true food revolution. And I do think it is possible, especially with my favorite food truth seekers at the helm. But know that the United States Government’s relationship with Big Food and Big Ag is insidious thus I am hard pressed to believe that any real change with true human health taking center stage is a priority for most legislators. In fact, take a look at this excerpt from the article:

“The new congressional landscape is good news for the School Nutrition Association, which represents 55,000 school cafeteria professionals and spent much of 2014 in a public battle with the White House. The group lobbied aggressively to scale back the new regulations, which limit sodium, fat and sugar as well as mandate all grain products are whole grain-rich and that kids take a serving of fruits or vegetables.”

So it is good news to scale back regulations that make school food healthier for children? I am utterly speechless (well, sort of). And then this:

Lawmakers inserted language in the omnibus [spending] bill that instructs the secretary of Health and Human Services to steer the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee away from its current focus on food sustainability issues—an issue that was making the food industry nervous.”

I am sorry but did that say that our very own lawmakers do not want the U.S. government focusing on creating a more sustainable food system because it will make Big Food nervous? What The Fork!?

So dear readers—based on this somewhat heartbreaking article, as well as others that I have laid my eyes on, it seems quite dismal that our new policy makers will do anything to ameliorate a very broken food system as well as a public health crisis. But as there is always a silver lining in my world, I have this to offer…

If we all started to make better food choices (as in less highly processed and chemicalized food), tuned into some of the issues and took action, then our collaborative efforts could inevitably drive much larger (and desperately needed) change.  

I reflect back on a moment that I had in the fall of 2014 while speaking on a panel after the NYC screening of the new PBS series Food Forward (what I call food TV with purpose). A man in the audience asserted that food system change is solely dependent on policy change. Oddly enough, this came after watching an episode highlighting all of the incredible things everyday people are doing to create positive change in this broken system (and it doesn’t stop at Food Forward. Also check out these inspirational talks from TEDx Manhattan—Changing the Way We Eat).

In the end, food policy is only part of the puzzle.  Let’s step outside of this box to see things from a new perspective—it's time to realize and accept that a true food revolution has the best chance of real success with changes in consumer choice. And the great news is that there are far more people and programs than I can count doing amazing food revolutionizing work. Also, a large handful of politicians are swimming upstream to do the right thing. In fact, check out Food Policy Action—a collaborative of national food policy leaders who are holding legislators accountable on votes that have an effect on food and farming. Their goal: “To change the national dialogue on food policy by educating the public on how elected officials are voting on these issues. Through education and the National Food Policy Scorecard, more people will be armed with the information they need to vote with their forks and elect more food policy leaders across the country.”

So in this new year, I ask that you hold yourself accountable for the food choices you make as they will not only affect your health and that of your loved ones but can also very well push policy in the right direction. As small changes can make big everyday differences, I urge you to get informed through the Center for Food Safety. Learn about the issues and take action. And aim to shift what you are doing at home with What The Fork!

Stirring the Pot will be re-running weekly through January on WPPB 88.3 FM so don’t forget to tune in Thursdays at 5:30pm (with an encore Saturdays at 7am). This week it’s Getting Healthy, Finding Happiness and surely check out the Weekly Yum Recipe.

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