Changing America’s Food System

Craig McCord

Craig McCord › Craig possesses 23 guitars and cannot play any of them. He likes fresh grilled sardines with a ...

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Most of us would like to see major progress in changing America’s food system.

There are armies of people working very hard to help affect needed change, however small.

We salute those folks almost every day on this site.

One of the revamps to the system that many, many folks want to see is labeling for GMO food.

Sounds reasonable enough.

But, Nathanael Johnson writing on Grist.org has a different idea.

In his article, 10 things that would fix the food system faster than GMO-labeling, he posits that as important and worthy the fight to label may be to get Big Ag to label their, uh, food, shifting our attention to other areas might pay more important dividends.

Here’s how Mr. Johnson frames his argument:

If we want a better food system there are plenty of things that would make a bigger difference than GMO labeling. The other day I argued that labeling probably wouldn’t have an effect on the big picture issues that people attach to GMOs.

It is hard to disagree with that statement, isn’t it?

Please go read Nathanael Johnson’s post in its entirety, but here is his list of  “top 10 political initiatives that I’d rather be debating and voting on”:

 1. Tax–or cap-and-trade–greenhouse gases, which could turn agriculture into a climate solution, rather than a big part of the problem.

2. Guarantee farmworkers’ right to make a decent wage without being sexually abused or exposed to unsafe chemicals.

3. Guarantee the right to good food, and spend a little money up front so that we don’t have to spend so much later on diet-related disease.

4. Eliminate use of medically important antibiotics in agriculture.

5. Tax sugar.

6. Pay farmers for ecological services–like sheltering wildlife, sequestering carbon, and protecting watersheds.

7. Institute measures to improve farm animal welfare.

8. Eliminate subsidies for agriculture.

9. Protect the most fertile lands from being covered in concrete.

10. Ban the advertising of unhealthy foods to kids, or at least stop giving companies a tax break for these ads.

Now, will there be disagreements with this list? Of course, changing America’s food system will be complex, no matter what.

Does Mr. Johnson make some truly valuable points? Of course.

Might it be time to slightly change priorities in the huge effort being exerted in changing America’s Food System?

That remains to be seen, but Nathanael Johnson has started what should be a very lively discussion.

Thank you, Nathanael.

What do you think about the idea of moving beyond GMO labeling to other ways to change America’s food system?

Photo credit: Craig McCord