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Healthcare, Healthcare, Healthcare

March 31, 2009

The sustainable food movement has been criticized by not learning from other lobbying organizations, not going after clear, definable goals, not understanding itself or the world.

How does one frame the food question? It’s a big question. How do you go after small definable goals when you are talking about something that happens every day, to every person in the world, the very basic chemical act that sustains all life on the planet in one form or another? How does that translate to legislation?

Increasingly, it seems that the answer to that question lies in something just as basic as food – healthcare.  In the end, they’re the same thing – we need to keep humanity kicking.

When the Obamas talk about food, they usually start with health. Michelle likes to tell the story about getting local, fresh vegetables for the sake of their two daughters, who once lived off pizza and fried what-have-yous. At their new garden, they plan on having children from a local elementary school come, work in the garden and learn what a good tomato tastes like.

As consummate politicians, the Obamas know that you can’t argue with kids, and you certainly can’t argue with kid’s health. By couching the argument around these issues, supporting agribusiness all of a sudden means supporting juvenile diabetes, and even HFCS manufacturers can only flail around helplessly claiming that their product is just fine. Josh Viertel, the new president of Slow Food USA put it well when he said that he saw Slow Food’s constituency as anyone who was opposed to chronic diseases in the nation’s youth.

The healthcare question makes good economic sense too – if we’re concerned about skyrocketing health insurance prices, maybe we should stop spending government subsidy dollars to dramatically increase the healthcare needs of the American population? Why shouldn’t we think of the government’s job as more than just helping people, but also about not hurting them? The science has been there for along time now – eating poorly makes you sick. Again, not easy to argue.

How does the food question translate to legislation? It doesn’t, really. But how can it start? School lunches. It’s inarguable – the government should stop spending money to make our kids sick and instead spend money to make them healthy. Inarguable, I hope.

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 1, 2009 5:36 pm

    Terrific post, so very true. I’ve recently re-read Michael Pollan’s New York Times letter to the new “Farmer in Chief”, a terrific piece published last fall that does a great job of connecting our food and our health. Here’s a link:

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