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Congress plays with our food

(article, Kim Carlson)

If you haven't done so already, get busy and read Dan Barber’s eloquent and detailed editorial about the farm bill that the new Congress will take up in this session.

Barber is a chef and advocate for smart food policy. I’m betting that his deft arguments about the farm bill — or as he and [/user/home/1125 "Michael Pollan"] both refer to it, the food and farm bill — will leave little doubt in your mind the thing needs to be revised. 

Every five years, Congress addresses the farm bill; every five years, we get farther away from rewarding crop diversification and closer toward a farm system of monocultures we can’t eat. And that’s just the beginning.

At the very least, Barber suggests the farm bill should do three things:

# Provide fewer subsidies to crops we can’t eat (like corn that’s grown for animal feed), and more money supporting foods we can eat.
# Reward farmers who do what farmers have done for centuries and plant a diverse range of crops — and thus have less need to enhance their soil with chemicals. 
# Allow for state-inspected meats to be sold across state lines. This would allow smaller meat processors (the antithesis of large “confined animal feeding operations,” or CAFOs) a level playing field to compete with huge national corporations.

As Barber explains, the farm bill is a sprawling, complicated piece of legislation, and the areas it affects constitute a laundry list of issues that forward-thinking people don’t want to ignore: in his words, “nutrition, conservation, genetic engineering, food safety, school-lunch programs, water quality, organic farming, and much more.” 

One of the "much mores" is taste: Simply put, we should reward food that tastes good.