For ourselves, for most adults living in the US now, we have the food supply we requested ... through our vote, through our sanctioning of Congressional activity (subsidies, trade), through our purchases, and through companies we support and invest in. We have the food supply we, as a nation, wanted, "cheap and abundant" as USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack describes it.
It's time to change our request. If enough people harangued their Senators and Representatives about pesticides, pollution, GMOs, hazardous fertilizers and soil amendments, water mismanagement, commodity supports, lack of conservation, monopolies, etc., then, in theory at least, Congress would be put on notice. Notes could be compared in the Senate dining room. Legislators could ring up Cabinet officials.
As to the Cabinet, Secretary Vilsack has been traveling the country collecting ideas "to get rural America growing again." (See Rural Tour 2010.)
In an essay he wrote for the Huffington Post last week, he said:1
"At each stop on the [22-state] tour I met with hundreds of Americans to hear their stories, thoughts, and concerns. And I got a sense about each community's vision for its future."His sense manifested in 5 "pillars which combine the successful strategies of today and the compelling opportunities of tomorrow." Come again? This is political gobbledygook, feel-good phrases that fill a page, happy buzzwords.
It was nice that he canvassed the rank and file for their input. Let me draw your attention however to a particular bit of policyspeak. When he says we have to build new rural economies "to compliment production agriculture," a phrase he used twice (I think he meant "complement," unless he really meant that regional economies must be created to praise industrial agriculture. I'm being stingy. I knew what he meant.) he was making a veiled, or perhaps not so veiled promise, not to rural America, but to multinational food corporations that their ways of doing business, including incentives, will be protected.
Maybe he's right. Maybe the way to change how we produce food is to "overlay" new food economies over established ones. Whether we overlay, overhaul, or chip away at food production's most egregious qualities, I hope it results in better choices for future generations. In the end, we'll get the food supply we, as a nation, request.