Beyond the Fence: Current Food and Ag Policy Topics

It all fits together; we connect in every direction, and everything matters. Savoring Kentucky works toward positive change one plate at a time, and leaves the hard work of policy change and conflict and advocacy to other, bolder beings. Sometimes, though, the deeper, more abstract stories and themes pile up and need sharing. Today is one of those days. Prepare by watching this four minute video about wolves changing rivers, and then proceed to other large questions and themes.

Farm Bill Reflects Shifting American Menu and a Senator's Persistent Tilling. Writing for the New York Times, Jennifer Steinhauer suggests the recently passed Farm Bill benefits producers of nutrient-rich, well-raised foods we want on our plates.

While traditional commodities subsidies were cut by more than 30 percent to $23 billion over 10 years, funding for fruits and vegetables and organic programs increased by more than 50 percent over the same period, to about $3 billion.

The difference in billions for commodities compared with billions for fruits, veggies, and organic programs, one must notice, is still rather large.

The Fat Drug. In an opinion piece for the New York Times, Pagan Kennedy suggests antibiotics may make us fat.

...decades of agricultural research has shown that antibiotics seem to flip a switch in young animals’ bodies, helping them pack on pounds. Manufacturers brag about the miraculous effects of feeding antibiotics to chicks and nursing calves. Dusty agricultural journals attest to the ways in which the drugs can act like a kind of superfood to produce cheap meat.But what if that meat is us? Recently, a group of medical investigators have begun to wonder whether antibiotics might cause the same growth promotion in humans.

Invisible Math: Accounting for the Real Costs of Big Ag, by Dan Imhoff, an expert on the Farm Bill and other food policy matters, reports on and includes several video excerpts from a conference on true food costs the Sustainable Food Trust hosted in the United Kingdom in late 2013.

The challenge before us is to find ways to calculate, communicate, and reconfigure these costs so that healthy food production comes across as the true bargain it is, and assumes a dominant role.

Healthy vs. Local, by Sarah Fritschner, presents a thoughtful look at the tensions that exist among advocates who share the goal of building a successful, sustainable local food system.

Learning about local food groups all over the country, I know this healthy vs. local dichotomy often arises in the work, or is replaced by other common ones: local vs. ecological (organic vs. conventional), local farmers vs. local community development, farmer income vs. affordable food.

Here's your bonus for persisting through some heavy topics: a San Francisco take on planting locally—pinot noir wine grapes, specifically. Lexington has neighborhood gardens and even (we are proud to say) neighborhood orchards; perhaps neighborhood vineyards will follow soon, and neighborhood hops prodution.

Rona RobertsComment