Food and Farming
The big beer brewers often admonish us imbibers of their products to “Drink Responsibly.” Well, I say back to them: Lobby Responsibly.
A Pioneer seed saleswoman introduced the first genetically modified crop to my central Missouri county in the winter of 1996 at a University Extension Soils and Crop Council meeting. She told us that if a farmer planted this genetically engineered soybean, then sprayed the herbicide Roundup all over his field, weeds would die but the soybeans would survive.
Attention foodies: There’s a new craze in Cuisine World, and it’s going 180 degrees in the opposite direction from the much-publicized healthy-eating movement.
If you invented a pill that offers long life, good health, and a body to be proud of, you’d make a fortune. Bottles would fly off the shelves.
Maybe you thought the lowest possible point of Republican miserliness was reached when Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of Agriculture proposed that ketchup be counted as a vegetable in the school lunch program. If so, you’ve not taken a peek at the GOP’s astoundingly penurious budget proposal recently pasted together in a fit of ideological extremism by the party’s budget guru, Rep. Paul Ryan.
The corporate propensity for rationalizing the irrational in the pursuit of profit appears to be boundless. Consider J.R. Simplot, a giant agribusiness conglomerate whose phosphate mining operations in Idaho have grossly polluted creeks with selenium, a highly toxic metal.
This year, spring arrived early as a record-breaking heat wave swept across the nation. It feels like summer in Minnesota, Virginia, and many other parts of the country. Farmers are either already planting their crops or just about to start. Consumers who shop at farmers markets throughout the Midwest will soon be sampling fresh-picked local asparagus a few weeks ahead of schedule.
Many products already bear labels proclaiming the number of calories, the grams of sugar, fiber, and fat, and other details for every serving. Labels say whether the products we put in our bodies are sugar-free, kosher, organic, and more. Shouldn’t we also know whether the food we’re eating is genetically modified?
There’s a nasty fight brewing in Washington over the budget that could determine whether a farm bill is enacted in 2012. Given the gridlock that has afflicted Congress since before this election year even got underway, some lawmakers say it should wait until 2013. I couldn’t disagree more. Our farm and food system is broken, and it’s wrecking the lives of family farmers here in the United States and across the globe.