Tuesday, November 18, 2008

You Are What You Eat

From the bean of Green Bean.

"Who do you like for the EPA?" a friend recently asked. We were discussing possible picks for the new Obama cabinet.

I had no idea. I hadn't paid much attention to the rumored possibilities and had, instead, been focusing all of my attention on the possible pick for Secretary of Agriculture.

How odd is that? That a self-professed "eco-blogger," a lover of all things green and a constant striver for a less impactful life would have no idea who's on the short list for the Environmental Protection Agency? Okay, I had heard a rumor of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. as a possibility but I've got a feeling there are half a dozen other folks on that list.

Still, though, I'm mainly concerned with Secretary of Agriculture.

It's not as if I'm a farmer or have any real understanding of the Farm Bill, monolith that it is. I do however understand the axiom: You Are What You Eat. Or, more aptly, The Planet Is What We Eat.

Our food system has hugely impacted the current state of our environment.

The news is not all negative. Something that can cause that much damage can also create that much positive change.

If the world switched to an organic agricultural system that relied on compost and cover crop, we could sequester up to 40% of current carbon emissions. But that is just the tip of the quickly melting ice berg. Rebuilding our food system would preserve open space, reduce toxins in the air, ground and water, nurture biodiversity, secure our food from terrorism, reduce obesity, and create tens of millions of green jobs.

So when someone asks me who I think would be best to head the EPA, well, I haven't given it a second's thought.

I'm spending all those seconds wondering who Obama is considering for Secretary of Agriculture. I'm worrying over the fact that one of them is best buds with the GMO king, Monsanto. I'm re-hashing this instrumental article. And I'm sharing my vision for the changed American food system with the President Elect, the Green Moms Carnival and anyone who follows me on Twitter or comes within a twenty foot shouting radius.

Because when it comes down to it, the world is what we eat.

This post will be submitted to the Green Moms Carnival. This month, the carnival is hosted by Diane MacEachern at Big Green Purse. The topic is "what recommendations would you like to make to the Obama Administration to encourage them to adopt a 'prevention agenda.' Most federal programs and initiatives focus on treating problems after the fact. A prevention agenda would change the government's approach to protecting the environment and human health, and inevitably be cheaper too." If you'd like to participate, please write a post on that topic and submit it to greenmomscarnival(at)gmail(dot)com by November 24. Then check out Big Green Purse on December 1st to see what green moms think Obama should do in the next four years.

* Note: You do not need to be a mother to participate. Dads, aunts, uncles, "earth mothers" and everyone else is welcome to participate.


Burbanmom said...

Great post. Remind me to send you "Everything I Want to Do is Illegal" by Joel Salatin (once I'm done, of course) and you'll see just how much work the new Secretary of Ag has in front of him!

eco 'burban mom said...

My grandparents were / are farmers in Illinois. (The 5,000 acres is now farmed by the next generation, my uncles and cousins) I have watched them struggle through bad markets, then receive a boom with government subsidies and then a harsh realization of what they were doing to the planet. My grandfather, god rest his soul, was the first farmer in the county to allow wind turbines to be installed on his farm to feed the power grid. (All of that open Illinois plains generates some WIND!) He was also one of the first to raise antibiotic and steroid free beef and instuted no till crops and crop rotation.

So, yes, I truly believe the post should be held by a farmer. A real, honest to goodness, I touch the earth farmer with actual experience.

Heather @ SGF said...

Oh good heavens. Not Monsanto. I had never heard of them until about a year ago, now that name pops up everywhere. We need people in the cabinet who care more about the planet than they do about money and power. There must be someone. Sure we have to take the economy into consideration, but I believe there is an answer that would be beneficial for both the environment and the economy. There must be!

Mama said...

I'm loving this post...I'm on pins and needles watching the Obama cabinet unfold. I am hoping for real change....hoping we won't all be disappointed. Thanks Green Bean, as usual a thought provoking post! P.S. I second burbanmom's recommendation of Joel Salatin's book...in fact ANY of his books! Great chicken resources:)

Green Bean said...

Burbs: Yes, please do send me the book! I think Sec of AG is HUGE.

Eco Burbs: Your grandfather sounds like he was a wonderful man. I think there can be so much inspiration but you are right - it should come from someone who's had their hands in the earth.

Heather: Yeah, how disappointing is that!?! It appears that the best of the listed choices in Boyd. I read that we should contact our democratic Senators (if none, democratic reps) and give them our opinion on who would be best for Sec of Ag, or any cabinet position.

Mama: I'll check Burbs' book out. You know I want me some chooks! Can't wait to see who Obama names and, like you, I hope that it is a real change and not just rhetoric.

kale for sale said...

Thanks for staying on top of all this. I realize I haven't been paying attention. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. anywhere in the cabinet would be terrific. But having a Monsanto buddy as Secretary of Agriculture is truly frightening. We can do better.

CindyW said...

Did you see the open letter to the next president by Michael Pollan on NYT a couple of months ago? http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/12/magazine/12policy-t.html?_r=1&scp=4&sq=Michael%20Pollan&st=cse

It started by saying: "Dear Mr. President-Elect, It may surprise you to learn that among the issues that will occupy much of your time in the coming years is one you barely mentioned during the campaign: food. Food policy is not something American presidents have had to give much thought to, at least since the Nixon administration..."

Subsequently Mark Bitten recommended him for Sec of Ag: http://bitten.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/18/secretary-pollan/?scp=5&sq=Michael%20Pollan&st=cse

I am all for that!

Green Bean said...

Katrina: I have real hope for this Cabinet but I'd like to see someone revolutionary in there. RFK would fit the bill. Tom Vilsack would not.

Cindy: I did see it and thanks for the link! I really recommend reading Pollan's Open Letter. It drives home how critical food is.

Anonymous said...

Hi -

Here's an interesting article for you regarding the validity of the "food travels 1500 miles" story.


Mother Earth aka Karen Hanrahan said...

You and I are very kindred on this topic, with 10 years advocating and teaching choice, I found quote a bit of apathy.

I think that the task of undoing is ever so monumental.

eco burban mom... where in illinois is this farm...will your family adopt me ?


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