"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 food we eat travels an average of 1,500 miles to reach our plate. Indeed, industrial agriculture is responsible for 25% of the world's carbon emissions and a much higher percentage of global emissions of methane and nitrous. The "dead zone" off the coast of Mexico expands yearly thanks primarily to fertilizer run off from commodity crops and animal waste from feedlots. Moreover, 70% of extinctions can be attributed to loss of habitat from farming and ranching. Take a look at Fatal Harvest for a photographic peek at industrial agriculture's toll.
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.