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Choosing to eat healthy and making sure our children have healthy food options is critical to our nation’s success. Overall wellness lowers our health care costs, improves education and economic productivity, and is vital to our planet. Our society depends on us getting involved in food policy and making good choices as conscientious consumers.
The fox is guarding the henhouse with regard to food policy. The fox packs in the chickens inches apart, cuts off their beaks, and doses them with antibiotics they wouldn’t need if they were kept in a healthier environment. Easier hunting for the fox. And dangerous for the rest of us.
Giant multinational corporations comprising the food industry and Big Ag are all too effective at influencing our nation’s food choices, damaging public health. Big agriculture writes the food policy in this country not to benefit the consumer or the health of the planet but solely to benefit their bottom line. Federal subsidies for non-nutritious junk food is one of the most extreme examples of corporate welfare that we have in this country. The result directly affects each and every American’s ability to make healthy choices when feeding themselves and their families.
Poor food options have infiltrated our children’s lives through pervasive exposure in our public schools. After years of processed junk food being the norm in schools across the country, Congress just late last year enacted a sweeping reauthorization of the federal child nutrition law that will improve kids’ foods and drinks in school. Although this law is on the books, we must stay vigilant in its implementation as the food industry and school districts may try to push for weak school nutrition regulations. Public schools would do well to look at the amazing improvements made in the Boulder Valley School District, which has now only natural and healthy food choices in its schools, and students report that they are also tasty.
We cannot continue to let the consolidation of corporate food production create a food system that values quantity over quality and refuses to take into account the true cost of production. We must consider the environmental and health problems that creating food in unsafe and inhumane ways causes, leading to outbreaks of foodborne illness, antibiotic resistant bacteria, and polluted drinking water. Big Ag is very effective in playing the insider game, constantly lobbying Congress and federal agencies.
As Congress prepares for consideration of the farm bill next year, it is imperative that we have Fearless Leaders to speak up for the people when lawmakers hear from corporate interests prioritizing profits over health. The farm bill defines the federal government’s role in the agricultural market, and we must fight to see that it supports family farms and sustainable farms that promote healthy foods. We need to take back food production; after all, we are what we eat.