Posts Tagged 'food'

It’s Time to Break Up Monsanto

From Food Democracy Now…

Last year the Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Agriculture held a series of 5 hearings investigating anti-competitive practices in the food and agricultural sectors. The hearings were historic and gave a vital opportunity for hundreds of thousands of America’s farmers, agricultural workers and citizens to call for an end to agribusiness’ excessive monopoly power. 1

Last December, Food Democracy Now! delivered more than 200,000 citizen comments to Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney with your demands to break up the worst abusers. 2

Nowhere are these abuses more prevalent than in the extreme market share enjoyed by the seed and chemical company Monsanto, which has a virtual stranglehold on seed supplies in crucial sectors that has severely limited farmers’ choice in what seeds they can buy. Monsanto’s control of the seed market is so high that 93% of soybeans, 82% of corn, 93% of cotton and 95% of sugarbeets grown in the U.S. contain Monsanto’s patented genes. 3

Not only is this level of market share allowing Monsanto to jack prices up on farmers because there’s no competition, but it also threatens our democracy as Monsanto uses their corporate power to influence our regulatory agencies, like the USDA, EPA and FDA, as well as Congress and the White House.

It’s time to fight back and the only way to do that is to make sure that the Department of Justice continues their investigation into Monsanto’s anti-competitive business practices.

Click on the link below to automatically add your name to the letter asking for the Department of Justice to break up Monsanto. It’s time to stand up for farmers and our democracy. Tell the Department of Justice that it’s time to do what’s right!

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/357?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=7

Over the past two months the biotech industry has gotten their way in Washington with the approval of three new genetically modified (GMO) crops. First GMO alfalfa, then GMO sugar beets and most recently an industrial GMO corn for ethanol.4

The common link between these crops, except for the fact that they’re bad for farmers and the environment, is that they face virtually no oversight once they’re planted and their genes are allowed to contaminate neighboring fields and our food. These multinational corporations are not required to submit rigorous, independent peer reviewed studies prior to approval, but are allowed to submit their own corporate science to the federal government for approval.

To date, no petitions for approval of GMO crops have been denied. The only way to reign in the abuse that determines the quality and safety of the food that you and your family consume is to put pressure on the Department of Justice is to make sure that they follow through on their investigations into Monsanto’s abusive practices.

Last year seven state attorneys general launched an investigation into whether or not Monsanto “has abused its market power to lock out competitors and raise prices” while the DOJ is investigating anti-competitive practices with Monsanto’s marketing abuses in limiting access to seeds for farmers and competitors through manipulative contracts.5

It’s time to end Monsanto’s abuses, tell the DOJ to do their job and complete this investigation. It’s clear that abuses of farmer’s rights are taking place and the U.S. government needs to stand up to them now!

Click on the link below to automatically add your name to the letter calling for the DOJ to protect our democracy and break up Monsanto!

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/357?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=9

Thanks for taking action — your support is greatly appreciated! We need your help to keep the pressure on! If you can, please consider chipping in as little as $10 to help us continue this fight.

http://fdn.actionkit.com/go/donate/133?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=12

We rely on folks like you to keep us going. Thanks again for your support.

Thank you for participating in food democracy —

Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! Team

Sources:

1. “DOJ’S Holder Calls for Historic Era of Antitrust Enforcement in Agriculture”, March 16, 2010.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/352?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=14

2. “Your Voices Were Heard Loud and Clear in DC this Week, Thanks for Standing Up for Family Farmers”, Food Democracy Now!, December 10, 2010.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/353?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=16

3. “Monsanto’s Dominance Draws Antitrust Inquiry” Washington Post, November 29, 2009.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/354?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=18

4. “Update: Obama Goes Rogue on GMOs, Tell Him to Say NO to Monsanto”, Food Democracy Now!, February 15, 2011.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/355?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=20

5. “Monsanto 7-State Probe Threatens Profit From Gene in 93% of Soy”, Bloomberg, March 10, 2010.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/356?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=22

 

Independent Family Farmers Face Reprieve from Big Agribusiness – Take Action Today!

This just in from the fine folks at Food Democracy Now!


There’s been a lot of bad news out of Washington DC lately. In the past 3 weeks we’ve called on President Obama to retract his decisions on 3 newly approved genetically modified (GMO) crops. Incredibly, more than 110,000 American family farmers and citizens have signed a letter calling for a more comprehensive regulatory process that effectively and democratically investigates the impact that genetically engineered crops have on human health, the environment and farmer’s long-term ability to meet the challenges of 21st century agriculture.

At the same time, while GMOs pose a serious threat to farmers’ livelihoods, human health and the environment, they are not the only threat that farmers and our food supply face today. Of equal importance is the unparalleled control that corporations have over contract arrangements with family farmers.

Already in the last year, the USDA has written a set of proposed fair market contract rules under Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) that would make it illegal for packers and slaughter houses to unfairly discriminate against poultry, hog and cattle farmers. Unfortunately, those rules have not been finalized and giant agribusiness meat interests are pressuring Secretary Vilsack and the Obama administration to weaken these vital rules that would provide fair market contract protections for small and midsized farmers for the first time.

Please call the White House today and urge the Obama administration to stand up for family farmers to make sure they receive fair market contracts and no longer experience unfair price discrimination.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/348?akid=297.53115.hgAZSo&t=7

Today’s livestock producers are caught in an unfair system that traps them in debt and forces them to take whatever contracts Big Ag cartels offer them. And even though the Packers and Stockyards Act specifically prohibits price discrimination by meatpackers against small family farm and ranch operations, it has been a standard industry practice for decades.

According to our friends at the Center for Rural Affairs, it’s common for meatpackers to “routinely pay five or six cents more per pound, more in some cases, in purely volume-based premiums to the largest hog producers simply because they are large.” And while six cents doesn’t sound like much, for an independent family farmer operating with a 150 sows, it amounts to receiving $56,000 a year less at market for their livestock. And no one can afford that type of loss, especially America’s family farmers.1

These practices are not only unfair, but they are undemocratic and place family farmers at a serious disadvantage in the marketplace. At a time when the Obama administration and Washington DC are talking about creating jobs and improving economic opportunities for families everywhere, one of the simplest things they could do would be to improve opportunities for family farmers and rural America is to allow farmers to have access to fair markets. The best way to do this is to tell the Obama administration to finalize the fair market contract (GIPSA) rules today.

Click on the link below to tell President Obama it’s time to stand up for family farmers. Not only are they the backbone of our democracy, but they are the ones who provide us with the best, most sustainably raised food in the country.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/348?akid=297.53115.hgAZSo&t=9

Thanks for taking action — your support is greatly appreciated! We need your help to keep the pressure on! If you can, please consider chipping in as little as $10 to help us continue this fight.

http://fdn.actionkit.com/go/donate/133?akid=297.53115.hgAZSo&t=12

We rely on folks like you to keep us going. Thanks again for your support.

Thank you for participating in food democracy — your action today may save family livestock producers and help free our food supply from corporate control.

Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! Team

Sources:

1.”Corporate Farming: A Reasonable Hope for Fairness”, Center for Rural Affairs, August 2010.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/349?akid=297.53115.hgAZSo&t=14

Call the White House today to Tell President Obama to enforce fair market GIPSA rules for farmers today!

 

Big Agriculture Declares War on Food Safety, Small Farmers

This just crossed my desk from Food Democracy Now, a grassroots advocacy group promoting slow, local, regional, and sustainable food for everyone. Please read and take action.

Urgent: Big Ag is trying to kill food safety reform in the Senate today – Give farmers and our children a fighting chance.

Click here to call your Senators Now!

So far you’ve made over 7,000 calls to your Senators – Can they Hear US Now?

Are you committed to change?  Call your Senator to pass food safety legislation now.

This past week the action in the U.S. Senate has been fast and furious. In the past 48 hours more than 7,000 Food Democracy Now! members have made phone calls to their Senators asking them to include provisions in the Food Safety Modernization Act that protected family-scale farm operations from excessive regulations. You’re incredible.

Remarkably, as a result of your phone calls the Senate reached a deal on the Tester-Hagan Amendment yesterday morning. Now Big Ag has decided to throw a tantrum. Late yesterday afternoon a coalition of 20 produce groups sent a “letter” to Senate leadership urging the defeat of the Food Safety Modernization Act.

Big Ag is claiming that these important farmer protection provisions are part of an “ideological war” and are doing everything they can behind the scenes to kill this important legislation.

But we can’t let them. There’s too much at stake. Every year more than 5,000 people die as a result of foodborne diseases and more than 76 million fall ill according to the Centers for Disease Control.

If you care about food safety and family farmers we’re asking you to make one more call to your Senators to make sure they understand how important passing this bill is to their constituents. We can’t let Big Ag lobbyists put petty politics over lives or farmer’s livelihoods.

Click below to tell your Senator to pass the Food Safety bill, tell them consumers and family farmer’s deserve to be protected, not Big Ag lobbyists!

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/279?akid=231.53115.cbSYY3&t=7

Late Thursday evening the Senate voted 57 to 27 to move forward on the food safety bill, incredibly, some 16 Senators skipped this important vote. No wonder they call it a lame duck session! As you well know, to get this bill to pass a full vote, we’ll need 60 votes, so every vote counts. Make sure these Senator are there for the next important vote!

Democratic Senators that missed the vote included:

Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Arlen Specter (D-PA)  – both lame ducks.

John Kerry (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Jim Webb (D-VA) — no excuses.

Since the bill is being supported down fiercely partisan lines, we wanted to make sure that Food Democracy Now! members knew which Democratic Senators did not make this vote. If they had showed up, the vote would have been 63 to 27 — enough to get it to a full floor vote and passed into law.

If you live in their state make sure you call them again and tell them how important this bill is to protect children and family farmers.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/279?akid=231.53115.cbSYY3&t=9

Call All Republicans!  They are Scheming with Big to kill food safety reform.

On the Republican side of the aisle, support for the bill is weak, with only 4 Republican Senators voting for to proceed. As with everything in DC in these past few years, partisans would rather throw up roadblocks than do the people’s business.

It’s time to remind them who they work for. If you have a Republican Senator in your state, call them now.

In an odd show of weakness, 4 of the Republican sponsors of the bill either voted against cloture last night or skipped the vote.

Republican S.510 Sponsor who went AWOL on Food Safety Cloture Vote:

Judd Gregg (R-NH) lame duck Senator retiring – if you live in NH make sure that you call him and tell him to VOTE FOR the food safety bill and support consumer safety and family farmers.

Republican S.510 Sponsors who voted NO on Cloture Vote:

Richard Burr (R-NC) , Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Johnny Isakson (R-GA)

Remember, these are Senators who actually sponsored the bill, i.e. supported it until now, when the Tester amendment was added, the amendment that you called for, and then they started caving to industry pressure.

If you live in their state let them know you care about food safety, local foos and family farmers! Click below.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/279?akid=231.53115.cbSYY3&t=11

Special Treat Performance on Food Safety

And last, but not least, Food Democracy Now! wanted to let you know about Senator Tom Coburn M.D. (R-OK), the single biggest obstacle preventing the food safety bill from passing.

Yesterday on the Senate floor, Senator Coburn gave an unbelievable performance, rambling and misstating basic facts about foodborne illnesses in the U.S.

Not only is Coburn ignorant about food safety, but in his fierce partisan desire to kill this important bill — which will protect us from serious food safety outbreaks — he proves he doesn’t care about America’s 300 million citizens who urgently need this bill.

Instead, Coburn would rather stall progress for family farmers by demanding that the U.S. ban all earmark spending through 2013. As a result of Coburn’s unreasonable demands, what food experts Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser have called “the most important food safety bill in a generation”, it languishes on a pyre of self-righteous political grandstanding.

If you live in Oklahoma, please tell Senator Coburn to stop playing chicken with your children’s food.

Let Senator Coburn know that AMERICA needs food safety reform now. America’s citizens and our farmers deserve protection.

Word on the street in DC is that Senator Coburn tried to broker a deal with Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) on the food safety bill and take away important provisions like “mandatory reporting”.

Tell Senator Harkin to steal Coburn’s cookies and stand strong! Pass the food safety bill as is. No more compromise, no more wasted time.

Don’t let Big Ag and one angry man’s crusade stand in the way of this important legislation — Act Today — this could be our last best chance to achieve important food safety reforms.

Make a call today — don’t let America’s children wait to grow up before this opportunity comes up again.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/279?akid=231.53115.cbSYY3&t=13

As always, thanks for participating in food democracy,

– Dave, Lisa and The Food Democracy Now! Team

The Future of Food

3782585426_4c1db21920If you have not seen the new movie Food, Inc., you should run, not walk – well, you can drive – to the nearest theater where it’s being shown. According to the website:

Food, Inc. filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, herbicide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won’t go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli—the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults… (At the same time) Approximately 1 billion people worldwide do not have secure access to food, including 36 million in the US. National and international food and agricultural policies have helped to create the global food crisis but can also help to fix the system.

Continue reading on KedgeForward

Introducing…KedgeForward!

The End of FoodMy new semester of Foresight@Regent begins in just a couple of weeks; I’ll be delving into one of the more intriging and qualitative classes, Images of the Future – we’ll be examining (you guessed it) the images of the future our cultures and socities create, reflected in everything from public policy to science fiction films. Additionally, I’ll be doing an independent study on The Future of Food, mashing up research done by Michael Pollan, Marion Nestle, Paul Roberts, Eric Schlosser and others in the real/slow/local food movement – as well as their Big Agribusiness opponents (Monsanto, Cargill, Tyson, etc., etc…) – to see what food futures might look like over the next 25 years, utilizing a CLA framework – that is, a Causal Layered Analysis mode of inquiry and transformation.

In the Regent program, Dr. Gary encourages us to get on-the-ground experience whilst we are in our virtual ivory towers. Toward this ethos – and jumping in the deep end in a big way – I have a major announcement: Seasoned futurist Frank Spencer and I are launching KedgeForward – a lean, mean, Strategic Foresight machine! Here’s how Frank put it on his blog this morning:

Introducing… KedgeForward!


kedgeA “Kedge” is a lightweight anchor used to manuver ships when they’ve run aground, or when there is no wind to fill the sails and push the vessel through the water. This anchor, rather than keeping the ship stationary, actually works to move the vessel forward by rooting it in the place where the crew wants the ship to be. After several members take the anchor away from the ship by means of a small craft – and have placed it in the desired location – the crew can then pull the ship through the water toward its destination, even though the natural element of wind is completely absent!

KedgeForward! is an agile strategic foresight firm rooting in where you want to be – in past hindsight, present insight, and visionary foresight – to give you the forward-pull you need! We are dedicated to helping businesses, NGO’s, and transformational agencies to develop environments of creativity, innovation, sustainable practices, resilience, future-fitness, aspirational road-maps, and adaptive & flexible strategy for the “New World” of the 21st Century and beyond!

We are founded on an integral and evolutionary approach to human and organizational futures, and actualize transformation through the use of change-oriented methods that are transdisciplinary, unique, and customizable – making our work with each client a personal, authentic, and “one-of-a-kind” relationship.

We look forward to working with you in developing your future-ready strategy and organization!

To continue reading this annoucnement, please follow me to the KedgeForward blog, where in coming months we’ll be bringing you, dear reader, the bleeding edge of Stragegic Foresight forays. And if you’re a publishing house, nonprofit, ‘conscious capitalist’ Fortune 500 company, denomination, or City Planner, why not drop us a line? We can create beautiful transformational futures together!

The Future of This Blog

https://i2.wp.com/i59.photobucket.com/albums/g316/Goonsquad4/question-mark-1.jpgSo I haven’t been blogging much lately. It’s almost cliche, longtime bloggers lamenting their lack of time, or greater reliance on Facebook/Twitter/Friendfeed, or life malaise or life busyness – and then saying that they’re hanging their blog up.

All of this describes me –  and yet I’m not hanging it up. I like to write, and I need to write – so I’m going to step it up. I’m going to taking blogging even more seriously, even if it’s becoming unfashionable. I’m realizing that it’s important to me, as a creative outlet and a life-discipline. But I am going to change up my game somewhat, and open up to blogging metamorphosis. Here’s what you can expect:

More about my personal life.

I’ve always gravitated toward blogs that are more journalistic and commentary-driven in nature, as opposed to the ‘Dear Diary’ types. And I’ve blogged thusly – I haven’t really thought of my personal life as being that interesting. If I’m hooked by someone writing about their personal lives, it’s usually because they have a really catchy style – they’re not Jacques Cousteau or anything. And neither am I. That said, I received an email from a friend of mine a couple of months back. It wasn’t ‘nice.’ Essentially he said “I know what you think about religion and politics, but what about you? What’s going on in your life? Do you have a spiritual pulse?”

Ouch.

I have things to share; I want to be more transparent with you, dear readers. All is not well in Morrell-land. While I’ll not blog about things that involve others to protect the innocent, I am going to open up more about my own life journey, my struggles and glimpses of grace. True confessions time!

My whole-health journey.

Yes, this includes my continuing ROM experience, but it’s so much more. I feel like I’ve been especially slacking in blogging in this area, mostly because I’ve been completely neglecting the fuller context of my whole life. To know why I’m seeking health, you must know the ‘sickness.’ So I’ll be blogging in more detail about ROM processes and results, as well as centering prayer, DoxaSoma, and (yes, even) mental health. Should be fun.

Book reviews & free stuff!

I’ll continue blogging about books I care about, books I’m working with in the Ooze Viral Bloggers platform, and free eBook & audio book downloads I become aware of. In the midst of publishing industry upheaval and information glut, I feel like some very wise, compassionate, and expanding works are being written. I want to do my best to keep you up to date on what I’m seeing here.

The Future

Finally, I want to post more relating to the Future(s) of Everything, related to what I’m seeing in my studies. Expect food futures (no, not pork bellies!) and publishing futures especially.

This will all have the net effect of six-days-a-week blogging, I think. I want to be realistic about what I can do, but I think that thoughtful repurposing of older, supplemental journal material (as I’m exploring some of the ‘personal’ spaces) will carry some of the extra freight. Thank you for reading – I think the best is yet to come!

Obama’s Public Works & The New Secretary of Agriculture: Your Voice Matters!

As everyone not living under a rock knows, President-elect Obama has pledged a massive public works program to reinvigorate both US economy and national infrastructure. I am mostly all for this initiative, though my inner childhood libertarian still wonders where all the money will come from. There are some good suggestions out there for funding though, so we’ll save such a ponderances for another blog post.

For now, I’d like to look at the kinds of projects deemed ‘public’ and worthy of such sweeping systemic updating. We all know that roads, bridges, and schools are vitally important. And we’ve heard the administration’s support for the creation of ‘green jobs.’ It’s the latter I’d like to expound upon, suggesting two areas of public works support that ought to receive a lot of attention and funds.

Greenways

When I first traveled to Europe in 2003, I was struck by how many of my new friends, grown adults, did not have drivers licenses. Then I was struck by how many restaurants and businesses were not connected by roads and parking, but rather, massive walking spaces. The atmosphere in these vehicle-free zones was intoxicating; I had never experienced a Commons space without cars and traffic. One of the inadvertent consequences of our first public works program in the U.S. was the creation of the Interstate Highway System, both a blessing and a curse. On the curse side, it further nationalized our food systems (more on that in a sec), and it made business dependent on proximity to highway exits. In the 21st century, we’re now looking at the relative value of this differently, recognizing what Bill McKibben calls a deep economy with ‘multiple bottom-lines.’

Enter the Greenway. When last in Atlanta, Jasmin and I had dinner with Jannan Thomas, director of DOOR Atlanta, and her husband Jay. We learned about something I should’ve known about our once-and-future city, but didn’t: The BeltLine project. The idea is simple: Take 22 miles of old, unused railroad track connecting Atlanta’s oldest cities (some now affluent, some in serious disintegration) and turn this derelict space into greenspace for joggers, walkers, and bikers. Further, develop park space and sustainable business along this space, and maybe, some nice public transportation – something the Southeast has never, ever had. The BeltLine project already has some steam and it looks like they’ll be doing it…over the next 25 years. Now I’m all for the long view; long-term projects used to be the norm and not the exception (Cathedrals used to take centuries to complete!). All the same, I think that a project of this urgent importance shouldn’t have to wait decades to complete when for-profit builders can erect a massive new condominium complex in 8 months.

Whadaya say, Obama administration? Would the BeltLine project (and others like it) merit some of our Public Works apportionment?

Local Food Infrastructure

Department of AgricultureEqually critical as where we can walk is what we eat. For health reasons, of course, but also ecological reasons. Did you know that most of our food is fertilized by petroleum and that, combined with transporting it all over the country (and world), food is the second-largest guzzler of gas behind cars? And accessibility reasons: Why is it that in the poorest sections of towns across America, the only ‘food’ available is truly awful pre-packaged faux food from gas stations and ‘convenience’ stores? Well it’s partially because of how corn and soybeam subsidies were developed during the Nixon administration, laws that are allowing mega-corporations like Monsanto to patent food itself…but I’m getting ahead of myself. : )  If this is a whole new world to you, you’re not alone. While I’ve never really mentioned it in print, for several years now I’ve been working on a book on the intersection of God, meal-sharing, and mystical spirituality. While in the process of finishing this book, I came across – only in this past year – a trio of truly mind-blowing books: The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved by Sandor Katz; The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan; and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. (Two of these are widely available at libraries and all three of them can be purchased quite affordably, under $35 total; get yourself a paradigm-altering Christmas present!) My education was further deepened by attending a Bread for the World Hunger Justice Leaders training this past July in Washington DC and joining Slow Food USA, recommended by my friend (and Foresight@Regent program director) Jay Gary.

What have I been learning? A ton. A distillation: At present, our food system is broken and in need of healing in order to offer healthy, affordable, and ecologically-sustainable nourishment for all people. Further, food done right can build community and help people grow in compassion, ethics, and spirituality.

The aforementioned Pollan penned – just prior the election – An Open Letter to the Next Farmer-in-Chief. An excellent distillation of the needed food renaissance. His opening:

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 — the last time high food prices presented a serious political peril. Since then, federal policies to promote maximum production of the commodity crops (corn, soybeans, wheat and rice) from which most of our supermarket foods are derived have succeeded impressively in keeping prices low and food more or less off the national political agenda. But with a suddenness that has taken us all by surprise, the era of cheap and abundant food appears to be drawing to a close. What this means is that you, like so many other leaders through history, will find yourself confronting the fact — so easy to overlook these past few years — that the health of a nation’s food system is a critical issue of national security. Food is about to demand your attention.

I repeat: Pollan’s Open Letter is well-worth reading in its entirety. So go for it. I’ll wait for you.

Back? Okay. There’s some good news: Local food initiatives are springing up like new growth all across North America; famers’ markets are the fastest-growing segement of eating options out there these days. But there are ways government can help, just like they’ve presently favoring Big Agribusiness that’s responsible for a lot of this mess. A shift in sensibilities could reverse the damage, and bring food back home. It’s already happening in Canada: Nova Scotia’s government has just pledged a quite-affordable amount to support development of “local food” systems. In their own words:

The province will provide $2.3 million over three years to fund “strategic infrastructure” and development initiatives that “enhance industry competitiveness, market access and direct marketing methods.”

“This funding will develop the roots between rural and urban food systems, and support marketing initiatives,” Agriculture Minister Brooke Taylor said in a release Friday.

The province said its investment “will make it easier and more convenient to buy local foods” and will “complement” its current food marketing programs, Select Nova Scotia and Taste of Nova Scotia.

Fortunately for all of us, there’s a really huge actionable step right on our horizon in the U.S. Here’s an email I recieved today from Slow Food Triangle:

In these final days before President Elect Obama makes his selection for Secretary of Agriculture, we urge you to spread the word to your members about a petition they can sign to express their support for dynamic and sustainable choices for the post.

The petition lists six suggestions, including Gus Schumacher, Former Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and Slow Food leader Neil Hamilton, the Director of the Agricultural Law Center at Drake University.

You can find the petition here.

Even if the new administration doesn’t pick one of the listed candidates, signing the petition sends a strong message that we want a good, clean and fair food system and that we expect our new administration to make choices that support that vision. More information is available here and here.

We stand at a crossroads, and our next decisions matter a great deal. There are a few things we can do, right now, to make the world a safer, nourished, more abundant place: it’s going to happen through agribusiness reform.

For my friends on the left, realize this: Agriculture is a key ecological and humanitarian matter. Agriculture done right helps the earth in her innate, life-giving rhythms; it conserves and even produces energy. Intelligent agriculture policy feeds hungry people so no one will have to go without.

Friends on the right, some things to consider: Just as much as Homeland Security, this cabinet-level position will help determine our future strength as a nation and our vulnerability to terrorist attack. Smaller, localized food systems are grassroots capitalism and small business at their best. They create jobs and bring important jobs back to America. They restore the farmer to a place of respect in our society.

For my Christian friends, let’s consider: Jesus lived and died by way of his food habits. (And was resurrected as an eikon of Living Food & Drink) The way he chose to eat, and with whom he chose to eat opened up new vistas of the Kingdom of God on earth. And it was large part of what got him executed by the powers-that-be. I personally feel Jesus’ spirit stirring in this day and age to look at how food and food systems need to be approached in the 21st century. And while I feel churches should never wait for government initiatives to make a difference locally, I think we’re at a golden moment to speak truth to power – power that, it seems, is open to hearing from us.

I’m Asking You to Please Do Three Things:

Call to action time!

  • One, read Michael Pollan’s Open Letter. It’s really, really long – no matter, do it now. Interrupt your regularly-scheduled web surfing and focus for the next few minutes. Your attention span is precious and the information in this letter is vital. It’s that important. You’ll be glad you did.
  • Two, sign this petition.
  • Finally, if you don’t mind, forward this post to others you think would care about these matters – email, Digg, Stumble, Facebook message and re-post on your own blog, that’s fine by me. Thanks for caring!

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    Illumination and Darkness: An Anne Rice Feature from Burnside Writer's Collective
    Shadows & Light: An Anne Rice Interview in MP3 format from Relevant Magazine
    God's Ultimate Passion: A Trinity of Frank Viola interview on Next Wave: Part I, Part II, Part III
    Review: Furious Pursuit by Tim King, from The Ooze
    Church Planting Chat from Next-Wave
    Review: Untold Story of the New Testament Church by Frank Viola, from Next-Wave

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