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What We're Reading

The New York Times has spent quite a bit of ink lately on how the new administration may affect the way we eat in the U.S. Personally, I find this all very interesting and I wonder what others are thinking about it. With Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman on staff, it seems the NY Times is covering this issue more than others, but I'd love links to other articles that you are seeing out there. Here's what I've read recently: Back in October before the election, Michael Pollan wrote an open letter to whoever would be the next President called Farmer in Chief and he detailed what he'd like to see changed about food policy in our country. Last week Marion Burros wrote Obamas to Plant Vegetable Garden at White House - the most detailed article I've seen on the garden and quotes from Michelle. An example: Michelle at White House Garden March 20, 2009
"I wanted to be able to bring what I learned to a broader base of people. And what better way to do it than to plant a vegetable garden in the South Lawn of the White House?" For urban dwellers who have no backyards, the country's one million community gardens can also play an important role, Mrs. Obama said. But the first lady emphasized that she did not want people to feel guilty if they did not have the time for a garden: there are still many changes they can make. "You can begin in your own cupboard," she said, "by eliminating processed food, trying to cook a meal a little more often, trying to incorporate more fruits and vegetables."
Then in Is Food Revolution Now in Season? Andrew Martin shares how the changes in administration may open the way for changes "in the way the federal government oversees the nation's food supply and farms, changes that could significantly bolster demand for fresh, local and organic products." Tom Vilsack
In mid-February, Tom Vilsack, the new secretary of agriculture, took a jackhammer to a patch of pavement outside his headquarters to create his own organic "people's garden." Two weeks later, the Obama administration named Kathleen Merrigan, an assistant professor at Tufts University and a longtime champion of sustainable agriculture and healthy food, as Mr. Vilsack's top deputy.
And Mark Bittman followed that up with his take on how we can make vast improvements in our diets and help the planet in Eating Food That's Good for You, Organic or Not.
To eat well, says Michael Pollan, the author of "In Defense of Food," means avoiding "edible food-like substances" and sticking to real ingredients, increasingly from the plant kingdom. (Americans each consume an average of nearly two pounds a day of animal products.) There's plenty of evidence that both a person's health - as well as the environment's - will improve with a simple shift in eating habits away from animal products and highly processed foods to plant products and what might be called "real food." (With all due respect to people in the "food movement," the food need not be "slow," either.)
So, what do you think about all of this? Good? Bad? What are the pitfalls you'll be watching for? How much change can the American public take? Comment below and let us know your thoughts.

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gretchen says …

i have also been reading these pieces with great interest. with the new movie coming out "food inc." that i keep hearing about, the white house garden, slow food organizations and organic simple food advocates like michael pollan hard at work, it seems we are finally getting a bit smarter about the quality and integrity of the food we eat. i am thrilled with all the attention natural food is receiving. at most chain grocery stores i walk through the aisles in amazement at the thousands of packaged food stuffs lining the shelves. little of it looks like food to me. we can do a whole lot better. thanks to whole foods for making it easier to buy this simple natural unprocessed food and produce all over the country.

Sam says …

At this time, I am sorry to say that I don't beleive that the new administration will do much of anything to promote healthy food. The GMO foods continue to be planted and no one seems to care. The food safety of 2009 was so poorly written, most organic people hate it. At this time in August 2009, there is currently a battle over open land space in Boulder County, Colorado about the planting of GMO sugar beets.

Rosanne says …

While community gardens are nice, so should the idea of people being able to affordably grow their own food (if they can) and buy sustainably grown food when they can't...when the government is good friend's with Monsanto, that tells me we have a LONG way to go!