We have a two-party system in the United States, and while the Democratic Party hasn't been the bravest on the fight for a better food approach, they have been the only positive voices in Congress.
The ideal would be to have two parties that agree that the food policy in this country needs fixing, even if they sharply disagree on the answer. Two recent news items makes us wonder when/if this will actually happen:
-- The GOP is in control of the House of Representatives, meaning that more of their members are in committees than the Democrats. The House Appropriations Committee recently put in language to take away the hard-fought increases in the federally subsidized school meals program. Remember, the 6¢ increase was the first non-inflationary raise in 36 years.
To its credit, the USDA says it can't undo what the previous Congress had done but allowing the smattering of pennies increase in the funding for school lunches.
-- The House voted to reduce food aid while keeping farm subsidies, most of which goes to Big Ag. The legislation was also designed to repeal efforts by the FDA to enforce food safety law passed by the previous Congress by defunding the ability to enforce the law.
"Do you believe that healthy eating habits can be legislated?"
"I absolutely believe in legislation. Politicians rarely do it because it might upset their voters and they don't like nanny states. But in my personal opinion, kids need nannying."
This exchange happened early in last week's Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. The answer didn't quite fit the question (no one is legislating eating habits), but this does point out the need for government.
Republicans don't see it this way, of course. But other than asking nicely to large food companies, and not really even asking, they have no ideas on how to improve our food supply. Regulation = bad, Monsanto and Big Ag = good — this doesn't make a sound food policy.
We're talking about food safety, a few extra pennies literally for a school lunch, aid for those who are financially suffering with children in the United States: these don't seem unreasonable, but they are to Republicans.
This doesn't have to be a GOP bashing. We would love to hear from those on the right for ideas, suggestions, creativity galore on how we can improve the food supply that doesn't offend their sensibilities. But they have to be solutions we can do, and do now.