What do you think should be the proper role of government in deciding how we grow, process, and eat our food?

18 Mar

Pollan brings up a great point when he discusses the government’s role in the food we eat.

He writes, “In an industrial economy, the growing of grain supports the larger economy: the chemical and biotech industries, the oil industry, Detroit, pharmaceuticals (without which they couldn’t keep animals healthy in CAFOs), agribusiness, and the balance of trade.  Growing corn helps drive the very industrial complex that drives it.  No wonder the government subsidizes it so lavishly” (Pollan 2006: 201).

These are all things that one cannot say about grass!

  • The government writes no subsidy checks to grass farmers.
  • Grass farmers, who buy little in the way of pesticides and fertilizers, do little to support agribusiness or the pharmaceutical industry for big oil.
  •  A surplus of grass does nothing for a nation’s power or its balance of payments.
  • Grass is not a commodity.
  • What grass farmers grow can’t easily be accumulated, traded, transported, or stored, at least for very long.
  • Its quality is highly variable, different from region to region, season to season, even farm to farm.
  • Unlike grain, grass can’t be broken down into its constituent molecules and reassembled as value-added processed foods; meat, milk, and fiber is about all you can make out of grass (Pollan 2006: 201).

It is clear that the government currently plays a huge role in deciding what we grow since it provides subsidies to those people who follow the capitalist/ larger economic model.

Should the government have power in deciding how we grow, process and eat our food? YES! But only if the government makes sure that the food we grow, process, and eat is safe for the environment and it’s people.



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