BY MARION NESTLE PH.D, MPH
Source: Edible Boston
When I wrote Food Politics in 2002, it never occurred to me that readers would find the book depressing. I intended the book to inspire advocacy for healthier and more sustainable food and nutrition policies. But, alas, some readers were disheartened by evidence that food companies, like any other businesses, valued sales over public health.
It’s easy to fall into depression over the abuse of corporate power and so much else that is happening in food policy these days. At a time when healthy food systems require close integration of agriculture and nutrition policy, our government seems to want to move in the opposite direction. The FDA is delaying updated food labels for at least another three years. The USDA is losing interest in international meat safety. Congress could not care less about promoting sustainable agriculture.
But perhaps as a triumph of hope over experience, I remain optimistic. How could I not? I am privileged to teach food system politics to students and other young people who want to change the world. Their first question: How can they, as individuals, use their love of food in all its dimensions—taste, culture, history, science, economics—to create a good, clean and fair food system in a more just and equitable society?
For anyone who has this question, I offer the same answer: Become an advocate. To do advocacy well, like it or not, you need to engage with politics. To do food advocacy well means engaging in food politics. Here are some quick suggestions for how to start.