Investing in the Bigger, Better (Food System) Story
Originally posted for Huffington Post on 4/10/2017
The Better Food Movement Conference returns to Miami this week. Here’s a glimpse of Better Food Movement from last year, and a wonderful Haitian-inspired recipe, as well.
The Trump-Russia probe. Syria. St. Petersburg. The steady drumbeat of horror is on 24/7 rotation these days. With outrage heaped upon outrage, why does our food system matter? And what does it have to do with you? At Miami’s Better Food Movementconference last month, keynoter and food policy pro Marion Nestle served it up like this:
That doesn’t add up to better. Or smart. Or sustainable. Or easy to swallow. And the likelihood of better food seems increasingly remote with the Trump administration reversing Obama’s environmental protection policies and looking to slash the USDA budget by 21% in order to ramp up military spending. It’s the classic guns and butter paradigm, but with most independent media struggling financially and under attack for doing its job — unbiased reporting — it’s a story that doesn’t get told. Covering — and uncovering — the bigger stories about the food system and its impacts on human and global health requires time and resources.
Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition and Thomas Reuters have teamed up — and stepped up — to launch the Food Sustainability Media Prize awarded to journalists, photographers and videographers whose work shines a light on the threats to our food system. The National Press Foundation is underwriting a training program Understanding the Stakes for journalists who focus on the changes in environmental policy. Environmental policy affects farming regulations, food safety, food waste and sustainability. The stakes, in other words, are the planet and us.
One of the most poignant message at Better Food Movement came not from Nestle or another presenter but from an audience member, a diabetic who lives on fast food, not because she wants to, but because it’s all she can afford. She’s also likely to lose insurance coverage, thanks to the GOP’s proposed health care plan, which won’t cover pre-existing conditions.
If the government won’t invest in our future, we can. One simple action — eating meatless — lets you take a giant step towards wellness, reducing risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer, even as it reduces carbon.
There’s a lot of bad news out there, some reported, some not. To get to better will take more impartial journalists covering the stories affecting our food system and our lives, more funding for farmers to grow the food that sustains us and more consumers making more informed food choices. Choosing a meatless diet takes us beyond being consumers. We become collaborators in creating a better food movement.