Jim Goodman

Jim Goodman, a farmer in Wonewoc, Wisc., was a 2008-2009 Kellogg Foundation Food & Society Policy Fellow.

Food is different

Food should be controlled by farmers, not corporations

Food is an important part of most Holiday celebrations, not just because we need food to live, but food connects us to our culture, our past, and whether we know it or not, our future. Food Is Different: Why the WTO Should Get Out of Agriculture is a great book by Peter Rosset — one that everyone who cares about food should read. The book is dedicated to Lee Kyung Hae, the Korean farmer who took his life in protest against the World Trade Organization on September 16, 2003, at the WTO protest march in Cancun Mexico. I was there. …

Safety dance

Will a new administration give us the ‘safest food supply in the world’?

How many times have we been told we have the safest food supply in the world? Do we really? I suppose it depends on the comparison. Somalia? Kenya ? Eritrea? In developing countries, close to two million children die every year from contaminated food and water. These countries don’t have much of a food supply, safe or otherwise, so compared to them, we do quite well. How do we fare compared to other industrialized countries? The Centers for Disease Control and Preventions estimates that there are 76 million cases of foodborne illness yearly in the U.S. — roughly 1 out …

Straight off the farm

McCain and Obama need to talk real farm policy

John McCain and Barack Obama need to start talking farm policy. With less than a month before the November elections in a year marked by a world-wide food crisis, energy shortages, climate change, and an international credit crisis, agriculture should be a prominent issue in every media event. Current farm policies are more about corporate agribusiness and globalization than local food production and shortening the food supply chain. While the farm vote may be viewed as insignificant, the importance of agriculture to the economy, or the food in one’s belly is quite significant. Many consider rural America “fly over” country, …

We're the real cowboys

We need some qualified public leaders

It strikes me that many of the problems we run into on a daily basis are caused by people doing a job for which they are not fully qualified. At the top of the list, I’m afraid we must place those we elect to office and those they appoint to government service positions. We have all run across the bad restaurant meal: a cook who wasn’t so good; an owner who didn’t get fresh ingredients; a wait person who ruined the meal with bad service. How about the salesperson who knows absolutely nothing about what he or she is selling? …

An agricultural Waterloo

Globalization failed, cheap oil is gone, local production is the only way forward

Bigger is always better, isn’t it? Big cars, big houses, big businesses, big farms. If you were big, you made more money. Clearly, that is the way of the world. When Europeans colonized the Americas, they wanted more land — not some of it; all of it. Napoleon wanted more land. Nothing stopped him until Waterloo. So, do you think that the human race, has reached its Waterloo? Have we finally hit the wall with our never-ending desire for “bigness”? I decided years ago that I didn’t want my farming operation to get bigger. I liked milking 45 cows, raising …

A gastronomic renaissance

Farmers markets and local agriculture: age-old systems for the future

We often think that farmers markets are products of our times as they spring up in cities and small towns across the country. Truth is, a farmers market is the traditional way of selling agricultural produce around the world. The really nice aspect of this transaction is that the farmer receives just compensation for his product and the eater can be assured the product is fresh, local, and grown in a manner that is acceptable to all. If these criteria are not met, the consumer can look for another farmer whose products better suit his or her needs. After the industrialization of agriculture, farmers still sold at farmers markets, but it was just a matter of time before supermarkets were developed and farmers started selling to large companies that moved food all over the world; many Americans stopped planting gardens because it was so much easier to get "everything" at the store. We certainly have gained something through the globalized food system: more variety, foods we cannot grow in cold climates, and, of course, cheap food that is mass-produced by underpaid farmers and farm workers. Some good news, some bad. I certainly like coffee and chocolate, but I want to know the growers and workers were paid fair wages and that the crops were grown in an environmentally-responsible manner. I would like to be sure all the food I need to buy meets those same standards, whether imported or locally grown.

Too much of a good thing

The toll of agriculture and hundred-year rains on Wisconsin’s farmland

We are, for better or worse, part of the land we live on. We can choose to extract as much as possible from the earth around us, the "Manifest Destiny" (or nature's in my way) line of thinking. Or we can take as little as necessary and leave as small a trace as possible, the "Seventh Generation" concept of the Native American peoples. If farming well were easy and profitable, everyone would be doing it. Farming is never easy, no matter how you go about it, but at least when we farm with nature it's not a 24/7 battle.

Raise hell, not corn

Contact your legislators and take action on the sorry state of the industrial food system

Everyone should take some interest in what they eat and how it is grown. Mostly people think about the price of food, and that is important (unless they make plenty of money, and then it doesn't really matter; they can buy whatever they want). The poor often have little choice: they buy what is available and what they can afford -- and lately they can't afford to buy much. Studies show that given the choice, low-income people would choose to buy fresh, locally grown food, but they seldom have that choice.

Election '08: Real alternatives for real food?

Questions for Obama and Clinton from a Wisconsin farmer

Wisconsin is a state where agriculture is still important, and while farming may not be as glamorous as, say, politics, we still have more people engaged in agriculture-related jobs than any other occupation in the state. Still, when politicians come to Wisconsin, they may do the obligatory photo op on a farm, but they spend their time courting the voters in the big cities. So what are Clinton and Obama promising people like me -- people who spend more time worrying about cows than poll numbers?