Culture has much to teach us about how to choose, prepare, and eat food. I'm collecting and preserving more of this wisdom before it disappears, in an expanded edition of my last book.
After many, many months of wrangling, Congress recently passed a farm bill, overriding a veto by the president. In my view, it is not a very good bill -- it preserves more or less intact the whole structure of subsidies responsible for so much that is wrong in the American food system. On the other hand, it does contain some significant new provisions that, with luck, will advance the growing movement toward a more just, sustainable, and healthy food system. You might rightly ask why there was so little movement on commodity subsidies, in a year when crop prices are at record highs and public scrutiny of the subsidy system has been intense. Indeed, the people on the Hill I talk to tell me they have not seen so much political activism around the farm bill in a generation. All the calls, cards, and emails sent by ordinary eaters clearly made a difference. So why so little change on the key issue? Why didn't we get a food bill, rather than another farm bill? Here's what I think happened.
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