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Tom Laskawy's Posts


Reforming food policy: Trade and agricultural subsidies

Picking the battles will be key to reforming food policy

Ah, the House Agriculture Committee. Never will you find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. Well, maybe that's a bit of an overstatement, but not by too much, I don't think. As Michael Pollan put it, "It's where decent ag legislation goes to die." Does sustainable agriculture have any hope of support there? Well, we can be somewhat cheered by the fact that, with the Republican caucus as small as it has been in decades, the House Ag Committee has a mere 17 Republicans in contrast to its 29 Democrats. And the House being the House, you can …

Read more: Uncategorized


Farm-policy reform -- where to start?

Trying to restructure the House Agriculture Committee might not be worth it

Michael Pollan suggested at a recent Grist potluck -- note to editors: for future reference, I make a mean lemon-cilantro chicken -- that we could improve "the situation for food policy" in Congress if we could: Make the House agriculture committee exclusive. The most important committees in the House -- Energy, Finance, etc. -- are "exclusive," which means their membership has to be drawn from diverse geographical and ideological sources. Ag isn't exclusive, which means it can be (and is) packed with representatives of Big Ag. It's where decent ag legislation goes to die. Pollan has been advocating this kind …

Read more: Food, Politics


Fighting convenience

Does America have the food system that we deserve?

McDonald's is on a roll. Says the NYT: Six years into a rebound spawned by more appealing food and a less aggressive expansion, McDonald's seems to have won over some of its most hardened skeptics. The chain has managed to sustain its momentum even as the economy and the restaurant industry as a whole are struggling. Month after month, McDonald's has surprised analysts by posting stronger-than-expected sales in the United States and abroad. I've been won over all right. Won over to the argument that changing food policy in this country is a quixotic proposition. The article presents as progress …

Read more: Food


Fishing for stimulus

Fishermen who play by the rules deserve some help

Taking up Tom Philpott's food stimulus challenge, I suggest bailing out the fisherman. Of course, fish stocks internationally are still in serious decline -- you need look no father than the Atlantic bluefin tuna to see that. But according to a report on NPR, we're having some serious fisheries-management success stories on the West Coast. Now it's the local fishing fleets rather than the fisheries that threaten to collapse. At first, the government thought they had engineered a "soft landing" for fishermen when: ... five years ago many fishermen who trolled for groundfish agreed to give up their boats for …

Read more: Food