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March 07, 2008



John McCain opposes subsidies for farmers growing corn for ethanol. He stood up in Iowa and told them so!


ar-HAR! you are totally right Ben:

I stand corrected!

But even McCain is sidestepping the food aspects of the subsidy problem by focusing on free trade and ethanol issues, turning this into an international economic and energy issue, rather than one of health and everyday life.

I'm no economist, and I can't competently state my own position on subsides, or what their impact is on a global market.

But I do know that the way they're set up right now makes it hard for small farms to grow anything BUT the Big 5 Crops, which directly affects mainstream eating by making local products less available and more expensive, and creating surpluses (filler for processed foods) that are more available and less expensive.


McCain? Oh come on! The guy may not believe in ethanol subsidies but he's gone on record as being a champion of deregulation. So if you think that he's going to challenge any business on any issue think again!

As far as the public school food issue, this is a non-issue for most republican politicians, if they had their way the government wouldn't have to fund any public learning institutions. They'd privatize the entire system. School vouchers for everyone, let the class warfare commence!

(For those of you not in the know, this is one of the driving factors in increasing food costs, less landspace is being used for actual grain/feed production and more for ethanol production due to a combination the govt subsidies and the rising costs of energy)


Sigh...okay...let's break it down...

Ethanol is now a subsidized farming priority. Check.

Hence, the cost of the milk goes up X dollars a gallon. Check.

Got it. A very real and valid concern, but not the one I'm talking about.

Mine is more like this: The now-more-expensive milk is contaminated with listeria. A statewide recall goes into place. Only then you find out the milk in your supermarket isn't produced in-state; its got a considerable carbon footprint, having crossed 3 states to get to you, and could have come from one of thousands of cows. In the meantime (no more than 50 miles from where you live) a family-run, small-batch dairy farm generating superior milk goes under, because they cannot cover the costs of running a non-subsidized farm.

Which brings us right back to ethanol.

But the point is this: If you break down this scenario, Republican AND Democratic agendas BOTH challenge each step for the least-traveled, best quality milk to come to your hands.

So this is NOT about partisan finger-pointing. We as eaters LOSE, no matter what party you vote for. Presidents aren't going to fix this for us; this is something that needs to be fixed from the bottom up, starting with people who demand more from their food and food systems.


I think the Foodie is pretty much right -- it makes no sense for mainstream politicians to talk about this right now, for the same reason they don't seriously take on Wal-Mart. Let's face it: While a small minority of Americans are waking up and asking questions about where their food comes from, the vast majority just want their food and other goods cheap and convenient. And they fully expect the government to make sure their cheap, convenient food is safe (at least in the sense that it doesn't make people sick immediately upon consumption). As long as most people feel that way, subsidizing corporate agriculture and mass marketing crap out of the surplus makes everybody happy (well, at least until they get cancer and die).

That said, in the current New Yorker there's a profile of Michelle Obama that reveals the Obamas have recently switched to organic produce, and quotes her expressing many of the same concerns about mass-produced food that the Foodie brings up.

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