I’m Back! Big Food and Big Ag Continue to Bully Americans

I apologize for not posting for awhile.  I needed to focus my time on my consulting job as NYS Food Day Coordinator and recently, have been without power (11 days and counting!) Did you know you can cook a frozen pizza in a cast iron pan on a gas stove?!

Food Day 2012, the brainchild of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, was a rousing success around the nation.  Here in NYS on October 24th,  we had hundreds of events around the state that celebrated our need for a sustainable, healthy safe food system, humane treatment for farm animals and farmworker justice.  For more information about Food Day, please click here.  If you didn’t join in the Food Day festivities this year, please join us on Food Day 2013 (October 24th).

Barack Obama’s re-election brings new hope that the administration will begin to focus more support on food policy.  Clearly the President and First Lady, pre-election, were steering away from/caving on support for policies like banning food marketing to kids, GM labeling and creating strong rules for the menu labeling policy that passed in 2010. Mrs. Obama spent the last year focusing on physical activity, which studies have shown, have virtually no impact on overweight and obesity. Now that the food reform community doesn’t have to play defense for the next four years, I’m hopeful that our second term President can take bolder positions on improving the health of Americans and our lousy food system.

Richmond and El Monte, CA soda tax ballot initiatives did not pass. Once again, Big Soda poured millions of dollars into deceptive anti-soda tax campaigns in these two towns, much like they did in NYS in 2010.  Word is that Big Soda’s “ace in the hole” was their argument that soda taxes are ‘regressive.’  That means that they hurt the poor far more than they hurt middle class and affluent citizens.  Considering that the soda industry heavily targets poor communities and that high consumption of sugary drinks leads to obesity and many other debilitating chronic diseases like diabetes, why aren’t we talking about how Big Soda’s marketing is regressive?  The last thing low-income Americans need is a diet high in non-nutritious sugary drinks that rob them of their health and ability to hold a job.

CA Proposition 37, which would have mandated labeling on all food that contained genetically modified ingredients, also was a victim of massive Big Food/Big Ag spending. A reported $45 million was spent on a campaign against Proposition 37 and it worked.  Prior to the misleading campaign, the vast majority of Californians supported the measure.  But the campaign wiped out that support with incredible lies and fear-mongering.  Keep in mind, folks, that all this measure would have done was provide additional information for the consumer so they would have the ability to make their own choice about consuming GM ingredients. But Big Food/Big Ag saw this as a threat to their profit margins and created a full-on misinformation campaign.  The food reform community is going to need to find more funding to counter these deep-pocketed industry campaigns.  Advertising and marketing work!

I’ll be back with more frequent commentary as soon as my power is restored!


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