Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Letter to The Nation on Food and Health Freedom

To The Nation

As a Progressive who for the first time became politically active in 2008, working for the Obama campaign, I’ll have to say I am disappointed not only because Pres. Obama has fallen under the influence of big business interests, but because the Progressive movement seems to have been so silent on some issues which are dear to the hearts of many of us, issues that might be called common sense progressive libertarianism – "get the government off my back".

Example – the Raw Milk Movement, whose only champion in Congress at this point seems to be Ron Paul, while misguided public health authorities do everything in the power to shut down the movement, to the detriment of our health and our freedom. It is outrageous that at this time when there is so much concern about lack of jobs, we have a government agency, the FDA, that is throwing their weight around trying to shut down legitimate farm businesses based on completely unfounded food safety concerns - over and over again.* As a dietitian I am appalled at their arrogance! We can go to the store and buy all kinds of junk foods that are leading us down the path to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer and more and we can't have raw milk cheese (or raw milk for that matter) because we might get sick??? Give me a break! I hear so many stories from raw milk consumers of healing from whole natural foods, but the public health authorities refuse to acknowledge that the benefits might outweigh the risks. Does this reflect the influence of the commercial dairy industry that doesn’t like the competition???

Another, but related, example – there is a comprehensive food safety bill in Congress, fortunately stalled by one Republican senator, which could have the effect of putting many small farms producing excellent artisanal food products out of business, with rules that are only appropriate for big commercial farm/food operations, who are the predominant sources of food poisoning crises. Without the passage of the Tester-Hagan amendment this bill would be a disaster for many farms and food processors that produce some of the healthiest food in this country. Are we looking at the oppressive influence of the giant commercial farm and food industries trying to shut down the competition???

Another example – The USDA Dietary Guidelines, which guide the food planning at millions of institutions about the country, and are currently being updated, are based on politics more than solid science! Luise Light, MS, EdD, in her book, What To Eat, tells the story of how her committee of nutrition experts developed the original Food Guide Pyramid based on their understanding of the science, only to have the guidelines changed by the top guns at USDA for political reasons – and this is happening again in 2010! The result has been the steady deterioration of health in this country and persistent rise in health care costs, as our grocery stores are filled with unhealthy but profitable processed foods. Is this again the aggressive influence of big moneyed interests in the food industry???

These, and many others,** are issues of great concern to many of my friends, who are often progressive in their thinking – supporting real health care reform, immigration reform, financial industry reform, etc., but we feel these concerns are not being addressed, and in fact receive little media coverage and would be nearly invisible except for the Internet. There are very personal issues that affect our health and well-being. The article on page 11 of the Nov. 8 issue of The Nation speaks of the lack of a persuasive long-term vision for how to create good jobs, yet a growing source of good, green, sustainable jobs and professions, producing high quality real foods and genuine healing, are being ignored by the media, and in fact undermined at every turn.*** Many of us would love to be part of a powerful progressive movement for change, but our concerns need to be part of that long-term vision! Let’s recruit these advocates for food and health freedom to a powerful progressive movement for change that recognizes that wise government promotes justice, not oppression and profits for big corporations.

* lots more at

** Other instances of inappropriate government control or action:
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s),
Health Freedom issues,
he undue influence of the drug industry

*** EVERYTHING I WANT TO DO IS ILLEGAL: War Stories from the Local Food Front, by Joel Salatin