Los Angeles

Alice Waters on the Importance of the Farm Bill

Alice Waters contributed her thoughts the subject of the Farm Bill in Sunday’s Sacramento Bee: “Farm Bill Should Focus on Healthful Foods“:

The farm bill emerged originally to support farmers during the Great Depression. But over time, it has turned into a system of subsidies heavily favoring five crops: corn, cotton, rice, soybeans and wheat. Between 1995 and 2003, farmers who grew these commodity crops received an average of $14.5 billion in subsidies each year, half of which goes to a handful of states. By contrast, the farm bill offers little, if any, support to the California farmers who produce nearly half of our nation’s fruits, nuts and vegetables, despite the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s nutritional guidelines calling for a diet rich in all three. . . .
Many public school districts operate on a shoestring budget, and the cheaper, unhealthful foods laden with sugar and hydrogenated fats have become staples of school lunch programs. For many low-income children school lunches offer the only meal some kids eat all day. As we know, a diet heavy with saturated fats and refined sugars has helped create a national pandemic of childhood obesity and diabetes. If previous farm bills had been healthful food bills, we would have subsidized nutritious foods instead of junk foods, and made nutritious foods more affordable and more available in schools.

Read the complete piece on the Bee’s site, then be sure to voice your concern: a list of resources, including a sample letter and websites on which you can confirm your representatives’ contact information, is available by viewing posts tagged “Farm Bill” on this site.

The House Agriculture Committee is scheduled to take action on the Farm Bill this week, from July 17-19, so don’t delay.