I have only been writing regularly for a few weeks here on DKos so I'm well aware of why I'm not getting a lot of eyeballs. This isn't a "Poor Me Why Don't You Read My Stuff" (PMWDYRMS)? diary. It's just my latest thoughts for the day. Somebody once recommended that the best way to make the Rec list was to keep writing in order to build up a readership. So I'm just following that advice. Maybe if I keep writing I will get more recognition and the issues that I care about will get more eyeballs. I am posting this now so that I might introduce myself to a different group of readers.
Food! Glorious Food! from Oliver
Anyway, the reasons that I keep writing about food are multiple. As my profile states I am a former chef. I got my first glimpse into the importance of food and politics while in culinary school. It was there that I first read Food Politics by Marion Nestle. The book was an eye opener. It covers the ways in which food companies spend their advertising and lobbying dollars. I am also influenced by the works of Michael Pollan such as In Defense of Food and The Omnivore's Dilemma. Another influence has been Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation. I have also been influenced by Jill Richardson at la vida locavore.
I know that there are multiple progressive causes represented in this community. I am also aware that food and food politics aren't generally recognized as a progressive issue. I respectfully disagree. I think that food and food politics are at the center of the things that we care about here. Food politics encompasses immigration, labor, healthcare, nutrition, agriculture, and employment. These are just a few examples of the reach of food policy in this country.
FOOD AND HEALTHCARE
It is my firm belief that nutrition, along with exercise, forms the basis of a healthy lifestyle. Don't get me wrong, I am not what I would consider a health nut. I'm a few pounds overweight and I don't get the kind of exercise I should. What I mean by nutrition forming the basis of a healthy lifestyle is that fresh food is preferable to packaged food. Food without additives and preservatives is preferable to potato chips and Twinkies. A healthy diet can be a bulwark against illness. Avoiding excess salt, fats, and chemicals can help a person avoid diabetes, heart disease, and a host of other illnesses.
This affects the larger arena of healthcare because healthier citizens require fewer visits to the doctor, fewer tests and procedures, and fewer hospital stays. It is my belief that healthcare is a right but I also believe that rights come with responsibilities. It is our responsibility as citizens to make choices that don't affect others negatively. Unhealthy lifestyles affect the other people in your insurance pool. That pool will eventually become larger and larger.
FOOD AND EDUCATION
Healthy children learn better, pay more attention in school, and get better grades. They are able to stay awake in class, they can process information more readily, and they have better recall. Children simply perform better in school. I apologize for not linking any studies to this claim. I have seen these claims made in enough places for me to consider it common knowledge. My apologies if you disagree.
FOOD AND IMMIGRATION POLICY
A lot has been made here recently about immigration policy. One factor that I haven't seen mentioned a lot is the role of agriculture in immigration. Migrant laborers are by and large immigrants, many of them undocumented. Slaughterhouses are another industry that employs undocumented workers. One of the reasons these areas attract undocumented workers is that many of the workplaces are unsafe. Not to paint with too broad of a brush, food manufacturing plants and large-scale farms employ immigrant labor because they can pay lower wages and expect fewer complaints about unsafe working conditions.
With companies willing to hire illegal immigrants, more will come across our borders. I am not advocating any specific policies here. I am not well educated enough on the subject of immigration policy. I do know that these conditions exist here in the US and that I am appalled by them.
So there are just a few of the reasons that I keep writing about food here on this political website. I believe that food is central to our lives and central to our politics. Corporate agriculture is just as much a threat to progressive politics as other corporations. Corporate agriculture makes political contributions, lobbies government on its behalf, and acts in ways that benefit its own interests often to the detriment of individuals. These corporations touch us directly and indirectly every day in many ways. This is why I continue to write about food. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Michael Pollan talks about his Food Rules
Eric Schlosser discusses Farm Labor in Florida