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The New York Times over the weekend featured a long – 2,600-word – piece about the “food revolution,” essentially arguing that “after being largely ignored for years by Washington, advocates of organic and locally grown food have found a receptive ear in the White House, which has vowed to encourage a more nutritious and sustainable food supply.”

According to the story, people like chef Alice Waters and author Michael (“The Omnivore’s Dilemma”) Pollan are beginning to be seen as thought leaders in the nation’s capitol, with legislators and Congressional staffers seen carrying Pollan’s book around with them. Vegetable gardens have been begun at both the White House and even the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Calls for a major shift in priorities and infrastructure in the nation’s food safety apparatus are being taken seriously and may get some traction this year.

“At the heart of the sustainable-food movement,” the Times writes, “is a belief that America has become efficient at producing cheap, abundant food that profits corporations and agribusiness, but is unhealthy and bad for the environment.

“The federal government is culpable, the activists say, because it pays farmers billions in subsidies each year for growing grains and soybeans. A result is an abundance of corn and soybeans that provide cheap feed for livestock and inexpensive food ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup.

“They argue that farm policy — and federal dollars — should instead encourage farmers to grow more diverse crops, reward conservation practices and promote local food networks that rely less on fossil fuels for such things as fertilizer and transportation.”

The only real concerns – that political lobbying by agribusinesses with a stake in the status quo could derail their efforts, and that current economic realities could slow their momentum.

KC's View:
“Sustainability” is a word not used much before four or five years ago, and now it seems to have so much currency, relative to so many issues at play in our political, cultural, social and economic lives. Certainly the priorities urged by Waters, Pollan and their brethren seem like intelligent strategies to take that will be good for the nation’s long-term health…though I’m old enough and cynical enough to think that reality and politics could get in the way.