Friday, April 3, 2009

Pass The Peas

Call it a crazy marketing spin for Washington or another person fed up with the price of broccoli at whole paycheck...In mid-February, Tom Vilsack, the new secretary of agriculture, took a jackhammer to a patch of pavement outside his headquarters to create his own organic “people’s garden.” Two weeks later, the Obama administration named Kathleen Merrigan, an assistant professor at Tufts University and a longtime champion of sustainable agriculture and healthy food, as Mr. Vilsack’s top deputy.

For instance, the celebrity chef Alice Waters recommends that the federal government triple its budget for school lunches to provide youngsters with healthier food. And the author Michael Pollan has called on President Obama to pursue a “reform of the entire food system” by focusing on a Pollan priority: diversified, regional food networks.

Mr. Pollan, who contributes to The New York Times Magazine, likens sustainable-food activists to the environmental movement in the 1970s. Though encouraged by the Obama administration’s positions, he worries that food activists may lack political savvy.

“The movement is not ready for prime time,” he says. “It’s not like we have an infrastructure with legislation ready to go.”

Even so, many activists say they are packing their bags and heading to Washington. They are bringing along a copy of “Food Inc.,” which includes attacks on the corn lobby and Monsanto, and intend to provide a private screening for Mr. Vilsack and Ms. Merrigan.

“We are so used to being outside the door,” says Walter Robb, co-president and chief operating officer of Whole Foods Market, the grocery chain that played a crucial role in making organic and natural food more mainstream. “We are in the door now.”Whole Foods Market retained the lobbyist firm GLOVER PARK GROUP to assist in its efforts against proposed FTC rules that would block the company's approximate $565 million takeover of WILD OATS, according to (Nov. 17). Lobbyists working on behalf of the company are Joel Johnson, a former senior aide in the Clinton White House, and Kim James, a former aide to Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL). Glover Park Group, which is cited as having "deep democratic ties," will "[meet] with members of Congress to make them aware of FTC ...spoken like a true farmer. As Whole Paycheck fights the union influence. Yeah yeah it's your right to form unions, just not here within our mega corporate food conglomerate that was built selling over priced veggies from corporate giants. Nice. So neighborly...

The tide is turning. The first lady had a big chunk of sod ripped from the white house lawn this week to begin planting a kitchen garden that she will tend with the children. Maybe we shall see the rest of the nation follow suit. Salads for everyone!

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