Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Food Policy

I'm sure that title just makes you want to read this post!  That's the problem with food policy...we don't really know what it is or how it affects us.  We think the FDA or USDA or some other acronym that we don't feel connected to will take care of it.  We don't see a connection we can affect, or even why we should care.  How wrong that is...

My friend Marie has a 14-acre urban farm in Balch Springs, where she grows vegetables, raises chickens and holds a bi-weekly farmers market.  She doesn't get an agricultural exemption on her property taxes because she's within the city limits.  Each dollar she has to pay the city for property taxes adds to the price of her vegetables.  This is food policy.

Other friends who live in Carrolton would love to have chickens, not just for the eggs, but for the manure so they could use it on their vegetable gardens.  Not in Carrollton unless you live on more than an acre, but it's okay in Dallas, as long as you don't have a rooster.  This is food policy.

Because I am concerned about my family's health and the effect of industrial production on our food, I regularly drive an hour north of Dallas to pick up my raw milk from a farm, because Texas doesn't allow it to be sold off the farm.  This is food policy.

DISD has been providing breakfast for every student this year, which I thought was paid for by my property taxes.  And I guess it is - but Walmart provided funding for the start up costs.  Who decides what they get to eat?  Did they have to fire teachers to pay for ongoings costs of this program?  This is food policy.

When you can't sample the fruit at a Farmer's Market because the city won't allow it, thank your city council and mayor.  All of this is food policy.  It happens at every level of government, and can be strongly influenced by an active constituency that knows what it wants.  If we don't care or don't pay attention, someone is going to tell us what we can eat, how we can eat it, and from whom we can get it.  This is the slippery slope, and we are already sliding.

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