Gun control. Tax rates. Terrorism…even with this “Super Tuesday” now at a close, these issues will continue to dominate the political debate from now through November, at which point 60% of us will decide our next President. No candidate, I suspect, will deign to mention farm or food policy. With the exception of the obligatory salt-of-the-earth pandering, you might not ever hear the word “farm.”
But, why? Why should we accept the former and exclude the latter? I don’t mean to suggest that the flourishing of Isis is of no concern or that common sense gun law reform isn’t needed or that our tax system isn’t an unmitigated disaster that intentionally obfuscates in order to disguise corporate welfare. While the band of nitwits that pass as presidential hopefuls rarely speak meaningfully on these topics, they are still important ones. But what about farms? What about food? Rather than diminish the value of the aforementioned issues, I want to make a brief case for elevating food policy to that level. Is that too much?
Before you write this off as a narcissistic rant, consider this: our current policies prop up a method of food production that is responsible for roughly 1/3 of the carbon emissions driving climate change. Our current policies also drive poverty in rural America and limit food access in urban America. Changing our food policy is approaching a life and death situation for millions. These policies fundamentally decide how much, what kind, and even whether or not you get to eat. Unless you produce all of your own food (and even most farmers can’t claim this), this affects you.
You won’t hear about these issues this election season. Not by any party, not by any candidate. As I stood in my polling place this afternoon, I found myself without even the option of being a single-issue voter.