Monday, January 07, 2013

Food writers forget 'rural people and the economic power they must deal with,' rural editor says

There's been an increase in "foodie" culture recently. Consumers are becoming more savvy about types of food they buy and grow, often opting for organic meat and produce. Food blogs and columns have also been on the rise, but Daily Yonder co-Editor Bill Bishop, left, says they seem to "write about food as if farmers and rural communities didn't exist." One in particular, Mark Bittman of The New York Times, suggested Jan. 2 that America needs to "fix its food problem," writing that what we grow and how it's grown "have been a major contributor to climate change, spawned the obesity crisis, poisoned countless volumes of land and water, wasted energy and tortured billions of animals," and that America must figure out a way to "uninvent this food system."

Bishop says Bittman and almost all "foodie" writers' fail to acknowledge that "the food industry has been rapidly consolidating, leaving farmers and communities powerless in an industrial system that is controlled by a handful of firms, from seed to grocery aisle." The Obama administration began a massive investigation of anti-trust in agriculture four years ago, looking into seed and meat monopolies, and evidence from farmers and agricultural workers who said less-than-free markets were constricting their lives and businesses. But nothing came of those investigations, and none of the Times food writers took notice, Bishop writes.

He says a good story about Montana rancher Ressa Charter, right (Gazette photo by Larry Mayer), ran in the Billings Gazette the same day as Bittman's columns, and that in a 100-second video accompanying the story, Charter "makes more sense about how to develop a local and fair food system than Bittman can conjure in a year's worth of columns." He says that food movement writers ignore "rural people and the economic power they must deal with." (Read more)

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