A: We can all start making more informed and smarter choices — going to the farmers market, subscribing to a farm share program or just looking for local foods and buying less processed foods and buying more greens and fruits and veggies. Gardening is making a tremendous resurgence. More and more city dwellers are discovering ways to use vacant backyards or plots of land. And our first family is supporting this trend.
Q: What about cleaning up the industry itself?
A: I think to really change is going to require pressure from several different directions — through support of organizations that promote safe and healthy food. But also approximately every six years, Congress passes a farm bill — though it really should be called a food bill because it has a huge impact on our entire food systems. It not only covers farm subsidies, it covers food exports, the school lunch program, the food stamps program, nutritional programs. It has a tremendous impact on how we all eat and which companies get subsidized for food production. When the next farm bill is being debated, which will begin around 2012, that’s when we all need to start paying attention to what’s in the news about food and talking to our members of Congress and senators and saying we really want a bill that’s going to be in the interest of all Americans.
Carol Kaufmann is a contributing editor at the AARP Bulletin.