Early November in California signals the end and the beginning of many things. This year as the election looms, I cut and chop the last dry farm tomatoes from Molino Creek Farm. Each slice marks the conclusion of these ruby orbs of delight. I make caponata to extend the last vestiges of summer flavor in my kitchen. As I peel back the onion, I muse on its ability to make me weep and the way it will transform into a sweet caramelized crescendo.
This election has been much like an onion with its multitude of sharp layers, sometimes bitter, yet holding sweet potential for food and agriculture. Let’s peel back the layers this November to see where we can make progress in Food and Ag policy.
The first electoral seam that must be uncovered is your party affiliation. Aligning with the party that represents your vision of moving forward is important. The way each party prioritizes their agricultural policies for the next four years will have a broad-reaching impact on the environment, our children and our health. To help you with this first layer, it’s worth rereading my blog What Both Parties Ag Platforms Tell Us about the Future.
We must not only elect the next commander in chief but also the next slate of Senators and Representatives who will lead us into the next generation of food and farming. Who are our good food leaders? Shed this mysterious layer by checking out the National Food Policy Scorecard.
Led by Ken Cook and Chef Tom Colicchio, Food Policy Action, has created a revealing interactive tool to help you understand how your Congressional members have performed (or under-performed) on food-related policy issues. Simply enter your zip code to see if your legislator voted to keep your food safe, healthy and affordable.
Husking away another thoughtful layer, I realize forging alliances on both sides of the Congressional aisle is critical for food policy. Our next Congress will be faced with many legislative opportunities that will impact organic and the good food movement. They will take on the herculean task of writing and passing the 2018 Farm Bill. This Farm Bill has the opportunity to build on past policy achievements and create new opportunities for organic farmers and rural communities. It is by far the single most impactful piece of legislation affecting our food and agricultural future.
When I realize that all 435 House seats are up for reelection and some of our champions like Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA-20) and Congressman Reid Ribble (R-WI-8) are retiring, I think now is the appropriate time to get involved with the Organic Political Action Campaign. It’s the only political action campaign that helps policy makers on both sides of the aisle understand and support the fastest growing sector in American agriculture – Organic!
When you consider all the outrageous prattling and scandalous chatter that has shaped this year’s campaign, the food and agricultural discussion has, for the most part, been absent. The final core of the electoral onion that we must serve forth is raising these discussions and getting involved in the political process.
What is the most important thing – the most basic human condition – our need, want and desire? Good, nutritious, healthy food. Why isn’t it a more vociferous component of how we choose our leaders?
It is time that we all show up at the table, remembering that policy gains are made in small steps, not in altruistic lines drawn in the sand.
Consider the onion with its mysterious multilayered intricacies. It has evolved over the years with a defense system that once bitten into or cut releases a powerful chemical irritant that sends us into an eye-watering swoon. So too each election year brings with it a multifaceted barrage of messages that can bring tears to the eyes of those who dare to cleft into its core.
Elections are like onions, sometimes they make you weep, but the end result can be oh so delicious if we throw in the right ingredients and apply ourselves to the recipe at hand.
To good food then! I’ll see you at the voting booth next Tuesday.