Here’s something you might not know about us: we spent our college years majoring in government, specifically American government with a focus on political behavior. Although we are doing exactly nothing with that degree (we also minored in theatre!), we are still something of a political junkie. (On Friday, in the wake of the Iowa caucuses, we sent at least three instant messages to friends reading “EXIT POLLS!!! OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”) We’re tickled pink that the actual primaries (as opposed to the invisible primaries) have finally started and we’re very much looking forward to our opportunity to vote next month.
In our time here at MenuPages, we’ve become increasingly aware of the political issues surrounding what we eat (see: our coverage of the Farm Bill), so we were quite excited when we saw Serious Eats link to a rundown of the candidates’ policies on food issues. We thought the rundown on Food Democracy was great, but we were a bit skeptical that John Edwards was really the only candidate who had actually outlined a policy on food. A little sleuthing on the candidates’ websites revealed that while Edwards was the only candidate to title his food policy section “Food Safety”, the bulk of the candidates have some information about their food policies online. In the interest of better informing you, dear reader (and you are voting, dear reader, right? RIGHT?), here is a handy list of what we know about the candidates’ views on food. We’ll list the Democrats now and the Republicans this afternoon.
•Hillary Clinton’s website reveals nothing about her beliefs on food policy or, for that matter, agriculture, which seems an odd choice for someone who just campaigned in Iowa and has races in New Hampshire and South Carolina coming right up.
•As Food Democracy pointed out, John Edwards has the most clearly articulated food policy of all the candidates. In the words of the estimable Ed Levine: “Is Michael Pollan an Edwards advisor? That’s what it sounds like.” Indeed, Edwards seems to be hewing quite directly to Pollan’s seminal New York Times Magazine piece on the Farm Bill, calling for country-of-origin labelling, limiting farm subsidies, and expanding conservation programs.
•Did you know that Dennis Kucinich secretly has the best-organized website of anyone? It’s true! Kucinich has policies on mad cow disease (“In Congress I intend to introduce legislation that will prohibit the feeding of the remains of any mammal to any animals that humans eat.), farm policy (“Agricultural research and development institutions must be given funding priority to help family farmers make a transition to profitable and sustainable agriculture.”), genetically engineered food (“People must have a right to select foods for themselves and their families that are proven to be safe and environmentally friendly.”), and organic farming (“The organic farm produces an alternative to chemically raised foods that may well be more nutritious and is usually tastier, all while giving the organic grower a decent livelihood from farming (organic farmers usually don’t have to work off the farm to make ends meet.)”).
•Barack Obama’s food policies are somewhat hidden in his website’s section on rural issues, but he has quite a comprehensive policy that is, in many ways, quite similar to Edwards’. Like Edwards, Obama calls for country-of-origin labeling and stronger support for family farmers. Obama also has a few ideas of his own, including a proposal to encourage young people to become family farmers.
•Like Obama, Bill Richardson (it turns out he’s still in the race! Who knew?) has buried his views on food reform in another section (in this case, agriculture). His policies are not as clear as those of Edwards, Kucinich or Obama, but he does state that “I will institute tougher standards on food imports fromforeign countries, increase FDA inspections, implement Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) laws, and fight for fair trade to promote our agricultural exports.”