Politics & Policy: FAQ & Useful Links


Frequently Asked Questions

 

Which organizations are working to reform the American food system and agriculture and how can I help?
There are dozens of organizations working to reform how we produce and consume food in this country and many of them need support. To keep up on food politics, read the blog Civil Eats. The following organizations are all working in this area. To get involved and stay informed you should sign up for their email alerts, RSS feeds and newsletters; make a contribution and/or offer to volunteer. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has an online Advocacy Toolkit with information about how you can get involved in everything from becoming a grant reviewer for the USDA, to writing effective Op Eds, to visiting your members of Congress. You can join a local chapter of Slow Food USA. Food Democracy Now has ongoing campaigns you can join online. Environmental Working Group has an online Action Center where you can easily sign petitions and send emails to politicians. They also offer downloadable Health Tips on everything from baby formula to eating tuna to avoiding pesticides.  You should watch Food Inc., a great new documentary about the American food system that was nominated for an Academy Award. Once you’ve seen the movie, check out their “About the Issues” page for a great list of resources.  That’s just a start, there are too many great organizations to list here so do check out my Resources page for more.

Which organizations are working to reform our school lunch program and how can I get involved?
The school-lunch program began at a time when the public-health problem of America’s children was undernourishment, so feeding surplus agricultural commodities to kids seemed like a win-win strategy. Today the problem is over-nutrition, but a school lunch lady trying to prepare healthful fresh food is apt to get dinged by U.S.D.A. inspectors for failing to serve enough calories; if she dishes up a lunch that includes chicken nuggets and Tater Tots, however, the inspector smiles and the reimbursements flow. We are essentially treating our children as a human Disposall for all the unhealthful calories that the farm bill has encouraged American farmers to overproduce. So what can we do as parents, students and teachers to get healthy foods into our schools?

There is a lot of momentum behind the school lunch reform movement right now and it is a great time to get involved. Consider starting with the Center for Ecoliteracy‘s Rethinking School Lunch Guide, which contains tools for improving school lunch programs, showcases success stories and offers a list of resources. The National Farm to School Network provides a long list of non-profit organizations working on school lunch reform and farm-to-school programs all over the country. The Center for Science in the Public Interest also has a comprehensive, downloadable School Foods Tool Kit packed with resources. The Chez Panisse Foundation’s Edible Schoolyard is a good model of how a reformed school lunch program might work. They’ve also published a handful of guide books to school lunch reform. Chef Jamie Oliver has a variety of resources, recipes and petitions up. The documentary Two Angry Moms, about mothers fed up with nasty school lunches, is worth watching. To keep tabs of developments in school lunch reform, check out the “Renegade Lunch Lady” Chef Ann Cooper’s blog.

What university programs can I enroll in to study food issues?
There are a growing number of food studies programs in university programs from Indiana to Italy. Here’s a list of the ones I know of.

NYU’s Steinhardt Department of Food, Nutrition and Public Health, where Marion Nestle is a professor, has both undergraduate and graduate programs.

Indiana University offers a PhD track in Food Studies within the Anthropology Department

Stanford University’s Program on Food Security and the Environment

Chatham University’s Master of Arts in Food Studies

The University of Gastronomic Sciences, founded in 2004 by the international non-profit Slow Food, offers graduate degrees in gastronomic studies, food studies and tourism.

Boston University, Metropolitan College’s offers a Masters of Liberal Arts in Gastronomy

The University of New Hampshire has a dual major in EcoGastronomy

UC Davis’s Humanities Institute hosts a multi-campus research program on Studies of Food and the Body, UC Davis also has a food concentration within the American Studies Department

Tufts University offers a Masters in Agriculture, Food and Environment


Useful Links

 

The Ethicurian a site that focuses on sustainable, organic and local food.

Civil Eats food politics blog.

Obama Foodorama a daily diary of the “Obama Foodscape.”

Food and Water Watch food and water safety watchdog.

American Farmland Trust national organization dedicated to saving America’s farm and ranch land, promoting healthy farming practices and supporting farms and farmers.

American Grassfed Association promotes the grassfed beef industry.

Association for the Study of Food & Society studies food and society and produces a food journal.

Public Health Action on the Farm Bill information and articles on the U.S. Farm Bill.

Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity Yale University’s center on obesity.

Food Inc., a new documentary about the American food system that was nominated for an Academy Award. Also check out their “About the Issues” page for a great list of resources.

La Vida Locavore regular posts on food news and politics.

The Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems UC Santa Cruz sustainable food research.

Chefs Collaborative non-profit network of chefs that fosters a sustainable food system through advocacy, education, and collaboration with the broader food community.

Chez Panisse Foundation supports Edible Schoolyard projects.

The Rodale Institute soil scientists and researchers advocate for organic farming techniques.

Ecological Farming Association education, alliance building and advocacy for sustainable farms.

Ecotrust environmentally-focused investments.

The Edible Schoolyard Alice Waters’ healthy school food program.

Weston A. Price Foundation publishes the research of Dr. Weston Price, who advocates for whole foods-based diets.

Wild Farm Alliance promotes agriculture that helps to protect and restore wildlands.

Land Stewardship Project non-profit dedicated to fostering an ethic of stewardship for farmland, promoting sustainable agriculture and developing sustainable communities.

National Organic Program at the USDA government-run organics certification.

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy works locally and globally to ensure fair and sustainable food, farm and trade systems.

The Land Institute working to develop an agricultural system with the ecological stability of the prairie and a grain yield comparable to that from annual crops.

Food First works to eliminate the injustices that cause hunger.

The Institute of Food Technologists non-profit scientific society.

Island Grown Initiative sustainable agriculture on Martha’s Vineyard.

The Cornucopia Institute organization working toward economic justice for the family-scale farming community.

Worldwatch Institute strategies to create an environmentally sustainable society.

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has an online Advocacy Toolkit with information about how you can get involved in everything from becoming a grant reviewer for the USDA, to writing effective Op-Eds, to visiting your members of Congress.

Slow Food USA USA arm of Slow Food.

Food Democracy Now has ongoing campaigns for food justice.

Environmental Working Group has an online Action Center where you can easily sign petitions and send emails to politicians and download Health Tips on everything from baby formula to eating tuna.

U.S. Food Policy (Parke Wilde) U.S. food policy and economics from a public interest perspective.

USDA Briefing Rooms information on U.S. agriculture .

USDA Food Availability Data per capita data on U.S. foods and commodities .

USDA Tables of Food Composition nutrient composition of foods .

Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch advocates for sustainable fisheries; produces guides to sustainable fish choices.

Organic Consumers Association rules, regulations, research, and controversies over organic foods.

Agricultural Law blog about agricultural law.

Organic Farming Research Foundation works to move the public and policymakers toward greater investment in organic farming systems.

Roots of Change (ROC) works to develop and support a collaborative network of leaders and institutions in California with interest in establishing a sustainable food system in our state by the year 2030.

NYU’s Steinhardt Department of Food, Nutrition and Public Health , where Marion Nestle is a professor, has both undergraduate and graduate programs.

Indiana University PhD track in Food Studies within the Anthropology Department .

Stanford University’s Program on Food Security and the Environment

Chatham University’s Master of Arts in Food Studies

The University of Gastronomic Sciences , founded in 2004 by the international non-profit Slow Food, offers graduate degrees in gastronomic studies, food studies and tourism.

Boston University, Metropolitan College’s offers a Masters of Liberal Arts in Gastronomy

The University of New Hampshire dual major in EcoGastronomy

UC Davis’s Humanities Institute multi-campus research program on Studies of Food and the Body

UC Davis food concentration within the American Studies Department.