Farm Bill. Not Sexy. Really Matters. | The Food Party! | Laura Stec | Almanac Online |

Local Blogs

The Food Party!

By Laura Stec

E-mail Laura Stec

About this blog: I've been attracted to food for good and bad reasons for many years. From eating disorder to east coast culinary school, food has been my passion, profession & nemesis. I've been a sugar addict, a 17-year vegetarian, a food and en...  (More)

View all posts from Laura Stec

Farm Bill. Not Sexy. Really Matters.

Uploaded: Feb 13, 2023

Approximately every five years the United States renews its commitment to our food system, farmers, school children and to all Americans. The Farm Bill, a massive piece of legislation last passed in 2018, helps determine how much and what kind of food the country will grow, as well as what foods will be super cheap in the grocery store and fast-food places. Most often the work is left to representatives from farm states, but this go around history is being made. Cory Booker, senator from New Jersey, will be the first “urban” senator to sit on the committee.

The Farm Bill is not a sexy piece of legislation, but we all should be attracted to the text. Farm Bill Matters because it determines what America eats, food that dramatically affects our health and the health of farm animals and our planet. The graphic below shows how the approximate $428 billion package is allocated.

For the next couple months, The Food Party! will read Food Fight - A Citizens Guide to The Next Food and Farm Bill, by Dan Imhoff.

We’ll tackle a couple chapters a week and report on back. Please join us. Since the book was published in 2012, more up-to-date information from NSAC, a 501c3 organization, will be included. Our end goals are:

1) Understand more about this consequential piece of legislation

2) Follow up on concerns and visions for the new bill with federal officials

Of all the legislation that moves through Congress, nothing is more important to the health of the country than the Farm Bill. Three quarters of health care spending goes toward treating chronic diseases (metabolic disease, diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers); diseases that could be dramatically reduced by changing what we eat. Federal subsidies in the form of our federal taxes lean heavily for corn, wheat and soy, producing over-abundant yields with artificially low prices. In response, the cheap, huge harvest is used to make “ultra-processed foods” that fill grocery shelves and the Standard American Diet (SAD), creating unhealthy bodies where chronic diseases thrive.

By-the-by, you can’t make ultra-processed foods at home; you don’t have the ingredients in your pantry and they aren’t for purchase. Stats show Americans consume an average of 500 calories per day from these highly manufactured and denatured food substances. It’s hard to call them food.

Another unhelpful part of the bill considers vegetables and fruits specialty crops, meaning they don't get much support from the federal government. So while the USDA My Plate encourages fruits and veggies to fill ½ of our plates, our tax dollars subsidize the exact opposite style of eating in the Farm Bill.

- graphic from USDA

Watch Marion Nestle, molecular biologist, nutritionist, and public health advocate, discuss health ramifications of our SAD diet in a recent Edible Education session at UC Berkeley.

Passage for the next Farm Bill is set for September 2023, and summer will see creation of the text. The time to learn and take action is NOW.

We’ll discuss a few chapters at a time.

Please read along with us, or just tune in.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Mondoman, a resident of Green Acres,
on Feb 14, 2023 at 8:56 am

Mondoman is a registered user.

Thanks for bringing this to everyone's attention! The Farm Bill IS a really big deal for everyone living in the US, but usually flies under the radar for most.

Posted by Janet Lynwood, a resident of Palo Alto Hills,
on Feb 14, 2023 at 9:09 am

Janet Lynwood is a registered user.

Why not simply grow more rice, corn, & beans? The Mexicans have relied on these staple crops for centuries and besides, rice + beans = the protein needed for human sustenance. Add increases in soybean production & there will be no need for overconsumption & overproduction of beef, pork, and poultry products.

Posted by Elias Jensen, a resident of Los Altos,
on Feb 14, 2023 at 10:00 am

Elias Jensen is a registered user.

@Janet Lynnwood...tofu (a soybean product) will never fully replace beef, pork, or chicken in America.

Have you ever seen tofu Buffalo chicken wings, tofu baby back ribs, or Southern Fried tofu?

Didn't think so...tofu does not have any bones, let alone a natural flavor other than none.

Posted by Leona Patterson, a resident of Barron Park,
on Feb 16, 2023 at 8:50 am

Leona Patterson is a registered user.

We use tofu in our stir-fry in lieu of pork or chicken and it seems to work well.

Tofu should be acknowledged for what it is...a healthy alternative to regular meat consumption but by no means a true meat substitute.

Until tofu has bones it will never be meat and the ones who serve tofu shaped like a turkey during the holidays are really doing their guests a diservice.

Posted by Geri Davis, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive,
on Feb 16, 2023 at 11:37 am

Geri Davis is a registered user.

Fast food should also be banned but such a measure would create a public uproar.

As for East Indian food, tofu has absolutely no potential as a popular fast food item among the American populace.

Posted by MyFeelz, a resident of another community,
on Feb 16, 2023 at 3:13 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

Oranges are over $1/lb, I wish I could peel them before taking them to the checkout stand. I'm not qualified for SNAP benefits but my wallet wishes I was. It takes a beating paying for fruits and vegetables that have inedible parts to be peeled before eating. I'm only mentioning oranges because this year, I am can only find oranges with extra thick rinds and it makes me wonder if it's being bred into the fruit intentionally, to raise prices.

Posted by Naranja Mann, a resident of another community,
on Feb 16, 2023 at 3:30 pm

Naranja Mann is a registered user.

In the US, thin-skinned oranges such as the Valencia dominate as 'juice oranges', while thick-skinned oranges, as the Navel, are preferred for eating.

Thick-skinned oranges tend to be easier to peel while thin-skins can simply be crushed without expressing too much of the bitter oils contained in the skins.

Posted by Tatiana Gomez, a resident of Mountain View,
on Feb 17, 2023 at 7:19 am

Tatiana Gomez is a registered user.

" East Indian food, tofu has absolutely no potential as a popular fast food item among the American populace."

Though I have never seen a tofu offering at any fast food outlet, some have plant-based alternatives on the menu.

The problem is that most soy-based burgers like Boca Burgers are very high in sodium and have fake flavorings to emulate ground beef...a very unhealthy alternative to meat.

As far as any potential East Indian fast food outlets go, unless they tone-down the seasonings and Americanize the concept (like Glen Bell did with Taco Bell), nobody will buy or eat East Indian fast food except for East India although some locations in Mountain View or Fremont might do well in the innagural stage.

Posted by Peter Gerraty, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Feb 17, 2023 at 7:39 am

Peter Gerraty is a registered user.

In East India as well as Mexico, the closest thing to fast food are the street vendors but one must exercise extreme caution due to the unsanitary conditions and food prep.

As a vegan cyclist visiting India, I ate their fresh produce and got deathly ill from cholera. I had to be airlifted back to the United States for treatment because the hospitals there were unable to do anything.

The locals in India are apparently immune to the intestinal parasites that emanate from growing agricultural crops in human waste material.

Posted by Ming Zhao, a resident of St. Francis Acres,
on Feb 17, 2023 at 9:07 am

Ming Zhao is a registered user.

* I'm not qualified for SNAP benefits but my wallet wishes I was. It takes a beating paying for fruits and vegetables

^ Go to the Second Harvest Food Bank or the MV Senior Center for free oranges.

Posted by MyFeelz, a resident of another community,
on Feb 17, 2023 at 7:52 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

@Ming Zhao, thank you for those suggestions. I had completely forgotten about those options. Didn't really need them til this year with skyhigh prices.

Posted by Ryan Beckham, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Feb 18, 2023 at 7:40 am

Ryan Beckham is a registered user.

The cost of fresh oranges has increased due to a plant disease that reduces the size and output of the fruit. Retail orange juice prices will also be rising.

This orange tree epidemic has overwhelmed the Florida citrus growers and there is speculation that the disease will also impact the lemon industry.

It is similar to the recent price increase in eggs which was the result of a poultry epidemic that required the destruction of over 60 million egg-laying chickens.

Posted by Carrie Lange, a resident of Atherton,
on Feb 18, 2023 at 8:31 am

Carrie Lange is a registered user.

"In East India as well as Mexico, the closest thing to fast food are the street vendors but one must exercise extreme caution due to the unsanitary conditions and food prep."

When our daughter visited India as part of a U.N. commission on public health, she encountered an East Indian street vendor who was selling what looked like questionable food.

When she asked him if it was safe to eat he replied, "A thousand flies cannot be wrong."

Posted by Sanjay Singh, a resident of Mountain View,
on Feb 18, 2023 at 1:42 pm

Sanjay Singh is a registered user.

@Peter Gerraty:

It is no wonder that you became deathly ill while consuming the local produce in India. As a vegan-American, your body was not accustomed to the food-borne diseases that most East Indians have adapted to.

India is projected to become the world's fifth biggest economy in 2023 and has been described as one of the most populous, polluted, unsanitary, and bacterially unsafe countries on earth.

And out of the 25 worst polluted cities in the entire world, 13 of them are in India. This revelation comes as no real surprise because pro-active public health measures in India are nearly non-existent.

As a recent immigrant to the United States, I have no intention of ever returning to India.

Posted by Melissa Grant, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Feb 18, 2023 at 2:42 pm

Melissa Grant is a registered user.

When it comes to raising kids, dairy, grains, protein and fruit choices do not seem to create any problems but how does one encourage children (and many adult men) to actually enjoy and embrace veggies?

Some might suggest more creative ways of preparing and serving vegetables but all things considered, a carrot is still a carrot and only potatoes seem to pacify most anti-veggie mindsets.

Like MyFeelz, I am appalled by the recent orange price surge because along with apples and bananas, it is one of the regular fruits that we regularly consume.

As for visiting India, it is not on our agenda...ever.

Posted by Melissa Grant, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Feb 18, 2023 at 2:46 pm

Melissa Grant is a registered user.

"one of the [regular] fruits that we regularly consume."

^ Pardon the reduncency. As a former corporate speechwriter, a correction is warranted.

Posted by Bethany Taylor, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Feb 19, 2023 at 8:23 am

Bethany Taylor is a registered user.

America"s westward expansion depended primarily on grains, protein, and dairy products with a minimal allotment of vegetables and fruits to subsist. Outside of some carrots and potatoes for stew and a few apples for a pie, nothing more was needed.

A 'meat and potatoes' diet is what built America as there was no need for outside menu items like tofu, hummus, couscous and other foreign foods.

A bag of flour and some dried beans, coffee, bacon, lard, baking powder and sugar was pretty much all that was needed in addition to having an adequate supply of water and a good rifle or shotgun to shoot wild game.

People may not have lived as long back in those days but they were probably healthier than most people today because they were not as hung-up on nutrition, just filling one's belly.

Posted by Raoul Marquez, a resident of Mountain View,
on Feb 19, 2023 at 11:33 am

Raoul Marquez is a registered user.

As per the pie graph it is interesting to note that 75% of the Food Bill budget goes towards SNAP entitlements.

What is wrong with this country? To have so many people on food stamps is an indictment of American society and its inability to provide a fair and reasonable living wage for lower tiered workers.

Then again, living in America still beats living in places like India.

Follow this blogger.
Sign up to be notified of new posts by this blogger.



Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Almanac Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

Boichik Bagels is opening its newest – and largest – location in Santa Clara this week
By The Peninsula Foodist | 0 comments | 2,395 views

I Do I Don't: How to build a better marriage Ch. 1, page 1
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,457 views

By Laura Stec | 2 comments | 660 views


Support local families in need

Your contribution to the Holiday Fund will go directly to nonprofits supporting local families and children in need. Last year, Almanac readers and foundations contributed over $300,000.