Like a child’s Christmas list for Santa, here’s my Earth Week gift list for the USDA.
Dear USDA, I have been a very good girl this year. I worked hard to research where my food comes from and I got better at feeding myself. These are the gifts I would like from you this Earth Week for me and my fellow Americans:
1. Please end your unhealthy and destructive relationship with big agribusiness. Stop subsidizing corn and soy, the key ingredients in industrial livestock feed. Start subsidizing small farmers and sustainable local food networks. Make policies that benefit small organic farms. Expand your Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education farmer grants program.
2. Enforce the Humane Slaughter Act. It’s been around since 1958, even George W. Bush improved it in 2002, and it simply requires that pigs and cows be rendered insensible to pain before they are slaughtered. Empower your Food Safety and Inspection Service employees to identify and report violations, and then actually penalize the offenders. Also, expand the act to include chickens and turkeys.
3. Your food pyramid that helps determine what Americans eat? Stop enlarging sections according to the big food industry’s lobbying efforts. Instead, endorse Harvard School of Public Health’s version. Better yet, hand the whole job over to Health and Human Services, since you have an apparent conflict of interest.
4. Reform the school lunch program so school lunches include less factory-farmed meat, fewer processed foods, and more vegetarian options. (Today is Farm Sanctuary’s National Call-In Day to urge legislators to support H.R. 4870, the Healthy School Meals Act).
I’d like to think that wanting these things to happen is not quite as childish as expecting reindeer to fly.