We're holding Health Month on the JBF blog. In this post, we conclude our extended interview series with actor and activist Wendell Pierce, exploring his views on potential solutions to issues of food access, both locally and globally.
Wendell Pierce: "Treme was art imitating life and life imitating art. I was depicting what was happening in New Orleans as people were trying to rebuild their lives, while I was also doing that in real life."
Most of us are familiar with food banks and soup kitchens, where donated food goes to feed hungry people in the community. Yet we rarely talk about the connection between mental illness and hunger and how access to food can do more than just provide a full stomach.
Given the fact that the local foods movement offers consumers so many benefits, sustainably processed and packaged food has an important role to play in supporting the admirable goals of local food advocates and supplementing their needs.
Some have pointed out the fine details of the study, which showed that obesity rates for the rest of the population remained steady while the rate of obesity actually increased for women over 60 years old. Nonetheless, a decrease in obesity rates is always a positive sign.
Before I started farming, I had little idea that non-profits like Berkshire Grown existed all over the nation, supporting small farms in ways that, unfortunately, state and federal governments are currently not set up to do.
These changes are undoubtedly a victory for health advocates. As First Lady Michelle Obama put it: "This is a big deal, and it's going to make a big difference for families all across this country." They could also create a crisis for the food industry.
Only pro-consumption cues were given from both the advertisers and in my personal life, such as being rewarded with a soda after my baseball game or the cheap, allowance-friendly price of a bottle of Pepsi at my local convenience store.
I've taken a tiny sampling of the industry's talking points and looked a little deeper. The following claims come from the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food. The arguments they are propagating are beyond flawed and incomplete: They are downright wrong.
It is the hope of the California Food Policy Council that 2014 will also be the year that the State of California joins the United Nations in identifying family farms and food systems as a cornerstone for health and resilience in the 21st century.
Food companies have the challenge of turning the unpalatable into the delectable and changing long-standing cultural norms about what we put into our mouths. It is possible to fill seven billion bellies with nutrient-rich foods; but we're going to have to embrace some unorthodox ingredients.
Our nation got itself into this mess of poor nutritional habits, rampant obesity and declining health over many decades. Let's make sure that the facts about food reform policies don't get left in the dust of sensationalism.
I strongly believe that the future of GMO labeling lies in education, full disclosure, and a decision on the part of the consumer that says NO to the food companies that insist on lying to us. How do we do that? By following the European model: If there is no demand, there is no fabrication.
For the food movement to place unstoppable pressure on policymakers and industrial food producers, it needs a very focused set of goals that emerge from a single root crisis that binds us all. Public health is that crisis.
NYC held the first city-wide Mayoral Candidate Food Forum in the country, but now that the food movement has matured to the point where politicians have taken notice, how do we get our legislators to catch up with the mindset of community organizers and local activists?
If we really wanted restaurants to pay their workers fairly, we would require them to pay their own workers and factor that expense into their prices -- much like every other business has ever had to do.
My biggest concern is that solely focusing on weight impedes the health movement's progress. Such a clinical and quantitative frame gives very little thought to -- and leaves no room for a conversation about -- socio-political and environmental factors that pose a threat to our health.