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Bittman's Food for the Future Manifesto

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I really enjoyed reading this Op-Ed piece from Mark Bittman in the NY Times.

I'd like to know how other CTers feel about the points he makes here, particularly about the notion of de-subsidizing the price supports for corn, soy and other agricultural commodities that support the production of low-quality junk foods.

 

My belief is that, if done right, a national food policy would raise the cost of unhealthy foods as well as healthy foods, but the higher costs would result in people eating less. It would make eating in restaurants more expensive, but also lead to the reduction of the over-abundence of mediocre and poor quality food service establishments. A good thing in my view. 

 

Of course, the NRA will come out solidly against such policies, so would the National Chamber of Commerce. 

Anyway, read and discuss-

 

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/01/a-food-manifesto-for-the-future/?ref=dining

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post #2 of 17

Subsidizing doesn't really lower food costs. We pay the extra in taxes. If the taxes were reduced as the subsidies eliminated, prices would be a wash or a bit lower.

 

I'm a believer in free markets period so I'm good with this idea without regard for the food issue.  So I wouldn't subsidize the small farmers either. They have to make the market on the quality and interest in their food. And the market is there, though not universal. Which is as it should be. Bittman wants to play social engineer with the subsidy and that's a polcy I hate from government.

 

I'd dump both the FDA and USDA and let the professional groups establish best practices and ratings and markings. This has worked fine in a number of other industries without government and could do so here as well. There's a lot more to explain here, but I'll skip it for now.

 

Overall, Bittman is doing way too much social engineering from the government and I dislike his ideas strongly on this issue.

post #3 of 17


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by phatch View Post

Subsidizing doesn't really lower food costs. We pay the extra in taxes. If the taxes were reduced as the subsidies eliminated, prices would be a wash or a bit lower....

Yeah! Dream on!

 

Have you EVER seen taxes go down as a result of "spending cuts"?

 

IMHO, the "farm programs" started as "social engineering" in the guise of "food security" as well as "employment stabilization" and has long outlived any rational purpose.
 

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #4 of 17

Certainly.

 

Did you read the maifesto?

 

Let's at least try to stay on topic smiles.gif

post #5 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by phatch View Post

Certainly.

 

Did you read the maifesto?

 

Let's at least try to stay on topic smiles.gif

My apologies for "straying" and, yes, I read the article and I disagree with redirecting tax dollars from one "social engineering" purpose to another.

 

I might be persuaded that correcting eating habits falls under "public education" but "public health"?
 

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
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post #6 of 17

People are to lazy is the problem. Instead of cooking they rely on the prepackaged crap that infests grocery stores. I cook from scratch 99% of the time (I do give in to a frozen pizza occasionally) and it isn't hard nor does it take to long.

post #7 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by phatch View Post

I'm a believer in free markets period so I'm good with this idea without regard for the food issue.  So I wouldn't subsidize the small farmers either. They have to make the market on the quality and interest in their food. And the market is there, though not universal. Which is as it should be. Bittman wants to play social engineer with the subsidy and that's a polcy I hate from government.

 

I'd dump both the FDA and USDA and let the professional groups establish best practices and ratings and markings. This has worked fine in a number of other industries without government and could do so here as well. There's a lot more to explain here, but I'll skip it for now.

 

 

Ya, thats what i was thinking.  Not that I would turn down a subsidy for cooking my own meals. lol.  

 

USDA is controlled by the meat lobby, fairly useless to our well being.   

 

 

post #8 of 17

If I started to list both the problems with Bittman's manifesto, and FoodFoto's falacious reaction to it, we'd be here all day.

 

Typical of Bittman, though, there isn't an original thought in the whole thing. He's merely collected a lot of liberal-oriented issues and grouped them together, with no thought as to practical implementation. Just "let the government do it." You know, the government that has had such a great track record all through the 20th century and the first part of the 21st. 

 

Let's leave out things like letting the government define "real" food, and similar inanities. Let's focus, instead, on the "sustainability" issue. It's the darling of people like Bittman, because it simultaneously gives them that nice warm fuzzy feeling while promoting a program that sounds rational even though it isn't.

 

This simple fact of the matter is that sustainability is an elitest position. There are just too many of us, and not enough land near where we live, to support the population as if it were the 19th century. Land use costs on acreage that is close means higher prices for food. Sustainable agricultural practices (i.e., organic growing, free-ranging, and so forth) add even more to the production costs. Somebody has to pay for them. Such payments can be made directly, by the more affluent consumer, or indirectly, through higher taxes. One or the other. There just ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

 

Jonathan Swift had a modest proposal for solving that dillema. You reckon that's what Bittman really has in mind?

 

Something else Bittman chooses to overlook is the massive economic dislocation programs like his proposal would cause. He claims to be concerned with the conditions farm workers face. And maybe he is. But his solution would result in them not working at all. If all the "evils" of big agriculture were thrown out, which is what he's recommending, there would be massive unemployment. We're not just talking about the guys who pick the lettuce, but also the ones who make the chemicals, and the people who build the farm equipment, and the truck drivers who haul the stuff to the warehouses, and the warehouse workers themselves---and the people who produce all the goods and services those folks buy with their farm wages.

 

If y'all think the current recession has been bad, you ai't seen nothing yet. I haven't done the math (if it's even possible to do so, meaningfully). But it wouldn't surprise me, if Bittman has his way, that 50% or more of us would be out of work, and the rest of us struggling to make do.

 

Wouldn't that be something. Nice healthy food, that we couldn't eat anyway, because without a job there'd be no money to pay for it.

 

Of course, Bittman's solution, no doubt, would be another government program to subsidize all us poor people.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #9 of 17

Phatch !! 

You and I both agree. Abolish the  Inefective  beaurocracy known as the  The USDA and  FDA. Both are a total waste of taxpayers money. I am not for putting industry to police themselves, there are to many dishonest corporate leaders. Lets establish just 1 super food/ watchdog agency staffed by food people. Lets give them the power to really level fines, not just hand slapping . Give it the power to permanently close a place down for violations.against the public trust.no exuses allowed . No politicians involved pleading their case no matter what state the violations occur in. This is the only way to assure quality and wholesomness in the industry.. I know others who contribute to this site feel otherwise, but I have seen first hand having  worked in supposed inspected meat as well as processing  plants what really goes on.. and it's scary.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 

 

 

Quote:
If I started to list both the problems with Bittman's manifesto, and FoodFoto's falacious reaction to it, we'd be here all day.

 

I really don't know why you must take such a superior position and respond in such an insulting and condescending tone, KY. If you don't agree, fine. That doesn't make people who think differently from you idiots. Just as a stopped clock is right twice a day, a know-it-all occasionally has a skewed view. You might think differently about food and environmental watch dogs if someone built a factory hog farm next to your property locating their waste lagoon next to the creek that feeds your pond.

These are the results of some of the current tax breaks offered to large industrial agriculture interests, but unavailable to family farmers. 

 

As far as having industry policing itself-just look at two recent results- BP and the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the Massey Coal Mine explosion. Reduction in funding for those evil governmental enforcement agencies can be directly linked to these two mishaps. Another would be the disastrous pollution of streams and rivers in NC after the back to back hurricanes of Fran and Bethel in 1996. Hog waste lagoons ruptured and spilled into the Cape Fear River and its tributaries damaging precious oyster, mussel, clam and scallop beds and devastating fragile fishing areas. 

 

It's worth talking about how to improve the health of the American people through encouraging healthy eating habits in a variety of ways-both educationally and policy-wise. The cost to our economy of diet related disease-heart disease and diabetes in particular-is extensive. 

 

It's a complicated issue and worth discussing the fine points from different perspectives. As long as we pigeon hole each other with deprecations and insults we're assured of getting no where. 

The USDA and FDA do need reform. Eliminating them altogether is not a good option. But something between biz-as-usual and abolishment could actually improve the situation for many family farmers and others as well.

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post #11 of 17

I'm not talking about industry policing itself. Rather private pro boards, NOT companies. This happens a lot: Bar Association, AMA, ADA, UL, IEEE and so on. Even for Kosher.  These groups set standards and in some cases enforce them within their ranks. While a few of these have the force of law behind them (Bar, AMA ADA) they can work fully privately. Even Consumer Reports has strong impact.

 

The question then is up to the consumer or employee. This food isn't grown under standards that the consumer wants so they go shop somewhere.else. In the case of Deepwater, the employees should be knowledgeable about the professional standards of their profession and the certifications for it. For work in such hazardous conditions, I wouldn't work for a company that didn't meet a professional standard and advertise itself as such. Companies buying from Deepwater can specify they only buy from certified vendors. Unions can similarly set such requirements for their members. Government can similarly give these certifications the force of law within their purview as has happened in the medical and legal fields.

 

There will always be the slacking company or installation or worker. Inspections can not catch them all and government has shown itself incapable of holding itself to standards, let alone the businesses they're responsible for. They have no reputation to uphold whereas private certifications live and die by the reputation. They will fight to uphold it and make their certification desirable in the market.

post #12 of 17

There are no-till farmers that utilize sustainable methods, no thanks to any government program though. I think it has its roots in the oil crisis of the 70's.  Oil became so expensive that some farmers looked for better ways using less fuel and chemicals, more efficient  methods, smart rotations, etc.  I'm all for supporting more sustainable ways.  

 

 

 

post #13 of 17

I'm all for a lot of good things. Organics, biodynamics, sustainability, ecology, environmentalism et al. I'm also against a few things. I really think that if you take away subsidization of smaller farmers that they will be eaten up by factory farm companies. I want to ask, has anyone who uses examples of factory farms ever been to one, and seen how they operate? It never was anything I could easily tolerate. I won't use, cook or serve foie gras or veal because of what I've directly seen. Factory chicken farms are over-the-top nasty. Without subsidization the little guys will be wiped out. I like the  little guys. 

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

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"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

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post #14 of 17

 One thing is for sure, nobody will like this article more than Bittman himself. 

 

 

 

    For the good of society, I do declare...!

post #15 of 17

That doesn't make people who think differently from you idiots.

 

Absolutely, FoodFoto. But I never even implied such, let alone said it. Nor do I believe it. What I said was that you had a fallacious reaction, evidenced by:

 

Of course, the NRA will come out solidly against such policies,

 

The NRA stands solidly for the preservation and protection of our 2nd amendment rights, as guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. Bittman's article deals with the production and distribution of food, and has nothing to do with gun rights. Throwing in such a comment would be defined as fallacious in any dictionary.

 

Or do you really believe that getting rid of guns will somehow result in healthier food at lower cost? If so, then I apologize.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #16 of 17

I'm pretty sure what was meant was the National Restaurant Association.

post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 

I meant the National Restaurant Association. The rifle assoc. would indeed be a stupid connection in this context.

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She's got the biggest hair in town!

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