What, exactly, does “Food Democracy” mean anyway? When I am up for another rant I may actually go sentence by sentence through the linked story. In the meantime, let me offer up a piece of advice to the people who want to Occupy My Dinner Table: try capitalism.
You don’t like it that a few huge agribusinesses “control” (see my old posts on monopoly in case you want to see what to make of that) so much of “our” food? How about asking yourself what having government dish out $6 trillion in goodies every year does to the lobbying intensity of these guys, and who is better able to flex its lobbying muscle (the little guys?). I saw someone post on the NYT the other day that what we need to do with the farm bill is to change the $25 billion of agri-business subsidies into subsidies for organic farms. Even if organic food were better for the environment (which it appears not to be – ask any of your organic eating friends if they ever stopped to figure out if this is even plausible), do you really think shoveling tens of billions of dollars out is going to “democratize” the food system?
It’s not just the farm subsidies, and indirect policies that promote mega-business. What about food safety regulation? What about fuel taxes? What about workplace safety regulations? What about environmental regulations? All of those may be worthy regulations, but then if you want them and you want them in a big way, don’t be surprised when half your food comes from a few companies (hey, how come you get pissed off when lots of your food comes from a few companies, but you are totally psyched when food-stamps, health care, postage stamps, etc. come from one single monopoly?).
And perhaps rather than occupying my dinner table you try some capitalism. You can all get together, form your own mega-corporation, have it worker-owned, you can use whatever practices you like, and then you can get your own retailers to squeeze the supply chain for efficiencies, you can ship all of your food on government subsidized railroads, you can ship it on solar-powered trucks, and have a nice time. I’ll keep buying my chicken from Tyson. Do I wish that Tyson treated their animals better? I suppose so, but I actually have no idea how well they do treat them. If a firm wants to pursue a strategy of demonstrating that they treat their animals better, and still try to sell me quality at low prices, I’ll buy it. Instead, all of the occupy my dinner table people are just telling me to hate Tyson. I don’t. And you know what, when it comes down to it, the people who you are trying to “convert” care about what’s jingling around in their pockets. My most environmentally conscious friends hate $4.00 gas. Go figure.