Why Limiting Antibiotics on the Farm Is a Fight That Can Be Won

by Jane Black

Special to The Washington PostPublished: Monday, Dec 24, 2012


Ask a dozen food activists what political change they want to see in 2013 and you'll get a dozen different answers, maybe two dozen: Restrict sodium in packaged foods. Label genetically modified ingredients. End subsidies to big farms.

The variety of responses reflects just how much work still needs to be done as well as the diversity within the ranks of reformers. But it reveals a lack of focus — or, you might say, political maturity — that is likely to doom even the worthiest items on their wish lists.

"What is the food movement's 'ask'?" wondered Michael Pollan, author of "The Omnivore's Dilemma," the 2006 book that inspired a generation of food reformers.

I called Pollan and other big thinkers in food to figure out what issue they might rally around next year to bring about real change. It had to be big enough to unite the disparate elements in the food community: chefs, parents, nutritionists and farmers. It also needed to be a fight they might actually win.

There were several good ideas:

_Push the Obama administration to crack down on anti-competitive practices in the food and farming industry, or what Food and Water Watch's Wenonah Hauter calls in her new book, America's "Foodopoly."

_ Overhaul antiquated security regulations that make it difficult for small food businesses to raise capital and compete in the marketplace.

_ Write food-safety rules to help small farms and food producers enter America's food chain.

All are critical. But I couldn't see any of those getting a bunch of tattooed chefs or idealistic college kids or suburban moms, let alone all of them, to lobby their member of Congress.

What did meet all the requirements was this: Get antibiotics off the farm and CLICK HERE FOR MORE...


 photo courtesy of RODALE