Obama’s “Secretary of Food”: An Idea Whose Time has Come, Thanks to Nicholas Kristof

Mike Licht)
Photo credit: Mike Licht

In the his December 10, 2008 column in The New York Times, Nicholas Kristof states that the name of the department responsible for food and agriculture in the United States should be called the Department of Food.

His reasoning is that only 2 percent of the American population actually farms, but 100 percent eats. Good logic.

He goes on to say this :

The Agriculture Department — and the agriculture committees in Congress — have traditionally been handed over to industrial farming interests by Democrats and Republicans alike. The farm lobby uses that perch to inflict unhealthy food on American children in school-lunch programs, exacerbating our national crisis with diabetes and obesity.

But let’s be clear. The problem isn’t farmers. It’s the farm lobby — hijacked by industrial operators — and a bipartisan tradition of kowtowing to it.

Anne Veneman, Former Secretary of Agriculture
Anne Veneman, Former Secretary of Agriculture

However, as for renaming the current Department of Agriculture to more accurately reflect reality, I tend to agree more with Anne Veneman, who says that the Department should be called the Department of Food and Agriculture. John Block goes a step further, saying it should be the Department of Food, Agriculture, and Forestry.

Again, I say, let’s hope someone is listening.

(Note: Please check out Mike Licht’s blog, “NotionsCapital.” Mike does wizardly things with photographs and art, both modern and classical.)

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3 thoughts on “Obama’s “Secretary of Food”: An Idea Whose Time has Come, Thanks to Nicholas Kristof

  1. I definitely agree. I’m with you when you say we need to revamp the department and make its focus on food instead of farming. I also agree with Marion Nestle when she says that instead of having the USDA and the FDA (who’s missions overlap and sometimes contradict each other), there should be one department to look after our food safety and farm practices. We need one big Department of Food and Agriculture that doesn’t have conflicting ties to the industry.

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  2. True, you can call a giraffe a lion, but it’s still a giraffe.

    That said, when it comes to programs and projects, changing the name often reflects mission and vision changes, which I agree need to take place soon in the USDA.

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  3. What’s in a name if the bureaucracy remains the same? Unless a name change is going to be a catalyst for real political and spending rearrangements, it doesn’t really matter.

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